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Entries in James (410)

Kensington KeyFolio Pro review

Chances are you type way more text on the iPad's virtual keyboard than you thought you would. In fact, studies show that responding to emails is one the of most popular duties of the iPad. It's little wonder then that bluetooth keyboards have become so popular of late. I've tried quite a number over the last 3 years and none have truly hit the mark for my personal tastes. Can the Kensington KeyFolio Pro finally deliver? Let's find out.

Key Features

The KeyFolio Pro is a smart combination of a leather textured iPad Air folio case and slimline bluetooth iPad keyboard. The keyboard is held in place by powerful magnets. Magnets are employed elsewhere for keeping the iPad in 1 of 3 viewing angles and as part of the clasp for keeping the folio case shut. The keyboard has all the keys that you expect on any iPad keyboard plus a few more, the Siri key is especially useful. Battery life is stated as 960 hours working time and 180 days standby time. Impressive! The keyboard has no backlight, though the white on black characters stand out well even in low light.

Likes

There is much to like about the KeyFolio Pro. The leather effect case feels premium with the stitching being particularly impressive, something that we have found lacking on other iPad cases. The iPad Air fits perfectly, with unrestricted access to the speakers, cameras and ports. Again, this is something that you would expect all manufacturers to get right, but you'd be surprised how many don't. All in all, the folio case is a quality item that protects the iPad Air rather nicely. Moving on to the main event, how does the keyboard fair?

I have average sized hands and I find the KeyFolio's keys to be perfectly sized and spaced given the obvious constraints. It's hard to see how this aspect of the design can be improved until such time as Apple launch a larger iPad. All the keys are exactly where you would expect to find them. Battery life is as advertised.

Being able to detach the keyboard from the folio case is a huge advantage. You can prop up the iPad on any available surface whilst typing away at a desk or even your lap. It's worth noting that the basic features of the keyboard work with the Mac too.

Dislikes

I have just 2 small gripes. When the KeyFolio Pro is open, the magnetic clasp occasionally swings around from its resting place to slam into the iPad's screen. This may sound awful, but keep in mind that the glass used on the iPad Air is incredibly scratch resistant. Even so, I think this issue could have been avoided by using slightly stronger magnets. The second gripe is more serious. If you are used to the sensitivity of the MacBook keyboard or Apple's other standalone bluetooth keyboards you will struggle at first with the KeyFolio Pro. The pressure needed to register a key press is often about 30% greater than on the afore mentioned keyboards. You soon get used to the extra pressure needed, and the perfectly spaced and sized keys compel you to keep typing, but it's something to keep in mind if you have a particularly light touch.

The Kensington KeyFolio Pro is available for £99.99 from their website. There are plenty of other iPad keyboard cases available from Kensington, so it's worth a good look around.

'Vintage Ice Cream Parlour on Lake Ontario' by iJoxo

Found in our Flickr group, this image really grabbed our attention! It nicely demonstrates how far you can push the boundaries of photography using powerful iPad photo filter apps and an eye for great composition.

Metro travellers by Alex Raventós Cardús

We love this collection of Barcelona metro travellers. So very charming!

'Night soup' and 'Passing time' by Nikolai Lockertsen

Followers of Nikko's work will notice a slightly different style and colour palette on these two iPad paintings. Is it the perspective chosen, the use of colour, or just an extraordinary attention to detail that draws you in to his paintings? Whatever it is, it's an incredible skill and one that is pretty much unrivalled.

Further reading: Nikolai Lockertsen

'We Got The Beat' iPad GarageBand Tutorial

Francis has been busy. Yes it's another cover of a classic 80's track, but this time, with the video split into 4 video 'tracks' it becomes much easier to see exactly how Francis composes each track. GarageBand is the crown jewel of iPad apps, especially for those looking to take their first steps into the very large and beautiful field of music creation with the iPad.

Huge thanks to Francis for continuing to share his work.

Further reading: 'Just Like Heaven' by TelevatorMuzak

Forget Flappy Bird, try Threes! for a more cerebral experience

It's a tricky game for sure, but you can master Threes!. As the video above from Polygon shows, you need to stick to these three (oh, the pun!) basic rules...

1. Keep the highest tile in a corner

2. Stick to the foundational wall

3. Only swipe in 3 directions

App Store Link: Threes!

Pantone Universe standing book case review

A naked iPad is a beautiful iPad, by it's also quite vulnerable. This is especially true of the iPad Air and iPad mini. Those chamfered edges are natural targets for dents and dings!

Pantone is responsible for the creation and administration of a series of colour reference books widely used in the design and print industries. To a graphic designer, a Pantone book of swatches is a thing of joy. Has Pantone successfully brought that joy over to these cases?

As a iPad cases go, the Pantone case is pretty unremarkable. It's solid and offers the iPad a fair amount of protection, though, like many cases of this style, the edges of the iPad are exposed somewhat. It may not be a deal breaker, but if you're likely to be putting your iPad into a crowded bag, with keys, pens and other small metal objects, be warned, those chamfered edges will still likely get dinged. In a bag with only larger objects, the iPad will be protected just fine in the Pantone case. Used in its upright stand configuration the Pantone case works well, keeping the iPad positioned for watching videos, etc.

Of course, the real attraction of this case is the official Pantone design and colours. You can select from pink, red, blue or black colour themes. In each example the colour is complemented by a pure white band across the cover, plus white stitching. The design is smart, beautiful even, in minimalist way.

The case currently retails at 35€ from Case Scenario. For those looking for something a little bit different and aren't too concerned by the lack of complete iPad protection, the Pantone standing book case comes recommend.

Purchase Link: Pantone iPad case from Case Scenario

Shepherd by Jaime Sanjuan

You really should take a look at the work of Jaime Sanjuan. His iPad paintings are exquisite!

The Mac at 30: Thirty years of creative computing

I’ve been using a Mac for 23 years. Even then it was so obviously the best personal computer available. What a thrill it was in 2010 to see all the things that made the Mac so wonderful delivered in a perfect slab of glass and metal. The Mac is in many ways at the heart of the iPad experience.

We'd love to hear your Mac stories.

Stunning iPad art by Dave Kuhn

The iPad Creative Flickr group is home to some incredible iPad paintings. Dave Kuhn's paintings are captivating, drawing you in and making you wonder what might be around the corner, just beyond the frame. Perhaps we'll find out one day...

Stunning work Dave, and thanks for sharing these paintings with the group!

Using Waterlogue: Time to dig up those Star Wars action figures?

John Balestrieri of Tinrocket highlights a novel use for Waterlogue...

Waterlogue is great when you want a speedy way to remove the “photograph” from a photograph. With just a couple taps, you can change the fundamental nature of an image, opening up a bunch of different imaginative directions. It’s fun, fast, and often improves the creative possibilities of a quickly snapped photo... First, I posed plastic toys against colored paper backgrounds and then captured the scenes with an iPhone 5s. I didn’t use any elaborate lighting, lenses, or staging, and each initial image only took a few minutes to shoot.

What a superb idea! Perhaps it's time to dig up those Stars Wars action figures?

The Flote m2 floor stand review

For many people the iPad has become a part of everyday life. We use it for communicating with our friends and family, for consuming news and entertainment media, for organising our lives, for creating works of art and even playing games. As Apple works hard at reduce the size and weight of the iPad, it becomes more accessible, more intimate.

It’s so embedded in our lives that we often multitask when using it. Therein lies the problem. Like us, you’ve most likely tried to prop up your iPad in all kinds of precarious positions. Propping it up against a couple of cushions for some bedtime reading is pretty easy, but neck fatigue soon sets in. Propping it up on the corner of the bath to watch a movie is a little more challenging, and certainly has bigger risks than muscle fatigue!

This is where an iPad floor stand helps. By allowing hands-free iPad usage, the iPad can become even more accessible in a host of situations. But what makes the Flote m2 worth its $299 price tag? Why pick the Flote over other cheaper floor stands?

Key features

The Flote is an impressive piece of design and a remarkable example of quality engineering. It consists of three key components, a heavy base, a foldable telescopic arm and a spring loaded clip, all constructed from high quality lacquered metal, no cheap plastics here!

The clip is perhaps the most innovative aspect of the design. As you can see from our photos, the clip is held in position at the end of the telescopic arm by a powerful magnetic ball joint. This joint allows for close to 360° of movement. It is spring loaded and be opened to 20 centimetres, or thereabouts. Not wide enough to grasp the iPad Air by it's short edges, but plenty wide enough to grasp it by it's long edges.

The base is very heavy. The weight is necessary though, for without it the stand would topple with the telescopic arm at full reach.

This combination of parts makes the Flote the most useful iPad floor stand we have ever used. It means the iPad can be positioned a metre above ground height while extending a metre across a desk, sofa, bed or bath(!). It means that in its full vertical position it can hold the iPad almost 2 metres high. In any of these positions the magnetically attached ball jointed clip can itself be positioned at practically any angle. It’s quite remarkable.

What we liked

It’s beautiful, certainly the most beautiful iPad floor stand we’ve seen, and as we have already mentioned, it’s something that even Jony Ive would be proud of. The silver lacquered finish complements Apple products perfectly. The solidity is reassuring, and the build quality almost faultless.

We’ve been using the Flote for a couple of months and have found it to be more useful than any other floor stand we’ve used previously. Being able to ‘hover’ the iPad at almost any practical height and at all angles makes the iPad even more usable in certain situations. It’s not just iPads, almost any current tablet, e-reader or large smartphone (phablet) will fit the clip. For example, we were just about able to use it with the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, albeit in a rugged case.

A few concerns

We have just a couple of concerns, things that you should be aware of before considering the Flote. The weight of the base, a necessary feature of such a flexible stand, means that it’s only luggable. By luggable we mean that carrying it from room to room is possible, but not recommended. I carried it for just over a mile in order to take the photos you see here, let’s just say it was a good workout!

The clip features rubber pads to protect the iPad from scratches. They work as intended when the iPad is in position, but the edges of the clip could potentially scratch the iPad when putting it into the clip. For this reason, we would not recommend using the Flote with a naked iPad. The clip is big enough to take almost any sized tablet in any sized case, and we recommend that you take advantage of this.

Wrap-up

For some people the Flote will make life with the iPad more enjoyable. Watching movies, FaceTiming family, reading, even painting are all enhanced by the Flote, but for the disabled or the elderly, the Flote could well be indispensable. It’s not cheap, but then neither is the iPad, and like the iPad you are paying for the quality of the industrial design and it's extra utility over lesser products.

It’s impossible to cover every question in a review, so if you have anything specific you’d like to know about the Flote, please ask us in the comments section below.

Purchase link: The Flote m2 floor stand

At the intersection of liberal arts and technology

Probably the most powerful Apple advert in a long while. Here Apple is once again promoting the iPad as a platform for creativity... as if we had forgotten!

Spacial computing, how the iPad will soon understand its environment

For a while it was looking as if 4K video might represent the upper end of high quality image capture throughout 2014. However, Occipital are looking to push way beyond simply capturing the world around us in flat slices of information, with Structure Sensor the iPad will be able to capture environmental depth data upon which the image data from the iPad's camera can be overlaid. The video above explains how this works in practice, and the official website goes into a lot more detail.

At the end of last year Apple purchased PrimeSense, the company responsible for the original Kinect camera for Xbox. Kinect is similar to Structure Sensor, so it seems likely that Apple is working on incorporating this kind of 3D capture technology into at least some if its products. Exciting times ahead, for sure.

iRing brings volumetric motion control to the iPad

Recent rumours suggested that Apple might include some kind of volumetric motion controller with its mythical TV. It turns out that IK Multimedia have beat Apple to it, also securing the iRing name, no less.

While we think that it's only a matter of a year or two before this kind of iPad gesture interaction will be possible without the need to wear any extra hardware. We certainly welcome IK's brave step into the next wave of computer/human interaction. IK clearly has music in mind with iRing, but it certainly recognises how iRig could be used in games and beyond. 

'No further' by Nikolai Lockertsen

It's always a pleasure to share Nikko's work.

Further reading: Nikolai Lockertsen

Waterlogue, a strong contender for the best app of 2013

We've been keen to try Waterlogue, the auto watercolour app, ever since it was first announced. The early example images shared by Tinrocket looked almost too good to be true. Surely these images have been 'improved' by hand, we thought. But no, after playing with Waterlogue for a few hours, it's clear that Tinrocket has produced something quite remarkable, organic, living watercolour paintings through clever software only. That's not to say that you don't need an eye for a good composition, or an understanding of watercolour, both help massively.

The interface is simple. Pick your photo, then pick from one of 12 presets and leave the rest to Tinrocket's amazing code. The results can be fine tuned before sharing. It's very simple, but the results are like nothing anything else we have ever seen.

Is this the end of the road for hand painted watercolours? No, not at all. As remarkable as Waterlogue is, the artwork that it produces has a Waterlogue look. We think that Waterlogue is best used as a tool for artists who have yet to explore the wonders of watercolour. As such, Waterlogue is an invaluable aid.

Be sure to check out the official Waterlogue Flickr group for many more wonderful Waterlogue paintings.

App Store Link: Waterlogue

Apple's iPad 5 and iPad mini 2 launch event to be streamed live!

We have a suspicion there's going to be lot's of new toys (hardware and software) for creative iPad owners to play with after tonight's show. Be sure to tune-in

New iPads are a given, but we are also expecting updated iLife apps, plus some kind of iPad cover which could be a bit special given that Apple alluded to it in the teaser invite.

Apple TV fans will be hoping for a serious update to the Apple TV software and perhaps new hardware. A full blown App Store of its own plus game controller support would open up a brand new market for Apple and please many iOS gamers.

Only a few hours until we find out!

'After Dark (Original Club Mix)' by Sensadark, using iPolysix to great effect

This is just such a great sound! Some really impressive work here, especially from around 4:20. Catch all of Sensadark's work over at SoundCloud.

KORG produce a great range of iPad apps, iPolysix is one of its best.

Further Reading: Tune-in Tuesday

'Drew Barrymore' by David Chong

We've featured David's work before, but this is just perfect. Such great use of colour!