Review – Agent 18 EcoShield For iPhone 3G and iPod Touch Gen2


On December 31, 2008

If you have a new iPhone or iPod Touch no doubt you’re looking for the best way to protect it. Fortunately, there are an endless number of options now available. You can choose an invisible skins that provides scratch protection. At the other extreme you might pick up an Otterbox case, some of which can actually be submerged underwater for a brief period of time. Or you might choose a case that falls somewhere in between the two.

One of the case manufacturers with whom I have become familiar is, at least in my circles, a lesser-known company that’s worth knowing. The Agent 18 company is, in their own words,

a bunch of nerdy engineers that spend a lot of time with our iPods, iPhones, Zunes and Computers, and…them being our babies, protection is important to us! All of our products are designed in sunny California, or on a plane, or sometime when we’re out running in the park! Our goal is to design products that we would use for products that we love.

I’ve owned a number of their products have been completely satisfied with each. I especially like the fact that the cases not only provide low profile, unassuming protection, but that their products are also created from recycled plastic bottles and. (Hence the name of their products.)

This week I want to take a quick look at one option they offer up to protect the iPhone 3G. and one for the second-generation iPod Touch.

Vaja ivolution SP Case Review


On December 24, 2008

First, I must admit something to you about myself.  I am a natural materials fanatic.  Which means that I love when items are made from natural materials (wood, stone, leather, etc.) instead of plastics.  And if those natural materials are of a high quality, all the better.  After reading through Vaja’s site, I noticed that they claim to use the top 10% of Argentina’s full grain leather hides, which ensures a higher quality, strength, character, and grain.  So imagine my excitement when I opened the white box containing the sample Vaja case sent to us, and I immediately saw the unmarred, perfectly colored leather case.  I’m almost embarrassed to tell you, I even smelled the leather and knew this was the high quality which Vaja claimed on its site.

This review will cover three things about the Vaja case.  My initial impressions, the aesthetics of the case, and the protective qualities of the case.

Review – Jabra SP 700 Bluetooth Speakerphone


On December 18, 2008

A few years ago I traded in my 4-5 minute commute to work for one that, on a good day, is at least a half hour. (And if the roads are even the slightest bit slick or the traffic a little heavy, it takes at least 45 minutes or more.) While I know that’s not a long commute by most people’s standards compared to 4-5 minutes it’s been a significant change. As a result, I try to keep my eye on traffic patterns and I do my best to make the most of the time in the car. Sometimes it means listening to music or catching up on podcasts but often it means being on the phone either with someone else or with Jott.  Unfortunately, most of my driving between home and the office is on the highway and my Subaru Outback, while good with regard to helping ensure that I can get in when I need to, is pretty darn noisy. I’ve lost count of the number of times my assistant has told me that she could no longer hear me even though we had an excellent connection.

So since moving I’ve been on the lookout for a good hands-free system. I’ve found a number that are quite good but none that I really loved.

Last Minute Gift For An iPhone Fan? Check Out Element Case’s Liquid Cases


On December 16, 2008

Looking for a memorable last minute holiday gift for your favorite iPhone fan? Well we’ve got an idea for you! Element Cases’ new Liquid Cases for the iPhone Classic and 3G are custom-built, high-impact polymer cases that are each hand-painted and individually personalized.

The super hard-shell offers extreme protection and the laser engraving makes each case botbothh personal and unique. While you can choose from a wide selection of stylized art, Element Case will even custom engrave your choice of logos on front and back.

The protection and the uniqueness, doesn’t stop there, however.

Review – Xlink Bluetooth Gateway BTTN


On December 11, 2008

My wife and I have had multiple telephone lines since we were first married. Most of the time we had two lines, a "house phone" that was for personal use and a "work line" that I used professionally. That changed last year when I got rid of my "work line". I was using my cell phone almost all the time and having to check messages on both lines became a pain. Moreover, I found myself using the landline less and less.

As a result, for the last year or so when I am in front of my computer I use Skype to make calls and the rest of the time I just use my cell phone. It’s worked rather well for me except for two small issues — being tied down to my iMac for Skype calls is a bit limiting, and my house tends to have spotty cell phone reception. That isn’t a good combination and I was considering getting a landline once again. Thanks to the Xlink Bluetooth Gateway that won’t be happening any time soon.

I saw the press release about the Xlink Bluetooth Gateway and wanted to give it a try. The Xlink lets you easily combine your home or small office telephone system with up to three Bluetooth™ mobile phones. There are no extra cables or modules to buy! That’s right, you can create a multi-line phone system using your cell phone and existing phone system. Moreover, the BTTN version of the Xlink allows you to also continue using a landline!

So the concept is this- when you are within 30-50 feet of the device (and the Bluetooth on your phone is activated and the phone has previously been paired with the device) the Xlink automatically transfers calls that come into your cell phone ring any phone on the household phone system. Similarly, if you pick up the house phone and begin to dial, you’ll dial out using the cell phone and its connection even though you are on the household system.

It’s a neat idea, but I wasn’t quite sure how it would work in the real world.

Review – Cell Ranger… Boosts Your Bars


On December 10, 2008

I used to love watching late night commercials. You know the ones where the product was too good to be true at a too low to believe price.

"It dices, it slices and it will stay sharp for one thousand years or your money back! Order now and we’ll throw in five more sets at no additional cost. All this for the low price of just $7.99"


"The Weblo Cooker makes a five course meal in just three minutes! That’s right, from freezer to table in minutes AND the meal will rival the finest restaurant. Best of all is it yours for just 3 easy payments of $9! But wait… there’s more…"

Yeah! Right! I’m overstating it but not by much and, after getting burned a few times (I never said I was a quick study) I realized- if it is too good to be true… it isn’t true.

So each time I have seen advertisements for cellphone reception boosters I passed. The problem is- I really need one.

A few years ago we moved. It was a good trade- more land, nicer house but unfortunately in the process we went from great to marginal (at best) reception. It is a problem since I live and work off my cell phone. As a result, for the past few years I have stopped down the street as I came home each night and forwarded my cell to the home number. (Can you say "annoying"?)

So when Wayne asked is any of us might be interested in a CellRanger Signal booster he had just reviewed I figured, "Why not?" The promises are lofty- increased data speeds and "over 200% increase in signal stregnth"! I was skeptical.

It came two days later. (Thanks Wayne!!) I plugged it into my iMac (it uses the usb for power) and I turned it on. My expectation were rather low.

Set up was a breeze but did it work? Take a look–

Review- Etymotic hf2 Noise Isolating Headset



Apple’s new in-ear headphones have been in the news lately. Word is they’re pretty good- not great, but good. I’m hoping to have a chance to test them out soon but I don’t have much incentive right now. You see, for the past few months I have been using Etymotic’s hf2s and they are nothing short of amazing.

Let me go back a bit in my iPhone-history.

About this time last year I was getting pretty sick of the stock Apple earbuds so I ordered a pair of  Etymotic 6i Isolators. They were my first pair of in-ear buds and I could not believe how much better they sounded than what I had been using. I did, however, have two small reservations with regard to them. First, they had a thin 5′ cord which tended to get tangled a bit too often. Second, they lacked an in-line microphone so I still needed to carry my stock Apple buds, as well. These were, however, small concerns compared to the vastly improved sound I was now enjoying. I was quite pleased with my purchase.

Last spring I began using the Etymotic’s hf2s. Wow! They were, and remain, one of the best possible iPhone accessories ever.

Review – Speck See Thru Skins


On December 4, 2008

I utterly, utterly hate it when something I obtain in new condition gets scratched or dirtied in some way to lose its “fresh” status.  Whether it is a car or a computer or simply a toy, I want it to remain in brand-new condition forever.  It could be a holdover from my childhood, where I tended to not play with used toys even if I were the only one to have used it.

One of the big appeals of the iPhone and iPod Touch (and the Apple products in general) is that they look sleek and new, even futuristic.  They have that solid silver hull on which a scratch would be the visual equivalent of a nail running against a chalkboard.  With this in mind, a purchase I made shortly after obtaining my iPod Touch was one of the hard cases for it sold by the company Speck.

The Speck shells come in a variety of colors.  I decided to purchase a 2 pack of the See Thru skins in case one skin ever got so scratched or damaged that I had to get rid of it.  I settled on the colors of aqua and pink.  When it eventually arrived in the mail, I opted to cover my iTouch with the pink skin first for two reasons:   First, I am so comfortable with my masculinity that I could walk around with a pink iPod and not feel ashamed or threatened in the least.  Second, it was the color my girlfriend preferred.

I have been taking my skinned iTouch to work virtually every day, watching movies and/or television shows on it during my long, weary bus commute and I have to say that the durable casing fits perfectly around the dimensions of the iTouch.  While the surface is getting severely manhandled and scratched, I am comforted by the fact that my iTouch is safely enclosed within it looking more-or-less new.

If you decide to purchase the Speck casing, I have a few words of warning.  Installation is a hassle at first.  It takes a few tries to work out how exactly to snap the shell around the player while keeping the protective screen that is included covering the touch screen.  Also, once the casing is on the device, the outer dimensions of it change.  I found that it no longer fits in the plastic stand that comes with the 1st generation device.  The shells are not interchangeable between devices, so you cannot purchase an iPhone covering in hopes it would fit the iPod Touch.

If you have an earlier generation iPod Touch or iPhone, the Speck casing comes at a considerable discount at this time.  The $30 pack of two shells is being sold at a 75% discount for $7.50.  It’s a nice price for protection of a $200-plus dollar investment.

In short, if you are paranoid like me about ruining the shine on your media player, I recommend purchasing a Speck case for yourself.  It will make the product last longer.

Review – Freehands Gloves


On December 3, 2008

Question — How ridiculous is this — spending at least $20 for a pair of gloves that allow you to expose your thumb and index finger so that you can use the iPhone without having to first take a glove off?

Answer — not ridiculous at all actually.

I Touched The iTouch More & More – And I liked it.


On December 1, 2008

Time is definitely one of those things in life that are relative. During certain activities time moves exceptionally slowly. During other activities, such as vacations, time flies by.

So it is that a week of vacation comes to an end before it even feels like it began. After a week out of the northeast’s cold who am I to complain though.

Although I brought both my iPhone and one of the new HP MiniNote 1000 netbooks with me, my primary device ended up being my Touch.

I didn’t plan it that way. In fact, I picked up the netbook the day before the trip because I planned to use it as my primary device. I ended up using the Touch most of the time though and it gave me a bit more insight into the device than I had before. In the process it convinced me even more that the device is excellent and has the potential to be even better.

So why, if I had a netbook with me did the Touch get so much more use than I expected?