Mac|Life - Reviews http://www.maclife.com/articles/22/feed en Review: Tonality http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_tonality <!--paging_filter--><p>Tonality looks a lot like Intensify Pro but, in keeping with the monochrome tone, the entire interface is black and white, save for yellow highlights for selected tools and active banks of sliders. Like Intensify, it’ll happily edit JPEG and raw files with a 16-bit processing engine. Unlike its stablemate, however, the presets and sliders are geared towards one purpose. Open an image and it’s immediately rendered in black and white, the presets along the bottom of the interface showing thumbnails of the effects.&nbsp;</p><p>Black and white photography is amenable to variations in contrast/texture, which can help viewers focus on composition and subject. Thankfully, Tonality has Adaptive Exposure and Smart Contrast settings to take the guesswork out of mono conversion, with the Micro Structure slider adding sharpness. Note: changes aren’t saved until you export the final image, so don’t worry about damaging your color originals.</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2015/01/tonality_620.png" width="620" height="340" /></p><p>A nice touch is the selection of virtual colored filters that match those used by black and white film photographers over their lenses. Aperture featured a similar system, and it’s nice to see a traditional technique replicated in new software.</p><p>Obviously, not every image is suitable for converting to black and white, and part of the skill of a successful conversion is in picking a photograph that will be enhanced. When you’ve played with Tonality for long enough you’ll realize the color info is there, it’s just that the saturation sliders are set to zero. This opens up one of the most powerful features of the software: the ability to set split toning and selective color effects. The app effectively becomes a custom Instagram generator, creating grainy, vintage-looking masterpieces with vignettes and frame — ideal for social media. Any collection of slider settings can be saved as a preset for quick application, but it will be a long time before you use up the 150+ presets, including film emulation, vintage looks, and HDR.</p><p>Tonality opens up into a flexible photo editing system that creates striking effects quickly and at no risk to your originals. It’s not a one-stop editing shop — you’ll want to pair this with Lightroom, Photoshop Elements, or Intensify Pro. But if mono’s your thing, this is a great addition.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> A great app to complement your image editor, with many ways to achieve striking shots.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-the-bottom-line"><legend>Review Synopsis</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-product"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Product:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Tonality</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-company"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Company:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> MacPhun Software </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-contact"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Contact:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://www.macphun.com" target="_blank">www.macphun.com</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-price"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Price:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> $24.99 </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-requirements"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Requirements:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Mac running&nbsp;OS X 10.8 or later, 4GB RAM, 512MB video RAM</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-positives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Positives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Runs fast. Many powerful tools. Non-destructive editing.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-negatives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Negatives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Limited in scope.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_tonality#comments Reviews image editing MacPhun monochrome Photography Photos pictures Tonality Mac Thu, 29 Jan 2015 19:00:16 +0000 Ian Evenden 21240 at http://www.maclife.com Review: Where To? 7.0 http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_where_70 <!--paging_filter--><p>Seven years after the original iPhone, mobile search remains a must-have feature. Although there are an expansive number of options available, one of the original third-party apps, first launched in 2008, continues to be at the top of its game with this latest version.</p><p>Where To? 7.0 is more than a glossy upgrade with iOS 7 good looks. Although previous users will need to repurchase (the last paid update was five releases ago), the sheer number of new and improved features make it well worth buying again.</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2015/01/whereto_620.png" width="620" height="542" /></p><p>The changes range from the modest (separating Reviews and Photos details onto their own tabs) to the long overdue (sharing options like emailing places as vCards). But our definite favorite is the addition of a free Pebble companion app. Tap an icon, and directions appear on your wrist, while vibrations alert users to upcoming turns, Apple Watch-style. It’s pretty neat, and keeps the iPhone tucked safely away in a pocket while walking.</p><p>Although Where To? is capable of serving up navigation (via Apple Maps), the app can summon other installed routing options with just a tap, or help find popular third-party solutions from the App Store. The app can also now be used with BMW ConnectedDrive vehicles for seamlessly transferring destinations from iPhone to the car’s dashboard.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> Where To? 7.0 continues a remarkable tradition as one of the best ways to find places around town, and new Pebble integration puts an end to staring at your iPhone while navigating the sidewalk.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-the-bottom-line"><legend>Review Synopsis</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-product"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Product:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Where To? 7.0&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-company"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Company:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> FutureTap GmbH </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-contact"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Contact:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://www.futuretap.com" target="_blank">www.futuretap.com</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-price"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Price:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> $2.99 </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-requirements"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Requirements:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 7.0 or later</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-positives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Positives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Still a great way to find interesting locations, now with lots of new features. Pebble support.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-negatives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Negatives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Existing users have to pay again.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_where_70#comments Reviews App AppLife Apps location finder Navigation Where To? iPad iPhone iPod Wed, 28 Jan 2015 19:00:52 +0000 J.R. Bookwalter 21236 at http://www.maclife.com Review: iMac with 5K Retina Display http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_imac_5k_retina_display <!--paging_filter--><p>Apple’s first Retina iMac is better than 4K, and the result is truly astonishing. The stand-out feature is obviously the display; otherwise, this iMac is outwardly no different to the other 27-inch models, including its selection of ports. At a resolution of 5,120x2,880, its screen is easily the highest resolution display Apple has ever used, yet doesn’t compromise on brightness, viewing angles or color reproduction.&nbsp;</p><p>There are over 14.7 million pixels here, and the level of detail is simply mind-blowing. A photo from an iPhone’s measly 8-megapixel camera doesn’t even fill up two thirds of the total space. We’ve been throwing up huge 36-megapixel images to test it, zooming and picking out things like the license plates in cars in wide city shots. It often leaves you shaking your head in wonder — it feels ridiculous.</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2015/01/imac5k_620.png" width="620" height="413" /></p><p>You might ask, in fact, if it isn’t too ridiculous. You might ask if it isn’t for you — how many people will actually make use of that kind of resolution, after all?</p><p>Well, more pixels doesn’t just mean more detail, it means more space. With this being a Retina Mac, Apple makes sure that most interface elements actually appear at roughly the same physical size that they would on the non-Retina 27-inch iMac, but everything is much smoother and more detailed.&nbsp;</p><p>In single-core performance, our benchmarks show the 5K iMac to be the fastest machine Apple makes — and we didn’t even have the faster 4GHz CPU option in our review unit. On the graphics side, it’s a little more complicated. The standard GPU in the iMac is not especially impressive on paper considering the price and the number of pixels it has to push, but in our everyday use, it seemed more than up to the task.</p><p>The Retina iMac comes with 8GB of RAM as standard: enough for basic use, but pretty meager for a $2,500 computer. You can upgrade the RAM yourself — there’s a panel on the back and two slots are empty — but only up to 32GB.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> If you’re tempted — and you should be — and if you can afford it, this is a brilliant desktop.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Specs:<br /></strong>Display: 5,120x2,880 5K Retina display &nbsp;<br />Processor: Intel Core i5 quad-core 3.5GHz &nbsp;<br />Graphics: AMD R9 M290X 2GB GDDR5 &nbsp;<br />Memory: 8GB 1600MHz &nbsp;<br />Storage: 1TB Fusion Drive (hybrid SSD/hard drive)</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-the-bottom-line"><legend>Review Synopsis</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-product"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Product:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>iMac with 5K retina display</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-company"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Company:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Apple, Inc. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-contact"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Contact:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://www.apple.com" target="_blank">www.apple.com</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-price"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Price:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> $2,499 </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-requirements"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Requirements:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>N/A</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-positives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Positives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>That glorious 5K display. Quiet and mostly unobtrusive. Largely well-specced.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-negatives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Negatives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>8GB of RAM is disappointing.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_imac_5k_retina_display#comments Reviews 27-inch Apple Mac Hardware iMac iMac with 5K Retina display Ultra HD Mac Tue, 27 Jan 2015 18:50:21 +0000 Matt Bolton 21233 at http://www.maclife.com Review: Notability http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_notability <!--paging_filter--><p>Note-taking is best done at speed. If you have to switch apps to capture text, handwriting, illustrations, and voice recordings, you’re certain to miss something, so being able to handle a variety of different elements within one single app is Notability’s master stroke.</p><p>The individual tools are smart too: the ink pen lays down variable widths for greater realism, and each stroke is recorded separately. So, if a set of your scribblings over-runs another, you can simply delete the top or bottom bit of scrawl by striking through it with the eraser, leaving everything else untouched.</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2015/01/notability_620.png" width="620" height="388" /></p><p>Audio recordings play back at single, 1.5x or double-speed, or 70% of their original rate, and a single document can contain multiple tracks, which you switch between using a drop-down menu. Any notes you made while recording the track will also appear in time with the audio.</p><p>Admittedly, the text formatting options are basic, covering bold, italic and underline and a range of font sizes, but only 46 typefaces. However, look at it this way: by locking out most of your pre-installed fonts this way, Notability should sync more smoothly and uniformly between its OS X and iOS editions.</p><p>Syncing takes place over iCloud, and you can back up your work to Dropbox or Google Drive. Inside the app, notes are organized into subjects, and related subjects can be corralled in dividers for keeping things filed away. You can search notes too, but there’s no option to attach keywords to them.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> Its “catch-all” approach makes Notability an effective and genuinely pleasurable app to use.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-the-bottom-line"><legend>Review Synopsis</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-product"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Product:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Notability</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-company"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Company:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Ginger Labs </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-contact"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Contact:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://www.gingerlabs.com" target="_blank">www.gingerlabs.com</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-price"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Price:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> $4.99 </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-requirements"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Requirements:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>OS X 10.9 or later, 64-bit processor, iCloud (if you want to synchronize notes)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-positives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Positives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Inexpensive. Smart drawing tools. Audio recording built in.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-negatives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Negatives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>No free Evernote-rivalling option available.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_notability#comments Reviews handwriting notability note taking voice recording Mac Thu, 22 Jan 2015 19:30:00 +0000 Nik Rawlinson 21214 at http://www.maclife.com Review: CounterSpy http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_counterspy <!--paging_filter--><p>2.5D stealth shooter CounterSpy joins a growing list of high-calibre console-style games on iOS, with an experience almost on par with the $15 console version. It sports gorgeous graphics and a suave style that nicely complements its 1960s spy fiction shenanigans, and the intuitive controls feel tailor-made for iOS.</p><p>CounterSpy is a remarkably light-hearted affair. Your task is not to prevent nuclear war but to keep the morons on both sides from blasting a rocket into the moon, destroying all life as we know it in the resulting shrapnel, and you must do so with only your wits, a few guns, and up to three “formulas” — perks, essentially, that do things like lower the DEFCON level or let you run stealthily.</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/counterspy_620.png" width="620" height="465" /></p><p>Each mission takes you through several areas filled with surveillance cameras and varying flavors of guards, plus machines to “hack” into (you really just double tap on them, then they explode) and lockers to open — granting you health or cash to buy gear for the next mission. Reach the end and you get blueprints for the launch plans; complete enough missions without reaching DEFCON 1 and a countdown reaching zero, and the world will be saved.</p><p>Normal difficulty requires little stealth or strategy, provided you forgo most items and run for the target, but on Advanced and Expert, going in guns blazing will only get you killed.</p><p>Moving around involves swipes and taps. Aiming takes a tad more dexterity, and a double tap is used to melee enemies, take cover, open lockers and blow up terminals — the unfortunate result being repeated deaths caused by doing something unexpected. But as frustrating as this is, CounterSpy is an excellent romp through a bizarre alternate history Cold War.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> A perfect blend of stealth and frantic action with stellar presentation to boot, CounterSpy only falls down on a few minor context-sensitive control hiccups.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-the-bottom-line"><legend>Review Synopsis</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-product"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Product:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>CounterSpy</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-company"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Company:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Dynamighty </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-contact"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Contact:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://www.dynamighty.com" target="_blank">www.dynamighty.com</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-price"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Price:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> $4.99 </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-requirements"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Requirements:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 7.0 or later</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-positives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Positives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Stellar presentation. Cross-Play features for owners of the PlayStation version. Satisfying stealth. Fun action and platforming.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-negatives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Negatives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Context-sensitive controls get finicky in tight spaces or when trying to climb ladders at speed. Not quite as full-featured as the console version.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_counterspy#comments Reviews action CounterSpy spy stealth iPad iPhone iPod Games Wed, 21 Jan 2015 18:55:35 +0000 Richard Moss 21211 at http://www.maclife.com Review: ArtRage 4.5 http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_artrage_45 <!--paging_filter--><p>ArtRage is a consumer-oriented app for working with natural media — pens, paints and the like — from the safety of your Mac’s display. The interface is friendly, if esoteric; it doesn’t look very Mac-like, but it is simple to select tools, pick colors and update settings. If palettes sprayed across your screen get too much, there’s a minimal “workbench” alternative.</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/artrage_620.png" width="620" height="388" /></p><p>The tools are broadly impressive. We especially enjoyed messing about with ink pens, the paint roller, and oils. The new grid overlay is also useful. Add it to your canvas and your scribbles are supposed to align to the grid. It’s not perfect. Often, the line snaps to a parallel one, and the means to lock your direction is missed. However, the tool has its uses. Pinned reference images also get a grid, which is great for upscaling, and customizable ink pen smoothing makes the grid handy for lettering. A lack of smoothing gets you rigid, square letters; ramp it up for highly stylised but structured characters, albeit ones where it can be hard to predict what will happen when you stop drawing.</p><p>Elsewhere, the update brings multi-touch canvas zoom and rotation to the Mac, an injection of speed to the app’s performance, the means to deal with larger canvases before keeling over, and a handful of UI updates. A couple of years back, we said that ArtRage was an enjoyable tool for digital art dabblers and this update does nothing to change that.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> ArtRage is an entertaining app for anyone wanting to get their art on.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-the-bottom-line"><legend>Review Synopsis</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-product"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Product:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>ArtRage 4.5</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-company"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Company:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Ambient Design Ltd. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-contact"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Contact:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://www.artrage.com" target="_blank">www.artrage.com</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-price"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Price:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> $50 </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-requirements"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Requirements:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>OS X 10.6 or later</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-positives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Positives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Fun and usable. Interesting new grid tool. Faster and more stable.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-negatives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Negatives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Some weird user interface quirks.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_artrage_45#comments Reviews Art ArtRage ArtRage 4.5 drawing painting Mac Tue, 20 Jan 2015 19:03:04 +0000 Craig Grannell 21208 at http://www.maclife.com Review: Mail Designer 2 http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_mail_designer_2 <!--paging_filter--><p>When we reviewed the original Mail Designer, we concluded only those who were in the business of sending large numbers of eye-catching emails could justify the price tag — it was a niche product for marketers.</p><p>Fast forward to version 2 and you get a range of new features, including the ability to embed videos into your messages and collaborate on designs with others. The price has also been slashed, meaning that Mail Designer 2 should appeal to a wider audience, including those interested in creating standout emails for their clubs or groups.</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2015/01/maildesigner2_620.png" width="620" height="388" /></p><p>The 30 templates make it easy to get started, and so long as you stick largely to what’s there, you can have an email ready to send quickly. With a little time, you can also get more creative, thinking laterally on how to work within the app’s "layout block" system.</p><p>The principle of layout blocks is great for beginners: build up your email by combining the preset text, image and video “blocks”. You can change a block to a different type, but if you do, you lose some of the design settings you’ve applied. Advanced users may yearn for more flexibility — we often wanted to add a text column without having to trawl through pre-designed blocks, for example. That said, if you invest time setting up your templates, you can create something stunning, and results look great on a computer, tablet or smartphone.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> If you’re willing to put the time in, you can create some truly stunning email designs.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-the-bottom-line"><legend>Review Synopsis</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-product"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Product:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Mail Designer 2</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-company"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Company:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Equinux </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-contact"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Contact:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://www.equinux.com" target="_blank">www.equinux.com</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-price"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Price:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> $29.99 </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-requirements"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Requirements:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Mac running&nbsp;OS X 10.7 or later</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-positives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Positives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Results can be stunning. Can collaborate with others. Much cheaper than the previous version.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-negatives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Negatives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Designing emails requires patience.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_mail_designer_2#comments Reviews Email Mail Designer 2 marketing productivity Mac Thu, 15 Jan 2015 19:15:21 +0000 Laurence Cable 21193 at http://www.maclife.com Review: Disney Story Central http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_disney_story_central <!--paging_filter--><p>Everyone has a favorite Disney character, and now kids and parents alike can find them in one place with Disney Story Central for iPad. Also available as a tablet-optimized website, it offers four free books of your choosing just for downloading, with more than 150 others available via in-app purchase.</p><p>The app includes a variety of stories featuring familiar characters across traditional animation properties (Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh), modern classics (<em>Frozen</em>, <em>Wreck-It Ralph</em>), Disney Junior, and Pixar favorites like Monsters University, Toy Story 3, and Cars. Curated collections make it easy to get started.</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2015/01/disneystorycentral.png" width="620" height="411" /></p><p>Parents can purchase tokens (best deal: $24.99 for 25 books), establishing Reader accounts for one or more kids so everyone has their own customized bookshelf. Readers earn trophies and awards for completed books, and adults can share tokens so little ones have the freedom to make their own choices without pesky in-app purchase restrictions.</p><p>New titles are added to Story Central each week, and more than 100 titles include read-along audio narration from beloved Disney characters, which can be played automatically to entertain little ones who can’t read on their own yet. A musical score accompanies most titles in auto or guided mode.</p><p>We love how Disney Story Central empowers youngsters while encouraging them to come back for more, but the app is less interesting for older kids, since the shelves are currently bare of superhero fare from Disney-owned Marvel.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> A delightful way &nbsp;to inspire good reading habits that could become a spendy habit.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-the-bottom-line"><legend>Review Synopsis</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-product"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Product:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Disney Story Central</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-company"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Company:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Disney Enterprises, Inc. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-contact"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Contact:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://www.disneystorycentral.com" target="_blank">www.disneystorycentral.com</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-price"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Price:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Free </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-requirements"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Requirements:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>iPad running&nbsp;iOS 7.0 or later</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-positives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Positives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Wide variety of books featuring favorite Disney characters. Get four books for free. Encourages kids to read.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-negatives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Negatives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Can get expensive quickly.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_disney_story_central#comments Reviews App AppLife Apps Disney Disney Story Central Frozen Kids Reading iPad Wed, 14 Jan 2015 18:03:57 +0000 J.R. Bookwalter 21189 at http://www.maclife.com Review: Seek Thermal Camera http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_seek_thermal_camera <!--paging_filter--><p>Remember at the end of the classic Arnold Schwarzenegger movie <em>Predator</em> when viewers learned that the alien saw everything not through the normal visual spectrum, but through thermal imagery? Such technology was practically the stuff of science fiction back when that film came out, but now, thanks to your iOS device and the Seek Thermal camera, infrared vision is within reach of the everyday consumer.</p><p>The Seek Thermal isn't the first camera to let you visually perceive hot and cold through an iOS device, but it's the first one to attach via the Lightning port; it's also arguably the best. Though its 206x156 pixel array doesn't sound especially large, by infrared standards it's pretty respectable (it's more than double the size of the competition), and it allows you to see recognizable, albeit blurry, objects from a decent distance. The detectable temperature range (-40 to 626 degrees fahrenheit) is impressive as well. Unlike the competing Flir One camera, however, the Seek Thermal's infrared camera does not augment its image with data from a visual camera; on one hand, this keeps the Seek Thermal's cost down (it's about $100 less than the Flir One at MSRP), but it also results in less fine detail in the imagery.</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2015/01/seek_thermal_hardware_620.png" width="620" height="495" /></p><p>The Seek Thermal also comes equipped with a decent variety of options. You can take infrared video as well as stills, perform split-screen thermal/visual comparisons (using the iOS device's built-in camera), and choose from nine different color palettes (including full rainbow, black and white, red and blue, and more). Additionally, you can watermark images with temperature, location, or the Seek Thermal logo. (Tip: You'll probably want to disable the logo watermark ASAP.) Be warned, though — the choppy 9 Hz refresh rate means you'll have a hard time photographing anything that isn't standing still.</p><p>Another potential drawback is the fact that the camera runs off of your iOS device's internal power. While it's convenient to not have to charge the Seek Thermal separately, it drains power fairly quickly, and there's no passthrough to recharge while the camera is in use. On top of that, the device's connection to our iPhones could be flaky on occasion — sometimes the camera would stop working until we disconnected and reattached it.</p><p>Ultimately, though, none of those issues are significant enough to get in the way of a recommendation; the biggest determining factor is probably how much interest you have in infrared. There aren't a ton of practical uses for thermal cameras (though there are a few), essentially making this a fun hobbyist accessory.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> The Seek Thermal camera has some rough spots, but it does a great job of turning your iOS device into a genuine, consumer-friendly thermal-imaging tool. If you have any interest in infrared, it's more than worth a look.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-the-bottom-line"><legend>Review Synopsis</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-product"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Product:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Seek Thermal Camera (iOS)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-company"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Company:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Seek Thermal, Inc. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-contact"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Contact:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://thermal.com" target="_blank">thermal.com</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-price"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Price:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> $249 </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-requirements"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Requirements:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>iPhone 5 (or newer), iPad (4th generation or newer), or iPod Touch (5th generation) running iOS 7 or later</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-positives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Positives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>An actual, authentic infrared camera at a decent price. Better resolution and lower cost than the competition. Decent selection of options. Works with any Lightning-equipped iOS device.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-negatives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Negatives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Low refresh rate. No passthrough for charging. Connection can be flaky.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_seek_thermal_camera#comments Gallery Reviews accessory camera infrared iOS Seek Thermal thermal imaging iPad iPhone iPod Tue, 13 Jan 2015 18:41:14 +0000 Chris Hoffman 21186 at http://www.maclife.com Review: Transcend ESD400 Portable SSD (512GB) http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_transcend_esd400_portable_ssd_512gb <!--paging_filter--><p>This portable SSD doesn’t take the honor of the smallest and lightest drive of its kind from Freecom’s mSSD, yet at just under two ounces, it’s still perfectly pocketable. Transcend has opted for a plastic enclosure with rounded edges and, like the mSSD, you need to carry the cable to connect it up.</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2015/01/transcendssd_620.png" width="620" height="445" /></p><p>A USB 3.0 port gives you the best performance from this drive, which Transcend says can read data at up to 410MB/s (we actually measured a peak rate of 435.9MB/s). The drive peaked at 366.9MB/s when writing, rather than the 380MB/s stated. Averages when reading and writing sequentially were 363.3MB/s and 309.4MB/s — similar to Freecom’s drive.</p><p>In the toughest test — randomly transferring small amounts of data — the ESD400 is slightly slower than the mSSD. Its mean averages of 138.1MB/s when reading and 196.8MB/s when writing, respectively, are still fast. But the ESD400 comes in larger capacities than the mSSD without the larger price tag (Amazon sells the 512GB ESD400 for less than $250, while the 256GB mSSD costs over $400). This also compares well to buying a 500GB mSATA drive and an enclosure to put it in.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> The ESD400 is compact and speedy, and packs in plenty of capacity at a great price.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-the-bottom-line"><legend>Review Synopsis</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-product"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Product:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>ESD400 Portable SSD (512GB)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-company"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Company:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Transcend </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-contact"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Contact:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://www.transcend-info.com" target="_blank">www.transcend-info.com</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-price"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Price:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> $299.99 </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-requirements"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Requirements:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Mac OS X 10.5 or later</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-positives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Positives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Very good price per gigabyte. Good transfer rates on average. Appealing size and weight.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-negatives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Negatives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Not the overall fastest mini SSD.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_transcend_esd400_portable_ssd_512gb#comments Reviews accessory ESD200 Portable SSD hardware portable solid state drive SSD Storage Transcend Mac Thu, 08 Jan 2015 18:20:10 +0000 Alan Stonebridge 21168 at http://www.maclife.com