Mac|Life - Reviews http://www.maclife.com/articles/22/feed en Review: Ringer 2 http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_ringer_2 <!--paging_filter--><p>Ringer is all about making the process of creating a ringtone effortless. You can load any QuickTime-compatible file (including videos), and the app helpfully places your iTunes media in its sidebar. This is rapidly filtered, Spotlight-style, so you can easily access a particular song or snippet of audio saved from another app just by typing a couple of words.</p><p>Once you’ve selected something to use as the basis for your ringtone, it’s loaded into the main editing area. You can then crop it to suit, add fades at the start and end, and determine the gap between “rings.” Hit Create and the edit is fired over to iTunes, ready to sync with your device.</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/ringer2.png" /></p><p>If that all sounds easy, that’s because it is, although a couple of snags stop Ringer from getting top marks. First, there’s no picture when working with video clips. Second, clean loops can be tricky to gauge because the zoom level doesn’t go quite far enough, and Ringer’s preview isn’t seamless. But for four bucks, this is otherwise a great app for turning your existing media into ringtones for your phone. And, although iTunes integration is the default, it’s possible to save files to the Finder in M4R, M4A, AAC, and WAV.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> Ringer is a simple means of creating ringtones that’s usable, polished, and has just enough editing capabilities.</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>Ringer 2.0.4</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"> Pixel Research 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.pixelresearchlabs.com" target="_blank">www.pixelresearchlabs.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"> $7.99 </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 10.7 or later, 64-bit processor, iTunes, an iPhone</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>Easy to use. iTunes integration. Saves to several formats.</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>Tricky to make clean loops.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_ringer_2#comments Reviews custom ringtone iPhone Mac Pixel Research Labs Ringer 2 Ringtone Tue, 29 Jul 2014 17:57:37 +0000 Craig Grannell 20387 at http://www.maclife.com Review: OmniOutliner Pro 4 http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review-omnioutliner-pro-4-mac <!--paging_filter--><p>OmniOutliner Pro is all about structure. It’s like a combination of a word processor and the list- and table-making capabilities of Excel. In fact, if you commonly use Excel as a simple list-based database, you’ll find OmniOutliner a more powerful dedicated option. Likewise, if you want to create long documents that depend on a rigorous application of structure, such as technical documentation, OmniOutliner is a great option.</p><p><img src="/files/u324771/omnioutliner_1_0.png" width="620" height="352" /></p><p><strong>OmniOutliner Pro can be used for virtually any list-making or long-document task.</strong></p><p>Version 4.0 features a redesigned interface and is now Mavericks-only. As with previous versions of OmniOutliner, it’s easy to create consistently styled outlines. Unlike the outliners built into word processors, there’s a strong focus on keyboard commands, which, for the professional writer, is a huge advantage. Features such as Focus View (which lets you display only the current row and all its “children”) are great when you’re working on a lot of information.</p><p>OmniOutliner Pro is powerful, but the features in the Pro version are probably not worth the extra $50 over the regular version. Pro allows you to export files in .docx format, for instance, but the regular version exports in Word-readable RTF.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> If you need an outliner, this is the one to get. But consider whether you really need the Pro version.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-the-bottom-line"><legend>Review Synopsis</legend><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"> The Omni Group </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.omnigroup.com" target="_blank">www.omnigroup.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"> $99.99 </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>Intel-based Mac, OS X 10.9 or later, 55MB disk space</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>The best outliner for the Mac. Extremely flexible.</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>Much pricier than non-pro version.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review-omnioutliner-pro-4-mac#comments Reviews Mac Mac Omni Group OmniOutliner Productivity Software Productivity Software Review Thu, 24 Jul 2014 18:23:59 +0000 Ian Betteridge 20367 at http://www.maclife.com Review: Bitwig Studio for Mac http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/bitwig-studio-mac <!--paging_filter--><p>Perhaps the most eagerly anticipated music-related software of the past few years is Bitwig Studio, a full-featured DAW (digital audio workstation) designed by former employees of Ableton, the company that made the popular program <a href="http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/ableton_live_8" target="_blank">Ableton Live</a>. It bears more than a passing resemblance to that application, with a slew of additional enhancements and unique features to clearly differentiate it and make it a viable tool for live and studio work.</p><p><img src="/files/u324771/bitwig_1.png" width="620" height="331" /></p><p><strong>The ability to display the Clip launcher and Arrange panels next to each other in a single window is a real improvement over Ableton Live.</strong></p><p>Bitwig veers away from the standard multitrack approach of traditional DAW software and instead embraces the mindset established by Ableton Live: clips are self-contained, layered musical segments created with internal softsynths, samplers, or pre-baked musical loops, and are triggered via a clip-launcher panel (designed for live performance), while the Arrange panel is where clips are sequenced in a timeline along with sampled audio (such as vocal passages), or recorded external instruments (think guitar solos). A mixer view lets you ride the virtual track faders, and a separate edit view delivers precision, event-level editing, and track automation. Bitwig offers some uniquely powerful nesting and linking of effects and instruments in ways that go far beyond the scope of this review but are indeed unparalleled in the DAW market.</p><p>There is a decent (if somewhat limited) range of included musical instruments, including a nice polyphonic synth, drawbar organ, drum machine, and a sampler. You’ll likely want to use external softsynths, however, and here is where we found a big gremlin: Bitwig lets you use VST plugins with ease (unusual for a Mac DAW), but, surprisingly, there is currently no support for Audio Units plugins — a significant oversight. Bitwig also lacks ReWire support, limiting its connectivity with other music applications, which is a notable drawback.</p><p><img src="/files/u324771/bitwig_2.png" width="620" height="420" /></p><p><strong>There are a lot more audio effects plugins in Bitwig — these are just a sampling — and they all sound stellar and offer extensive modulation options.</strong></p><p>The range and quality of the bundled Bitwig effects is a more promising situation, with an excellent compressor, a few different equalizers, a very smooth reverb, highly customizable filter, a pair of delays, and much more. All of these instruments and effects offer a level of cross-modulation control that gives us a glimpse of the underlying modular architecture of Bitwig — suffice it to say that it far surpasses most other audio software, and is most comparable to the extensive modulation and scripting options of Adobe After Effects. Bitwig is a natural for crafting complex, shifting aural textures that pulse and shimmer, as if alive.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> It would be almost impossible for any third-party DAW software to currently offer more value than Apple’s potent Logic Pro X (which is a bargain at $199), but if you’re curious about a different way to create and perform electronic music, and don’t mind dealing with the slightly rough edges around a 1.0 product, Bitwig is certainly worthy of consideration. It costs nothing to download the fully functional demo at the Bitwig website, and while it’s a bit expensive at $399, you might discover it’s the perfect songwriting partner for your music.</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>Bitwig Studio</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"> Bitwig </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.bitwig.com/en/home/recent-news.html" target="_blank">www.bitwig.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"> $399 </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 with an Intel CPU and OSX 10.7.1 or later, 2GB RAM, 5GB disk space</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>Innovative interface. Extensive modulation options. Decent array of built-in instruments and effects. Demo available.</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 Audio Units plugin support. Lacks ReWire connectivity. Pricey.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/bitwig-studio-mac#comments Reviews Audio and Music Software Bitwig Studio DAW Review Software Tue, 22 Jul 2014 21:07:09 +0000 David Biedny 20356 at http://www.maclife.com Review: Mad Catz F.R.E.Q. M Wireless Headset http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_mad_catz_freq_m_wireless_headset <!--paging_filter--><p>Mad Catz’s F.R.E.Q. M purports to be a gaming device — which the longtime peripheral maker is known for producing — but it’s actually a rather versatile all-purpose headset for iOS users. It’s Made for iPod/iPhone/iPad certified, and pairs wirelessly over Bluetooth with any semi-recent iOS device (or a Mac), plus you can attach a standard 3.5mm audio cable and use it with anything that’ll take a headphone jack. The foldable cans pump out great stereo sound with music and movies as well as they do with games, and the built-in mic means you can take calls with decently clear back-and-forth audio without having to shed the headset. But all of that functionality comes at a rather steep price — one that makes for a tougher sell than expected.</p><p>Designed for portability, the ear cups of the headset rotate 90 degrees and can be folded in toward the headband, making it easy to store in a messenger bag. Expanded out and in its usable state, the F.R.E.Q. M is thankfully free of unnecessary bulk, with a streamlined build that’s given a dash of style thanks to little angular flourishes. Volume, track skip, and microphone mute buttons on the outer side of the right cup make it easy to move around your media, while the black leatherette cups are meant to sit on your ears, rather than envelop them. We worried that it’d be prone to sliding off during use, but we found the device both snug and comfortable.</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/07/madcatzfreqm.png" width="620" height="691" /></p><p>Considering the small profile of the headset, we were impressed by the audio output — crisp, clear stereo sound with a well-defined range. It’s perhaps a bit heavy on the bass by default, but you can use the free Mad Catz app to swap between a few equalizer settings, and the iOS Music app likewise has its own various EQ options to choose from. With no discernible difference in audio playback when connected via Bluetooth or using the included cable, the F.R.E.Q. M lives up to its promise of wireless use without compromising quality, and the internal battery lasts for 20-plus hours on a full charge.</p><p>However, the $200 price tag feels about $50 too rich for what’s on offer. Few games on the App Store support voice chat, making it a dubious investment for mobile gamers — it has more potential use in that department on Mac, really — and while the wireless connectivity is great for other media, you don’t need to drop that much cash for quality Bluetooth headphones.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> The F.R.E.Q. M delivers stellar wireless audio playback and solid voice chat, but the sticker shock is difficult to ignore.</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>F.R.E.Q. M Wireless Mobile Gaming Headset</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"> Mad Catz </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.madcatz.com" target="_blank">www.madcatz.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"> $199.99 </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, iPod touch, Mac, or anything with a 3.5mm audio jack</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>Distinctive design that’s portable-friendly. Great media sound quality. Excellent battery life. Comfortable and snug on the head.</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>Very high price tag. Build doesn’t feel quite sturdy enough for the premium price. Few iOS games have meaningful voice chat support.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_mad_catz_freq_m_wireless_headset#comments Reviews accessory Audio FREQ Gaming Headphones headset iPad iPhone iPod Mac mad catz peripheral wireless Thu, 17 Jul 2014 17:54:52 +0000 Andrew Hayward 20332 at http://www.maclife.com Review: Deckset http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_deckset <!--paging_filter--><p>For all intents and purposes, there are but two names in the desktop-presentation app business: Keynote and PowerPoint. Apple’s version might have a bit more gloss than Microsoft’s, but for the most part, it’s an either/or scenario. Each offers an attractive set of themes with an easy drag-and-drop interface that contains everything you need to make professional, engaging presentations.</p><p>Deckset wants you to consider a third option. With a stripped-down interface that stays far out of the way as you work, Deckset puts a fresh spin on the standard formula that skips the fancy graphics and hypnotizing animations, and focuses on what really matters: what you want to say.</p><p>As soon as you launch, it’s clear that Deckset is different. Where its heavyweight contemporaries dazzle us with floating pallets and sophisticated tools, Deckset doesn’t offer a single element to help with your design. There aren’t any text boxes, cropping handles, animations, or transitions to speak of — in fact, it’s so minimal you barely need to use your mouse at all.</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/07/decksetscreen_620.png" /></p><p>Instead of fiddling with borders and rotating shapes, Deckset takes all of its instructions from a simple text file. Not unlike the lines of inelegant code that are transformed into pretty websites by our browsers, the app interprets the syntax within the file to create a seamless presentation, giving you the flexibility to quickly edit your document whenever and wherever inspiration strikes.&nbsp;</p><p>The secret is Markdown. Deckset uses the popular text-to-HTML conversion tool to turn your unformatted files into attractive slides. Consequently, fonts and colors are unable to be truly personalized, but the seven available themes do well to give your work its own character. Without worrying about the design, slides come together more quickly than when using Keynote, but since there isn’t a text editor built into the app itself, we ran into some issues with updating.&nbsp;</p><p>While there’s a certain liberation in working with plain text, Deckset’s biggest strength is also its weakness. Markdown might be one of the easiest programming languages to grasp, but mastering the most rudimentary of commands still requires a basic understanding of code. As it stands, its trial-and-error method is a great tool if you’re looking to learn the syntax (and the sample presentation certainly helps), but the app is limiting its usefulness to a rather small segment of the population without any auto-formatting tools or shortcuts.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> Watching Deckset turn text into slides is quite magical, but unless you’re already a Markdown pro, the learning curve might be too steep.</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>Deckset 1.0</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"> Unsigned Integer </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://decksetapp.com" target="_blank">decksetapp.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 OS X 10.9 or higher</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>Innovative Markdown-centric approach to presentations. Nice set of themes. Ultra-minimal interface.</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>Edits need to be done outside the app. Few font and color options. Strong understanding of Markdown is a prerequisite.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_deckset#comments Reviews Deckset Mac Markdown presentation Unsigned Integer Tue, 15 Jul 2014 18:25:15 +0000 Michael Simon 20317 at http://www.maclife.com Review: Logitech X100 Mobile Wireless Speaker http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_logitech_x100_mobile_wireless_speaker <!--paging_filter--><p>Anyone who lived through the ’80s will remember those ridiculously large “portable” boom boxes that were popular toward the latter half of that decade. If you’re still sore after years of carrying a briefcase-sized stereo on your shoulders, Logitech has a new wireless speaker so small and light that even your chiropractor would approve.</p><p>The Logitech X100 is a Bluetooth A2DP-enabled wireless speaker aimed at the mobile crowd, serving up rich audio from smartphones, tablets, computers, or other devices within a 30-foot range. Not much bigger than a donut, the X100 is sold in five stylish colors (green, grey, orange, red, or yellow), each with a rubberized exterior rugged enough to take the music anywhere you want to go.</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/07/logitechx100_620.png" /></p><p>Around the side of the device are power, volume control, and Bluetooth connectivity buttons; in addition, the X100 features a 3.5mm audio jack for connecting other devices, and a micro-USB port capable of fully charging the built-in lithium-ion battery in about two hours. The X100 can also send or receive hands-free smartphone calls, and the speaker remembers the last two connected devices, although only one of them can actually output at a time.</p><p>Logitech claims a full charge keeps the X100 cranking out tunes continuously for five hours, although we managed to go an entire workday using iTunes on our MacBook Pro with Retina Display at lower volumes. While it worked perfectly indoors, the X100 is even better suited to taking music on the road, pumping out impressively rich, clear sound, considering its diminutive size. There’s no stereo output and bass lovers will have to settle for a bit less “oomph” than they may be used to, but the X100 otherwise delivers the goods.</p><p>The only real exception we found was hands-free phone calls, which were unfortunately muffled to the point of being nearly unusable with our iPhone 5s; callers reported having a hard time hearing us, as well. There’s no battery indicator to keep tabs on how long it will be before the X100 conks out, although a bright blue light under the speaker grille works in conjunction with melodic beeps to indicate when the unit is powered on or off, and anytime a device is connected or disconnected.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> The Logitech X100 Mobile Wireless Speaker delivers surprisingly big sound for its nearly pocket-friendly size, although we don’t recommend relying on it for important hands-free speakerphone calls.</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>Logitech X100 Mobile Wireless Speaker</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"> Logitech </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.logitech.com" target="_blank">www.logitech.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"> $49.99 </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>Bluetooth-enabled device supporting A2DP or 3.5mm audio output</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>Loud, clear sound in diminutive package. Rugged construction. Five-hour battery life via USB charge. Available in five fashionable colors.</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 stereo audio. Hands-free phone calls sound muffled. No battery-life indicator.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_logitech_x100_mobile_wireless_speaker#comments Reviews accessory Audio Audio bluetooth iPad iPhone iPod Logitech Logitech X100 Mobile Wireless Speaker Mac speaker Thu, 10 Jul 2014 19:05:00 +0000 J.R. Bookwalter 20291 at http://www.maclife.com Review: Dragon Dictate 4 for Mac http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/dragon-dictate-4-mac <!--paging_filter--><p>Thanks to Siri, we’re all getting familiar with voice recognition. Where the technology really comes into its own, though — in a business sense — is in OS X, where Dragon Dictate is the long-time leader in converting what you say into neatly typed documents and accurately executed commands.</p><p>Most of the features have been carried over from the previous edition, which already boasted excellent recognition and zippy performance even on mid-range Macs. Transcription tools are new this time around, having previously been sold as Scribe, a separate app. Feed it a 90-second sample of your subject’s voice and it should be able to transcribe a recording. Nuance reckons this will benefit students who’ve recorded a lecture on their phone, and business users who dictate quick notes while on the go.</p><p><img src="/files/u324771/mal93.rev_dragon.dragon02.png" width="620" height="388" /></p><p>We found the results to be mixed when in this mode. It performed well when transcribing one of Barack Obama’s online addresses, but it was less effective when working with a well-spoken and clearly enunciated British voice, even though we’d told it to expect an English accent.</p><p>Reverting to regular dictation proves more predictable, and lived up to our expectations. First-time setup requires you spend five minutes reading samples as they’re displayed on screen, so that Dictate can compare what it hears to what it knows for sure you’ve been asked to read. This builds a profile for it to use to decode your speech.</p><p>Neatly, if you’re upgrading from a previous edition you can also upgrade an existing profile. 
It’s a fairly time-consuming process that involves first converting your saved data file and then using it to “retrain” the app, all of which is automatic. It’s well worth the effort, as doing so allows the new version to recognize various things you taught its predecessor, such as non-standard words and various style preferences.</p><p><img src="/files/u324771/mal93.rev_dragon.dragon04.png" width="620" height="388" /></p><p>You can also hook directly into Gmail and issue commands such as “Click Compose” and “Click Send” while dictating the body of your email. Doing so requires a plug-in, which to date is available for Safari and Firefox, but unfortunately, not Chrome.</p><p>Even without the extensions, you can issue commands like “search Google for MacLife” or “search Bing for Apple,” and it obeys your instructions. Naturally, you can navigate to any link by vocally directing the pointer around the screen. Spoken mouse control is of most use to anyone with a motor impairment, but telling it to switch between apps by voice is also highly beneficial for anyone suffering from RSI or otherwise wants to minimize their mouse time.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> The transcription tools are tempting, but it’s the live dictation that remains the main draw here.</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>Dragon Dictate for Mac 4.0</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"> Nuance </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.nuance.com" target="_blank">www.nuance.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"> $199.99 </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 10.8.3 or later, 3GB hard-drive space, 4GB memory</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>Excellent dictation accuracy. Allows for multiple profiles. Now includes transcription.</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>Expensive. New transcription tools a mixed bag.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/dragon-dictate-4-mac#comments Reviews Apple Dragon Dictate Mac Mac nuance Productivity Review Software voice recognition Tue, 08 Jul 2014 19:03:25 +0000 Lukas Aleksandr 20279 at http://www.maclife.com 8 Apps for Dog Lovers http://www.maclife.com/article/gallery/8_apps_dog_lovers <!--paging_filter--> http://www.maclife.com/article/gallery/8_apps_dog_lovers#comments Gallery animals AppLife Apps canines Dog Anatomy: Canine 3D dogs iOS iPad iPhone iPod iPod and iPhone Little Pet Salon Name That Dog Pro Perfect Dog Pro Pet Position pet stores Pet Vet Doctor pets VetFinder Whistle Wed, 02 Jul 2014 20:05:00 +0000 J.R. Bookwalter 20205 at http://www.maclife.com Review: Flixel Cinemagraph Pro http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_flixel_cinemagraph_pro <!--paging_filter--><p>Ever viewed a photograph that partially came to life with motion? These so-called “cinemagraphs” are a relatively recent innovation that typically require hours of painstaking effort for deceptively simple results, but can now be created within minutes.</p><p>Cinemagraph Pro allows Mac users to import QuickTime movies and turn them into a breathtaking “living photos.” While most of the frame remains motionless, the viewer’s eye is drawn toward one or more areas with movement, and the results can be quite striking. Any video camera or DSLR can be used to create cinemagraphs, but for best results, a steady tripod is a must.</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/06/flixel-cinemagraphpro.png" /></p><p>Despite the pro-level price, the user interface makes the process effortless. Select up to 10 seconds of video and then mark a static frame, which can be exported to other applications should it require further touch-up work. In Mask mode, users paint areas that will be in motion; familiar size, hardness, and opacity options make it easy to fine-tune or erase selections. The resulting loop can be adjusted to bounce back and forth or repeat endlessly, and the app includes tools to adjust exposure and color, add vignettes, or apply nearly 30 Instagram-style filters to further stylize the image.</p><p>Cinemagraphs can then be uploaded to Flixel’s website (and optionally, Twitter or Facebook) for public sharing with others, or made private with just a click. While earlier versions were limited to lower-resolution H.264 or animated GIF exports, version 1.1 adds Apple’s ProRes 422 or 4444 to the mix, so cinemagraphs can finally be saved at full resolution.</p><p>Despite being fun and easy to use, the app tends to be a resource hog, consuming enough CPU time whenever video plays onscreen that it bogged down other applications running on our MacBook Pro with Retina display. We were also disappointed to discover Flixel-hosted movies exhibit an annoying black frame at the loop point, which is something of a showstopper for such an expensive application.</p><p>Speaking of price, Flixel recently made headlines by offering this app for $14.99 on the Mac App Store, an absolute steal for such an innovative tool. Unfortunately, at the normal price ($99.99 as of this writing; it has been as high as $199), Cinemagraph Pro becomes a more cautious recommendation, especially for novices and prosumers on a budget.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> Cinemagraph Pro makes it a cinch to create living photos from videos, but the app’s processor usage is nearly as high as its price tag.</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>Cinemagraph Pro 1.1</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"> Flixel Photos </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.flixel.com" target="_blank">www.flixel.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"> $99.99 </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; video-capable camera with tripod</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>Turns QuickTime videos into living photos. Simple yet powerful UI. Comprehensive effects and adjustment tools. Export to Apple ProRes files.</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>High processor usage while displaying moving video. Black frame glitch at loop point when uploaded to Flixel website. Expensive. Limited to 10-second loops.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_flixel_cinemagraph_pro#comments Reviews App Cinemagraph Pro Flixel living photos Mac motion photos Photography software Wed, 02 Jul 2014 17:30:00 +0000 J.R. Bookwalter 20226 at http://www.maclife.com Review: Moshi SenseCover for iPhone 5/5s http://www.maclife.com/article/gallery/review_moshi_sensecover_iphone_55s <!--paging_filter--><p>It’s somewhat ironic the iPhone has made many owners less reliant on traditional means of communication like talking on the phone, instead favoring messaging, surfing, or social networking. But if your iPhone winds up glued to your ear all day, there’s a new case on the market that will have you swiping for joy.</p><p>Available in steel-black or brushed titanium, Moshi SenseCover is a portfolio-style iPhone cover combining a protective polycarbonate back with a stylish leatherette front that magnetically latches for maximum protection while closed. This hybrid design allows iPhone 5 or iPhone 5s owners to answer calls and even talk on the phone without actually opening the cover.</p><p><img src="/files/u324771/rev_sensecover.png" width="620" height="380" /></p><p><strong>With wraparound protection for the iPhone 5/5s, Moshi’s SenseCover allows the phone to be used without actually opening the cover.</strong></p><p>Moshi accomplishes this feat by embedding four proprietary “SensArray” pads into the cover’s face, capable of picking up the swipe of a thumb or finger in the same way a naked iPhone display does while sliding to unlock. It’s a pretty neat technical accomplishment, but ultimately one that’s of little utility if you’re one of those people who can go days without receiving a single phone call thanks to email and messaging.</p><p>That’s not to say SenseCover is without merit: there’s a perfect cutaway on the front to catch a glimpse of time and date, and SensArray comes in handy for dismissing alarms, too. The entire front can fold up behind the polycarbonate back, but doing so blocks the camera lens entirely and tends to get in the way of the volume and mute buttons.</p><p>There’s also the matter of the iPhone 5s and its Touch ID–enabled home button, which is completely obscured by the front of the SenseCover. We unlock our handset numerous times throughout the day, so the added step of first swinging open the front cover wound up being one too many for us.</p><p>Weighing only 26 grams, Moshi has managed to produce an attractive, feather-light wraparound cover that doesn’t add unnecessary bulk to the svelte iPhone. The package also includes optional backside buffer film with a microfiber cloth for application, which is presumably intended to keep the handset from getting scuffed up while being snapped into SenseCover, but we had no such problems without it.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> Costly though it may be, there’s no denying Moshi’s SenseCover is a unique and stylish portfolio case for the iPhone, but its appeal is limited for those who use Apple’s handset for everything except talking.</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>Moshi SenseCover</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"> Moshi </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.moshi.com" target="_blank">www.moshimonde.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"> $45 </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 iPhone 5s</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>Lightweight front and back protection for iPhone. Quick access for incoming calls or alarms without opening cover. Stylish design with magnetic latch.</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 ideal for frequent Touch ID users. Case gets in the way when taking pictures. Expensive.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/gallery/review_moshi_sensecover_iphone_55s#comments Gallery Reviews case Hardware iPhone iphone Moshi SenseCover Mon, 30 Jun 2014 18:30:00 +0000 J.R. Bookwalter 20224 at http://www.maclife.com