The last time I dared to dabble in dictation software was about 15
years ago, and even allowing for how that software only ran on a
Windows box, the whole experience was extraordinarily cumbersome. But
after using Dictate for only five minutes, the improvements in the
technology since then are starkly apparent. It’s not perfect, but the
dream of quickly turning spoken words into editable text has certainly
Do you only get organized after dropping $300 at the Container Store?
Do you work out because you paid your gym membership in advance? If so,
Zeo could be your ideal new obsession. This sleep-monitoring tool is
supposed to chart your nightly patterns and offer advice to improve
your slumber. We think it works for the right audience. But those
improvements come from Zeo’s common-sense tips (and that slightly
guilty sense of needing to get a return on its hefty price) as much as
they do from the technology itself.
A cool shooter with an even cooler soundtrack, Bullet Candy Perfect
resembles the renowned top-down shooter Geometry Wars, only with better
graphics. Since you play to the rhythm of the beat, the techno music
really sucks you in, and that synchronicity can be helpful when going
for a perfect run.
The Zeppelin Mini from Bowers & Wilkins is certainly a sight to
behold. This elliptical iPod speaker dock slickly incorporates a pair
of three-inch drivers with a swiveling dock connector that allows you
to rotate your device 90 degrees, which makes it easy to take advantage
of Cover Flow navigation. It’s beautiful and well designed, and though
the sound performs equally well, the bass on this $400 dock is a bit
So patient are monks that, even in times of unsolved murder mysteries,
they manage to keep their composure and solve conundrums at a leisurely
pace. At least that’s how the monks behave in The Abbey, a
point-and-click adventure that asks you to have the patience of a friar.
BioWare doesn’t release a ton of games, but when one is ready to roll,
the developer throws everything it has at it--including a native version
for the Mac. The company’s latest epic single-player role-playing game
Dragon Age: Origins was all that our Xbox-, PS3-, and PC-gaming friends
could talk about when it was released in November 2009, and now we get
to join the party.
Your car can either be your best friend or biggest foe depending on how
well you maintain it. But with the advent of the car ECU (that’s
“engine control unit,” aka the car’s computer), many of the tweaks that
gearheads could perform manually are handled behind the scenes by the
car itself. When’s the last time someone told you they had to adjust
the fuel mixture on their carburetor? The ECU takes care of that for
you, on the fly. Of course, when the Check Engine Light (CEL) begins to
glow on the dash, most drivers panic, and for good reason. The CEL
could be something as minor as a fuel cap that needs to be
tightened--or it might signify that one of your cylinders misfired.
CarMD enables you to take some of the guesswork out of determining
exactly what’s wrong with your ride with the help of its literally
named 2100 Handheld Tester.
Mouse technology has come a long way since the rollerball mice of the
1980s. Logitech’s Performance Mouse MX drives that point home--it can
be used on practically any surface, and it offers features that our
first Mac mouse could never have dreamed of.
A well-made strategy game reminds us of a season of Survivor,
requiring a player to struggle, conquer, bargain, backstab, and
dominate until all resistance has been removed. Rome: Total War,
published for the Mac by Feral Interactive, certainly fits that
bill--only instead of eating bugs for a million dollars, all you have
to do is conquer the world.
For something that looks roughly the same wherever it’s played, video
sure comes in a lot of formats. Online videos, including YouTube’s, are
often Flash (FLV or F4V) files, while DVDs contain the Video_TS
structure, TiVo shows get wrapped in their own proprietary MPEG-2
format, your camcorder captures clips in AVCHD--and the list keeps
going. You shouldn’t need to know any of this to play and watch video,
which is where Popcorn steps in. Roxio’s software imports these and
other formats and compresses them for use on an AppleTV, iPhone, PS3,
YouTube, DVD, and more. While it occasionally stumbles, the app comes
in handy more often than it disappoints.