Posts tagged ipad
I was recently invited to review my choice of case from Ideal Cases, an online company who specialise in customisable cases for your phones, tablets and other gadgets.
There are a wide range of cases to choose from on Ideal Case. Naturally I went for a case for my iPad 2, and I chose the leather/canvas folio style case which offers full protection front and back, a flip front and an integral stand.
There are so many options. To start with you simply choose whether to personalise or not. Naturally I wanted something bespoke; and when prompted I chose the freestyle design option, giving me the most freedom to create whatever I wanted.
I didn’t want a photograph, or clipart, or a drawing; I just wanted it bright green and to say “Splodz Blogz Life is all about the journey” just like the header for my blog. I started by choosing the background colour. I chose a nice and punchy green which would be bright and colourful against the black spine and back of the case (you can only customise the front). Then I used the text tool to add my chosen words, and took to deciding which font to use. I just couldn’t get that right. There are quite a number of fonts to choose from, but most are fancy – scripts, blocks, that sort of thing. In the “basic” category there are about ten to pick from, but none worked quite as I wanted. What I wanted, what I had envisaged, was Calibri, the font I used for my header image on here. So I changed tack and deleted the text layer from my case and instead uploaded an image. I uploaded a large 2000 pixel square image – I knew this should be plenty big enough for about half the height of the case. It was difficult to tell as you can’t zoom in on your design to check, and you don’t get a proof, so it was a bit of a risk.
Once I was happy with my very simple design I ordered it. The following morning I received an email from Ideal Case who informed me that there had been a problem with their system and my design had not saved properly – the thumbnail used in the checkout phase had but not the full design. They offered to create the design for me if I sent them over the image but I decided it was ok, it didn’t take me long and wouldn’t take me many minutes to re-do my design. Actually it gave me opportunity to rethink my design and tweak it slightly, I didn’t mind. I changed the background colour of both my case and my image so they matched, which I thought would work better. But I was worried that the colours wouldn’t match completely when they printed – having worked in print I understand that colours on screen and colours of different files can differ; and if they differed, even a little bit, the case would look odd and it would annoy me. So when I submitted my design I emailed Si at Ideal Cases (replied to his email about the original problem with my order) and asked him very nicely to check that the colours matched when it was produced.
What followed was a day of incredibly helpful emails getting the colour right and also helping to sharpen up the edges of my text (I think the design software on the Ideal Cases website must compress images massively when you upload them as I know my image was totally sharp and high resolution). Si was so helpful, I simply cannot fault the customer service – we discussed the colour, they tweaked it so it was exactly what I had in mind, adding some yellow to it as they understood how it would appear when printed onto canvas. They turned around my case so it went out that very evening and I received it the next morning.
The first thing I noticed when I opened the case was the colour. Absolutely perfect, exactly what I had imagined. The text in the corner was clear and just the right place. Brilliant. Do you like it? Not very fancy, I know, I could have been much more imaginative no doubt, but I like it. And I’ve been receiving some lovely comments from people who’ve seen it too.
The case itself completely surrounds the iPad. It is a book style case with a big flap that opens to reveal the screen, and also incorporates a three-angle stand (plus flat!) so you can use the iPad at the most comfortable angle. You can still get to all the buttons and connectors perfectly, including the camera. The front is a canvas, the spine is suede, and the back is faux leather – the stitching is neat and well done, and the materials appear good quality. I think the green I chose looks fabulous against the black of the rest of the case (thanks again Si), and the design works well.
The flap of the case does have a magnet in it to lock and unlock your screen as you close/open it, however this doesn’t always line up perfectly and so doesn’t always engage (I know this isn’t a problem solely with this case – LincsGeek finds this with his Targus case). It could probably also do with an elasticated strap or similar to keep the case closed, as it does have a tendency to open it if you’re not holding it right. Oh and the printing only goes to the edge of the canvas – this means there is a small white border around the outside of the case where the canvas wraps around – it would be nice if that wasn’t there, but it’s no big deal for me. Apart from those little niggles this is a really nicely made case that I’m very happy to use.
Of course with this new case I can’t use either my Smart Cover or my Golla slip case, both of which I love. I think it’s going to depend on what I’m doing and where I am going with my iPad as to which case I take with me. It’s nice to have the choice!
I would absolutely recommend Ideal Cases. The design process was very easy, the following customer service was faultless, and the product is good quality and looks great.
It’s nice to be able to offer you a discount on a product I really like. I’ve been given a 40% off voucher to share with you – put splodz40 in when purchasing from Ideal Cases and you’ll save a good sum on your chosen case. Let me know if you get one!
I’ve been meaning to blog about the two iPad games I’m completely addicted to for a while – ever since I started playing them in September last year. Unfortunately every time I’ve thought “I must write that blog post” I’ve ended up playing the games rather than opening iA writer. Oops.
I downloaded both games while on holiday at the end of September last year. I wanted something to help me relax for a couple of weeks, what I ended up with was two obsessions. I found The Simpsons Tapped Out first – it was in the App Store’s top ten games list when I was browsing. Then I was introduced to The Tribez by my sister-in-law, who was already addicted. I thought I’d quickly introduce them to you.
The Simpsons Tapped Out
This game starts just after Homer has caused a meltdown at the Springfield Nucleur Power Plant that wiped out the cartoon town. The aim of this game is to rebuild Springfield, one building and one character at a time. The app is free to download and playable on pretty much all iOS devices (a friend checked and it’s not available on Android, sorry), although I only use it on my iPad – it’s one of those games you want a bigger screen for, I think. You can buy donuts (in-app-purchase) to speed up game play, but I’ve never spent a penny on this, I just wait.
To play the game – to rebuild Springfield – you need two things; money to build buildings and make Springfield look pretty, and XP to move through the levels. You are given tasks to complete such as “build the orange house”, which cost money and time to complete. In many cases building something means you get a new character – Dr Hibbert comes with his surgery, for example.
To earn money you make your characters do things. You can send Homer can shop at the Kwik-E-Mart for an hour, make Lisa do next week’s homework for 24 hours, or get Marge to walk Maggie. The longer a task takes the more money it is worth – and as the buildings and other items go up and up in value as you move through the levels, you get used to setting things going once a day in order to get the most money possible!
To make things more interesting, the game changes with the seasons to give you extra opportunities to collect elements from The Simpsons episodes. At Christmas everything was covered in snow and you collected chocolate coins in order to decorate the houses with Christmas lights. At the moment the game is Valentines themed, so I’m collecting hearts in order to build a flower shop and some rose bushes. Normally these extra things are gained from visiting other Springfields created by your friends… if you play then make sure you add me and we can help each other out – I’m Splodz (unsurprisingly). (For info, this game requires a data connection to play.)
The description on the App Store says “The Tribez is not just a game. It is an adventure.”. Like The Simpsons Tapped Out, it is all about building something – in this case a community of ancient people who see you as their chief.
You start small, by building a simple hut. Each time you build a house of some sort you get an additional worker. You need workers to build things, but the workers come with lots of needed – they want food, bathhouses, community buildings, and for their Island to look amazing. You also need raw materials to build things – wood and stone to start with, but gradually improving as your buildings become more impressive. Your workers have to first build the mills and quarrys, then have to work in them to fill the warehouse with enough materials to build the next thing. Oh and everything costs money, which you collect through taxes on the workers houses and by giving them opportunities to go to the theatre, eat at the canteen, visit the bathhouse or ride a dinosaur.
The workers are cute and do everything you ask them with a simple “okay” or “yo”. Watch out for the Murlods though – they scare the workers and set fire to your buildings – deal with them quickly!
This is another free-to-download game with the possibility to make in-app purchases to speed up the game play. Again, I have not spent a penny on this game, I just wait for things to happen in real time; at the start you’re looking at a minute or two per task, but later on things can take 12 or 24 hours.
If you are new to The Tribez then just wait until you have more than one island… you end up with several separate but interlinked communities who rely on you to keep them safe and free from boredom. So addictive, especially because you can play this one offline. I am so very addicted!
Both these games are ideal for anyone who likes games that are constantly changing that build up over time, in which you build something over time. Let me know if you’re addicted too.
One of the problems with upgrading to the iPhone 5 or the new iPad is that because Apple changed to their new lightning connection, using old accessories requires new cables or adapters (or new accessories entirely).
Whether you believe lightning is genuinely better (faster, smaller, etc) or that it’s just an exercise to make our old accessories defunct, the fact remains the same for all, and it makes upgrading to a new Apple product more expensive than simply the price on the ticket. Whether it’s a sound dock, a car charger, or the extra cable you bought so you had one at home and at work, it all adds up.
It’s taken a few months, but “fake” lightning cables and adapters are now available to us. Mobile Fun sent me one of their lightning to USB cables to try out. It retails at just over half the price of the Apple genuine one (£11.97 instead of £19.95) and so represents a significant saving, but I was very interested to see if the quality was there.
The cable itself is very slightly shorter than the genuine Apple one I got with my iPhone 5 – 104cm vs 106cm, so not enough to make a real difference (unless you really need that extra two cm!). The plastic coated cable is (again, very slightly) thicker, and the casing for the connections at either end is more bulky and feels cheaper. The lightning connection itself looks a bit different – it’s not as smooth or refined, again seems more cheaply made. The below photo shows the genuine Apple cable on the right, and the copy on the left.
But the proof is in the using… and I can confirm that it works. I used this cable with no problems to charge my phone from the computer and using the mains adapter, and synced my phone with iTunes too and it didn’t complain. I also checked it worked with LincsGeek’s iPad (my pad is an old iPad 2, and it does feel old I have to say!) and it’s fine there too. It is perfect to keep plugged into the computer for charging/syncing, leaving the one that came with my phone for in the office.
I admit I would generally rather by the real thing when it comes to my tech, but there is nothing wrong as far as I can tell with this cable and why spend £20 when you can spend £12 and still have the same functionality. For something like a cable and similar accessories then copies like this one make so much sense. I’ll let you know how it holds up compared to my Apple one after a year of use!
Update 27th January
Since writing this review I have realised that while this lightening cable does work for both charging and data exchange, most of the time it only works one way around. One of the good things about the new Apple lightening connector is that it is not supposed to matter which way in you put it – there is no right way. But this cable only seems to work if you get the cable in the “right way round”. I say most of the time as on occasion it does work both ways, it’s very strange. This could of course be this particular cable rather than a problem with all of them, but I thought I would put a note here to tell you. The cable is still very useful, and I am continuing to use it.
Like many people I have been eagerly awaiting the iPhone 5 announcement. I’m no fan boy but I do love my iPhone and don’t go anywhere without it, and I really love having new tech. I’ve been out of contract on my iPhone 4 since January, sitting on a price effective O2 simplicity rolling contract while I wait for Apple to do their thing. I chose not to get the 4S, realising the 5 would probably be out before Christmas which would hopefully show more improvements than the small jump on that occasion. In the mean time I would happily continue to use my 4.
And the announcement came yesterday. We all knew it. The phone is different. A different size, new screen resolution, better camera, new processor, maps have changed, wifi is stronger, and so on. Apart from the annoyance that to continue to use my fabulous Bose Soundock I’d have to buy an adapter as the new connector won’t fit, I’m happy with what Apple have unveiled. There are loads of blog posts all over the web for and against the new spec – I’ve read loads of them and have concluded that I do indeed want one.
So I hopped on the apple website to see if the all important numbers have been announced yet. They have. From £529. £529. From £529. Ouch.
The mobile networks haven’t given us their contract pricing yet (I suspect they’ll have to do that today as you can pre-order the pay as you go one from tomorrow), and I would consider a new contract if the phone was at the right price. I’m more than happy to pay good money for good things, but £529?
I’m not surprised. Not at all. But the actual number when it’s written down seems very high. It’s more than a new iPad. More than it’s going to cost to have my aircon condenser unit replaced on my car today.
And that’s “from”. The 64GB one, that I would want (need) will be more still.
To be fair, I’ve actually got no idea now what the iPhone 4 was at launch on pay as you go. And I can’t remember what I paid for mine on the 18 month O2 contract I went for. But It wasn’t over £500. Was it?!
Sorry Apple, but unless the contract deals are really good, I suspect you have priced me and many other people out. So I’m disappointed. At the moment - I’ll reserve total judgement until I see the full list of prices of course.
I still want one.