Apple Showcases OSX Mountain Lion

On Thursday, February 16, 2012 0 comments

This morning Apple announced this summer's release of the Macintosh operating system...correction...they dropped the "Macintosh" in front of OS X! If you really look closely, this list of features are clearly inspired from efforts already well developed on the iOS based products like the iPhone and iPad.

Let's look at the new capabilities announced so far...

Messages
The messaging client from your iPhone or iPad is now available for your Macintosh desktop and laptops. It provides a convient way to send unlimited messages to Macs, iPads, iPhone and iPod Touch's. You messages are synced across devices allowing you to maintain your conversation across your personal devices. Start the chat on your Mac and keep on chatting with your iPhone as you walk out of the house.

Messages include support for photos, videos, file attachments, your contacts as well as your location. And if you really need to take this conversation to another level...you can launch directly into FaceTime and hold a video call. These messages are not limited to iMessage but also supports other chat systems including AIM, Yahoo!, Google Talk and Jabber accounts...this way you can bring in all your friends.

The good news is that you can download the beta of Messages for your Mac today!

Reminders
Another popular app I rely a great deal on my iPhone and iPad is Reminders. A very nice feature is the ability to not only the ability to maintain multiple lists of reminders/tasks but also the ability to set a due date OR even better an alert when you are at the location of the reminder. Say you want to be reminded to pick up some groceries. Make the list and put your grocery store location into the list. Then as you arrive, the list pops up on your iDevice! Very convenient...especially for an absent minded person like me ;-)

Now I can put items on my lists on all my Apple devices and they are synced together. Another great capability sewn together by Apple and their range of computing devices.

Notes
Okay...by now you are starting to see where this is going, right? Make sure all your iDevice apps are able to be synced with your Macintosh. And while that isn't earth-shattering, it does solve a technical divide for those of us with iOS products and Macintosh computers. So Notes is right there. Now you can put together notes with text, pictures and the like and sync it across your devices.

Some unique aspects on the Macintosh is the ability to "Share" your notes with friends via Messages or Mail. You can also pin your notes to your desktop for easy access. And of course, your notes are synced, so they reside on all your devices.

Notification Center
I know a lot of people that don't even know that their iOS device has this feature. When your phone or tablet is on, simply swipe your finger from the top of the screen downward and this info section will slide down and highlight all your notifications from multiple apps.

Well, now those notifications will be available on your Macintosh, you just swipe from the left. This will highlight conversations from the Messages application, your latest Mail, Calendar alerts and other application information.

Share Sheets
Safari and other applications will now feature a greater range of options to share information as you run into noteworthy items. The usual stuff is there like posting pix to Flickr, videos to Vimeo and Twitter integration. You see it...you can share it.

Twitter
Tight Twitter integration affords you the ability to Tweet from anywhere. And get notifications of tweets about you no matter what application you are currently running.

Game Center
Again, now that the Mac has its own App Store and games can be easily downloaded like an app on your iPhone. Now you can keep track of all your gaming activities and rankings via Apple's Game Center.

Not only does this track your progress but it also makes it easy to find friends and play multiplayer games.

AirPlay Mirroring
I don't know about you but I have frequently wanted an easy, wireless way to get my content on the Macintosh onto my TV. Well, Apple has made it a bit simpler if you are into the whole Apple eco-system of platforms. AirPlay is the ability to stream content from your computing devices to an AppleTV device hooked up to your television. Now the Macintosh joins the fray with AirPlay Mirroring support. Stream movies, presentations, surf the web and other applications via this new AirPlay functionality and a nice HD television.

Gatekeeper
A new service to help protect your computer from malware you may download to run on your computer. It seems to really monitor new installs and make sure you know where they are coming from. One solution the application provides is the ability to control/limit where you download an application from. You can set your computer to only accept programs from Apple's Mac App Store. Or you can extend it to support applications from Apple's "known developers". And lastly, you can download from anywhere "at your own risk"!

iCloud
Obviously a lot of the aforementioned functionality comes to your computer through Mountain Lion's tight integration with Apple's iCloud services. This cloud technology quietly syncs all your information into Apple's internet storage and transmits it to all your authorized devices so that you have one set of information...consistent across all your Apple products.

Conclusion
None of these new application features really standout as must-haves and it really seems to be a bit of a yawn. While I am an avid iPhone, iPad and Mac user...I have solutions for most of this functionality today.

First of all, I can download the beta of Messages. I rely on Evernote for syncing my notes across all my devices and the application is also available for PC and most web browsers. There is a Macintosh application called AirParrot that provides AirPlay functionality on the Macintosh. I do use Notes on my iPhone and iPad for their location based reminders and can live without Mac support or could move to one of the dozens of great reminder apps available for Mac, PC, browsers, Android and iOS devices.

The tighter integration of iCloud throughout the OS is probably the most promising functionality to be leveraged. More on this as I have time to work with the early developer release.

So as it stands, I am not sold on this offering. It really feels like some of those old Microsoft updates where they just took ideas from other company's applications and integrated into their OS. Apple may have some other tricks up its sleeve as we get closer to the late summer rollout date. I certainly hope so.

You can see Apple's video highlighting these new features below...



LarryLarry Pacey, award-winning designer tracks the latest news on consumer products, electronics, appliances, smart devices, networking and the gadget lifestyle.
For the latest news follow me on:

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Please comment below and share your thoughts. If you have any feedback or questions, feel free to email me at wouldntmind@gmail.com.

Just my 2-cents,
Larry

Baby deserves the Best Stroller and Car Seat...

On Monday, February 6, 2012 2 comments

My son is 9 years old and well beyond the age of needing a stroller but ever since we found out we were having our first baby I have really loved to follow the design efforts of strollers and other products designed around a child or parent's needs. Matter of fact, my first blog post even discussed strollers.

I guess they are a mode of transportation (I love bikes, cars and planes)...offer tons of options ranging from overall design choices, use of materials and a whole host of configurations and accessories. Lots of customizing and personalization can go into buying a stroller. There are strollers for the earliest of a child's years, multiple children setups, solutions for active parents with jogging strollers...the list goes on. And if you read my first piece, you know I drove my wife crazy with the endless comparing of different manufacturer's products. It took weeks to settle on our first stroller.

But here at the top of the year I thought I'd check out the latest and clearly the greatest offerings in the baby locomotion sector...

UPPAbaby Vista Stroller 2012
UPPAbaby is one of the brands I seem to favor. I like their products from a design, functionality and everyday usability standpoint. A great example of the UPPAbaby strollers is their Vista 2012. It is a great universal stroller system suitable for newborns to 6 months in the easily separable bassinet made with an organic cotton + soybean fiber lining...all the way into a seating configuration that supports children up to 50 lbs.

The seating positions are fully adjustable with one hand and include a fifth fully reclined position for your little one when they are sleeping. You can setup the seat for either a front or rear facing configuration.

With accessories the stroller can accomodate up to three small children! The VISTA is compatible with Graco (SnugRide, SafeSeat, SnugRide 30, SnugRide 32 and SnugRide 35), Peg Perego (Primo Viaggio and Primo Viaggio SIP), Chicco (Keyfit and Keyfit 30), and Maxi-Cosi (Mico, Maxi-Cosi Citi, Maxi-Cosi Cabrio and Maxi-Cosi CabrioFix) infant car seats via available adapter accessories.

The canopy height is fully adjustable, as is the 3 position handle length adjustments and you have tons of storage for all your babies needs.

Maneuvering this incredibly versatile stroller is like a dream with some of the widest rubber all-terrain tires available that makes pushing this stroller a pleasant experience. The only thing I want to point out is that this is a moderately heavy stroller. We are talking about a serious piece of equipment made out of aircraft aluminum that will take both hands to fold-up and get packed in or out the car.

The UPPAbaby Vista Stroller retails for $680 but I've seen it online in the mid to upper $400s with both bassinet and seating configuration included and this conversion between modes does not require any fabric switch-out. Standard accessories also include a sun, weather and new SPF 50 canopy extensions.

As I said, this product is fully loaded.

Britax B-Ready Stoller
The Britax B-Ready is another stroller with a monstrous amount of configuration options. While it retails for $500 (but it is regularly available online in the low $300s) which is a far bit less than the Vista mentioned above but you can upgrade the B-Ready with a lot of high quality accessories depending on your personal needs.

In the standard setup, you have seating for children 6 months up to 55 lbs. By adding an infant car seat or bassinet option, you are good from the moment you bring the baby home from the hospital.

As you can see from the chart to the right, B-Ready stroller's configuration options are quite impressive. Not only can you immediately leverage the Britax Be-Safe infant car seat (not shown on chart but available online for $140) and the higher-end Britax Chaperone infant car seat (typically available for around $200) with the included adapter but with the addition of the Infant Car Seat Adapter Frame accessory ($45), you can integrate a wide range of manufacturer's infant car seats. We are talking about seats like the the extremely popular Chicco Key Fit 30, Graco Snugride 32 and the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio attachment systems.

The top seat is reversible allowing for forward or rear facing and is adjustable to three levels of recline. You can also elevate the calf rest to make the baby more comfortable when asleep. I do wish that the seat reclined all the way flat like the Vista but overall this stroller will make sure your child rests comfortably.

As you probably noted from the configuration chart, the B-Ready is convertible into a double stroller were you needing to transport two infant car seats or a bassinet and second seat for the older child. The large canopy includes a sun visor, ventilation window and rain cover that is located in the under-seat storage.

Speaking of storage, this stroller has it in spades! Definitely feels like you should be able to bring everything you need and it is easy to access.

From a usability standpoint, the stroller is easy to maneuver, has a nice ride and the adjustable handle height comfortably accommodates the tallest of parents. Folding is straight forward and easy even with some accessories attached.


Halle Berry and Sara Michelle Gellar with their children and the Baby Jogger City Mini Stroller

Unlike the first two strollers, the next stroller requires you to choose a single or double configuration out the door. That said, the Baby Jogger City Mini Single is a popular, award-winning design and worth a look at.

This is a very lightweight stroller, something you will appreciate the more to travel and have to transition from vehicle to stroller and back. It is bigger than the umbrella strollers but a good bit smaller than the traditional ones. Due to its overall size and clever design, this is one of the easiest strollers to fold I've seen. A single fluid motion packs up this stroller and you are good to go!

I would have to say that this stroller steers well enough and has a pretty good ride. While the City Mini looks like an all-terrain (jogger) model...it really is designed for the city and works best on paved surfaces.

Seating in older versions of the City Mini did not have much structure behind them for back support...more like a sling. But the 2011/2012 versions address this with a better padded seating backboard. The seat is also adjustable to roughly a 150 degree reclined position.

The sun canopy provides best in class protection while also offering great ventilation and windows. Handlebar height is not adjustable like the first two strollers but is curved and tall enough for most parents.

Like other products here, the Baby Jogger offers an excellent array of accessory options. You can get a full Baby Jogger Bassinet (retails for $250) for your newborn. Or the Baby Jogger Car Seat Adaptor allows you add a wide assortment of car seats to easily move your infant from car to stroller with ease. Infant car seats by Peg Perego Primo Viaggio, Britax, Maxi Cosi, most Graco and Evenflo. If you want to install the popular Chicco Key Fit 30 car seat to your City Mini, there is a different Baby Jogger "Chicco" Car Seat Adaptor. One caveat, you will see some lukewarm reviews regarding these adaptors, the truth is that installation is a bit of a trick (check online for better details than instruction manual)...but once installed properly everything is great. Note that the rain and wind canopy is sold separate as well. Boy these accessories can really add up!

I am always partial to small, lightweight and easy to use products and the Baby Jogger City Mini fits that bill perfectly.

Bugaboo Cameleon
If you want the most expensive for your little one, obviously the Bugaboo Cameleon ($900) is probably on your radar. But I just don't buy the hype. It does offer a wide range of accessories and configurations, has a hefty suspension system but it just isn't the most convenient to travel nor fold in day to day use. Don't get me wrong, it is a quality piece of hardware and definitely the Rolls Royce of the group. Just not my first pick.

BOB Revolution SE
If your fixated on a heavy-duty suspension for your stroller, check out the BOB Revolution SE Stroller (available online for roughly $360). With its large tires and suspension you have really take this one for a run.

Maclaren Techno XT Stroller
Before wrapping up this review, I can't go without talking about the Maclaren line of strollers. I've mentioned several times that lightweight, portable and easy to fold should be key contributors to your purchase decision. My own first stroller purchase while feature rich really suffered in the "mom getting kid in-n-out of the car" test. Our second stroller was the Maclaren and we went around the world several times with it.

The latest model, the Maclaren Techno XT stroller ($320) is an umbrella collapsable type of stroller that can go anywhere you go. It is not necessarily an "all-terrain" like many of the others mentioned above but when you are on the go in the city, in a parking lot trying to put it in your car and navigating the mall...this is the stroller for you.

Now the Maclaren is designed to support newborns until 55 lbs but does not support car seat adaptors, so I wouldn't recommend this as your first and only stroller. The convenience of moving a sleeping infant car seat from vehicle to stroller is hugely invaluable. But your newborn does have ample support in this stroller from day one should you choose...I'd just recommend 3 months and up.

Conclusion
Keep in mind that all the strollers we've discuss here feature the latest safety and creature comforts for your little one including 5-point harness seatbelt, padded seating, sun/wind/rain protection...the list goes on. They are all quality products that are well constructed and thoughtfully designed. There are more stroller manufacturers and models to look at but I focused on the higher-end offerings for this comparison.

You would be buying a great product if you chose any of these for your child but lets get a bit more specific...

UPPAbaby Vista is the complete package
The UPPAbaby Vista is a complete system out of the box and covers your baby from birth to 50 lbs. Considering everything you get, the online prices seem to really be a great value. At the end of the day this is a very good, universal stroller that covers a wide range of terrain and everyday use cases. The Britax B-Ready is a solid contender here and properly accessorized is quite comparable.

Baby Jogger City Mini is a great urban stroller
The Baby Jogger City Mini is a wonderful lightweight, multi-configuration stroller. It is great for city dwellers or people looking to transport a stroller in and out of their vehicle often. This product is one of the easiest to fold and get going I have seen.

Globetrotting babies (and their parents) will love the Maclaren Techno XT
If you are looking for a truly small and lightweight umbrella type stroller, the Maclaren Techno XT is best in class. Not only does this stroller go where you and baby go but it does so in style. Great looks, quality construction and great comfort really makes this product a standout.

A quality Infant Car Seat to keep baby asleep between car and stroller...
I've mentioned the Chicco Key Fit 30 (retails for $190 but online for mid-$100's) a couple times...I really like this infant car seat. Definitely one of the best car seat and base systems on the market today.

The Chicco KeyFit 30 System features a spring-assisted level foot, bubble level guides and center-pull LATCH adjustment to make sure everything is safe and secure during installation. The seats interior is lined with EPS foam for impact energy absorption. Also included is an infant insert for babies 4 to 11 lbs and without the insert this large seat accommodates babies to 30 lbs. The seat is quite popular due to its quality and safety standards which means all the manufacturers mentioned above offer adapters to this seat onto their strollers.

I hope this write-up helps you narrow down your new stroller shopping efforts. Comment below if you have any thoughts or suggestions on strollers and other children care products.

LarryLarry Pacey, award-winning designer tracks the latest news on consumer products, electronics, appliances, smart devices, networking and the gadget lifestyle.
For the latest news follow me on:

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Please comment below and share your thoughts. If you have any feedback or questions, feel free to email me at wouldntmind@gmail.com.

Just my 2-cents,
Larry

Best 2012 Super Bowl Commercials

On Sunday, February 5, 2012 0 comments


This was a better year for commercials. Definitely some more clever and memorable ads. Here's my top 5 favorites, four of which ended up being car commercials.


Speaking of car commercials...while I was not a fan of the ad itself, the new Acura NSX looked amazing!




Matthew's Day Off - Honda CR-V (Just a great flashback...Bueller...Bueller)

We Go Rescue Dog - Bud Light (Here we go...great tag line for a great dog skit)


It's HALFTIME in America - Chrysler (Raw...Powerful...Classic Eastwood)


A Dream Car. For Real Life. - 2012 Kia Optima (Made me laugh...20 times)


Chevy Silverado "2012" (Nothing like a good 2012 Post-Apocalyptic piece to sell trucks)


The geek in me wants to also highlight these fan-boy/geek favorites...

Marvel - The Avengers Movie (The mash-up of all superhero mash-ups)


Phone Innovators - Best Buy (Giving recognition where recognition is due)


Samsung Mobile USA - Thing Called Love (Samsung VS Apple goes big)


Did you have a favorite? Would love to hear from you below...


LarryLarry Pacey, award-winning designer tracks the latest news on consumer products, electronics, appliances, smart devices, networking and the gadget lifestyle.
For the latest news follow me on:

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Please comment below and share your thoughts. If you have any feedback or questions, feel free to email me at wouldntmind@gmail.com.

Just my 2-cents,
Larry

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