iNews Review

NTSB Calls for Driver Cell Phone Ban, iPad as a Work Machine, Microsoft OneNote for iPad, and More

This Week's iPad, iPhone, iPod, and Apple TV News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2011.12.19

Mac notebook and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review, and general Mac news is in Mac News Review.

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

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News, Reviews, & Opinion

NTSB Calls for Nationwide Ban on Phone Use While Driving

this week's NTSB meetingPR: Following this week's Board meeting on the 2010 multi-vehicle highway accident in Gray Summit, Missouri, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) called for the first-ever nationwide ban on driver use of personal electronic devices (PEDs) while operating a motor vehicle. Ergo: No call, no text, no update when you're behind the wheel.

The safety recommendation specifically calls for the 50 states and the District of Columbia to ban non-emergency use of portable electronic devices (other than those designed to support the driving task) for all drivers. The safety recommendation also urges use of the NHTSA model of high-visibility enforcement to support these bans and implementation of targeted communication campaigns to inform motorists of the new law and heightened enforcement.

"According to NHTSA, more than 3,000 people lost their lives last year in distraction-related accidents", said Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. "It is time for all of us to stand up for safety by turning off electronic devices when driving. No call, no text, no update, is worth a human life."

On August 5, 2010, on a section of Interstate 44 in Gray Summit, Missouri, a pickup truck ran into the back of a truck-tractor that had slowed due to an active construction zone. The pickup truck, in turn, was struck from behind by a school bus. That school bus was then hit by a second school bus that had been following. As a result, two people died and 38 others were injured.

The NTSB's investigation revealed that the pickup driver sent and received 11 text messages in the 11 minutes preceding the accident. The last text was received moments before the pickup struck the truck-tractor.

The Missouri accident is the most recent distraction accident the NTSB has investigated. However, the first investigation involving distraction from a wireless electronic device occurred in 2002, when a novice driver, distracted by a conversation on her cell phone, veered off the roadway in Largo, Maryland, crossed the median, flipped the car over, and killed five people.

Since then, the NTSB has seen the deadliness of distraction across all modes of transportation.

  • In 2004, an experienced motorcoach driver, distracted on his handsfree cell phone, failed to move to the center lane and struck the underside of an arched stone bridge on the George Washington Parkway in Alexandria, Virginia. Eleven of the 27 high school students were injured.
  • In the 2008 collision of a commuter train with a freight train in Chatsworth, California, the commuter train engineer, who had a history of using his cell phone for personal communications while on duty, ran a red signal while texting. That train collided head on with a freight train - killing 25 and injuring dozens.
  • In 2009, two airline pilots were out of radio communication with air traffic control for more than an hour because they were distracted by their personal laptops. They overflew their destination by more than 100 miles, only realizing their error when a flight attendant inquired about preparing for arrival.
  • In Philadelphia in 2010, a barge being towed by a tugboat ran over an amphibious "duck" boat in the Delaware River, killing two Hungarian tourists. The tugboat mate failed to maintain a proper lookout due to repeated use of a cellphone and laptop computer.
  • In 2010, near Munfordville, Kentucky, a truck-tractor in combination with a 53-foot-long trailer, left its lane, crossed the median and collided with a 15-passenger van. The truck driver failed to maintain control of his vehicle because he was distracted by use of his cellphone. The accident resulted in 11 fatalities.

In the last two decades, there has been exponential growth in the use of cellphone and personal electronic devices. Globally, there are 5.3 billion mobile phone subscribers or 77% of the world population. In the United States, that percentage is even higher - it exceeds 100%.

Further, a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study of commercial drivers found that a safety-critical event is 163 times more likely if a driver is texting, e-mailing, or accessing the Internet.

"The data is clear; the time to act is now. How many more lives will be lost before we, as a society, change our attitudes about the deadliness of distractions?" Hersman said.

Driving while intoxicated is now widely considered socially inappropriate and intolerable, but a growing body of research indicates that DWT could become as bad or even worse a public hazard than DWI, and should be just as socially unacceptable as driving drunk. According to a UK Transport Research Laboratory study commissioned by the Royal Automobile Club Foundation, motorists sending text messages while driving are "significantly more impaired" than ones who drive drunk, The study showed texters' reaction times deteriorated by 35%, with a whopping 91% decrease in steering ability, while similar studies of drunk driving indicate reaction times diminishment of a relatively modest 12%. By that measure, DWT is three times more dangerous than DWI, and should logically be treated as severely if not more so, both under the law and in terms of social censure.

Your editor enthusiastically supports the NTSB's proposed ban, and would also support regulatory scrutiny of the likely substantial safety hazards associated with the introduction of more and more in-car electronic gadgetry like Ford's My Ford Touch (formerly SYNC). I take driving, and highway safety seriously.

A synopsis of the NTSB report, including the probable cause, findings, and a complete list of the safety recommendations, will be available online after the meeting.

The NTSB's full report will be available on the website in several weeks.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.

Publisher's note: As our own Anne Onymus notes in The Rumor Mill, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that 2010 saw the lowest traffic fatality rate in recorded history, which seems to imply that even with mobile phone use, we're driving more safely than ever - and 90% of traffic fatalities are not linked to cell phone usage, which begs the question, what other things would the NTSB ban (if it could) to make driving safer? dk

Put Your iPad to Work

Money Magazine's Rik Fairlie says that if you can't justify buying a $500 tablet simply for entertainment, then take it seriously by making an investment in some productivity add-ons and getting down to business.

Suggestions include a case and a keyboard or a combination like Logitech's Keyboard Case for iPad 2, and with business computing inevitably imposing the necessity of dealing with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files, Quickoffice Pro HD lets you create and edit documents in formats compatible with Microsoft Office or use online services such as Google Docs and Dropbox.

And since an iPad may not have space for important work files, the Seagate GoFlex Satellite portable hard drive holds 500 GB of business and personal files, runs for five hours on its internal battery, and lets you stream files wirelessly to as many as three iPads via built-in WiFi, while the Apple VGA Adapter lets you display anything you can see on your iPad 2 screen on a projector, monitor, or flatscreen TV.

Editor's Note: I couldn't justify the expense of buying an iPad, but like millions of others I bought one anyway. cm

The iPad as a Work Tool and Serious Writing Machine

Writing for AppleTell, Charles Moore notes that Money Magazine's Rik Fairlie says (above) that if you can't justify buying a $500 tablet simply for entertainment, you should take it seriously by investing even more capital in productivity add-ons. Of course, by the time you've paid for all that stuff plus the iPad, you're likely getting within shouting distance of the price of a discounted or Apple Certified Refurbished MacBook Air.

Focusing on the iPad as a serious writing platform, ZDNet's James Kendrick says he writes thousands of words a day and finds that the iPad 2 with a keyboard can be a serious writing machine to get this done. Kendrick maintains that the key (no pun intended) to getting the volume of writing he produces done on an iPad starts with a good, touch-typist's keyboard without compromise that turns the iPad 2 into a workhorse for wordsmiths.

Kendrick also says that in his estimation what makes the iPad 2 and keyboard combo so effective for his writing is the one-app-at-a-time nature of the tablet. The running app takes up the entire screen - and thus his entire focus - with no distractions presented while writing; just inputting words on the screen, which he finds "liberating for a writer," saying he can write more, and better, on the tablet system than on a real computer.

Moore disputes that as a universal analysis, saying he finds the one-app-at-a-time limitation of iOS restrictive and frustrating rather than liberating, and he misses the ability to to have several apps open on the screen simultaneously on his iPad, the way he does on his Macs, although the much-streamlined app-switching in iOS 5 helps a lot.

Moore also notes that a major distinction between his use of the iPad for production/writing and that of Rik Fairlie or James Kendrick is that he's been using the onscreen virtual keyboard rather than an external Bluetooth unit. While Moore has a Logitech diNovo Edge keyboard that pairs up with the iPad nicely, he thinks using it negates the biggest iPad advantage: easy, uncumbersome, comfortable portability. If you're going to bother with a big external keyboard, why not just use a laptop?

Happily, says Moore, the text processor TextKraft and Schreibkraft (below) apps from INfovole make using the virtual keyboard less of a pain, but it's still far short of ideal for extended work sessions.

However, he says, for serious writers in particular, who mainly want to edit text and complain about the iOS user interface's indifferent and inaccurate cursor navigation, complicated selection of words and phrases, missing tabs and em-dashes, and other shortcomings, TextKraft provides an integrated working environment, adding many of the iOS's missing text editing and navigation features, plus a built-in dictionary and thesaurus, online research tools, and an intelligent spelling aid that identifies words the way you pronounce them. It also comes with Wikipedia full-text search and several online-dictionaries, text import/export from Macintosh, Windows, Linux, and other iPad apps, and detailed document information such as word count and file size, plus a spell checker and cursor keys better than on a real keyboard - 8 keys with 10 functions, Undo/Redo, and gradient functions. Upper and lower case change buttons, text export via Clipboard, email, and direct transfer to other iPad apps are also supported as are external Bluetooth keyboards and cables and printing directly from the iPad. Finally, it's AirPrint compatible with iOS 4.2 up, offers 9 font styles to choose from, and has freely selectable text size.

And last week INfovole released a companion app for TextKraft, Schreibkraft (below), an all-in-one, multilingual professional text editor for the iPad that shares much of TextKraft's appearance and functionality

TextKraft sells on the App Store for $7.99, while Schreibkraft is $2.99. For more information, visit infovole.de.

Publisher's note: Charles W. Moore has been a Mac user since he began working as a freelance journalist in 1986 with a Mac Plus. He has used Mac notebooks almost exclusively since acquiring his first, a PowerBook 5300 in 1996. He has used Macintosh System 6 through OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, is a serious multitasker, and has shared his perspective on all things Mac - especially ones that impact his workflow - since mid 1987, been part of the Low End Mac team since Sept. 1999, and became an iPad user earlier this year. dk

Why Microsoft Wants Its Software on the iPad

Cnet's Larry Dignan notes that Microsoft has been launching software for Apple's iPad at a blistering pace lately, creating some consternation in Windows-centric circles as to whether this is a wise strategy.

Dignan observes that Microsoft realizes it doesn't dominate computing anymore - especially in the mobile sector - but another key fact is that Microsoft applications are everywhere, so releasing iPad optimized versions is just smart business, with the day of the killer app on a single platform behind us.

Is Microsoft OneNote for iOS a Stalking Horse?

InfoWorld's Galen Gruman warns don't be fooled: With its OneNote for iPad (below), Microsoft supports iOS and Android only to encourage use of its cloud and server software.

Gruman suggests that while more than a few bloggers are suggesting that Microsoft has finally admitted defeat and is embracing the new operating systems for its flagship office productivity apps, in his estimation nothing could be further from the truth.

Microsoft's support for iOS devices is only for services that require a Microsoft backend

He observes that Microsoft's support for iOS devices is only for services that require a Microsoft backend, noting also that Redmond has long shipped inferior versions of Microsoft Office for Macintosh, stripping out features available in the Windows version and making it perform poorly on the Mac.

He further notes that at $15, OneNote for iOS is an expensive simple note-taker, with a bit more formatting than Apple's bundled Notes app provides, and that Microsoft doesn't seem to believe in mobile devices for doing anything serious, summarizing that just as Google wants you to live in a Mountain View world and Apple wants you to live in a Cupertino world, Microsoft wants you to live in a Redmond world, and they'll respectively support the other platform only where they must and to the degree they must, no more.

Tablet Cellular Connections Losing Out to WiFi

PR: As tablet adoption increases in the US, the rate of cellular connections is failing to keep pace, according to the latest research from The NPD Group's Connected Intelligence. Instead, more tablet owners rely on WiFi-only connections.

The Connected Intelligence researchers note that in April 2011, 60% of tablet users only connected via WiFi, but 5% of them said they planned to purchase mobile broadband plans within the next six months. However, fast forward six months, and the WiFi-only connection base has grown to 65% of tablet users at the expense of cellular connectivity.

WiFi vs. Cellular adoption

"There are multiple reasons for greater WiFi reliance," says Eddie Hold, vice president, Connected Intelligence. "Concern over the high cost of cellular data plans is certainly an issue, but more consumers are finding that WiFi is available in the majority of locations where they use their tablets, providing them good enough connectivity. In addition, the vast majority of tablet users already own a smartphone, which fulfills the must have connectivity need."

There are also many more tablets hitting the market that do not provide cellular connectivity, such as the Kindle Fire. While many early adopters opted for tablets with embedded cellular primarily as a future-proof play, mainstream consumers are more likely to choose a lower price point and forgo the promise of constant connectivity.

"There is a relatively low mobile connection rate for tablet users today in light of the fact that these were early adopters and therefore less price conscious than the mainstream," Hold observes. "If there is not an ongoing need for these early adopters to be always-on, then the carriers clearly face challenges with the larger consumer audience moving forward."

If Apple Makes iOS Macs, Will They Dominate Like the iPad Does?

Cult of Mac's Mike Elgan seems convinced that Apple PC's able to run the iOS are inevitable, noting that because most iPad owners and prospective owners already have mobile phones and computers, they don't need an iPad, and observing that there's almost nothing an iPad can do that can't also be done by a device already owned by the user.

Consequently, the iPad is a pure luxury item, but still Apple is selling millions of them every month. How come? Elgan thinks it's at least partly because the iPad is, in his estimation, the best expression ever of Apple's vision of a "computer for the rest of us," even though most people have no idea what they want an iPad for, what they'll use it for, and what it's good for. They just want that touchscreen UI.

So what would happen should the iPad's user interface be applied to a full-powered computer?

Elgan says he can easily imagine Apple achieving a 50% market share within ten years in markets like the United States, Canada, the EU, Australia, and Japan, once the magical qualities of the iPad are fully applied to Macs, and that if a tablet nobody needs is as popular as the iPad is because of its user interface, just wait until that user interface appears on a device category that everybody does need.

Sounds plausible, at least.

Publisher's note: The fundamental advantage of the iPad over a PC is that you can use it anywhere - no need for a lap, a desk, a or keyboard. The fundamental advantage of a PC of a tablet is that you have very accurate, precise control using a keyboard and mouse, trackpad, trackball, or other pointing device. For iOS to encroach on the desktop, it has go go beyond the keyboard-free touchscreen interface and support the kind of input desktop and laptop PC users are used to. Should that happen, Windows and OS X will have a real battle on their hands. dk

Apps & Services

Box for iPhone and iPad Upgraded with New and Expanded Features

Box for iPhonePR: Box provides simple, secure sharing from anywhere letting you easily store files online, send big files fast, access content from your iPhone or iPad and collaborate with others.

Box for iPhone and iPad lets you:

  • View files directly on your iPhone and iPad
  • Share files easily with a link
  • Quickly search for files and folders
  • Mark files and folders as favorites for easy access to content even if offline
  • Secure content with file-level encryption, a four-digit passcode and automatic logout when the app is closed
  • Upload photos and videos to your Box account
  • Open files in other apps installed on your device, like Documents to Go and GoodReader (iPads only)
  • Box for iPhone Project files from Box to a TV, LCD monitor or projector via AV Out (iPads and iPhone 4S only); wirelessly stream content using AirPlay (iPad 2 and iPhone 4S only)
  • Wirelessly print to AirPrint-enabled printers (iPads only)

Previously, Box didn't let you upload new content, and finding specific items among gigabytes of content stored on Box was a challenge. The new app addresses both of those shortcomings, allowing you to create new folders, and to upload photos or videos directly from your iPhone or iPad to Box, or even take photos or shoot videos directly from the Box app. The upgraded Box iOS app also adds full-text search capabilities.

The developer claims that 7 million users, including 82% of the Fortune 500, rely on Box for simple, secure content sharing.

New in Version 2.5.1

  • Photo and video upload
  • Box for iPhoneSearch for files and folders
  •  Mark files and folders as favorites for offline access
  • Stability and performance improvements

This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad

System requirements:

  • Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
  • Requires iOS 4.0 or later.

Schreibkraft, the All-in-One Mobile Text Factory for the iPad

PR: The TextKraft text processor app from German developers INfovole GmbH has proved a game-changer, providing a huge improvement in the iOS/iPad environment for working with text.

Now INfovole has raised the bar again with their new Schreibkraft app - an all-in-one, multilingual professional text editor for the iPad. With Schreibkraft, users can write, correct, research, and share text, supported by the app's rapid memories, multilingual dictionaries, word suggestions, follow-ups, online and offline research tools, and Dropbox and AirPrint support, and exchange text with Mac, Linux, and Windows.

"Schreibkraft speaks 10 languages in 14 country-specific flavors," says Kathrin Sauerwein, who has a BA in Linguistics and is head of INfovole's QA department. "There is no need to switch regions or keyboards on your iPad. The App supports you in all needed languages at the same time. No more wrong correction bubbles, useless suggestions and rewriting procedures, just because the auto-correction chose the wrong words. We have some real innovations, like the magic-button, which is delivering all diacritical marks at a tap, or the quick selection and navigation tools. You must try it!"

Schreibkraft supports 10 languages"An English text, filled with German terminology, referencing Spanish events and places? No problem!" says Sarah Tiffany Jackowski, BA of Multilingual Communication and responsible for INfovole's localization department. "With Schreibkraft, boundless communication means no trouble anymore. With my iPad, anytime, everywhere. Studying foreign languages, language technology, and the world of international business, I needed such a tool badly"

"Since we founded INfovole, we learned a lot about how our customers handle text on their tablets. Schreibkraft is the result of our vision to deliver the best tool for professional writers," says Pierre Marcel Uetzels, INfovole CEO and fan of Douglas Adams. "We merged the sophisticated import, editing, and export modules of our top-rated TextKraft App with new intelligent correction features. The result is very unique, because it is the first real multilingual text processor. Try the Babel Fish 1.0, try Schreibkraft."

SchreibkraftFeatures:

  • 14 dictionaries.
  • The magic-button: It sets all diacritical indications with a push of a button. German umlauts, French of accents, Danish letters - all no problem.
  • No annoying forcing of the iPad
  • Online Wikipedia full text search, dictionaries and translation possibilities.
  • Cursor keys better than on a genuine keyboard! 8 keys with 10 functions.
  • Tabulator, genuine hyphen and copyright key.
  • Change from large and lower case on depressing the key.
  • Undo/Redo and process function for trying out formulations.
  • 5 quick-access storages.
  • Extensive textual information, among other things number, number of words and file size.
  • Read mode prevents inadvertent keyboard entries.
  • Dropbox binding and further exchange possibilities.
  • Support for Bluetooth keyboards

Editor's note: Read my recent review of INfovole's TextKraft. I can't wait to get my hands on Schreibkraft! cm

Microsoft Releases OneNote for iPad

PR: Microsoft OneNote for iPad is a note-taking app for capturing ideas and to-dos on the go, brought to you by Microsoft Office.

Microsoft OneNote for iPadWith OneNote you can create searchable notes with text, pictures and bullets, make and manage to-do lists with checkboxes, then keep your notes in sync using free Microsoft SkyDrive online storage to access, edit and manage them from virtually anywhere, from your PC or almost any web browser. You can also access your notes online at skydrive.com.

In a Microsoft Office blog entry, Michael C. Oldenburg says that OneNote for iOS builds on previous releases with the following new features in version 1.3:

  • Support for iPad and iPad 2
  • Localization into several new languages and markets
  • Tabbed user interface
  • Quick note creation in the Unfiled Notes section
  • Table rendering
  • Improved Windows Live sign-in experience
  • Option to sync notebooks only over a WiFi connection
  • Integrated upgrade option

Microsoft OneNote for iPadOneNote 1.3 works on the following iOS devices running Apple iOS 4.3 or later:

  • Apple iPhone 3GS
  • Apple iPhone 4
  • Apple iPhone 4S
  • Apple iPad
  • Apple iPad 2

Free vs. Unlimited Use

OneNote 1.3 is free to download and use for up to 500 notes (the total of newly or previously created notes). To track your usage, tap the Settings button in the app and then tap the Upgrade button.

Free Technical Support

Microsoft OneNote for iPadOneNote for iOS is supported free of charge in the official OneNote forums on Microsoft Answers. You can also reach this site by tapping the Settings button in the app and then tapping Help and Support.

With the free version of OneNote for iPad you can access, create and edit up to 500 notes. Once you reach that limit you can still view, delete, and sync your notes. To continue taking and editing notes, you can upgrade OneNote for iPad to unlimited use through an in-app purchase.

When you've reached the limit, you can upgrade OneNote 1.3 as follows:

  • $4.99 for unlimited use on your iPhone
  • $14.99 for unlimited use on your iPad

For pricing outside of the United States, visit the iTunes App Store in your region. OneNote for iOS is currently available in the following markets:

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

Microsoft OneNote for iPadIf you choose not to upgrade to the unlimited version, you can still view, sync, and delete any of your existing notes even after you've reached the 500 notes limit. However, you will no longer be able to edit your notes or create new ones on your iPhone or iPad.

Requirements:

  • iPad must have iOS 4.3 or higher
  • A free Windows Live ID is required to use OneNote for iPad - use an existing one or let OneNote for iPad help you sign up
  • Web functionality uses the free OneNote Web App available on SkyDrive, which requires a supported web browser.
  • OneNote for iPad opens notebooks created in Microsoft OneNote 2010 or the OneNote Web App

Free

Find and download the appropriate version of OneNote 1.3 for your device and country in the iTunes App Store.

Instantly Access Files from Anywhere with Free MyNAS App

PR: LaCie has announced the launch of its MyNAS iPhone/iPad app and remote access capability, which gives users instant access to files on their home network from anywhere. Compatible with the LaCie Network Space 2 and Network Space MAX network-attached storage (NAS) devices, MyNAS is simple and easy to use. A 30-second setup is all it takes to access music, photos and video while away from home.

The free LaCie MyNAS app for iPhone and iPad gives convenient, instant access to files stored on a home network. Users are no longer limited to what is stored on their device; they now have access to terabytes of files and storage at home, too. Already filled up an iPhone with vacation photos and still have three days left on the trip? With the MyNAS app, simply move the files from the device onto the NAS to free up space.

Access from Any Browser

From within a browser, MyNAS allows the user to download, manage, upload, and even stream certain types of files from their home network. This feature offers instant access from any computer, smartphone, or tablet. It's easy to share photos from the latest family occasion on a friend's home computer or at work. No need to create accounts with 3rd party websites, shuffle USB keys back and forth, or burn DVDs in order to share files.

Easy Setup

MyNAS revolutionizes NAS remote access, delivering the simplest setup in the industry. Just create a unique name for your network storage in the NAS dashboard, then access the device on the road with a simple, easy-to-remember web address: mynas.lacie.com/name. Setup takes less than 30 seconds, and the user does not even have to leave the Dashboard.

MyNAS is available for Network Space 2 and Network Space MAX products as part of the OS 2.1 firmware upgrade.

These features will be available in the coming weeks for d2, 2big, and 5big NAS products as well.

Accessories

iGeek Large Capacity Portable Charger for iDevices

PR: Imagine yourself at a convention. You've been up and about since 8 am, and you've consumed enough caffeine to make up for your lack of sleep. You're tweeting up a storm, snapping pictures, checking prices on the Internet before you buy stuff in the exhibit hall. Your battery is slowly withering away and you left your charger in your hotel room. You'll survive, you think. There's enough left to get through the night... or is there?

If you have a dead battery, you'll miss the chance to tweet a picture of yourself drinking with (insert celebrigeek of your choice here). And you know the rule: pics or it didn't happen. Better get yourself an iGeek External Battery Pack before you head to your next con.

The "i" prefix notwithstanding, iGeek External Battery Pack works for Android, Blackberry, Samsung, Nintendo DS, Sony PSP, and more as well as Apple devices. If you're tired of hearing the low battery beep when the night is still young, plug your device into the iGeek for a shot of new life. With its 9900 mAh capacity, charge it up once and it'll keep your lifelines alive for over a week.

iGeek Large Capacity Portable ChargerProduct Specifications

  • Ultra reliable lithium ion battery with 9900 maH capacity at 5v output voltage. Will easily give you over a week of battery boosts for your device (with normal use)
  • 1 amp & 2 amp ports, charge two devices at the same time! 50 hours of movie time for iPhone, iPod touch or 17 hours movie time for iPad 2
  • Retractable USB cable included
  • No iPhone/iPad adapter is included because it works with the one you already have
  • Rubberized black finish
  • Batteries: Lithium ion (plug in to recharge)

Compatible with:

  • iPhone (3G, 3GS, 4, 4S)
  • iPad, iPad 2
  • iPod touch, Nano, Classic
  • Android
  • Blackberry
  • Other Stuff (Kindle, Nintendo DS, Sony PSP, and many more - Standard USB charging cable required)

$61.99

USB to Dock Connector/Micro USB/Mini USB/Card Reader

PR: This handy dock cable comes with four ports: a dock connector for data and charging for iPhone/iPod (and hotsync for iPad) from your PC; it also comes with mini USB and micro USB for charging (and data hotsync) your other smartphones and a card reader for Ms and Micro SD (T-Flash) cards.

With this cable, you will no longer need other cables from your PC for your gadgets.

USB to Dock Connector/Micro USB/Mini USB/Card ReaderFeatures:

  • LED indicator
  • Convenient design
  • One cable for all your Gadgets.

This accessory is compatible with:

  • all iPads
  • mobile phones
  • digital cameras
  • MP3
  • GPS
  • all iPhones
  • all iPod touches
  • iPod classic
  • 5G iPod (Video)
  • 4G iPod photo
  • 3G iPod
  • 2G iPod shuffle
  • 2G-5G iPod nano
  • Samsung Galaxy Note i9220
  • Samsung Galaxy i9100
  • etc.

Note: The manufacturer recommends that you not have two or more than two devices connected at the same time.

$9.99

Apple Certified Battery Case for iPad 2

PR: MiLi, specialized in design and development of digital battery and charging solutions, announces the release of the MiLi Power iBox as of 12/8/11. The iPad 2 battery case has been Apple Certified and will be showcased at CES 2012 early next month. With MiLi's intelligent design, Power iBox stays thin and slim while doubling the battery life of the iPad 2.

Available initially in silver for $139.99, the MiLi Power iBox delivers an affordable power solution for the Apple iPad 2 in a sleek protective case.

Power iBox fits like a second skin to the iPad 2 providing protection and power without adding bulk. Equipped with a 8,000 mAh lithium polymer battery, the Power iBox packs enough charge to double the iPad 2s battery life. The iPad 2 battery case's low-profile casing provides durable protection against drops or mishaps while its silver finish and stylish design adds personality. In addition to protecting the back of the iPad 2, the MiLi Power iBox is compatible with the iPad 2 Smart cover. So there is no need for an extra protective bag or stand for the iPad 2.

MiLi Power iBox features include:

  • World's first Apple Certified battery and protective case for the iPad 2
  • 8,000 mAh Lithium Polymer battery capacity doubles the life of your iPad 2
  • Available in five color to match the Smart cover of the iPad 2, in silver, blue, green, pink, and orange.
  • One-year manufacturer's warranty

Presentation & Protection

Compact Mac Cover for iPad 2

Compact Mac Cover for iPad 2PR: Have fond memories of or nostalgia for the old original compact Mac computer from the '80s?

This whimsical iPad 2 case pays homage.

Features:

  • Ultra thin 2.0mm casing, made from strong ABS to protect, and yet thin enough to go unnoticed.
  • Special cutout area designed to fit the iPad Smart Cover (not included) with precision and for maximum protection
  • Easy Touch button access
  • Ultra Tough

This accessory is compatible with the iPad 2.

Notes:

  • Smart Cover not included
  • Just a retro back cover will be shipped.

$36.99

USRobotics 360° Rotating Folio Case/Stand for the iPad 2

PR: USRobotics, a longtime specialist provider of Internet access and networking products, today announced it will expand its tablet accessories line with the introduction of an iPad 2 folio case/stand.

"This versatile case/stand is a home away from home for your iPad 2," says USRobotics CEO Bruce Swail. "iPads are used for an array of business, entertainment, and educational applications and this case is designed to make transporting and using your iPad 2 more comfortable, productive, and convenient. The distinctive white stitching accenting the cover gives this case more style than competing cases, and when the case is closed it is designed to display the devices Apple logo, letting your iPad speak for itself."

The USRobotics 360° Rotating Folio Case/Stand for the iPad 2 (Model 5220) is designed specifically for the iPad owners' needs. The easy-to-grip outer shell securely encases the iPad 2, while the soft interior lining safeguards the screen from scratches and dings during transport or storage. The USR's 360 rotation feature allows individuals to easily transition from portrait to landscape viewing while simultaneously personalizing their viewing angle. Whether typing with a wireless keyboard, viewing movies, or presenting a slideshow, performance will not be limited by inflexible positions. The folio's straightforward design delivers easy access to all buttons, ports, and iPad 2 cameras. In addition, the sleep mode magnet quickly powers down the iPad 2 when the folio is closed, prolonging battery life.

USRobotics 360° Rotating Folio Case/Stand for the iPad 2"It's hard to go anywhere today without seeing someone using their computing devices," adds Swail. "When personal computers made the transition to tablets, we became free to use the same device for both personal and work activities. Now, iPad 2 owners know they can safely transport and easily use their iPads anywhere they want, in a case that is as stylish as the iPad itself. Were happy to present a product that conforms to the individual not the other way around."

The folio case is the latest addition to the USR Tablet Accessory family, including Bluetooth keyboards, adjustable stands, and an iDevice charging stand. The accessories are intended for a wide variety of mobile devices including tablets, iPhones, iPads, smartphones, netbooks, and e-readers.

The new USRobotics 360° Rotating Folio Case/Stand for the iPad 2 (Model 5220) is now shipping and will be available soon at a retail price of $49.99. All USR Tablet Accessories can be purchased from USRobotics Authorized distributors such as Ingram Micro, Tech Data, D&H, Synnex, and reseller partners including Amazon, CDW, Peachmac, Provantage, and Tiger Direct. To learn more call (877)-710-0884.

New Speck FabShell Cases for iPhone 4 and 4S

Speck FabShell Cases for iPhone 4SPR: Speck has announced its new lineup of cases for the iPhone 4S. Speck's attractively designed, elegantly-constructed iPhone 4S cases add functionality and personality to the iPhone, while also protecting its screen, back, buttons and corners.

A colorful new range of Speck FabShell cases are available in some of the season's hottest colors and patterns. This slim tailor-fit case, with fabric on the back and sides, is deceptively protective; its innovative one-piece design has reinforced sides and a rubbery raised bezel for extra screen protection.

And just in time for the season, there are holiday edition Speck FabShells. They offer the same great fit and protection, but come in patterns that conjure memories of holidays past and those special sweaters from Grandma.

Speck MightyVault is an all-new design that offers the ultimate in iPhone 4S protection: three tough reinforced layers in a single-piece design. It features a shock-absorbent inner lining, a hard outer shell with faceplate, both screen and home button protection, and a silicone grip band for extra padding. MightyVault even includes a detachable belt clip holster that doubles as an iPhone 4S stand.

Loved by millions of MacBook users, Speck's Satin finish is now available for iPhone. Speck CandyShell Satin adds a grippy, scuff-resistant matte soft-touch coating to Specks award-winning CandyShell. This stylishly silky iPhone 4S case is co-molded, with a hard polycarbonate shell for impact protection, and rubberized inner lining, button covers and raised bezel for shock absorption.

UNIEA Launches 'Perfect Storm' Holiday Sales Event

PR: UNIEA is also currently offering what it claims to be one of the best and most outrageous Christmas Holiday sales events in the entire consumer electronics accessories market. Since there are three great sales promotions, they're calling it the "Perfect Storm of Christmas Sales."

First, customers can get 25% off their entire order at uniea.com by using promo code XMAS11. Plus, all orders feature $5.95 flat rate shipping worldwide.

Second, customers who spend $50 or more get a free pink/white U-Feel iPhone 4/4S case (a $19.95 value).

Third, spend $99 or more by 12/18 and get guaranteed express delivery before Christmas as no extra charge.

UNIEA U-Feel Actor Polycarbonate Shell Case Series for iPhone 4/4S

PR: Uniea's new U-Feel Actor iPhone 4 case gives you the style, versatility, and protection that you need to jump from one setting to the next. Constructed of high-quality polycarbonate plastic, the case is remarkably slim - only 0.8mm thick and features a stylish finish in a variety of colors.

The U-Feel Actor also features precision cutouts for all critical ports, buttons, and switches. And like all of Uniea's iPhone 4 cases, the Actor also features an innovative flash-optimized camera lens cutout that allows you to take crystal-clear photos every time.

Custom Designed for a Perfect Fit

UNIEA knows every square inch of the iPhone, which is why the U-Feel is so well designed. A precise, custom fit design protects the bezel and edges of your iPhone without adding bulk to the device. The case also gives full access to the front of your iPhone.

  • Precise Cut outs that Fit the iPhone 4 Perfectly - The U-Feel features precision cut outs that allow easy access to buttons and the headphone jack, while still protecting the top portion of your iPhone.
  • Clear Photos Every Time - If taking pictures is your passion, then the U-Feel is the perfect case for your iPhone. A flash-optimized camera lens cut out ensures crystal clear photos. UNIEA was one of the first case designers to optimize their camera lens cut out to work perfectly with the iPhone 4.
  • Slim Enough For Your Pocket - Remember mobile phone are meant to be mobile. A bulky case just makes an iPhone harder to carry. The slim, low profile design of the U-Feel adds minimal bulk to your iPhone 4, allowing you to easily slip it into your pocket.
  • Safe, Secure Docking and Recharging - Docking is a key function of the iPhone. The U-Feel offers maximum protection to the bottom of your iPhone while still providing quick and easy docking and charging.
  • Comfortable In Any Position - If you have an iPhone 4, then you know how often you turn it around for viewing photos, movies, and web pages. The composite design of the U-Feel makes it easy to use your iPhone in the horizontal or vertical position.

Product Features :

  • Glossy PC plastic
  • Slim 0.8mm profile
  • A tiny hole for Neck or wrist strap
  • Flash-optimized camera lens cutout
  • Slim profile, custom designed
  • Cutouts for ports and switches
  • Material: PC - Polycarbonate
  • Size: 10.5 6.2 1 (cm)
  • Weight: 10 Gram/ 0.01 kg

$19.95

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NTSB Calls for Driver Cell Phone Ban, iPad as a Work Machine, Microsoft OneNote for iPad, and More

iNews Review

NTSB Calls for Driver Cell Phone Ban, iPad as a Work Machine, Microsoft OneNote for iPad, and More

This Week's iPad, iPhone, iPod, and Apple TV News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2011.12.19

Mac notebook and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review, and general Mac news is in Mac News Review.

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News, Reviews, & Opinion

Apps & Services

Accessories

Presentation & Protection

iPod Deals

These price trackers are updated every month.

News, Reviews, & Opinion

NTSB Calls for Nationwide Ban on Phone Use While Driving

PR: Following this week's Board meeting on the 2010 multi-vehicle highway accident in Gray Summit, Missouri, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) called for the first-ever nationwide ban on driver use of personal electronic devices (PEDs) while operating a motor vehicle. Ergo: No call, no text, no update when you're behind the wheel.

The safety recommendation specifically calls for the 50 states and the District of Columbia to ban non-emergency use of portable electronic devices (other than those designed to support the driving task) for all drivers. The safety recommendation also urges use of the NHTSA model of high-visibility enforcement to support these bans and implementation of targeted communication campaigns to inform motorists of the new law and heightened enforcement.

"According to NHTSA, more than 3,000 people lost their lives last year in distraction-related accidents", said Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. "It is time for all of us to stand up for safety by turning off electronic devices when driving. No call, no text, no update, is worth a human life."

On August 5, 2010, on a section of Interstate 44 in Gray Summit, Missouri, a pickup truck ran into the back of a truck-tractor that had slowed due to an active construction zone. The pickup truck, in turn, was struck from behind by a school bus. That school bus was then hit by a second school bus that had been following. As a result, two people died and 38 others were injured.

The NTSB's investigation revealed that the pickup driver sent and received 11 text messages in the 11 minutes preceding the accident. The last text was received moments before the pickup struck the truck-tractor.

The Missouri accident is the most recent distraction accident the NTSB has investigated. However, the first investigation involving distraction from a wireless electronic device occurred in 2002, when a novice driver, distracted by a conversation on her cell phone, veered off the roadway in Largo, Maryland, crossed the median, flipped the car over, and killed five people.

Since then, the NTSB has seen the deadliness of distraction across all modes of transportation.

  • In 2004, an experienced motorcoach driver, distracted on his handsfree cell phone, failed to move to the center lane and struck the underside of an arched stone bridge on the George Washington Parkway in Alexandria, Virginia. Eleven of the 27 high school students were injured.
  • In the 2008 collision of a commuter train with a freight train in Chatsworth, California, the commuter train engineer, who had a history of using his cell phone for personal communications while on duty, ran a red signal while texting. That train collided head on with a freight train - killing 25 and injuring dozens.
  • In 2009, two airline pilots were out of radio communication with air traffic control for more than an hour because they were distracted by their personal laptops. They overflew their destination by more than 100 miles, only realizing their error when a flight attendant inquired about preparing for arrival.
  • In Philadelphia in 2010, a barge being towed by a tugboat ran over an amphibious "duck" boat in the Delaware River, killing two Hungarian tourists. The tugboat mate failed to maintain a proper lookout due to repeated use of a cellphone and laptop computer.
  • In 2010, near Munfordville, Kentucky, a truck-tractor in combination with a 53-foot-long trailer, left its lane, crossed the median and collided with a 15-passenger van. The truck driver failed to maintain control of his vehicle because he was distracted by use of his cellphone. The accident resulted in 11 fatalities.

In the last two decades, there has been exponential growth in the use of cellphone and personal electronic devices. Globally, there are 5.3 billion mobile phone subscribers or 77% of the world population. In the United States, that percentage is even higher - it exceeds 100%.

Further, a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study of commercial drivers found that a safety-critical event is 163 times more likely if a driver is texting, e-mailing, or accessing the Internet.

"The data is clear; the time to act is now. How many more lives will be lost before we, as a society, change our attitudes about the deadliness of distractions?" Hersman said.

Driving while intoxicated is now widely considered socially inappropriate and intolerable, but a growing body of research indicates that DWT could become as bad or even worse a public hazard than DWI, and should be just as socially unacceptable as driving drunk. According to a UK Transport Research Laboratory study commissioned by the Royal Automobile Club Foundation, motorists sending text messages while driving are "significantly more impaired" than ones who drive drunk, The study showed texters' reaction times deteriorated by 35%, with a whopping 91% decrease in steering ability, while similar studies of drunk driving indicate reaction times diminishment of a relatively modest 12%. By that measure, DWT is three times more dangerous than DWI, and should logically be treated as severely if not more so, both under the law and in terms of social censure.

Your editor enthusiastically supports the NTSB's proposed ban, and would also support regulatory scrutiny of the likely substantial safety hazards associated with the introduction of more and more in-car electronic gadgetry like Ford's My Ford Touch (formerly SYNC). I take driving, and highway safety seriously.

A synopsis of the NTSB report, including the probable cause, findings, and a complete list of the safety recommendations, will be available online after the meeting.

The NTSB's full report will be available on the website in several weeks.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.

Publisher's note: As our own Anne Onymus notes in The Rumor Mill, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that 2010 saw the lowest traffic fatality rate in recorded history, which seems to imply that even with mobile phone use, we're driving more safely than ever - and 90% of traffic fatalities are not linked to cell phone usage, which begs the question, what other things would the NTSB ban (if it could) to make driving safer? dk

Put Your iPad to Work

Money Magazine's Rik Fairlie says that if you can't justify buying a $500 tablet simply for entertainment, then take it seriously by making an investment in some productivity add-ons and getting down to business.

Suggestions include a case and a keyboard or a combination like Logitech's Keyboard Case for iPad 2, and with business computing inevitably imposing the necessity of dealing with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files, Quickoffice Pro HD lets you create and edit documents in formats compatible with Microsoft Office or use online services such as Google Docs and Dropbox.

And since an iPad may not have space for important work files, the Seagate GoFlex Satellite portable hard drive holds 500 GB of business and personal files, runs for five hours on its internal battery, and lets you stream files wirelessly to as many as three iPads via built-in WiFi, while the Apple VGA Adapter lets you display anything you can see on your iPad 2 screen on a projector, monitor, or flatscreen TV.

Editor's Note: I couldn't justify the expense of buying an iPad, but like millions of others I bought one anyway. cm

The iPad as a Work Tool and Serious Writing Machine

Writing for AppleTell, Charles Moore notes that Money Magazine's Rik Fairlie says (above) that if you can't justify buying a $500 tablet simply for entertainment, you should take it seriously by investing even more capital in productivity add-ons. Of course, by the time you've paid for all that stuff plus the iPad, you're likely getting within shouting distance of the price of a discounted or Apple Certified Refurbished MacBook Air.

Focusing on the iPad as a serious writing platform, ZDNet's James Kendrick says he writes thousands of words a day and finds that the iPad 2 with a keyboard can be a serious writing machine to get this done. Kendrick maintains that the key (no pun intended) to getting the volume of writing he produces done on an iPad starts with a good, touch-typist's keyboard without compromise that turns the iPad 2 into a workhorse for wordsmiths.

Kendrick also says that in his estimation what makes the iPad 2 and keyboard combo so effective for his writing is the one-app-at-a-time nature of the tablet. The running app takes up the entire screen - and thus his entire focus - with no distractions presented while writing; just inputting words on the screen, which he finds "liberating for a writer," saying he can write more, and better, on the tablet system than on a real computer.

Moore disputes that as a universal analysis, saying he finds the one-app-at-a-time limitation of iOS restrictive and frustrating rather than liberating, and he misses the ability to to have several apps open on the screen simultaneously on his iPad, the way he does on his Macs, although the much-streamlined app-switching in iOS 5 helps a lot.

Moore also notes that a major distinction between his use of the iPad for production/writing and that of Rik Fairlie or James Kendrick is that he's been using the onscreen virtual keyboard rather than an external Bluetooth unit. While Moore has a Logitech diNovo Edge keyboard that pairs up with the iPad nicely, he thinks using it negates the biggest iPad advantage: easy, uncumbersome, comfortable portability. If you're going to bother with a big external keyboard, why not just use a laptop?

Happily, says Moore, the text processor TextKraft and Schreibkraft (below) apps from INfovole make using the virtual keyboard less of a pain, but it's still far short of ideal for extended work sessions.

However, he says, for serious writers in particular, who mainly want to edit text and complain about the iOS user interface's indifferent and inaccurate cursor navigation, complicated selection of words and phrases, missing tabs and em-dashes, and other shortcomings, TextKraft provides an integrated working environment, adding many of the iOS's missing text editing and navigation features, plus a built-in dictionary and thesaurus, online research tools, and an intelligent spelling aid that identifies words the way you pronounce them. It also comes with Wikipedia full-text search and several online-dictionaries, text import/export from Macintosh, Windows, Linux, and other iPad apps, and detailed document information such as word count and file size, plus a spell checker and cursor keys better than on a real keyboard - 8 keys with 10 functions, Undo/Redo, and gradient functions. Upper and lower case change buttons, text export via Clipboard, email, and direct transfer to other iPad apps are also supported as are external Bluetooth keyboards and cables and printing directly from the iPad. Finally, it's AirPrint compatible with iOS 4.2 up, offers 9 font styles to choose from, and has freely selectable text size.

And last week INfovole released a companion app for TextKraft, Schreibkraft (below), an all-in-one, multilingual professional text editor for the iPad that shares much of TextKraft's appearance and functionality

TextKraft sells on the App Store for $7.99, while Schreibkraft is $2.99. For more information, visit infovole.de.

Publisher's note: Charles W. Moore has been a Mac user since he began working as a freelance journalist in 1986 with a Mac Plus. He has used Mac notebooks almost exclusively since acquiring his first, a PowerBook 5300 in 1996. He has used Macintosh System 6 through OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, is a serious multitasker, and has shared his perspective on all things Mac - especially ones that impact his workflow - since mid 1987, been part of the Low End Mac team since Sept. 1999, and became an iPad user earlier this year. dk

Why Microsoft Wants Its Software on the iPad

Cnet's Larry Dignan notes that Microsoft has been launching software for Apple's iPad at a blistering pace lately, creating some consternation in Windows-centric circles as to whether this is a wise strategy.

Dignan observes that Microsoft realizes it doesn't dominate computing anymore - especially in the mobile sector - but another key fact is that Microsoft applications are everywhere, so releasing iPad optimized versions is just smart business, with the day of the killer app on a single platform behind us.

Is Microsoft OneNote for iOS a Stalking Horse?

InfoWorld's Galen Gruman warns don't be fooled: With its OneNote for iPad (below), Microsoft supports iOS and Android only to encourage use of its cloud and server software.

Gruman suggests that while more than a few bloggers are suggesting that Microsoft has finally admitted defeat and is embracing the new operating systems for its flagship office productivity apps, in his estimation nothing could be further from the truth.

Microsoft's support for iOS devices is only for services that require a Microsoft backend

He observes that Microsoft's support for iOS devices is only for services that require a Microsoft backend, noting also that Redmond has long shipped inferior versions of Microsoft Office for Macintosh, stripping out features available in the Windows version and making it perform poorly on the Mac.

He further notes that at $15, OneNote for iOS is an expensive simple note-taker, with a bit more formatting than Apple's bundled Notes app provides, and that Microsoft doesn't seem to believe in mobile devices for doing anything serious, summarizing that just as Google wants you to live in a Mountain View world and Apple wants you to live in a Cupertino world, Microsoft wants you to live in a Redmond world, and they'll respectively support the other platform only where they must and to the degree they must, no more.

Tablet Cellular Connections Losing Out to WiFi

PR: As tablet adoption increases in the US, the rate of cellular connections is failing to keep pace, according to the latest research from The NPD Group's Connected Intelligence. Instead, more tablet owners rely on WiFi-only connections.

The Connected Intelligence researchers note that in April 2011, 60% of tablet users only connected via WiFi, but 5% of them said they planned to purchase mobile broadband plans within the next six months. However, fast forward six months, and the WiFi-only connection base has grown to 65% of tablet users at the expense of cellular connectivity.

WiFi vs. Cellular adoption

"There are multiple reasons for greater WiFi reliance," says Eddie Hold, vice president, Connected Intelligence. "Concern over the high cost of cellular data plans is certainly an issue, but more consumers are finding that WiFi is available in the majority of locations where they use their tablets, providing them good enough connectivity. In addition, the vast majority of tablet users already own a smartphone, which fulfills the must have connectivity need."

There are also many more tablets hitting the market that do not provide cellular connectivity, such as the Kindle Fire. While many early adopters opted for tablets with embedded cellular primarily as a future-proof play, mainstream consumers are more likely to choose a lower price point and forgo the promise of constant connectivity.

"There is a relatively low mobile connection rate for tablet users today in light of the fact that these were early adopters and therefore less price conscious than the mainstream," Hold observes. "If there is not an ongoing need for these early adopters to be always-on, then the carriers clearly face challenges with the larger consumer audience moving forward."

If Apple Makes iOS Macs, Will They Dominate Like the iPad Does?

Cult of Mac's Mike Elgan seems convinced that Apple PC's able to run the iOS are inevitable, noting that because most iPad owners and prospective owners already have mobile phones and computers, they don't need an iPad, and observing that there's almost nothing an iPad can do that can't also be done by a device already owned by the user.

Consequently, the iPad is a pure luxury item, but still Apple is selling millions of them every month. How come? Elgan thinks it's at least partly because the iPad is, in his estimation, the best expression ever of Apple's vision of a "computer for the rest of us," even though most people have no idea what they want an iPad for, what they'll use it for, and what it's good for. They just want that touchscreen UI.

So what would happen should the iPad's user interface be applied to a full-powered computer?

Elgan says he can easily imagine Apple achieving a 50% market share within ten years in markets like the United States, Canada, the EU, Australia, and Japan, once the magical qualities of the iPad are fully applied to Macs, and that if a tablet nobody needs is as popular as the iPad is because of its user interface, just wait until that user interface appears on a device category that everybody does need.

Sounds plausible, at least.

Publisher's note: The fundamental advantage of the iPad over a PC is that you can use it anywhere - no need for a lap, a desk, a or keyboard. The fundamental advantage of a PC of a tablet is that you have very accurate, precise control using a keyboard and mouse, trackpad, trackball, or other pointing device. For iOS to encroach on the desktop, it has go go beyond the keyboard-free touchscreen interface and support the kind of input desktop and laptop PC users are used to. Should that happen, Windows and OS X will have a real battle on their hands. dk

Apps & Services

Box for iPhone and iPad Upgraded with New and Expanded Features

PR: Box provides simple, secure sharing from anywhere letting you easily store files online, send big files fast, access content from your iPhone or iPad and collaborate with others.

Box for iPhone and iPad lets you:

  • View files directly on your iPhone and iPad
  • Share files easily with a link
  • Quickly search for files and folders
  • Mark files and folders as favorites for easy access to content even if offline
  • Secure content with file-level encryption, a four-digit passcode and automatic logout when the app is closed
  • Upload photos and videos to your Box account
  • Open files in other apps installed on your device, like Documents to Go and GoodReader (iPads only)
  • Project files from Box to a TV, LCD monitor or projector via AV Out (iPads and iPhone 4S only); wirelessly stream content using AirPlay (iPad 2 and iPhone 4S only)
  • Wirelessly print to AirPrint-enabled printers (iPads only)

Previously, Box didn't let you upload new content, and finding specific items among gigabytes of content stored on Box was a challenge. The new app addresses both of those shortcomings, allowing you to create new folders, and to upload photos or videos directly from your iPhone or iPad to Box, or even take photos or shoot videos directly from the Box app. The upgraded Box iOS app also adds full-text search capabilities.

The developer claims that 7 million users, including 82% of the Fortune 500, rely on Box for simple, secure content sharing.

New in Version 2.5.1

  • Photo and video upload
  • Search for files and folders
  •  Mark files and folders as favorites for offline access
  • Stability and performance improvements

This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad

System requirements:

  • Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
  • Requires iOS 4.0 or later.

Schreibkraft, the All-in-One Mobile Text Factory for the iPad

PR: The TextKraft text processor app from German developers INfovole GmbH has proved a game-changer, providing a huge improvement in the iOS/iPad environment for working with text.

SchreibkraftNow INfovole has raised the bar again with their new Schreibkraft app - an all-in-one, multilingual professional text editor for the iPad. With Schreibkraft, users can write, correct, research, and share text, supported by the app's rapid memories, multilingual dictionaries, word suggestions, follow-ups, online and offline research tools, and Dropbox and AirPrint support, and exchange text with Mac, Linux, and Windows.

"Schreibkraft speaks 10 languages in 14 country-specific flavors," says Kathrin Sauerwein, who has a BA in Linguistics and is head of INfovole's QA department. "There is no need to switch regions or keyboards on your iPad. The App supports you in all needed languages at the same time. No more wrong correction bubbles, useless suggestions and rewriting procedures, just because the auto-correction chose the wrong words. We have some real innovations, like the magic-button, which is delivering all diacritical marks at a tap, or the quick selection and navigation tools. You must try it!"

"An English text, filled with German terminology, referencing Spanish events and places? No problem!" says Sarah Tiffany Jackowski, BA of Multilingual Communication and responsible for INfovole's localization department. "With Schreibkraft, boundless communication means no trouble anymore. With my iPad, anytime, everywhere. Studying foreign languages, language technology, and the world of international business, I needed such a tool badly"

"Since we founded INfovole, we learned a lot about how our customers handle text on their tablets. Schreibkraft is the result of our vision to deliver the best tool for professional writers," says Pierre Marcel Uetzels, INfovole CEO and fan of Douglas Adams. "We merged the sophisticated import, editing, and export modules of our top-rated TextKraft App with new intelligent correction features. The result is very unique, because it is the first real multilingual text processor. Try the Babel Fish 1.0, try Schreibkraft."

Features:

  • 14 dictionaries.
  • The magic-button: It sets all diacritical indications with a push of a button. German umlauts, French of accents, Danish letters - all no problem.
  • No annoying forcing of the iPad
  • Online Wikipedia full text search, dictionaries and translation possibilities.
  • Cursor keys better than on a genuine keyboard! 8 keys with 10 functions.
  • Tabulator, genuine hyphen and copyright key.
  • Change from large and lower case on depressing the key.
  • Undo/Redo and process function for trying out formulations.
  • 5 quick-access storages.
  • Extensive textual information, among other things number, number of words and file size.
  • Read mode prevents inadvertent keyboard entries.
  • Dropbox binding and further exchange possibilities.
  • Support for Bluetooth keyboards

Editor's note: Read my recent review of INfovole's TextKraft. I can't wait to get my hands on Schreibkraft! cm

Microsoft Releases OneNote for iPad

PR: Microsoft OneNote for iPad is a note-taking app for capturing ideas and to-dos on the go, brought to you by Microsoft Office.

With OneNote you can create searchable notes with text, pictures and bullets, make and manage to-do lists with checkboxes, then keep your notes in sync using free Microsoft SkyDrive online storage to access, edit and manage them from virtually anywhere, from your PC or almost any web browser. You can also access your notes online at skydrive.com.

In a Microsoft Office blog entry, Michael C. Oldenburg says that OneNote for iOS builds on previous releases with the following new features in version 1.3:

  • Support for iPad and iPad 2
  • Localization into several new languages and markets
  • Tabbed user interface
  • Quick note creation in the Unfiled Notes section
  • Table rendering
  • Improved Windows Live sign-in experience
  • Option to sync notebooks only over a WiFi connection
  • Integrated upgrade option

OneNote 1.3 works on the following iOS devices running Apple iOS 4.3 or later:

  • Apple iPhone 3GS
  • Apple iPhone 4
  • Apple iPhone 4S
  • Apple iPad
  • Apple iPad 2

Free vs. Unlimited Use

OneNote 1.3 is free to download and use for up to 500 notes (the total of newly or previously created notes). To track your usage, tap the Settings button in the app and then tap the Upgrade button.

Free Technical Support

OneNote for iOS is supported free of charge in the official OneNote forums on Microsoft Answers. You can also reach this site by tapping the Settings button in the app and then tapping Help and Support.

With the free version of OneNote for iPad you can access, create and edit up to 500 notes. Once you reach that limit you can still view, delete, and sync your notes. To continue taking and editing notes, you can upgrade OneNote for iPad to unlimited use through an in-app purchase.

When you've reached the limit, you can upgrade OneNote 1.3 as follows:

  • $4.99 for unlimited use on your iPhone
  • $14.99 for unlimited use on your iPad

For pricing outside of the United States, visit the iTunes App Store in your region. OneNote for iOS is currently available in the following markets:

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

If you choose not to upgrade to the unlimited version, you can still view, sync, and delete any of your existing notes even after you've reached the 500 notes limit. However, you will no longer be able to edit your notes or create new ones on your iPhone or iPad.

Requirements:

  • iPad must have iOS 4.3 or higher
  • A free Windows Live ID is required to use OneNote for iPad - use an existing one or let OneNote for iPad help you sign up
  • Web functionality uses the free OneNote Web App available on SkyDrive, which requires a supported web browser.
  • OneNote for iPad opens notebooks created in Microsoft OneNote 2010 or the OneNote Web App

Free

Find and download the appropriate version of OneNote 1.3 for your device and country in the iTunes App Store.

Instantly Access Files from Anywhere with Free MyNAS App

PR: LaCie has announced the launch of its MyNAS iPhone/iPad app and remote access capability, which gives users instant access to files on their home network from anywhere. Compatible with the LaCie Network Space 2 and Network Space MAX network-attached storage (NAS) devices, MyNAS is simple and easy to use. A 30-second setup is all it takes to access music, photos and video while away from home.

MyNASThe free LaCie MyNAS app for iPhone and iPad gives convenient, instant access to files stored on a home network. Users are no longer limited to what is stored on their device; they now have access to terabytes of files and storage at home, too. Already filled up an iPhone with vacation photos and still have three days left on the trip? With the MyNAS app, simply move the files from the device onto the NAS to free up space.

Access from Any Browser

From within a browser, MyNAS allows the user to download, manage, upload, and even stream certain types of files from their home network. This feature offers instant access from any computer, smartphone, or tablet. It's easy to share photos from the latest family occasion on a friend's home computer or at work. No need to create accounts with 3rd party websites, shuffle USB keys back and forth, or burn DVDs in order to share files.

Easy Setup

MyNAS revolutionizes NAS remote access, delivering the simplest setup in the industry. Just create a unique name for your network storage in the NAS dashboard, then access the device on the road with a simple, easy-to-remember web address: mynas.lacie.com/name. Setup takes less than 30 seconds, and the user does not even have to leave the Dashboard.

MyNAS is available for Network Space 2 and Network Space MAX products as part of the OS 2.1 firmware upgrade.

These features will be available in the coming weeks for d2, 2big, and 5big NAS products as well.

Accessories

iGeek Large Capacity Portable Charger for iDevices

iGeek Large Capacity Portable ChargerPR: Imagine yourself at a convention. You've been up and about since 8 am, and you've consumed enough caffeine to make up for your lack of sleep. You're tweeting up a storm, snapping pictures, checking prices on the Internet before you buy stuff in the exhibit hall. Your battery is slowly withering away and you left your charger in your hotel room. You'll survive, you think. There's enough left to get through the night... or is there?

If you have a dead battery, you'll miss the chance to tweet a picture of yourself drinking with (insert celebrigeek of your choice here). And you know the rule: pics or it didn't happen. Better get yourself an iGeek External Battery Pack before you head to your next con.

The "i" prefix notwithstanding, iGeek External Battery Pack works for Android, Blackberry, Samsung, Nintendo DS, Sony PSP, and more as well as Apple devices. If you're tired of hearing the low battery beep when the night is still young, plug your device into the iGeek for a shot of new life. With its 9900 mAh capacity, charge it up once and it'll keep your lifelines alive for over a week.

Product Specifications

  • Ultra reliable lithium ion battery with 9900 maH capacity at 5v output voltage. Will easily give you over a week of battery boosts for your device (with normal use)
  • 1 amp & 2 amp ports, charge two devices at the same time! 50 hours of movie time for iPhone, iPod touch or 17 hours movie time for iPad 2
  • Retractable USB cable included
  • No iPhone/iPad adapter is included because it works with the one you already have
  • Rubberized black finish
  • Batteries: Lithium ion (plug in to recharge)

Compatible with:

  • iPhone (3G, 3GS, 4, 4S)
  • iPad, iPad 2
  • iPod touch, Nano, Classic
  • Android
  • Blackberry
  • Other Stuff (Kindle, Nintendo DS, Sony PSP, and many more - Standard USB charging cable required)

$61.99

USB to Dock Connector/Micro USB/Mini USB/Card Reader

PR: This handy dock cable comes with four ports: a dock connector for data and charging for iPhone/iPod (and hotsync for iPad) from your PC; it also comes with mini USB and micro USB for charging (and data hotsync) your other smartphones and a card reader for Ms and Micro SD (T-Flash) cards.

With this cable, you will no longer need other cables from your PC for your gadgets.

Features:

  • LED indicator
  • Convenient design
  • One cable for all your Gadgets.

This accessory is compatible with:

  • all iPads
  • mobile phones
  • digital cameras
  • MP3
  • GPS
  • all iPhones
  • all iPod touches
  • iPod classic
  • 5G iPod (Video)
  • 4G iPod photo
  • 3G iPod
  • 2G iPod shuffle
  • 2G-5G iPod nano
  • Samsung Galaxy Note i9220
  • Samsung Galaxy i9100
  • etc.

Note: The manufacturer recommends that you not have two or more than two devices connected at the same time.

$9.99

Apple Certified Battery Case for iPad 2

MiLi Power iBoxPR: MiLi, specialized in design and development of digital battery and charging solutions, announces the release of the MiLi Power iBox as of 12/8/11. The iPad 2 battery case has been Apple Certified and will be showcased at CES 2012 early next month. With MiLi's intelligent design, Power iBox stays thin and slim while doubling the battery life of the iPad 2.

Available initially in silver for $139.99, the MiLi Power iBox delivers an affordable power solution for the Apple iPad 2 in a sleek protective case.

Power iBox fits like a second skin to the iPad 2 providing protection and power without adding bulk. Equipped with a 8,000 mAh lithium polymer battery, the Power iBox packs enough charge to double the iPad 2s battery life. The iPad 2 battery case's low-profile casing provides durable protection against drops or mishaps while its silver finish and stylish design adds personality. In addition to protecting the back of the iPad 2, the MiLi Power iBox is compatible with the iPad 2 Smart cover. So there is no need for an extra protective bag or stand for the iPad 2.

MiLi Power iBox features include:

  • World's first Apple Certified battery and protective case for the iPad 2
  • 8,000 mAh Lithium Polymer battery capacity doubles the life of your iPad 2
  • Available in five color to match the Smart cover of the iPad 2, in silver, blue, green, pink, and orange.
  • One-year manufacturer's warranty

Presentation & Protection

Compact Mac Cover for iPad 2

PR: Have fond memories of or nostalgia for the old original compact Mac computer from the '80s?

This whimsical iPad 2 case pays homage.

Features:

  • Ultra thin 2.0mm casing, made from strong ABS to protect, and yet thin enough to go unnoticed.
  • Special cutout area designed to fit the iPad Smart Cover (not included) with precision and for maximum protection
  • Easy Touch button access
  • Ultra Tough

This accessory is compatible with the iPad 2.

Notes:

  • Smart Cover not included
  • Just a retro back cover will be shipped.

$36.99

USRobotics 360° Rotating Folio Case/Stand for the iPad 2

PR: USRobotics, a longtime specialist provider of Internet access and networking products, today announced it will expand its tablet accessories line with the introduction of an iPad 2 folio case/stand.

USRobotics 360° Rotating Folio Case/Stand for the iPad 2"This versatile case/stand is a home away from home for your iPad 2," says USRobotics CEO Bruce Swail. "iPads are used for an array of business, entertainment, and educational applications and this case is designed to make transporting and using your iPad 2 more comfortable, productive, and convenient. The distinctive white stitching accenting the cover gives this case more style than competing cases, and when the case is closed it is designed to display the devices Apple logo, letting your iPad speak for itself."

The USRobotics 360° Rotating Folio Case/Stand for the iPad 2 (Model 5220) is designed specifically for the iPad owners' needs. The easy-to-grip outer shell securely encases the iPad 2, while the soft interior lining safeguards the screen from scratches and dings during transport or storage. The USR's 360 rotation feature allows individuals to easily transition from portrait to landscape viewing while simultaneously personalizing their viewing angle. Whether typing with a wireless keyboard, viewing movies, or presenting a slideshow, performance will not be limited by inflexible positions. The folio's straightforward design delivers easy access to all buttons, ports, and iPad 2 cameras. In addition, the sleep mode magnet quickly powers down the iPad 2 when the folio is closed, prolonging battery life.

"It's hard to go anywhere today without seeing someone using their computing devices," adds Swail. "When personal computers made the transition to tablets, we became free to use the same device for both personal and work activities. Now, iPad 2 owners know they can safely transport and easily use their iPads anywhere they want, in a case that is as stylish as the iPad itself. Were happy to present a product that conforms to the individual not the other way around."

The folio case is the latest addition to the USR Tablet Accessory family, including Bluetooth keyboards, adjustable stands, and an iDevice charging stand. The accessories are intended for a wide variety of mobile devices including tablets, iPhones, iPads, smartphones, netbooks, and e-readers.

The new USRobotics 360° Rotating Folio Case/Stand for the iPad 2 (Model 5220) is now shipping and will be available soon at a retail price of $49.99. All USR Tablet Accessories can be purchased from USRobotics Authorized distributors such as Ingram Micro, Tech Data, D&H, Synnex, and reseller partners including Amazon, CDW, Peachmac, Provantage, and Tiger Direct. To learn more call (877)-710-0884.

New Speck FabShell Cases for iPhone 4 and 4S

PR: Speck has announced its new lineup of cases for the iPhone 4S. Speck's attractively designed, elegantly-constructed iPhone 4S cases add functionality and personality to the iPhone, while also protecting its screen, back, buttons and corners.

A colorful new range of Speck FabShell cases are available in some of the season's hottest colors and patterns. This slim tailor-fit case, with fabric on the back and sides, is deceptively protective; its innovative one-piece design has reinforced sides and a rubbery raised bezel for extra screen protection.

And just in time for the season, there are holiday edition Speck FabShells. They offer the same great fit and protection, but come in patterns that conjure memories of holidays past and those special sweaters from Grandma.

Speck FabShell Cases for iPhone 4SSpeck MightyVault is an all-new design that offers the ultimate in iPhone 4S protection: three tough reinforced layers in a single-piece design. It features a shock-absorbent inner lining, a hard outer shell with faceplate, both screen and home button protection, and a silicone grip band for extra padding. MightyVault even includes a detachable belt clip holster that doubles as an iPhone 4S stand.

Loved by millions of MacBook users, Speck's Satin finish is now available for iPhone. Speck CandyShell Satin adds a grippy, scuff-resistant matte soft-touch coating to Specks award-winning CandyShell. This stylishly silky iPhone 4S case is co-molded, with a hard polycarbonate shell for impact protection, and rubberized inner lining, button covers and raised bezel for shock absorption.

UNIEA Launches 'Perfect Storm' Holiday Sales Event

PR: UNIEA is also currently offering what it claims to be one of the best and most outrageous Christmas Holiday sales events in the entire consumer electronics accessories market. Since there are three great sales promotions, they're calling it the "Perfect Storm of Christmas Sales."

First, customers can get 25% off their entire order at uniea.com by using promo code XMAS11. Plus, all orders feature $5.95 flat rate shipping worldwide.

Second, customers who spend $50 or more get a free pink/white U-Feel iPhone 4/4S case (a $19.95 value).

Third, spend $99 or more by 12/18 and get guaranteed express delivery before Christmas as no extra charge.

UNIEA U-Feel Actor Polycarbonate Shell Case Series for iPhone 4/4S

PR: Uniea's new U-Feel Actor iPhone 4 case gives you the style, versatility, and protection that you need to jump from one setting to the next. Constructed of high-quality polycarbonate plastic, the case is remarkably slim - only 0.8mm thick and features a stylish finish in a variety of colors.

The U-Feel Actor also features precision cutouts for all critical ports, buttons, and switches. And like all of Uniea's iPhone 4 cases, the Actor also features an innovative flash-optimized camera lens cutout that allows you to take crystal-clear photos every time.

Custom Designed for a Perfect Fit

UNIEA knows every square inch of the iPhone, which is why the U-Feel is so well designed. A precise, custom fit design protects the bezel and edges of your iPhone without adding bulk to the device. The case also gives full access to the front of your iPhone.

  • Precise Cut outs that Fit the iPhone 4 Perfectly - The U-Feel features precision cut outs that allow easy access to buttons and the headphone jack, while still protecting the top portion of your iPhone.
  • Clear Photos Every Time - If taking pictures is your passion, then the U-Feel is the perfect case for your iPhone. A flash-optimized camera lens cut out ensures crystal clear photos. UNIEA was one of the first case designers to optimize their camera lens cut out to work perfectly with the iPhone 4.
  • Slim Enough For Your Pocket - Remember mobile phone are meant to be mobile. A bulky case just makes an iPhone harder to carry. The slim, low profile design of the U-Feel adds minimal bulk to your iPhone 4, allowing you to easily slip it into your pocket.
  • Safe, Secure Docking and Recharging - Docking is a key function of the iPhone. The U-Feel offers maximum protection to the bottom of your iPhone while still providing quick and easy docking and charging.
  • Comfortable In Any Position - If you have an iPhone 4, then you know how often you turn it around for viewing photos, movies, and web pages. The composite design of the U-Feel makes it easy to use your iPhone in the horizontal or vertical position.

Product Features :

  • Glossy PC plastic
  • Slim 0.8mm profile
  • A tiny hole for Neck or wrist strap
  • Flash-optimized camera lens cutout
  • Slim profile, custom designed
  • Cutouts for ports and switches
  • Material: PC - Polycarbonate
  • Size: 10.5 6.2 1 (cm)
  • Weight: 10 Gram/ 0.01 kg

$19.95

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