Reviews

Apple Mac mini (Mid 2010)

Pros - Attractive, tiny, and rock-solid aluminum Unibody enclosure, Easy RAM upgrades, Improved graphics performance, HDMI output, Built-in SD-card reader

Cons - SD-card slot inconveniently located, Higher price than previous entry-level model, Slow stock hard drive

Nikon Coolpix S8000

Pros - Excellent macro mode, Slim and lightweight, Good backlight and underexposure correction, Very sharp LCD screen, Extremely easy to use

Cons - No manual shutter or aperture settings, No hand grip, Flimsy doors and compartment covers, Video mode allows only digital zoom

Ars reviews Adobe Lightroom 3

After a public beta and the release of Camera RAW 6 over a month ago, Lightroom 3's feature set wasn't the best-kept secret. Nevertheless, anticipation has been high for this release because of the notable improvements in noise reduction. Lightroom 3 may not be knee-deep in new features, but the Camera RAW 6 stuff alone has the potential to save people a lot of time. Let's jump right in and see what else Lightroom 3 has to offer.

First Look: Lightroom 3

Lightroom 3—released last week after a public beta—is the latest version of Adobe’s popular photo management software.

Sometimes referred to as a “digital darkroom” program, Lightroom gives photographers the tools they need to move large amounts of images from the camera to final files, including processing raw photos and organizing images. In addition to improvements like increased speed, revamped import features, and a tweaked raw processing engine, Adobe has added some completely new features to Lightroom 3.

Here’s a look at some of Lightroom 3’s best new features.

Elgato EyeTV HD

Pros - Works with satellite and cable service, Records HD broadcasts, Box contains everything you need

Cons - Buggy export feature, Program Guide lacking some information

Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit

Pros: Easy to use, Affordable, Supports JPEGS plus raw and movie files, Fast upload, May work with other USB devices too

Cons: Imported photos must live in All Imported album, No way to separate raw and JPEG files on import, Movie files are placed with pictures in the Photos app

Griffin Elan Passport Case for the iPad

Having recently got an iPad, it was very obvious very quickly that I’d need a case. I managed with a cheap neoprene NetBook case for a while, but I coveted something a little flashier. Luckily, Griffin send me an Elan Passport case to review, and yeah, it’s exactly what I was looking for.

10 Best iPad Games worth Paying for

Yeah, we know - the iPad is a giant iPod touch. But then a swimming pool is a giant bath, but all that extra space provides more scope to do exciting stuff.

With the iPad, the larger screen and extra clout from Apple's A4 chip creates a gaming experience markedly superior compared to that on the iPhone, and already there are plenty of fantastic titles for the system.

Here are our ten current top 10 iPad games.

Aperture 3 Review

Pros:
Maskable edits for most adjustments
Multiple adjustment instances
Excellent metadata handling and embedding
Places and Faces features are smartly implemented
Better library and RAW/JPEG management
Curves adjustment with arbitrary points and custom viewer range
More polished and flexible interface than version 2
Exceptional high-noise RAW conversion

Cons:
Still some graphics instability problems in version 3.0.3
Interface can still feel heavy
Edge masking needs more control

Flo TV Personal Television PTV 350

Pros - Good variety of programming to choose from, Excellent battery supports hours of TV viewing

Cons- Spotty reception in some areas, Adds another service charge to your monthly bills

Hands-on with Elgato EyeTV Hybrid and EyeTV App for iPhone

Elgato Systems has been in the business of turning Macs into TVs for quite a while now. The company's most powerful USB digital TV tuner, the EyeTV Hybrid (US$149.95), is an amazing little dongle that comes equipped with EyeTV 3 tuner / recorder software for Mac.

After using the EyeTV Hybrid and experimenting with the US$4.99 EyeTV app for iPhone, I was considering changing my mind. Most content available on TV is still dreck, but EyeTV made it incredibly simple to watch and record on my Mac, and to send that content to my iPhone when I'm not near the office.

BookArc Tabletop Stand for iPad

Pros: Holds up the iPad, enables you to work vertically or horizontally; space underneath for dock connector to be attached; the iPad works well with a wireless keyboard

Cons: No ability to tilt the iPad and it holds it fairly straight up; price is very high

GoodReader for iPad

In adapting the file importing and viewing (and listening) app to the iPad, Good.iWare has hit a home run. The app works as easily and smoothly as the iPhone version, and it has a few extra tricks up its sleeve for good measure.

Most notable among these new features is that the app now enables you to import and view documents from Web-based file-sharing/backup sites such as Dropbox, box.net, iDisk, and others. You can also import and view e-mail attachments via the Mail app’s document-sharing feature, and import and view documents from Google Docs. You can set GoodReader up to import files from local servers via Wi-Fi. And thanks to restrictions lifted by Apple, GoodReader for iPad also enables you to transfer files from your Mac via USB.

Eye-Fi Pro X2

Pros - Slick new Eye-Fi Center software
Speedier WiFi capability (802.11n)

Cons- Triple the cost of high performance 8GB SD cards
Slower transfer times than a USB card reader

Aperture 3 vs Lightroom 3 (beta 2)

This is feature comparison review of Aperture 3 vs Lightroom 3 (public beta 2). While it is not my intention to be overly favorable of Lightroom, my opinions reflect those of an Adobe Community Professional & Lightroom enthusiast. There are definitely things I like in Aperture, and my expertise in Lightroom will skew my opinion.

That being said, what follows is my opinion & observations about both products. Keep in mind, Lightroom 3 has not been officially released, and the findings here will be updated when LR3 ships.

The New 15" MacBook Pro: Elegant Combo of Power, Thriftiness

All in all, Apple has delivered a laptop that's more than just an evolutionary upgrade with unseen updates under the hood.

It has moved its higher-end MacBook Pros closer to true quadcore speeds, while improving battery life and adding serious GPU performance. Given that the prices across the line are roughly the same as those of the last generation, depending on exactly which model you choose, that should be enough to make these laptops a sweet deal for anyone looking to upgrade.

iPad Camera Connection Kit works Simply and Well

We knew the iPad would be a somewhat different device at its launch party in January when Apple said that it would both allow keyboard entry and import photos from cameras and SD cards. So much for being a consumption-only device. The iPad allowed Bluetooth keyboard use when it shipped, and the iPad Keyboard Dock appeared several days after.

The iPad Camera Connection Kit, however, didn't wind up in people's possession until today. The $29 kit comprises two separate parts, both of which plug into the iPad dock connector: a USB adapter and an SD card reader.

The Camera Connection Kit seems to work well and as expected. Apple needs to update its online documentation quickly, and better explain how to automatic iPhoto syncing via iTunes. For $29, the kit is quite a deal.

15" MacBook Pro (Core i7)

Pros: Excellent battery life, Strong Core i7 performance, Automatic switchable graphics, Comfortable backlit keyboard, Great touchpad with inertial scrolling

Cons: Runs warm, Limited ports, Pricey

ArtRage 3 Studio Pro

Pros: Clean interface; great natural paint effects; affordable; exports to Photoshop and supports PS filters

Cons: Occasionally sluggish; lacks intuitive keyboard shortcuts

Review: Opera Mini for iPhone Different, not exactly Better

Overall, Opera Mini has some nice UI features that some will really appreciate. Its look and feel is decidedly "Opera-y," which may feel a little out of place on the iPhone, and it also has a few UI and text quirks that deviate from apps that leverage more of the iPhone's built-in frameworks. But it does work pretty much as advertised. Unless you're stuck with an EDGE connection or don't mind turning down the image quality, though, the potential speed advantage just doesn't outweigh Mobile Safari's far superior rendering in our view.

The upside is that Opera Mini for iPhone is free (as in beer), so it won't hurt to give it a try.

Streaming video on the iPad with Air Video and StreamToMe

The iPad's bona fides as a video-watching device are undeniable, but managing your media for synchronization isn't fun, even in iTunes. On the 16GB model, you may find yourself shuffling movies and TV shows in and out of the sync list on a frequent basis. Wouldn't it be nicer if you could simply stream any video file from your Mac or PC and have it play back instantly on your iPad, anywhere in the house?

Good news, then, that there are two solid options to accomplish this handy trick.

Streaming video on the iPad with Air Video and StreamToMe

Apple iPad Review

It was hyped and ripped before it even had a name, and after it was announced, it was both praised and panned. Apple’s iPad has been the subject of debates about the future of technology and media, and massive speculation about whether people will really want to buy and use it.

Without a doubt, it’s remarkably easy to dump a heap of existential baggage on the iPad. It’s likely that its existence is a direct repudiation of the last 25 years of computer interfaces, an era kicked off by Apple itself. It’s a product in a category—tablet computers—that has been a flop despite nearly a decade of hype.

But before we get into the big, existential questions about the iPad and what it means for life on Earth, it’s probably a good idea to look at what the product actually is: a solid glass-and-metal slab of high technology.

Aperture 3.0.1

Pros - Quick Brushes; new adjustments such as curves; brushing in adjustments; better RAW processing.

Cons - Requires a fast computer to run optimally; Faces can bog down the system; some users have reported troubling bugs; inability to group brushed-in adjustments.

Aperture 3

Pros: Vastly improved slideshows, impressive new brushes, multi-touch aware, ability to split and merge libraries, easy export to Flickr and Facebook

Cons: Sporadic reports of potential problems when upgrading older libraries, web page creation hasn’t been overhauled, need a powerful Mac and lots of RAM to run well

Gorillacam

Gorillacam is an alternative to your iPhone's built-in cam app, and it's just plain better than the original. It has some of the same settings you might find on a small, dedicated digital camera, rather than a phone cam: a self-timer, a time-lapse setting, and an anti-shaking feature. It also has a leveler -- a simulated bubble at the top of the screen to tell you whether the shot is framed perfectly horizontally.

Its grid function divides the screen into nine squares to better plan a shot, a Press Anywhere feature lets to snap a photo without having to find the button on the screen, and a burst function will snap 3 shots in rapid succession.

The new features in the latest edition of Gorillacam are digital zoom, touch to focus, and the antishake feature. The focus feature only works in the iPhone 3GS.

Canon PowerShot G11

Pros - Very nice design; great flip-out LCD screen; very good image quality; very good low light performance.

Cons - Rear buttons too easy to accidentally push; lost some nice features from the G10.

Review Roundup: E-book Readers

E-books have numerous benefits. Eliminating paper saves resources. E-book readers take up little room in travelers' backpacks and purses, and yet can store the equivalent of a whole bookshelf. You don't have to go anywhere to buy or borrow an e-book title. For the vision-impaired, the ability to adjust font size can mean the difference between being able to read a book and having to hope that the publisher will eventually release an audio version. Some e-book readers double as music players, and some even have a speech capability for reading books aloud.

We recently completed thorough hands-on testing of several of the top e-readers available today and came to a surprising conclusion: Our number one choice isn't from Amazon at all; it's the Sony Reader Touch Edition. Of course, no company's lead in the rapidly evolving e-reader market is safe.

9 iPhone GPS Navigation Apps Compared

When Apple said the iPhone 3G would include a GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver, everyone immediately assumed we’d get turn-by-turn direction software, too. Not quite. It took a while for Apple to make the iPhone OS mature enough to support turn-by-turn apps with the release of iPhone OS 3, and for developers to start taking full advantage.

But since the release of iPhone OS 3, we’ve been inundated with turn-by-turn GPS apps and several waves of updates to those apps. Here’s a review of nine GPS navigation applications that are worth a look.

PDFpen 4.5.2

If you work much with PDF files, you may find that Preview isn’t quite powerful enough for your needs. While Preview, especially in 10.6, includes many annotation features (circles, lines, comments, etc.), that’s about the extent of its powers—you can’t easily insert an image into an existing PDF, for example, nor can you modify the text within that PDF.

SmileOnMyMac’s PDFpen not only marks up PDFs, but it makes short work of inserting images and even modifying, to some degree, the text within a PDF. It’s also got one very unexpected feature, especially in a program with a reasonable $50 price tag.