Thursday, February 28, 2013

LensPen SmartKlear

We received this announcement this week and wanted to pass the information on.

SmartKlear™ – the latest screen cleaning product from LensPen® – is specially designed to remove fingerprints from iPhone and Android phone touchscreens.

SmartKlear features the same grease-cutting carbon compound that photographers and tablet users count on to completely remove fingerprints from lenses, filters and screens. It’s simple to use: just remove the cap, clean the screen and replace the cap to re-charge the cleaning pad. That’s it. No cloths, tissues or sprays.

“When we introduced the original LensPen 20 years ago, it was designed to remove dust and to safely and effectively remove the occasional fingerprint from lenses and other fine optics,” said Ryan Keating, vice president of marketing for the LensPen Group. “With the introduction of the iPad and iPhone a few years ago, touching glass was no longer a mistake or an accident; it’s how the product is used! We knew our carbon technology was the perfect solution.”

SmartKlear is similar in design and functions the same way as SideKick™, the iPad and tablet screen cleaner that LensPen introduced two years ago.

“SideKick is designed for the large touchscreens on iPads and tablets; really too big for iPhones and Android phones,” Keating said. “SmartKlear has a smaller cleaning pad that works great on a phone.” Replacement cleaning pads for SmartKlear are also available, Keating said.

For more information on SmartKlear and other LensPen products, go to

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

New HP Tablet

We have been big fans of the 7” tablet computer format for a long time. The original Samsung Galaxy Tab with a 7” screen was, and still is one of the best tablets ever built. The iFruit company finally caught on recently and introduced the hugely successful iPad mini. HP just announced a new entry into the 7” tablet market and it has real potential.

Here’s the full press release and make sure you take note of the MSRP, it’s incredible:

HP today announced the HP Slate7, an affordable Android Jelly Bean consumer tablet that provides customers with easy access to Google Mobile services.

With a 7-inch diagonal screen and weighing 13 ounces, the HP Slate7 is an ideal trusted personal companion, featuring a stainless-steel frame and soft black paint in gray or red on the back. It also is the industry's first tablet to offer embedded Beats Audio, for the best-sounding, richest audio experience available on a tablet.

The HP Slate7 delivers the Google experience with services like Google Now, Google Search, Gmail, YouTube, Google Drive and Google+ Hangouts for multiperson video chat as well as access to apps and digital content through Google Play.(1)

"To address the growing interest in tablets among consumers and businesses alike, HP will offer a range of form factors and leverage an array of operating systems," said Alberto Torres, senior vice president, Mobility Global Business Unit, HP. "Our new HP Slate7 on Android represents a compelling entry point for consumer tablets, while our ground-breaking, business-ready HP ElitePad on Windows® 8 is ideal for enterprises and governments. Both deliver the service and support people expect from HP."

The HP Slate7 joins the recently introduced HP Chromebook as part of HP's push to offer access to the Google experience.

HP's tablet offerings reside in the company's newly formed Mobility Global Business Unit, established in September 2012 with the hiring of Torres. Torres joined HP from Nokia, where he was executive vice president and oversaw the MeeGo products and platform.

HP Slate7 makes computing easy while on the go
Powered by an ARM Dual Core Cortex-A9 1.6 GHz processor, the HP Slate7 is fast and responsive. Integrated wireless allows customers to access email, the internet and key applications, while the High-aperture-ratio Field Fringe Switching (HFFS) panel offers wide viewing angles that provide easy viewing of documents, games, photos and videos—even in outdoor lighting conditions.

The HP Slate7 includes a 3-megapixel camera on the back and a VGA camera on the front for chatting, videos and photos.

With the HP ePrint (2) application, customers can easily print while at home or on the go, and the exclusive native printing capability enables customers to print directly from most applications. A micro USB port allows customers to easily transfer files, and a suite of applications from HP spans exclusive games to productivity tools.

HP will provide an array of simple and easy-to-access support tools and resources to help customers take full advantage of all of the features the HP Slate7 has to offer. In addition to extensive phone and online support offerings included with the HP Slate7, HP is offering customers the opportunity to add to the standard product limited warranty with its HP Care Pack services. HP Slate7 customers will have the option to protect their investment with a two-year HP Care Pack for $29 or a two-year HP Care Pack with Accidental Damage Protection (ADP) for $49.(3)

Pricing and availability(3)
The HP Slate7 is expected to be available in the United States in April with a starting price of $169.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Pentax K-01 Discontinued

We saw this announcement posted on the Pentax Forums yesterday:

We learned at CP+ that the Pentax K-01 would soon be discontinued, and it is now officially listed as a discontinued model on Pentax's Japan web site.  During our Photokina interview Pentax suggested that the K-01 had not been selling as well as they had hoped, and that there was also no real demand for mirrorless-only Pentax K-mount lenses.

Thus, at least for now, we believe that we are not going to see a K-01 successor.  However, it could be the case that Pentax will instead be focusing on enthusiast point-and-shoot cameras such as the MX-1, which are becoming increasingly popular in the camera market.
Originally announced at last year's CP+ event, the Pentax K-01 was the first mirrorless K-mount camera, as well as the first mirrorless camera to natively support a DSLR lens lineup.  Another big selling point of the K-01 was meant to be its special design by Marc Newson, which ended up getting mixed reviews.

Despite its discontinuation, the K-01 is still an exceptional performer when it comes to image quality and video, especially given its sale pricetag of $299.  After the price dropped, there was of course a spike in sales, so it's a shame that the camera is going to be gone soon.  At this price, the K-01 may well be one of the best camera deals out there at the moment. If you want to learn more about the K-01, don't miss our in-depth K-01 review!

If you're interested in the K-01, stock at B&H and Adorama is slowly running out, so don't wait until it's too late!  Both stores have recently received new shipments of all K-01 bodies and kits, so if you want one at the sale price, now is the time.

Monday, February 25, 2013

New Sony Cameras

Sony just introduced a slew of new digital cameras. It’s wonderful to see the old Minolta mount camera lenses will have state-of-the-art bodies to match up with. Here’s more information:

The Cyber-shot WX300, billed as the smallest, lightest camera that packs a 20x optical zoom — with optical image stabilization that the company says is “now around twice as effective at high-zoom settings as the previous-generation.” Also, the autofocus is approximately 3.6x quicker than the previous HX20V. The camera’s WiFi works with a smartphone as wireless remote control, “ideal for self-portraits and group shots when you want to be in on the action,” Sony notes. You can also send photos and videos to a smartphone or tablet. The 18-megapixel camera is $329.

The DSC-HX300 has an SLR-style with a 50x zoom with enhanced optical steadyshot. “The position of a second group of lens elements shifts rapidly to correct for tiny hand tremors,” Sony says. The 20-megapixel camera is $499.

The TX30 is a slim compact that’s waterproof down 10 meters, with a 5x zoom. A macro mode uses L
ED lights. The 18-megapixel camera is $349.

The WX300 and TX30 have the new Beauty Effect that automatically re-touches photos to remove skin blemishes, widen half-closed eyes and whiten teeth.

The newest NEX interchangeable lens model lowers the weight and the cost from previous designs. The 3N weighs just 210 grams. It has a tiltable 3-inch touchscreen, and 16-megapixel APS-C  sensor. With a $500 price and built-in flash, Sony is clearly making this an even easier step up from a compact cam.

The α58 interchangeable lens camera has a translucent mirror for speedy autofocus, and a new Exmor APS sensor with 20 megapixel resolution. The OLED electronic viewfinder “accurately shows the results of adjusting camera settings in real time,” the company says. “Instantly see the result of adjusting exposure compensation, aperture, ISO, white balance, and other parameters before you shoot — not after.”

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Last Chance for Pentax Weekend

Today is the last chance to participate in World Pentax Weekend.

World Pentax Day in February, 2013 will actually be a World Pentax Weekend! Go out and shoot with your Pentax during this weekend (Feb 23 - 24), then upload your favorites to the event gallery, thus painting a picture of what the world looked like on that day!

Pentax Forums will also be giving away free lenses to three lucky participants, through a random drawing!

Details about the event have now been posted here:

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Google Chromebook Pixel

Google on Thursday took the wraps off the Chromebook Pixel, a touch-screen-enabled laptop.

Inspiring its name, the new Chromebook has 4.3 million pixels, or 239 pixels per inch, which Google noted is more than any other laptop screen on the market and twice as many as in a typical high-definition television. The laptop also runs an Intel Core i5 processor and the Chrome operating system. It also has Google Search, Gmail, YouTube, Maps and Google+ Hangouts integrated into the system.

"With the Pixel, we set out to rethink all elements of a computer in order to design the best laptop possible, especially for power users who have fully embraced the cloud," wrote Linus Upson, Google's vice president of engineering. "The goal of the Pixel is to ... give people the best Web experience."

The Pixel is available for purchase on Google Play in the U.S. and the U.K. It will also be for sale at soon, though Google did not specify a date.

"The Google Chromebook looks to be a sporty laptop," said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. "From a configuration and performance standpoint, it looks like a solid system. It also has some useful frills too, like a high-quality webcam, three microphones, and plenty of ports."

Other features are five hours of battery life and the touch screen, according to Olds. A problem, however, could be the price, which he said is higher than he would expect.
The Wi-Fi version, which is priced at $1,299, is set to start shipping next week, while the LTE version, which comes in at $1,449, is scheduled for release in April.

"Other Chromebooks list for $350 or $250 while Google is listing the Pixel at $1,299 for the cheap model," noted Olds. "That's a big number."

Olds said there are reasons the Pixel has a higher price tag - the touchscreen, higher resolution and more RAM. It's also a lightweight machine, at 3.35 pounds.

"I think the price puts it into a new competitive category," he added. "It's going to be competing heads-up with traditional Windows-based laptops -- primarily Ultrabooks -- now."

Google said the body of the new Chromebook is made from an anodized aluminum alloy which gives the machine a smooth and durable surface. The touchpad is made from etched glass, while the notebook has three microphones, designed to cancel out surrounding noise.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Some Go Up, Some Go Down

While the price of shares of iFruit company stock have plummeted of late other tech companies are doing very well. Google, for example, has just gone past $800 a share and should continue to surge.

While the stock market is usually a poor mirror for the health of the overall economy, it’s usually a pretty good indicator for individual companies. If you look at MSFT and the iFruit company, their stock prices are either stagnant or in decline. Google on the other hand continues it’s steady growth. To us this is a reflection of their product value and where investors think they will be later in time.

This doesn’t mean that MSFT and the iFruit company will be going away any time soon, it just means they don’t have the dynamic growth potential that Google has. Google and Android look like the real winners for the foreseeable future.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

MSFT Beats Apple!!

MSFT finally beat the iFruit company with a hardware product! After years of eating iFruit dust as product after product failed to beat iStuff, MSFT has a record!

iFixit recently did a tear-down of the Surface Pro and gave it a score that no one, not even Apple, had achieved before! The Surface Pro earned a 1 on a scale of 1 to 10  and there is no lower possible score. Even the iPads that were described as “unfixable and untenable” got a 2 rating. Well done MSFT, you achieved something that many people thought couldn’t be done.

"The display assembly is anchored down with the most adhesive we've ever seen on a small device," wrote Miro Djuric. "Adding salt to the wounds, the battery is buried behind the motherboard and glued down to the case." The score was "the worst any tablet has ever received."

More innovation from Redmond!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

ZAGG sale

We received a special offer from ZAGG on their keyboard cases for some iPad models. 50% off is available for some of the products and we recommend anyone with an iPad 2, 3, or 4 or a mini to check them out. Here's their disclaimer:
Discount price applies to ZAGGkeys MINI 7 and MINI 9 models and leather ZAGGfolio models only. Limited time only. No other discounts or promotions allowed. While supplies last. Available on only. Limit 3 per order.

Check them out at

March ePub issue

The March issue of our monthly ePub will be going out to all of our subscribers this morning, As usual, it's loaded with informative articles and helpful reviews. This issue also contains extensive coverage of the 2013 International CES show, the event formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show.

If any of our blog followers aren't subscribers and would like to join the ranks of the enlightened, just email me and we'll add you to the subscriber list.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

World Pentax Weekend

World Pentax Day in February, 2013 will actually be a World Pentax Weekend! Go out and shoot with your Pentax during this weekend (Feb 23 - 24), then upload your favorites to the event gallery, thus painting a picture of what the world looked like on that day!

Pentax Forums will also be giving away free lenses to three lucky participants, through a random drawing!

Details about the event have now been posted here:

Monday, February 18, 2013

Changes to MSFT Office Licenses

Over the past 20 plus years we’ve used a lot of software, including most of the software “Suites” produced by software companies. Back in “the day”, MSFT, Lotus, Borland and others made huge, expensive software packages that included every app/program a user could want. Only a few of us chose to mix and match. I still prefer Lotus Organizer 5.0 and Approach 9.5 from the 1990s to all of the replacements that have come out. But I also prefer WordPerfect from (now) Corel as a word processor and MSFT Publisher as a publishing app. Maybe I have always been an App user and the industry finally caught up with me!

MSFT has released Office 2013 and it is the antithesis of their previous software model. They no longer ship discs at all. Everything from MSFT is now a download. They are trying ti leapfrog their enemies and turn PCs into Phablets. It will be interesting to see how this works out.

Since you can no longer buy discs what you are buying is what MSFT wants you to have. Here’s what ZDNet thinks of it:

That’s more true than ever with Office 2013. Here’s a list of the stark difference between perpetual-license editions of the Office 2013 and the equivalent products sold through subscription:

  • You get much less software compared with the subscription editions. Office Home and Student, at a cost of $140 for a single license, gives you Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. With an Office 365 Home Premium subscription, you get those programs and Outlook, Publisher, and Access.
  • You have to pay for future versions. The subscription version always entitles you to the most recent version. With a perpetual license, you pay once but have to pay all over again for new versions.
  • Multi-PC editions are no longer available. In some editions of previous Office releases, Microsoft included the right to install the software on two or three PCs. With Office 2013, the retail editions are for one PC, no exceptions.
  • Your perpetual license is locked to one PC. The new license agreement contains identical language for all three retail editions: “Can I transfer the software to another computer or user? You may not transfer the software to another computer or user. You may transfer the software directly to a third party only as installed on the licensed computer, with the Certificate of Authenticity label and this agreement.” That’s a change from previous Office versions, which entitled you to reassign licenses between devices you own, as long as you do so no more than every 90 days.

That last restriction is the one that has Office users howling the most. And Microsoft’s answer is simple: If you want to move Office licenses between PCs, buy one of the subscription editions, which makes the process practically painless. From a web-based administration page, you can deactivate a license on one device and install a new copy of Office on another, without ever having to enter a product key.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Doomsday Preppers Review

By George Harding

If you’ve watched National Geographic cable channel, you may have seen this program about those who are convinced that a catastrophic event is likely to happen in the near future. They protect themselves from such an event by taking precautions. This may include stocking supplies, food and water, digging or constructing a survival building. Sometimes it can involve neighbors and neighborhoods.

A game with this name has been produced by G5 Entertainment that is really fun to play. It starts with a landscape reminiscent of Nevada, but you can see a stone arch in the distance, it’s more likely to be Utah. There is an old-style telephone booth beside the road and the top of what turns out to be an elevator.

From time to time a car or bus will pull up and let off passengers that want to take the elevator to its lower levels. This is your underground bunker, saving you from the apocalypse and giving you and your friends survival possibilities.

As you descend underground, you see that there are several levels, which you can expand over time. Your friends, as they enter the elevator are assigned to a level, to do whatever work needs to be done. You can assign job as needed and reassign from time to time.

As work progresses on the bunker, you earn gold and diamonds, which you can use to obtain benefits. One of the benefits is to open up new levels in the bunker; there can be as many as 135, each manned by your friends.

Players will also be able to improve their gameplay experience with in-app purchases that offer premium items, speed up processes, increase prepper skills and efficiency, and provide other bonus features that help them construct the biggest and most prepared bunker as possible. Special game content can be unlocked by watching new episodes of the show every week.

There is a social aspect to the game in that you can interact with your friends in several ways, including your Facebook friends.

The game is available for iPhone 3GS and higher, iPod Touch and iPad with iOS 4 and later, and is downloadable free.

I tested the game on my iPhone and am still having fun with it. As the game progresses, you get notices that such-and-such progress has been made, which is your que to log in and take the next step in constructing your bunker.

Lots of fun!

Doomsday Preppers       Free

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Death of Print Publishing

We just heard the news that Time Warner has put their print publications on the market. Oh my, how times have changed. My brother, the world renowned author, once worked for Time, Inc., back in the days when people actually read and subscribed to magazines. That seems like a thousand years ago. And in the electronic age we’re in, it is.

There was a time in the not too distant past that I received a print publication in the mail just about every day. Not just newspapers, which I still read every day, but real glossy magazines. Today I don’t think I get a single print magazine subscription, other than the ones that I also get online.

Our ePub was once a print publication too but we haven’t used a dead tree to distribute information in many years. Times change and in the information age, times change very quickly.

Good luck Time, you’ll need it

Friday, February 15, 2013

Pentax Q10 Firmware Update

There is an firmware update (v. 1.01) available for the Pentax Q10. Here’s what to do:

  • Download the firmware ZIP file from Pentax Q10 Firmware Download Link (
  • Extract the contents of the ZIP and locate the FWDC601P.BIN file
  • Copy the file to the root (top level) of your SD card and insert the card into your camera
  • Ensure that your camera is fully charged, then power it on
  • Press the menu button to access the menu screen
  • Using the 4-way controller, go to the set up (3) menu tab
  • Select the firmware version info option
  • Press the right button on the 4-way controller and select "start" to begin the upgrade
  • Wait until the display indicates "COMPLETE".  The camera will then power itself off after 5 seconds
  • Resume normal use.  You can also go back to the firmware menu to verify that the version number has changed.

Important: do not turn your camera off while the upgrade is in progress, and do not remove the lens.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Android Apps on MSFT Surface

BlueStacks has released an optimized version of their Android App Player for the MSFT Surface Pro. That means that Surface users suddenly have over 750k more apps available! That’s wonderful! Or is it? While having a slew of apps available may sound good at first it could be very bad in the long run.

Software developers today have to support two large ecosystems, iOS and Android. To be successful they must use their assets to create both versions. If they aren’t forced to also create a Surface app because they can get buyers to just get the Android version they can save themselves time and money.

The question we need to ask is: how successful will any OS be if there aren’t enough useful apps for it? This could doom MSFT's tablet OS in the long run because developers won't be creating compelling content. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens a year or two from now..

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Bad News for Blackberry

This week Home Depot announced that they will be changing their smartphone of choice. They will be buying 10k iPhones for their executives and dropping the Blackberry phones they have been using. Since the newly announced Blackberry phones are meant to be iPhone-like this may be a really negative sign of things to come.

When a company that has been a loyal Blackberry user for many years switched to the Dark Side it can’t be good news. What’s next? The Federal Government or US Military dumping Blackberry too? We’ll have to wait and see.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

MSFT Surface Pro

Leave it to MSFT. They finally make a product that people may actually want to buy, like the Surface Pro, and they screw it up. How did they screw it up you ask? Simple, they didn’t make enough of them!

When the Surface Pro went on sale last Saturday they sold out online in no time and the few stores that had them for sale got very small allotments. Most stores received a grand total of one 128GB model, if they received any at all!

To me this is just one more example of MSFT missing the boat. I’m sure there’s a valid explanation, but I have a hunch it’s just fear of failure (again) and lack of vision (again).

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pentax Optio WG-10 Digital Camera

Pentax has announced a new waterproof camera. Here’s some information:

The Pentax Optio WG-10 is an affordable entry-level waterproof compact camera that builds on the design of the WG-1, but features improved hardware.

It will be available for $179 through select stores only (Target in the US).

The WG-10 is water proof for a depth to 10 meters and for up to two hours submerged. It is shock resistant against a fall from 1.5 meters and cold proof down to -10 degrees C.

The WG-10 includes the Pentax microscope mode with built-in light for macro photography in the form of five LED's around the lens.

The camera has three kinds of shake reduction:
1: Pixel Track SR (software based)
2: Digital SR (boosting ISO to prevent long shutter speeds)
3: Move SR: provides blur-free movie clips through software based shake reduction

Other features:

1) High-speed Face Detection function, with Self-Portrait Assist mode

2) Protector Jacket O-CC1182 (optional accessory) to protect
the camera body from scratches and grime

3) O-ST1352 Float Strap (optional accessory) to prevent the loss of the camera in the water

4) Auto Picture mode to automatically select the most appropriate shooting mode from 16 different scene modes

5) 12 digital filters for creative expressions

6) Digital Wide mode to compose an extra-wide-angle picture (equivalent to approx. 21mm wide angle in the 35mm format) from two separate images

7) Compatibility with Eye-Fi wireless LAN SD memory cards.