Category Archives: Computers & Electronics

Computers & Electronics covers the latest news, articles and product reviews to keep you in touch with the latest happenings in these industries. You’ll find the topics lively and fun.

Covert PinPress WordPress Theme

Covert PinPress WordPress ThemeThere’s a new product out (or a re-launch technically) called Covert PinPress WordPress Theme, which is built to resemble and function much like Pinterest does, with the specific purpose of providing a more visual interaction with blog visitors.

If you haven’t seen or heard of this theme its worth your time to take a look. From the looks of it theme is pretty light-footed and simple to install, which is really good news for anyone who blogs for a living. More often than not the coolest theme or the ones with the best features are often quite cumbersome or require a degree in php coding to use effectively.

PinPress is set to be officially launched next week, and this is version 2.0. According to the developer this isn’t simply a repackaging of an old theme, but rather a complete overhaul with systems designed to reflect the most recent changes in the various social networks, specifically Pinterest and Facebook, both of which are directly connected to your content on a PinPress blog.

I haven’t received a review copy of the product as of yet, though I have checked out many of the written and video reviews, like the one cited earlier, and from everything I can tell this theme seems to be quite capable in terms of driving traffic and engaging blog readers in a way that almost forces new viral traffic. In fact the visual appeal to this theme is that it looks almost strikingly similar to Pinterest and no visitor is going to have to figure out what to do… thanks to Pinterest readers already know intuitively how to share and like posts and images, and they do it a lot.

Another thing which stands out about this release is the price tag. From what I can see it looks like the introductory price is set at $27, and I’ve never bought a premium theme for that low of a price before; and I’ve bought quite a few over the years. So it seems that the price point alone is going to attract new bloggers to give the theme a try, even if they aren’t that much interested in social marketing. Here’s a closer look:

Which leads us into another point… social marketing is in the minds of many professional bloggers and industry experts the wave of the future. That is, in the media age people are going to lean more and more on social networks as a way of reading (and sharing) relevant news and stories. What that means, of course, is that bloggers who’ve previously relied on content-heavy sites to lure and keep readers are going to have to either accept a diminishing part of the internet marketing pie, or get on board with new technology like the PinPress theme.

In the end, I think it will be access to new and engaging interfaces like PinPress that will help usher in the last hoards towards social marketing. After all, there’s such a wide open area for these marketers to reach potential customers and viewers that it only makes sense.

Instagram Update Android

Instagram Android Update

Instagram Update Android

Its time for yet another Instagram update Android users are getting used to. This war between Vine and Instagram is going to be the death of me! Whoever comes out on top, Twitter or Facebook, consumers had better be pleased with the end result or this update roller coaster ride may leave a bitter taste in our mouths.

Here’s the link to Android Central where you can get the latest information on Instagram and Android.

Instagram for Android 2011 was the first exposure to what would become a wildly popular content app for millions. Now that video is being added to the mix, as the two bullies fight it out for market share, we’re being subjected to bug fixes, tweaks and updates on an increasingly more frequent basis.

Why Another Instagram Update For Android

Look, we all know that this push for short video on our favorites platforms is something we want, and use, so in the end we silently go through the motions as these new platforms find their feet. With Instagram allowing for up to 15 seconds of video, Vine is now finding ways to make their own, shorter offering more appealing and in line with what Twitter says is consumer preference. But realistically, who doesn’t like the idea of a 15 second clip better than a mere 6 second ride? That one difference alone should have Viners alarmed. So while I write this directed towards the latest Instagram update Android user’s must endure, the real question is what Vine users are going through… will they make the move?

Here’s where I see the real problem for Vine… with Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram, users will now be able to log into Instagram through Facebook directly, and we all know how massive the Facebook community is… it’s virtually everyone! I read somewhere that there are over 130 Million Instagram users worldwide… that’s a number to be taken seriously, which is why Facebook did.

If you need to update your Apple device here’s a link to the iTunes Instagram iOS update.

And here’s the link for Google’s Instagram update Android download.

If you’re wondering what, exactly, we’re getting in this latest Android update, here’s a CNET video highlighting it:

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Best Tablet For Traveling – Astonishing Value

Best Tablet For Traveling

Best Tablet For TravelingAs someone who has traveled extensively for business and pleasure I feel uniquely qualified to call out what I believe to be the best tablet for traveling. I’ll mention another tablet later in the post, but among the best tablets for international travel (and domestic) is the Kindle Fire HD from Amazon. Here’s why its the champion in tablet travel.

1) Cost – While clearly not everyone has to pinch pennies, but even people who have money understand value. When I was looking for my last tablet or laptop for travel I was fully aware that a couple things are likely to happen during the journey. There is a high likelihood that I’ll drop the tablet or otherwise damage it (pool accidents do happen with Mai Tai in hand!). And there’s an above average chance that some lowlife is going to help themselves to it when I least expect it. Sure, they make insurance for a reason… and a price. The best tablet for traveling has to be one that is cost-effective.

2) International – In the old days I lugged around power adapters to convert my clunky equipment when I was aborad. So one of the things I like about these new devices are that they’re powered by USB, meaning virtually every airport and town is going to have an Internet Cafe where I can power up and recharge my tablet. I can also buy a cheap USB adapter in the host country country which simple plugs in while I’m in my hotel room. But here’s the catch. If you choose the already pricier iDevices (you know who I’m talking about) you not only spent hundreds more up front, you also pay a lot more on the back end because as always, they chose to have a proprietary cable (Lightening Connector) rather than follow the industry standard of USB or mini-USB adapters. One more reason in a long list of them why I won’t buy iDevices. The best tablet for business traveler is one which doesn’t require bulky or pricey cables and adapters.

3) Utility – I discovered first hand how great the Kindle Fire HD tablet was for Europe travel a few weeks ago. As you know, the Kindle line was born as a top tier ebook reader years ago, but has morphed into the best computer for traveling, not just a book reader. With the industries “leading” graphics display you’ll fall in love with the crisp and true HD movies. But of course, most of us like to read and here’s where Amazon has simply crushed the competition, and why they’ve sold millions and millions of these… there is no better reading experience, period, than the new Kindle Fire HD tablets. And Amazon makes it one-click easy to pick and grab a new book on the go, so you simply tap on the book cover from your screen and start reading. But of course there are tons of games, apps, mail, Internet surfing… all the things you would expect from your tablet. One last thing… the built in, dual antennae Wi-Fi is the best and strongest in its class. Read this article on what a Kindle can do for more information.

Best Tablet For Traveling

A Quick Comparison

Below is a quick chart I made showing the major differences between the top three contenders for the title of “Best Tablet For Traveling“. You should know that on virtually every site you go to which alleges that they’re an “honest” or “unbiased” reviewer, they conveniently compare this $199 Kindle Fire HD to the nearly $600 iPad… instead of more “fairly” comparing it to the iPad Mini. The Kindle wasn’t designed for, nor does any living soul claim that it is better than an iPad… at $400 less its no wonder.

What the Kindle is, though, is better than the iPad Mini… here’s why:

Comparing Best Tablets For Travel

Kindle Fire HD Is The Best Tablet For Traveling

So as you can see, on many of the specifications that matters, like the High Definition screen which kills the other two, or the two speakers versus “one” on the iPad Mini, or even the larger screen and higher pixel count, the Kindle is superior. Then there’s the “Gorilla Glass” that you get with a Kindle, but which iPad Mini owners don’t get (just one more way iDevices save money at YOUR expense). Does Gorilla Glass matter? If you don’t like scratches, nicks and dings on your tablet then yes, it matters a lot. While Kindle shows transparently why they’re they best, the others are using inferior quality but using their “fan base” to carry the iFlag.

I review all kinds of products and one thing is certain- even though I’m affiliated with Amazon and other vendors I clearly state when one product is better than the other. In this case I personally chose and bought the Kindle Fire HD because I believe it is superior, dollar for dollar. So you’ll ultimately choose for yourself which is the best tablet for traveling, but I hope I’ve given you a better perspective of the things that might matter to you, too.

Kindle Supported Formats

Kindle Supported FormatsHere is a complete list of Kindle supported formats and an idea of what they’re for. What can a Kindle do with all this flexibility in file types? It allows you to view and use so many types of media from documents to movies to music.

The information on the formats supported are from Amazon and could change to include additional versions with new software or hardware updates in the future.

It is fair to say that the Amazon Kindle Fire HD (the newest line of Kindles) is not only the hottest selling tablet under $200, but it transformed the industry and is forcing Apple and others to rethink their high-priced strategies. With the features now available on a Kindle, there is only a small percentage of the population who would need to fork over hundreds more for an iGadget.

So lets look at all the formats that your Kindle will support.


List Of Kindle Supported Formats

kindle supported formatsThis list of Kindle supported formats is current as of writing, and it shows that the list of ways you can use a Kindle is quite simply amazing. Of course it supports all of the top audio and video formats, but this superstar tablet shows its muscle by supporting loads of document and even PDF formats.

This list is provided by Amazon: “Kindle (AZW), KF8, TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively, Audible Enhanced format (AAX), DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, Dolby Digital (AC-3), Dolby Digital Plus (E-AC-3), non-DRM AAC, MP3, MIDI, PCM/WAVE, OGG, WAV, MP4, AAC LC/LTP, HE-AACv1, HE-AACv2, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, HTML5, CSS3, 3GP, VP8(.webm)”

To help make sense of these, here’s a run down on the purpose of each of these kindle formats.

  • Kindle proprietary AZW is a format used for reading e-books, and its virtually the same as Mobipocket (MOBI), which the Kindle also supports.
  • KF8 stands for Kindle Format 8, and this is for publishers who want to write and publish books and ebooks on Amazon. Its based loosely on the ePub format but includes enhancements such as including HTML5 and CSS3 support.
  • TXT is the basic Text reader used by virtually every device and platform.
  • PDF stands for Portable Document Format and it, too, is a universal format used to share documents across platforms and devices.
  • Unprotected MOBI is merely stating that the Kindle can read books and documents that were encoded using the MOBI format in unprotected or non-DRM form.
  • PRC stands for Product Representation Compact, and its a standard used to embed 3D objects into a pdf for file sharing. This is useful in engineering, for example, where 3D renderings are important but need to be included in pdf documents.
  • AAX is the format used by and their audio book offerings. These can be in AA or AAX formats, with AAX being the high quality rendition.
  • DOC much like TXT mentioned earlier, is a universal document format used by virtually every single device and platform.
  • DOCX is an Office Open XML format used for spreadsheets and similar documents.
  • JPEG is the most common format for photographs and images and is merely a compression format that allows the user to set the level of compression to better control the amount of quality loss.
  • GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format and is one of the oldest image formats in use. GIF images are compressed, but their quality is not able to match that potential of JPEG images due to GIF’s using a maximum of 8 bits per pixel, for a color palette of only 256 colors.
  • PNG is an acronym for Portable Network Graphics and is yet another image compression format that was developed as a replacement for GIF, yet for day to day use GIF stills remains more common.
  • BMP stands for Bitmap, and is a bitmap image file. It is an older format still in use, primarily for simple images and icons.
  • AC-3 is a standard audio compression format developed by Dolby Digital.
  • E-AC-3 is the enhanced and newer standard. Both are Kindle supported formats.
  • Non-DRM AAC Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) is the standard format used to compress audio files, and this is increasingly surpassing MP3 in use and preference because it can achieve higher quality in comparable package sizes. Non-DRM simply means the file is not copy-protected. If you’re familiar with iTunes then you know that when you download an audio file it’s in AAC format, and protected by DRM (Digital Rights Management). The “Non-DRM AAC” format we’re talking about here on the Kindle is just saying you cannot play iTunes audio files on this device.
  • MP3 is known by most people as the audio file format. It derived its name from the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) which developed it, and is simply an audio compression format that is universally recognized and playable.
  • MIDI is an acronym for Musical Instrument Digital Interface, and simply describes a universal protocol used so that various devices can communicate and coordinate with one another without worry of formatting conflicts.
  • WAVE is the Waveform Audio File Format, or WAV, an older audio compression format developed by Microsoft and IBM to create a standard to store audio files on personal computers.
  • OGG is a file format not common to most consumers, and is used primarily for compressing multimedia files.
  • MP4 – Unlike OOG, MP4 is the more common multimedia file format you will come across. Its a modern compression format that can achieve high quality in smaller packages. Both audio and video files can use the MP4 form, and additional data such as Closed Captioning can be included in the file.
  • AAC LC/LTP We already discussed AAC above, and the LC/LTP version is simply to more specific variances, the Low-Complexity (LC) and Long Term Production (LTP), neither of which are particularly important for consumer to know about.
  • HE-AACv1 and HE-AACv2 are acronyms for High-Efficiency Advanced Audio Coding and are considered to be within the MPEG 4 profile… these were designed specifically to allow audio files to be compressed in such a way as to retain their quality while be used in streaming applications.
  • AMR-NB and AMR-WB are Adaptive Multi-Rate audio formats that are also used in streaming audio applications. These are really just extensions of the AAC LC mentioned earlier.
  • HTML5 is HyperText Markup Language revision 5. HTML is simply the markup language used to write web pages in a way that is standardized so that browsers can interpret and render them for users. HTML5 is the newest revision and supports all earlier versions of HTML.
  • CSS3 is an acronym for Cascading Style Sheets and is used to standardize the way documents (particularly web pages) are stylized.
  • 3GP this is the standardized format for playing multimedia on 3G phones.
  • VP8 is a new video compression file format that isn’t yet very common, though the Kindle is prepared to handle them when we begin to see this file type more often.

This is a comprehensive list of Kindle supported formats as of writing, if you know of any I missed contact me and I’ll update the list.

Read this full review and find out what a kindle can do.

Kindle Fire Tablet – Amazon vs Apple Store

Amazon has become the top dog in the mid-priced tablet market with their new Kindle Fire and Kindle Tablet line. While it doesn’t intend to compete with the likes of the MacBook Pro, or other laptops, it does beat out contenders like the iPad and Nook as the best mid-priced tablet. The Kindle Fire is a beast that does what it does exceptionally well… and that’s function as the best utility eBook reader ever. While the iPad undoubtedly outclasses the Kindle Fire, it also costs almost twice as much. And like Apple and the Apple Store, you can get some great apps for your Amazon Kindle Fire, from games to e-readers and so much more. It’s no MacBook Pro, but the kindle tablet line is bringing up the ante.

The thing I like most about the Kindle Fire (but really with most new Kindle Tablets) is the Fire’s integration with Amazon’s media storefronts. From grabbing movies to the latest music (and of course books), Amazon has made it a cinch with the Kindle Fire. It should be mentioned here and now that the Kindle Fire and other Kindle tablets don’t (despite Amazon’s earliest intentions) attempt to compete with the iPad line from Apple. There’s just no way they can compete in the $200 – $250 price range with the much more expense $500 + iPad 2 line, and certainly not with the likes of a MacBook Pro or other nimble laptop.

The Kindle fire runs on the Android Operating System and is a vastly versatile tool. Wikipedia says “the Kindle Fire is running a customized Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS. Besides access to Amazon Appstore, the Kindle Fire includes a cloud-accelerated “split browser” called Amazon Silk using Amazon EC2 for off-device cloud computation; including webpage layout and rendering, and Google’s SPDY protocol for faster webpage content transmission. The user’s Amazon digital content is given free storage in the Amazon Cloud’s web-storage platform, and a built-in email application allows webmail (Gmail, Yahoo!, Hotmail, AOL Mail, etc.) to be merged into one inbox.”

iMessage, iOS 5 & Hotmail A Blissful Experience

iMessage iOS 5 is now live and looks very promising. Have an iPad or iPod and want to iMessage like the iPhone? Well now you can, thanks to the iMessage iOS 5 app from the Apple Store, and learning the iMessage how to couldn’t be simpler. You could log into your Hotmail account and send e-mails old school style, or you could click on your iMessage app and send messages, clips or photos with a click or two.

If there’s one thing Apple has done well its making learning how to use their apps, like iMessage, and easy proposition. Getting full iMessage synchronization is possible between iPad and iPhone using iOS 5 as long as you have the 3G versions of the tablet. A great thing is that you essentially use the data channel of your device and not standard SMS services (or internet apps like Hotmail) freeing you up from any SMS fees you might normally pay. iMessage and iOS 5 is a huge leap forward for messaging, for those with iOS 5 devices.

One of the most important features of the iOS 5 upgrade is you get all of your alerts in one place. According to Apple, with iOS 5 “You get all kinds of notifications on your iOS 5 device: new email, texts, friend requests, and more. With Notification Center, you can keep track of them all in one convenient location. Just swipe down from the top of any screen to enter Notification Center. Choose which notifications you want to see. Even see a stock ticker and the current weather. New notifications appear briefly at the top of your screen, without interrupting what you’re doing. And the Lock screen displays notifications so you can act on them with just a swipe. Notification Center is the best way to stay on top of your life’s breaking news.” As you see, there’s much more to be excited about than the iMessage. How to do more, easier, that’s the point of iOS 5.

iOS 5 does promise to make setting up your Hotmail account much easier than it has been (former iMessage users know what I mean). Since Hotmail is a Microsoft product (service) and they’re an Apple competitor, the services aren’t exactly giving out hugs when you try to sync them up. But now with iOS 5 setting up Hotmail is easier than ever. In fact you don’t even have to do a Google search for an iMessage how to when setting up Hotmail.  To setup your Hotmail account in iOS 5 you simply navigate through to Settings app>> Mail, Contacts, Calendars >> Add Account >> Windows Live Hotmail. Type in your Hotmail email address and password and simply choose the options you need to sync.

Windows 7 & iPad – Apps Made In Heaven

iTap iPad App Screen Shot

iTap iPad App Screen Shot

We all know and love the functionality that Windows 7 has brought to media rich content and device interaction. But did you know that you can also run a virtual copy of your desktop windows 7 on your iPad using iPad apps? Using your iPad apps, specifically iTap RDP (Remote Desktop for Windows 7), you can run your desktop right from you iPad. Some people have reported conflicts with Windows Defender so you may need to disable it while using this or other similar iPad apps. Windows Defender aside, though, this looks like one of the more promising iPad apps.

From the iTunes Apps Store, they say “Manage your Windows 7 desktop from your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. Utilizing the Microsoft RDP protocol, iTap RDP gives you complete control and fast access from anywhere. Now also supports TS Gateway (In Apps purchase), Leostream Connection Broker (In Apps purchase), Sychron OnDemand (In Apps purchase), Video Adapter and….” So this looks like a safe and functional way to use your iPad to manage your desktop. This app has a 3 ½ star rating, so users have found it worthwhile.

You may want to research on your own whether or not updates have eliminated the need to disable Windows Defender on your Windows 7 desktop. It doesn’t appear to be a common problem but is only mentioned as an aside. From iPad Apps to iPad cases, people love their new gadget from Apple and now having the capability to manage your Windows 7 desktop is just icing on the cake.

Since Microsoft is trying to directly compete with Apple and iPad, Windows 7 users can now anxiously await the new Windows 8 that Microsoft announced in Sept 2011. While it will be some time before the impact this new platform has in known, iPad users can only hope it opens the door to more competition (i.e. better apps) and more capabilities for our devices.