Archive for Retail

Car Accessories for Samsung Galaxy S3

Two years ago, when the Samsung Galaxy series of phones were released, I, rather famously, posted three articles as to why “Samsung Vibrant is NOT my new Android Phone (Part One)“, (Part Two), (Part Three). Then, this past August, pretty much two years from then, I upgraded to the new Samsung Galaxy S3, and I couldn’t be happier.  All the problems I experienced with the Samsung Vibrant are gone, and there are so many new features I haven’t quite figured out how to use them all, but one thing is certain: I want to use this device safely in my car. So I’ve done a little shopping.

Belkin Bluetooth AirCast Car Hands-Free Kit. This purchase came about when I was looking for ways play music from the phone through my car stereo with a minimum of wiring. I found a few Bluetooth dongles that could plug into the auxiliary input of my car stereo, but then decided for a little bit more I could add hands free calling to the mix. You can watch the Youtube video below to see more about this accessory.


Arkon SM410 Universal Smartphone Windshield and Vent Car Mount. When I purchased the Samsung Galaxy S3 I also bought a car mount, but it only worked on the windshield or other places where I could get its suction cup to work. Many times in the past I considered getting car mount that could clip to the air vents on the dashboard, and after reading about this item from Simon Hill at Digital Trends in his article “Best Samsung Galaxy S3 accessories” I decided to give it a try. (I haven’t received it in the mail yet, but when I do I’ll update this post.

Fun with Augmented Reality

Following up to yesterday’s post on Augmented Reality Apps for Android and iPhone users:
Moosejaw 2012 X-Ray Catalog

Moosejaw’s AR Campaign

The Moosejaw clothing company has created a “Moosejaw X-Ray” app to go with their latest catalog. Download the app to your Android or iOS device, and scan the models in the catalog. On certain pages the clothed models will have their underwear exposed by the app. I tried it out (how could I resist) and found the x-ray images went from serious to funny. The male models in particular were ridiculous. One was revealed to have squid or octopus taped to their side, while another had bullet holes in his undershirt. You can install the app and then scan the image at left. Or you can try it on Moosejaw’s online catalog. The model images are 2D so there will be no peering around the back or the edges for the inquisitive or the infatuated. The next augmented reality app is fully 3D. For better or worse it kept me far too entertained.
Chestburster

Chestburster

This app from Fingerfunk kept me busy. There is an image you have to download and print (shown left or download hi-res image). Print the picture and attached it to a t-shirt, then view it using the Chestburster app for Android or iOS (iPhone or iPad). You’ll hear some alarm bells, and then the famous baby alien chestburster appears to burst through the image with the appropriate R rated gore. The image is fully three dimensional, so depending on the angle of view you can view the top, bottom, or sides of the alien’s head. You can even see into the open cavity behind it. I’d print on a white t-shirt for the best effect. I had fun taking shots of the baby alien bursting out of my refrigerator. Oh, yes, there is a screenshot feature so you can save the image seen on your screen. Some samples to follow shortly.

Burster Samples

 

Augmented Reality (AR) Apps

QR Code
QR Code

This is one of those one-thing-leads-to-another stories.

Yesterday, I received an email newsletter with a headline “Are QR Codes an Outdated Technology?” Since I create and track QR (quick response) codes as one of my business services, I was interested and took a look. The story linked a YouTube video titled “Image recognition that triggers augmented reality” from the TEDTalks series. The video was demonstrating an app called “Aurasma” which can be installed on Android and iPhone smartphones.

Robert Burns

Scan me with Aurasma on your smartphone

In my opinion, the video and lecture boiled down to “Why use QR codes as tags when the object can be a tag?” That is: If the image or object has a unique appearance, then it could be used a link to more information when scanned or photographed with a smartphone. So if you’re an artist, you don’t need a QR (quick response)  code on your publicity materials; just use your photo or one of your works, and when people scan it, they will be given more information via the Internet or other medium. In the demo, they used a painting of the Scottish poet Robert Burns, which when viewed with the Aurasma app, a video would take its place with an actor reciting one of Burns’ poems.

I tried out Aurasma on my Samsung Galaxy S III Android phone, and — while it worked — I found that there was a very very small number of companies making use of it. Furthermore, the company behind Aurasma was really providing customized apps for the companies that wanted it so they could create their own social media campaigns and games. These companies included Marvel and DC Comics, Document magazine, and a clothing company called Moosejaw.

Marvel ARMarvel and DC Comics are using augmented reality apps in major cities around the world. Instead of scanning a QR Code with your phone, you could scan architectural landmarks and posters, and then be presented with a video of a superhero or villain in action superimposed over the landmark standing before you. In the example at right, an Avengers X-Men poster is scanned with an app that superimposes a 3D image of Iron Man when viewed through the phone.

This is a good time to answer the question: What is augmented reality? According to Wikipedia:

With the help of advanced AR technology (e.g. adding computer vision and object recognition) the information about the surrounding real world of the user becomes interactive and digitally manipulable. Artificial information about the environment and its objects can be overlaid on the real world.

Think of it as similar to a HUD (heads up display) on a fighter jet or high-end automobile. You see the world in front of your, but computers project additional relevant information into your field of vision.

You can get the Marvel AR app for Android or iPhone from Marvel’s Mobile App page. Come back tomorrow when I show you what Moosejaw did with AR. I’ll also talk about a app that I got a lot of mileage out of yesterday. I’ll give you a clue, its called “Chestburster”. Think sci-fi.

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Half Off Corel VideoStudio Pro X4 Video Editor and DVD Maker

For longer than I can remember, I have been using and recommending Corel’s VideoStudio Pro package for excellent, affordable, and easy-to-use editing of digital video and for making your own DVDs.

Corel never rests in their efforts to keep these product competitive, modern, and up-to-date with the latest home video standards. The latest version, VideoStudio Pro X4, is no exception.

At its regular price of $100 it is still a great buy, but currently you can acquire this software for half that, $50.

VideoStudio Pro X4

VideoStudio Pro X4

Corel VideoStudio Pro X4 is the powerful, creative and easy way to take your video footage from shoot to showfast. Quickly load, organize and trim SD or HD video clips. Easily cut together your production from templates and get creative with amazing effects, music, titles, transitions and more. Explore new Stop Motion Animation and Time-Lapse tools, then export to 3D! Share anywhereon iPhone and other mobile devices, disc, your favorite website or your TV. …







Top Home Tech Picks from Buy.com

Hello out there! Just looking over some tech deals for your home or office on Buy.com, and I’ve found some great deals and upgrades for you! Take a look:

D-Link DIR-601 Wireless N 150 Home RouterFirst, get a D-Link DIR-601 Wireless N 150 Home Router for $23.99 at Buy.com, a $26 Savings! Valid through 08/30/2011. With all the smartphones, iPads, netbooks, laptops, Xboxes we all have tapping into our home Internet connections, you’ll eventually experience speed shortages (lag) or interuptions in service. You might even find that you have difficulty getting or maintaining a connection in some areas fo your home. Time to consider an upgrade to Wireless N. With this router you’ll get faster speeds than wireless G, greater coverage in your home or office, and greater protection from outsiders trying to tap into your network — locally or remotely. And if you need a wired connection for a computer or other device, then you get 4 wired connections on this router, too.

Samsung ML 1865W Laser PrinterGot school age kids? Do print a lot for school projects and papers? Then consider this Samsung ML-1865W Monochrome Laser Printer for $49.99 at Buy.com, a $122 Savings! Valid through 08/28/2011. It spits out a speedy 19 pages per minute, and since it uses toner, not ink, it will print longer than 3 or 4 ink cartridges. As a matter of fact, it is rated at 5,000 pages per month. It’s great for school projects that don’t require color, so that’s ideal for reports or daily homework assignments. All your text will be crisp and laser-sharp with 1200 x 1200 resolution.

These offers are good for the weekend. Come back to Skylarking early on Monday for more specials.

Sony Pocket Edition E-Reader post expanded

I’ve expanded Monday’s post “Sony Pocket Edition E-Reader for $129 at Borders Books” with additional information on book formats, price and size comparisons, and some pictures, too.

Sony PRS-350SC Pocket Edition tech specs

  • Released: September 2010
  • Predecessor: PRS300
  • Languages Supported:
  • File Types Supported: ePUB, PDF, BBeB, TXT, RTF, JPG, PNG, GIF, BMP

Overview. 5″ reader using the latest Pearl E Ink screen and featuring an IR based touch screen. Battery life is stated to be 2 full weeks of reading on a single charge. It is available in Silver or Pink. Features both right and left hand page advance and 6 font sizes. A handy search function lets you look up words in 2 English language dictionaries, including The New Oxford American Dictionary, Second Edition and Oxford Dictionary of English, Revised Edition and 10 built-in translation dictionaries.

  • Dimensions: 5 3/4 x 4 1/8 x 11/32 inches (H/W/D)
  • Weight: 5.47 oz
  • Text Formats: ePub (Adobe DRM protected), PDF (Adobe DRM protected), BBeB Book (PRS DRM protected), Text, RTF
  • Image : JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP
  • Memory Size : 2GB User available capacity: Approx. 1.4GB
  • AC Power : Built-in rechargeable battery: 3.7 V DC, 940 mAh
  • Battery Life (Approx) : Approx. 10,000 pages turns
  • Recharging Time : 3 hours with a USB connection, or about 2 hours by the optional AC adapter (PRSA-AC1)
  • Display: 5″ E Ink® Pearl 800 x 600 pixels 16-level gray scale
  • Touch screen: clear screen using IR
  • USB: 2.0

Sony Pocket Edition E-Reader for $129 at Borders Books

Sony-PRS-350-Touch-Screen

Borders Books started selling the Sony Pocket Edition E-Reader for $50 below its regular price of $179 today. It doesn’t have wireless (WiFi) but its a great price all the same.

The Sony Pocket Reader has a grayscale touch screen, holds over 1,200 books, and the battery holds a charge for 2 weeks. It’s very compact, too. You can see in the picture below that it’s a little bit smaller than a paperback novel, and it weighs about the same, too.

SonyPRS 350 Touch screen

Sony Pocket Edition E-Reader (PRS 350)

So if you want to get yourself an e-reader but you don’t want to be locked in to Amazon or Barnes and Noble only, then run out and get a Sony Pocket Reader today. They’re not going to last at this price. It’s $20 less expensive than the basic Nook (Barnes & Noble), and $10 less than the cheapest Kindle.

Note: Amazon only sells digital eBooks for the Kindle. The Kindle reads Amazon’s proprietary “AZW” eBook format, but doesn’t read the EPUB format supported by most other modern eReaders. Consequently, most books available for the Kindle are only the ones Amazon has converted to be read on the Kindle. So when I went searching for some Isaac Asimov novels I wanted to read they couldn’t  be found for the Kindle, but they were available on other eBook webstores such as BooksAMillion.com. (You probably haven’t heard of Books a Million, but they are rated as one of the top 5 book retailers in the US.) They were in the EPUB format, and EPUB formats cannot be read on a Kindle.

Sony Pocket Edition next to a paperback

Size Comparison

What can you read? The Sony Pocket Edition Reader supports the standard EPUB and PDF formats supported by most other readers on the market.

Magazines and Newspapers. I was able to find newspapers and magazines that could be read on the Sony Pocket Reader, such as my local paper, Newsday; and there were a small variety of magazines available, but I suspect I’d find more with a little searching.

Save up to $200 on Corel products, a Skylarking special

You’ve got less than 2 weeks to take advantage of some great savings from Corel, a 2010 award winning leader in video, graphics, and photo editing tools. About a week ago an affiliate coordinator at Corel contacted me/Skylarking with New Year’s specials on Corel products. Savings start at $40 ($90 and more if you consider the value of the bonuses they include). These apply to their most popular software packages — several of which I have used or use regularly. Buy $80 in products and they ship for $1.  It’s not free shipping, but at least they aren’t trying to make up the difference in savings with shipping and handling fees. Read on for the deals!

Corel PaintShop Pro Photo X3PaintShop Pro X3. ($99, $59): I started using PaintShop Pro about 16 years ago, and I still turn to it frequently. It’s an easy to use alternative to Adobe’s PhotoShop Elements. With it you’ll organize and edit your photos and graphics images with ease. It’ll handle digital and hi-def (HD) videos, too. Sharing on Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube is a click away with built-in tools— I don’t think Elements offers that functionality — and, let’s face it, most of us edit and touch up photos just for sharing them online.

VideoStudio Express ESD Corel takes $40 off PaintShop Pro X3 for January, so it’s yours for $59.99. They’ll give you a free copy of VideoStudio Express ESD (a $50 value) so you can edit your videos with a professional look for sharing online or converting for iPod, iPhone, PSP, and smartphone playback. Total Savings: $89.99.

Corel VideoStudio Pro X3 VideoStudio Pro X3. ($99) They told me this would be going for $59.99, but it looks like its actually selling for $49.99 and if you buy before Jan. 20 you’ll get FREE shipping. It gets better: (1) buy another Corel product and they’ll take off another $10, (2) save 60% if upgrading from Adobe Premiere Elements. VideoStudio Pro X3 has been my choice for video editing, DVD creation, and YouTube uploads for several years now. I use it both for my business video prsentations and for saving my family videos, too. VideoStudio Pro X3 creates standard and HD DVDs, plus Blu-ray formats, and they have tools for sharing online with YouTube, Vimeo, and Facebook. PLUS you get a FREE download copy of Corel PaintShop Photo Express 2010 (a $50 value). Total Savings: $108.99.

Those were some of the highlights among their offerings for January 2011. Here’s the rest of the good news for getting your digital new year off to a great start.

Corel Photo & Video Pro Bundle Save $50 on
Corel Photo & Video Pro Bundle. Only $99.99 Plus get KPT collection free ($100 Value).
Save $100—200 on
Corel Painter 11.
Only $199 full or $99 for the upgrade. Painter 11
Changing whats possible in Digital Art.
CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X5 Get a free gift with the purchase of CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X5. Free Unleashed X5 training DVD ($80 Value).
  CoreDRAW X5 Premium Save up to $120 on
CorelDRAW Premium
X5
. From $239 for the upgrade. Premium design software for print, web design, and video editing.
Corel WordPerfect OfficeJumpstart your year and business with
Corel WordPerfect Office. Now Only $249 + receive a set of business templates worth $155. (WordPerfect upgrade package is only $159.)

SONY VAIO Dual Core Notebook! Save $100!

Sony VAIO VPCEE31FX/BJ Notebook PC

The Sony VAIO VPCEE31FX/BJ Notebook PC is available for $499! That’s a $100 off its regular price at $600. Use coupon code QBM17377 at checkout to get this offer. Offer ends midnight Jan. 17, 2011.

This Sony VAIO Notebook is a fantastic package! I’m not usually that excited about Sony notebooks, but this is a great price for these features. First, it has a sizeable 15.5” widescreen, PLUS an integrated “full” numeric keypad — which is a rarity on laptops and notebooks, but common to a desktop keyboard. Add to that it’s fast AMD® Athlon™II Dual Core P340 processor (CPU), 3GB (gigabytes) of DDR3 RAM (memory) — more than some desktop computers — and amazing picture quality with ATI Mobility Radeon™ HD 4250 Graphics — suitable for many high-end games.

Sony VAIO VPCEE31FX/BJ Notebook PC

Sony VAIO VPCEE31FX/BJ Notebook PCThe Sony VAIO VPCEE31FX/BJ Notebook PC comes pre-installed with:

  • Genuine Microsoft® Windows® 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • AMD® Athlon™ II Dual Core P340 processor (2.20GHz)
  • 3GB of pre-installed DDR3 system RAM (memory)
  • A large 320 GB hard drive (storage) for your documents, movies, photos, and music files
  • AMD® Vision ATI Mobility Radeon™ HD4250 graphics card
  • 15.5″ (1366×768) widescreen LED backlit display uses power-efficient LCD technology and delivers dazzling colors and picture clarity
  • Wired and the fastest Wireless-N Internet
  • Dual Layer DVD Burner (DVD RW)
  • Media card reader for your digital cameras and smartphones
  • Built in Sony Motion Eye webcam
  • A trial version of Microsoft Office 2010 is included
  • HDMI connector for attaching to a HD TV

Red MyTouch 3G Slide Accessories

Back during my rant against the Samsung Vibrant, I mentioned that I had purchased a red T-Mobile myTouch 3G Slide as my new Android phone. I still have the phone, and I’m pretty happy with it. (I want the G2, but it will have to wait.)

I’m looking into getting this Red Rubberized Snap-On Hard Case for my phone. My phone is red, too, so it should work out quite nice as opposed to the white phone shown in the picture. It runs for $8.96 with free shipping. The shell is supposed to be simple to install in  seconds. The 2 pieces simply snap onto the phone! Though made from a hard rubber material, the case is light-weight, strong, and durable with custom cutouts for volume controls, camera shutter and lens, stereo jack, and the USB port.

Sticking with red, I’m also looking at this mini Capacitive Stylus for the T-Mobile MyTouch 3G Slide. A stylus is handy for manipulating items on the touch screen. It should be handy in the cold days ahead, since I won’t have to take off my winter gloves to operate the phone. If you’re wondering — as I was — what the little black peg is hanging off on the side: you plug the peg into the 3.5mm headset jack on top of the phone so the stylus is handily attached to the phone at all times. The item sells for $21.48 including the shipping charges. Available in: Jet Black, Metallic Silver, Crimson Red, Lunar Blue.