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Christmas Gadgets: GoPro, Olloclip, and Kindle Fire

This holiday season was filled with another round of cool gadgets. If most people know me…I love gadgets and love playing with new toys. So this year, the three presents that come to mind are the GoPro Hero2 camera, Olloclip lens adapter for the iPhone4(s), and the Kindle Fire. Sarah gave me the GoPro Hero2 and the Olloclip for my iPhone4s and I gave her the Kindle Fire. So here are some first thoughts after having this gadgets for a short period of time after the Christmas gift exchanges.

GoPro Hero2
This is a great little video camera for those of you video enthusiast. You can purchase this item anywhere from BestBuy, B&H Photo Video online, GoPro.com, or numerous other places online or brick and mortar stores. This will be the one gadget in my “Go Bag” for video shoots this year providing new perspectives as a second camera during interviews and/or when trying to grab interesting shots. GoPro is most famous for being used in extreme sports like surfing, sky diving, snow boarding, and even on planes for interesting shots.

What I Like:

  1. LOVE THE WIDE ANGLE – 170 degree view!
  2. This is a compact camera about the size of a D Battery and can capture video and still images.
  3. Records video at 1080p 30 frames per second and numerous other smaller resolutions.
  4. Captures still images with at 11 megapixels.
  5. I love the waterproof case (up to 197 feet), perfect for recording white water rafting.
  6. The mount with sucution cup…already used it on the front of my car.(CLICK HERE to watch)
  7. Comes with built in microphone.
  8. Has an audio input.
  9. Has a built in HDMI out.
  10. The digital still camera can take pictures in intervals over a period of time for time lapse.
  11. Makes for great second camera in video shoots for wide angle perspective.

Wish list for improvements:

  1. Wish the LED Screen was not an ad-on but a standard part of the camera.
  2. Wish the actual camera had a mountable connection, instead of having to put camera in case to be mounted.
  3. Low light is always going to be an issue with these small image processors. But it still does a decent job.
  4. The waterproof case does not allow you to plug in a a microphone into the audio input.

If you would like to look at the complete description of the camera, CLICK HERE.

Olloclip for iPhone
For you camera/video enthusiasts, the Olloclip is a great addition to your iPhone4 or 4s. This attachment allows you to take the iPhone camera to the next level. It is a wide angle and fisheye adapter that allows you to take images and capture video from a wider perspective. I have been searching for something like this, then I found it in my stocking this year.

What I Like:

  1. Easy slide on and off of the attachment.
  2. Two lens in one attachment. You can flip the attachment around from wide angle to fisheye.
  3. Clear images with this simple slide on attachment as a lens.
  4. Makes the iPhone4(s) a great second camera in video shoots since it acquires the image at 1080p.
  5. The wide angle lens can be removed to make provide a macro lens.

Wish list for improvements:

  1. You have to remove your case of choice to use this attachment. Love to see this company make a case where this attachment integrates as a part of a bigger offering.
  2. Easy to accidentally grab the iPhone in a way where you can get finger prints on the lens.
  3. The adapter slides around sometimes which can distort the image and/or create some artifacts.

You can check out the FAQ’s about the Olloclip by CLICKING HERE.

Kindle Fire
I bought this e-reader for Sarah this Christmas, she loves my iPad but wanted something smaller to read books. Bottom line, this is and e-reader built around reading books from Amazon. If purchase as a tablet like an iPad, you will be annoyed. The tech community might “root” this device and install the complete Android platform, but for the non-tech users…this is not built to be a tablet. I would say this is similar in size to the Samsung Galaxy Tab. So here are some of Sarah’s first impressions. By the way, many of her comparisons stem from my “original” iPad3G.

What she likes:

  1. Size – she likes the ability to hold it in one hand.
  2. Convenience of being able to buy/purchase book and read immediately.
  3. The rewards program – Her Amazon Prime membership allows her to “borrow” one book a month which they term as the “The Lending Library”.
  4. It is backlit to read book at night with no bed side lamp.
  5. It comes with install apps like Facebook, Amazon, and Pulse news reader.
  6. When you go to the “store,” it provides recommended books across the top…similar to the Amazon.com experience.

What she dislikes:

  1. Battery life seems to dwindle fast.
  2. The power cord is not that long (4 feet long). Need to be close to an outlet if the battery dwindles down fast.
  3. The power button is on the bottom, so unwanted bumps cause it to shut off.
  4. The power cord plugs in the bottom and can get in the way when holding.
  5. Not as responsive as the iPad when touching hyperlinks.
  6. Web browsing is not as responsive as the original iPad.

So there ya go…love to here your thoughts!

Do we need the 4G speed for all our devices?

Ok..Ok…the big ole hubbub across the mobile communication spectrum is all about 4G and 4G LTE. It is all about speed and the network. Yes, Verizon is leading the way with their LTE rollout across the country. AT&T and other groups are playing catch-up, well from a technology standpoint. AT&T is surely leading the pack in a clear concise message with their “Rethink Possible” campaign.

But what does this really mean for consumers, well I am still trying to figure this out. Seriously, why do I need 4G LTE speed on a mobile device. Why do I need to be able to upload and download at speeds twice or three times 3G speed on my iPhone or Android device. I can already watch video on the device, I can do video chat with my device, I can check email, download a document, etc at the 3G speeds.

What advantage do acquire when I buy the new iPad or iPhone with access to a 4G LTE data transfer rate? Now, look at the MiFi devices (the mobile hotspots) and this makes sense. I am a video guy and I need to be able to upload Gigabytes of video content and access to these speeds will trump most business and in-home data speeds.

At my house, I currently have my Charter data plan for Internet access that provides 25 Mb/s download and 3 Mb/s upload speeds. That is pretty fast…the 4G LTE mobile devices will be able to provide close, if not better upload speeds and similar to less download speeds. This is great for uploading large files from my edit bay and home workstation. So why does the average consumer need access from a smart phone to these speeds?

Verizon just released a press release today announcing that the Galaxy Tablet will be 4G LTE enabled. Jeff Dietel, vice president of marketing for Verizon Wireless stated in the press release, “The tablet market is exploding as customers are discovering new uses for the technology that features a large screen, powerful processing speeds and access to Android Market™’s 200,000 applications. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is perfect for customers who want to take advantage of Google™’s new movie rental option and view their favorite film on-the-go.”

Well, we are becoming a more connected community of technology enthusiasts. Everywhere you look, someone is looking at their smart device. They are texting, tweeting, looking at Facebook, checking email, watching video, chatting, uploading pictures. The days of the laptops and home workstations are slowly drifting away for the consumer. I bought my wife an 11 inch MacBook Air and it is close to the same size as my iPad. Those big ole bulky home computers are almost extinct. And with Cloud Computing…people are able to acces and store files virtually.

Look at the new release of iCloud by Apple. Yes, the ability to store and access all of your music in the “Cloud” and not have to worry if your home computer crashes, loosing all your music files. I can list numerous friends that have experienced this “life changing” trauma. My sister-in-law cried for days as she tried to recover a small percentage of her thousands of songs. I can still hear her saying…”There goes Bonnaroo…their goes Death Cab….GONE!”

So what does iCloud have to do with all this…we are becoming more dependent on the virtual community, connectivity, and off-site storage. Bigger server farms are providing access to storage and information. This also means that all of our devices, not just home computers, need to be able to access and alter these files from any device. I can now, shoot, edit, publish, and distribute video from my iPhone4 on YouTube and Vimeo using 3G, all in 1280×720 resolution. If I was still in the news world, I would be killing my competition…maybe?

Bottomline…our mobile devices are going to be moving more and more from content access devices to content creation devices. These devices will fit in our back pocket and we will be able to do more on the go, not restricted to our home/business/office computers. Access to servers and mainframes can be done anywhere…and their needs to be more bandwidth across the platform for more and more people to access and create content on the go. Also…files sizes are growing from HD video and larger picture quality.

One concept that I have not even touched is Healthcare IT. Yes…with the emergence of EMR’s and Cloud computing, more and more healthcare professionals will need to access large healthcare records in a mobile setting. Whether it is in the “field” like an ambulance or even rural healthcare networks. This type of speed and infrastructure will provide this access.

So, right now I am not sure if the consumer needs access to these speeds, but soon yes. Because all of their traditional computing will be done in devices that are the evolution of our iPhones, iPads, Laptops, Desktops…combined. Speed and access is key for tomorrow’s connectivity.

***Image from the Daily Galaxy, thanks a bunch!