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ZAGG Slim Book Case Ultrathin Hinged with Detachable Backlit Keyboard for iPad mini 2/3 - Black (IM2ZF2-BB0)
ZAGG Slim Book Case Ultrathin Hinged with Detachable Backlit Keyboard for iPad mini 2/3 - Black (IM2ZF2-BB0)
Price: $119.99
11 used & new from $79.05

40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I like it, but not without reservations (comparing to logitech folio as well), December 18, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Updated Jan 22 2015
I am taking a star off this product (from 4 to 3). The reasons are:
a) The top is too heavy compared to the light keyboard -- it results in a higher chance of the product tipping over when not on a flat surface. Frankly, the logitech did not have this problem in such a noticeable way
b) This case is very prone to scratches and bruises
c) As I mentioned before, I dropped it once and with a single fall, the product has started creaking and has become wobbly in addition to the back case under the keyboard cracking. I'm not trying to blame the product for my dropping it, but I do have to say, the logitech cover due to its extended flap and rubberish outer design is much more resilient to falls (I've dropped it more than once)
d) The keyboard is not as good as the logitech as I wrote earlier - I've gotten used to it, but it misses keys once in a while unless I tap firmly

(BTW, their product warranty is awesome - they are replacing my broken slim book for free even after I told them I broke it)

Updated Jan 14 2015
I am on my first long trip with it - the product is unfortunately not as resilient to withstanding drops like the logitech folio is. I dropped it once because I did not snap the magnets in properly and I was not paying attention. The back of the keyboard cracked and the top of the keyboard has a dent (the iPad mini was protected). I'm keeping the rating as is, as it was my fault, but I've dropped the logitech once in a while, given its more of a hard rubber case, it withstands falls better.

Updated Jan 1,2015:
a) The keys have started responding better than they did before. Still not as responsive as the logitech though, but very useable.
b) I'm loving the backlit keys - I know I said I never really needed it in my logitech, but after using it, I see what I was missing. Kinda like the rear view camera of a car - we reversed without it for years but when you start usnig them you realize what you missed
c) The inconvenience of pulling the tablet out due to strong magnets has disappeared like I guessed - I know exactly where to pull to make it work easily at night
d) I discovered another flaw - due to the black plastic bar at the bottom in front of the keyboard, it is almost impossible to pull up the iOS bottom menu bar (the one with the flashlight etc)
e) I really wish they had a shortcut to launch safari wit one key - they could have easily overloaded one of the keys for this

Updated: Dec 23, 2014
I asked Amazon to ship me another unit - just in case I had a unit that was defective - badly aligned micro USB and somewhat loose cover. I got the new unit - the microUSB is properly aligned (wire does not get stuck) and the lid case is much better - I don't see odd gaps (besides the cutout areas) and the iPad mini fits snugly. So if you have a unit that concerns you, ask for a replacement. Zagg may be ironing out QC issues with this run.

Original Review
* First off, let me say I wanted to give it a 3.7 star rating (tentative) as I just got it today. But there is no half rating, so kept it at 4. I may revise it later
* Second, those who may not have used a logitech keyboard folio may rate this a 5. I know I would have. but given I've used the competition as well, I had a good idea on how it stacks up.

If you are looking at high quality keyboard folio cases for your iPad or iPad mini, there are only two options - Zagg or Logitech. Everything else is a distant second.

I've been tracking this product for a few months now, since I saw it announced on the Zagg website. I've been using the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio for iPad mini 3/ mini 2/ mini - Carbon Black for around a year, and used it extensively for travel and productivity work (including watching videos while lying down), so I have a very good basis to compare.

I hope to add some pictures to the review - I don't see an option yet on how to do it (except for adding a video) - hope to figure that out soon.

The Good, which are unique the slim book model
a) The book case and video mode are critical for me as far as Zagg models go--> previous zagg keyboards could never bend back completely making it unusable (well, not totally, but lets say inconvenient) for watching movies while on the bed. This is a great addition
b) It is smaller than the logitech keyboard folio - both in width and height. Logitech insists on including a largish 'flap boundary' beyond the keyboard, what takes up additional space (in terms of thickness, they both are similar - or so it seems to be - just a visual test)
c) The new slim book keyboard is made of aluminum, which probably makes it more resilient and it looks like a mac keyboard
d) I never did like the old style textured backs of zagg - this one is plain matte black (or white depending on what you order) and looks more professional to me

The other Zagg goods, not unique to this model, but compared to Logitech keyboard folios
a) The backlight function is useful. Oddly, when I used the logitech, the light of the iPad was enough for me to see the keyboard even in dark rooms, but I can understand this can be a problem for folks with poorer vision
b) Its good to see that zagg has a functionality to check battery life status (via blinking lights) - red == low, yellow == average, green == good
c) Unlike the logitech keyboard folio, you can tilt this at any angle and it holds. This is a huge benefit especially for power users and people who like to watch videos on the bed at various sleeping positions. I've been inconvenienced by the logitech angle during flights depending on how far back the guy in front reclines.
e) I like the fact that it does not overlay the power button with its own cover button - the logitech product does this and its somewhat irritating to find in a dark room

a) The overall outside logitech design is just more elegant to look at - even though zagg is smaller and matter now, it still looks like comparing a buick to a tesla from the outside. I don't know how else to describe it. the curves and lines of the logitech are more appealing to me, not that the zag slim book looks bad at all
b) The actual keyboard design, well, the slim book mimics the look of a macbook, so it obviously looks good.
c) The slim book includes both an iPad back cover and the keyboard, so when snap shut, your iPad mini is fully protected. Unlike the logitech product, you can actually snap off the top - its held together by strong magnets
d) I am a little concerned looking at "gaps" between the cover and the iPad mini when snapped into the frame. You really need to see the photos to know what I mean - but you can see through some parts of the side. I am not sure if this is a design or a fault. This causes a tad bit of jiggle too, but the iPad mini does feel strongly attached to a point where I don't think it will fall out
e) Design is always subjective, but Zagg needs to re-think its logo typography if it wants to look more classy. The keyboard looks great, for example, till you see the thick typesetting of its logo which is jarring to an otherwise elegant keyboard design

a) I can say for sure that logitech's keyboard is superior for touch typers. The zagg keyboard is good. When I tried typing stuff, I occasionally missed characters (I type very fast) and then when I nailed it down to why, I realized zagg keys need a harder tap than the logitech. I know there is a learning curve for any new keyboard, but there was zero learning curve for me for the logitech (pressure wise, there was learning to get used to the layout, as is the case for zagg)

b) The black matte of the zagg seems to be attracting much more finger prints than the black matte of the logitech - but I've observed over time that in other products, these surfaces attract less of dirt/prints - so we'll see (either that or I get used to it more :-)

c) For the book and video mode, you actually need to detach the top and snap it back on the opposite way. The attachment part is easy, the detachment part need more pressure and is somewhat inconvenient. I suspect it will be something you need to get used to. The magnets are very strong, which BTW is good because I don't fear for my iPad mini to fall off (not that I plan to do a shake test anytime soon...), but if you are constantly flipping it, then well, YMMV as they say (FYI, after 3 days of use, I have already gotten used to the detaching process - its not incovenient for me any more - I have even become accustomed to snapping it back on in complete darkness, which is typically at nights after watching netflix)

d) This is HEAVY! It is significantly heavier than the logitech to a point where I was surprised at first. I guess metal keyboard vs. plastic? I have read books on flights with my logitech keyboard folded back without resting it on my lap for around 20-30 mins - I don't think I can do that with the zagg slim book. Definitely not with the keyboard snapped on the back and likely not even with just the iPad mini cover (I suspect just the mini cover is heavier or equal to the logitech product - my guess)

e) It is simply NOT possible to detach the top from the bottom with one hand, or by folding it back - you need to hold the keyboard down and pull the top up with your other hand.

f) I don't like the microUSB port - its cheaply done - the microUSB socket is not well aligned which means you have to pull hard to take the cable out.

g) The video mode is really fantastic for lying down on the bed -- I tried it for the first time last night. The fact that the screen locks at any position is a great benefit

Final conclusions
Its a good productivity tool. I really do think these products are useful if you need to create content more than read. If its the other way around, I don't see why you'd add bulk to your iPad mini. I am a power user, need to travel with it a lot, and need to create content a lot. So for me, these are super useful.

My current key peeves : a) The odd gaps around the areas where it hold the iPad (not a problem with the replacement unit) b) The fact that the keyboard is not as touch sensitive as the logitech c) its significantly heavier weight d) The fact that I can't bend it all the way back for book mode without using two hands to take it off first e) shabby quality microusb alignment (not a problem with the replacement unit)

But overall, a good product
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 10, 2015 7:20 PM PDT

PowerBlock Compact Weight Stand
PowerBlock Compact Weight Stand
Price: $69.00
5 used & new from $60.03

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good product - just remember it DOES NOT have metal inserts for the adder weights, June 25, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Summary: Good product for those who need a compact and portable solution to keep their power blocks during exercise sessions.


Before I bought this product, I asked in the Q&A above if this product came with adder weight inserts -basically a metal bar that allows you to store the adder weights in the power blocks, even though the picture does not show them. The reason for this is apparently PB made a version with the inserts and now makes it without them.
The users who bought this product confirmed it did. Unfortunately the product does NOThave them. The folks who responded are not to blame, because the older version of this stand, which power block does not make any more DID have these inserts. The new one does not. So the users who have it must have bought an earlier version while they were in stock. I called up PowerBlock and asked why they removed it. The answer was 'most people using this stand did not have adder weights in their power blocks'. Their newer single column stands do have the inserts, and I feel very strongly they just want you to buy those products (double the price and some)

Anyway, back to the product.
It's a good stand, and pretty stable. I have the sports 5.5 and it held it up pretty well (total of 55+55 lbs). However, given that I have small kids, I decided not to keep it permanently on the stand as if you run into it, you can imagine what can happen. While the weights seem stable on them, I don't have the confidence to leave them there especially since we work out in the family room and not a dedicated gym space we can keep closed. Also remember this is a compact foldable stand. Don't expect it to be the Rock of Gibraltar. It's hold the weights fine, though.
If you are short of space, its convenient to fold it easily and store it. I also like the fact that it has raised edges all around. I used to keep them on a table before, and I've almost dropped the weights you don't land up pinning in the middle of a routine (because your hands essentially get tired and your capacity to pick weights also decreases as your hands get tired, so imagine you have 55lbs and you pin 25lbs, and instead of lifting up the weights cleanly, your hands drag out and bam - the rest of the weights fall to the ground). the raised edges avoid exactly this problem.

Finally, for those who are used to power blocks on the floor, frankly I find the stand to be much better - it helps you in switching a little faster because you can see the sides better and it helps your back from constant bending (especially if you are doing a quick moving routine like P90x/x3/etc). The other reason to buy this stand is if you keep your blocks on carpeted floor, you would have noticed its a little harder to change the pin because the pin holder and the metal plates don't exactly line up correctly and you often have to give it an extra push to snap into place on a carpet.

Oh and last note: I don't actually fold the table when I'm done - I just use it as a convenient music sheet holder while playing music ;-)

Why did I take away 1 star?
a) When it set up this stand, it looked like it was stable and it held my weights. I later took off the weights and pushed on the stand and it went down further like as if I did not lock it perfectly. That concerned me a bit - it may have been my error, but I would prefer if it did not lock into a position that was possibly not intended...
b) Powerblock decided to discontinue the older version of this stand that actually had space to store the adder weights for no logical reason to me except for forcing people to buy their more expensive column stands

Brother MFC-9340CDW All-in-One Wireless Digital Color Printer, 23ppm Black/Color, 600x2400dpi, 250 Sheet Paper Capacity, USB 2.0 - Print, Copy, Scan, Fax
Brother MFC-9340CDW All-in-One Wireless Digital Color Printer, 23ppm Black/Color, 600x2400dpi, 250 Sheet Paper Capacity, USB 2.0 - Print, Copy, Scan, Fax
Offered by JUST IN CASE
Price: $419.00
8 used & new from $384.55

63 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great printer and Airprint not working on sleep with IOS7 solution, November 30, 2013
This is a great printer. I've been researching around quite a bit, and found that this is only one of the very few printers (maybe the only one) in this price range and size that:
a) Has a duplex ADF scanner without having to manually flip
b) Has a duplex printer without having to manually flip
c) Has a scan and email function, scan to network drive and scan to FTP function
d) Is color and Laser
e) Supports Airprint without any app
f) can be controlled using its touch screen directly and not via a computer only

I know a lot of people talk about Ink cartridges being better value for money, but I've consistently had bad experience with them (ink drying up with less use). Note that I don't use it as a photo printer - my primary need is to print regular documents/pages and scan stuff.

Notes on the printer

a) how to partially address the IOS7 Airprint bug - if the printer goes to sleep, Airprint does not find your printer: If you are using IOS7, your mobile devices will _not_ detect the printer after it goes to sleep for a few minutes (doesn't happen immediately). I upgraded my firmware hoping it will fix the bug, but it did not. The obvious solution is to tap the power button of this printer, but if you are elsewhere its a hassle. You don't want to have to walk up to the printer - you want to get it started from wherever you are.

The solution: Bookmark the following page in your mobile browser
http://[put in ip address of your printer]/net/net/protocol.html

If you try and print a document and Airprint says "No printer found", just load up this page in your browser bookmark from your mobile device. Loading this page seems to wake up the Airprint interface and now try to find the printer again - it will work. If it did not , make sure you refresh that page linked above.

b) If you don't want to change toners right when the printer asks you to: another user has posted instructions on how to reset your page count so the printer doesn't force you to change your toners when there is still life. Read it and store the instructions

c) The "Scan to email" function was confusing. I thought I need to press scan, then scan to email, to scan and email a document to me. Its not. this is a function that needs use of their proprietary desktop/mac software and it scans and attaches the email in your desktop email or something. I am on a mac, and never installed any additional software (nor do I want to). I was confused because I even set up my own SMTP server via their settings etc and this function never worked. Well, if you want to just "scan and email" - ie the printer sends an email to a email address you specify, you need to swipe left on the home screen and select "Web" - inside that you will see a "Easy scan to email" - that is what you need - and if you use that service, you don't need to set up any SMTP server etc - Brother already has a default SMTP server etc that this service uses. You should also use the "add shortcut" option to make future use of this easier. I use this function a heck of a lot, so I've set up different shortcuts to "scan and email" to my office email, home email, wife's email. If you need to send it to another email which is not frequent, no need to save a shortcut - just navigate as I described earlier

d) The scan to network and scan to FTP are incredibly useful. I started using "scan to email" because my office printer only had that function. While convenient, sometimes, the only reason you email that document to yourself is just so that you can download and store that file. Well, given mailbox sizes and the delay to encode the document transmit over email and decode and download, wouldn't it be much easier if the printer could directly scan and store that document in a network drive which you have access to? Its much faster. Well, thats what this option does - its incredible. I set up two profiles, one that scans and stores the file directly to a folder on my NAS and another which scans and stores the file using FTP on a server in my office (not on my network). This option is much faster if you don't really need to email and really want to store. I'd encourage you to try these. There is also a scan to USB stick - which you can stick into the front

e) There are other options in the "Web" menu scan to facebook, dropbox, Google drive etc - never use them but you may find them useful.

Okay, so there are many many more features. I've just listed the ones I bought it for - auto duplex scan, auto duplex print, airprint, wireless, scan to email/network drive/ftp, laser, color
Enjoy, its a lovely printer.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 16, 2014 12:29 PM PST

SinuPulse Elite Advanced Nasal Sinus Irrigation System
SinuPulse Elite Advanced Nasal Sinus Irrigation System
Price: $79.95
11 used & new from $79.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clunky but still the best (so far), November 11, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Its odd to have to establish credentials for a nasal rinsing product, but I thought it would be useful to do so: I've been suffering from blocked sinuses/allergies/etc for over 30 years (from when I was a child). I've used all sorts of steroids/nasal drops/various pills my doctors over the years have said will do awesome stuff, only to get slammed every few weeks with some form of nasal allergies - to a point where I just accepted the state of my nose as 'the way it is, and I must live with it'. Three years ago, I finally decided to give the classic "Neti Pot" a go. The first few weeks were rubbish - water would get stuck, but I kept at it and after a month of continued usage, nasal irrigation changed my life (well, it still doesn't help me improve my guitar skills, but I mean on the nasal part). So as a general statement, this general concept - irrigating your nose was a godsend for me. I've read some horror stories on the net (brain gets damaged, people dying due to some reasons etc) - frankly I've never had any such issue, and for the record, my 6 year son does it regular (and it has benefitted him hugely too).

Now, on to the products - here is how I'd rank 'nasal irrigators' in terms of ease of use
1. Easiest: Electric powered pulsators (like this product and apparently the Grossan hydro pulse too which I haven't tried)
2. Next Easiest: Batter powered pulsators (Waterpik pulsator)
3. Traditional Pots

Why? Well, because if you are not using a powered device, then you are only using gravity to help the water pass through and depending on the status of your nose, it can get harder. The pulsator also helps in clearing up the passage. Finally, you'd think a battery is as good ,but trust me, as the battery starts weakening, the pulsator starts getting less effective and even though the water may pass through, the cleaning is not as effective. this is exactly the problem I faced with the Waterpik - a great device, but the battery would start depleting ver soon and it would be a gradual decline.

In the electric powered department, there is this product and another from Grossan, I believe. I never tried the latter but own this one. Let me tell you why:

1. I called the support line on a Sunday with general questions about the product. I expected a call back in a few days, but I got called back in 20mins by Glen Rocklin who I believe is a product engineer there (?). He was incredibly knowledgeable and obviously passionate. We spent an hour talking about the pros and cons. Not really an exciting topic, I'd admit, but well, I'm the classic technical consumer with a real past sinus problem and he the ultimate product owner. I came back very impressed. A product backed by this level of interest is saying something. And if you think this was pre-sales, I've communicated post sales as well with him, and I've found the same level of support.

2. While this product costs $80, they gladly give away additional attachments for free. I needed a second pair of the atomizer and pulsating tips for my son (you could wash/rinse the same tips, but its a personal hygiene product and I'm not comfortable doing this). If you look at their website, each additional tip costs $15. So it would be an added $30 for me (pulsator + atomizer). They happily sent me a free 2nd set of accessories (shipping included) and all 4 tips - not just the two.

3. It seems you can actually claim part of the cost of this device back from insurance (if your doctor signs off on a form they provide) - that's because they have an atomizer and its a legit medical device - this is what they told me. Frankly, given my past sinus issues, I'm sure I would have been able to get a good part of the cost back, but I just never got around going to my doctor. You should try it.

4. The atomizer is really good. I don't use it, my son does. It has really helped him in keeping his throat moist and clean - try it out - don't ignore it

5. This product is not as big as it looks. Most of us have a tendency to fill up our sink+countertops with all sorts of junk. I thought this would be too big, but when I opened it up, it was actually much more compact than I expected (but not as compact as the other hand held ones)

The product however, is not without its, umm, niggles:
1. I find it clunky. The way the water compartment is architected, its hard to pour water and salt into it and jiggle it easily to mix well. Thats primarily because of its 2 step water container design. Its hard to 'jiggle' and mix. As a work around, I bought a separate container with a cap, which I fill with water and salt, mix and then pour into the sinupulse.

2. When you actually take out the water compartment to clean it, again due to the design, you will very likely pull out one of the tips that are seated in their cavities in the back along with it. You need to be conscious not to do it.

3. The dial where you change settings of speed is very hard to use when your fingers are wet. I really wish they had made the dial differently -either easier to turn, or a raised plastic edge we could apply pressure to

4. The button to keep the water from coming out (on the handle, not at the base) needs a good press to keep the water from flowing out. You need to use this while changing sides as its not convenient to reach out to the base unit while switching. I wish they made it simpler/smoother (thinking kids using it here)

My ideal product would be a handheld (including base) version that is electric powered (or a rechargeable one) with an atomizer. Till then, this is a great product.

Coghlans 0520 Razor Covers
Coghlans 0520 Razor Covers
Offered by I M Survival
Price: $4.87
2 used & new from $4.87

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Its okay, September 18, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Coghlans 0520 Razor Covers
Its okay, if you don't have a razor head as wide as the Gillette fusion. The fusion head barely fits in and one has to tweak/twist it and sort of force fit it in. I also feel the cover is very flimsy - its holding up so far, but I fear the joint will dislodge.

Cabin Size Wheeled Crease Free Garment Bag with Zip-away Detachable Laptop Bag
Cabin Size Wheeled Crease Free Garment Bag with Zip-away Detachable Laptop Bag

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great bag for a one bagger, August 16, 2013
I bought this bag directly from the UK (it wasn't available on Amazon US yet) and paid around $300 for it. I posted a very detailed video review of it (search for gate8 detailed review on google as amazon does not allow links). Bottom line, its a great bag for a one bagger who needs to travel with upto 5 days worth of clothes (including a suit) and not have to check in

What I like:
a) Works as a carry on on all flights I've taken - this includes the really small UK flights
b) Laptop zipped on the outside is a great idea - still fits the definition of a carry on but does not take up clothes space. Also easy to zip out laptop for a customer meeting/ or in the event you need to check in the bag for any reason
c) I can easily fit in a suit, 2 trousers, 2 shirts, 2 t-shirts and undergarments without breaking a sweat. The nice thing is since its a trifold garment bag, there is minimal crease
d) Good looking bag

The old version I bought, has some issues - its handle is short and if stuffed, it leans forward. I am told the folks at Gate8 have fixed this issue in the new version. Assuming they did, its a wonderful bag to have.

Vinland 120 Bottle Wine Rack, 12 wide by 10 high
Vinland 120 Bottle Wine Rack, 12 wide by 10 high
Offered by Home Brew Ohio
Price: $112.93
4 used & new from $108.51

12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent, June 9, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The wine rack is really really light. Be careful to read the instructions before you assemble it - it has different sized grooves where different bars fit it - you can easily misfit it (like I did) and then at the end realize the rack is not aligned and then its very easy to break the wood if you try and pull it out unless you are very careful.

Now, assuming you did read the instructions and put it together correctly, it is really easy to assemble (my son and I did in together in 15-20 minutes). Requires firm tapping/hitting to fit the shelves in which is good because its a snug fit.

When I assembled it all together, it did feel a tad bit rickety - not as solid as I would have liked, but not bad either. For extra measure I tied in the legs to a pipe in my basement so it doesn't tip over (not that I know it would have, but given its so light and a tad rickety, I did not want to take chances)

There is another wine rack on Amazon sold by a vendor called GE Lumber - I got that order but returned it because I had already installed this one. But just as a comparison, the one by GE Lumber was really really heavy in its case - so maybe that is more solid (even though the pictures don't look it). BTW, don't take this as a stamp of approval from my side favoring the GE Lumber product over this one. The biggest disadvantage of the GE Lumber product is that you are expected to stack two rows of wine bottles on top of each other while this one has a rack per row. I am not comfortable with racking wine bottles on top of each other without a separating rack in between, which was the main reason why I bought this one, finally.

Overall, this one does the job, however at a 'Decent' rating

Edit: As of Nov 2013, this rack is still doing a fine job holding my bottles (upto around 120 bottles so far).

Edimax BR-6258n 150Mbps 11n Wireless Nano Size Broadband Router with WAN and LAN Ports Supported As Wireless Adapter - Black
Edimax BR-6258n 150Mbps 11n Wireless Nano Size Broadband Router with WAN and LAN Ports Supported As Wireless Adapter - Black

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A super travel product, March 29, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
(Updated Dec 5 2013: Edimax just sent me a beta firmware the solves the issue of resetting the router every time the WISP ssid changes. This is a huge improvement. I don't know when they plan to make it available on their website, but please contact edimax US support via their webpage to get the firmware - they are happy to email it out till its up on their website)

I bought it primarily for travel. My primary use case is to share hotel WiFi amongst multiple devices without requiring an ethernet jack (all laptops have wifi sharing, but need you to connect via ethernet to the internet). With this, I can connect it to the hotels wifi and then rebroadcast a different SSID which all my devices connect to. No ethernet needed. My review therefore is just for the Edimax WISP mode (WiFi-Wifi sharing)

Note that is could also be used as a repeater, a regular AP and other modes - very cool (though I don't use it for these modes)

The pros:
1) Is tiny. Really tiny. Around the size of a credit card (maybe a little smaller)
2) It can either be powered by a microUSB cable connected to your computer, or with its travel adaptor (again, very small and flat)
3) It has its default IP address and default login/password etched into the product at the back - you need this because if you are using WISP, you need to reboot each time you go to a new hotel
4) When you login, it also reminds you of its default password (you may think its a security issue, but if you use it for WiFi-Wifi sharing and need to reboot at different location, you will find this useful - you can always change it after you set it up)
5) I've used it over 10+ places (hotels) - wifi rebroadcast was always good and stable - no complaints

The "could be improved":
1) Its easy to use if you are technical, but its not very intuitive for a no-ob - I think they should do a better job making its interface simpler
2) Edimax has a guide that tells you how to use the WISP mode for hotel wifi sharing without needing ethernet cords - but its not complete. What is does not tell you is that once you set it up, it won't work in another hotel unless you reset it back to factory settings (it won't even broadcast the SSID in WISP mode unless you reboot) I spent several minutes figuring this out when I went to my 2nd hotel. If its clarified in the manual somewhere, my apologies, I missed it.

The cons: (Updated on Dec 2, 2013 - this is solved now with their 1.16a beta firmware)

Old text:
My only complaint is that you have to 'hardware reboot' this router everytime you go to a new hotel if you want to use its WiFi internet sharing mode (called WISP). For example, if you go to hotel A and set up the WISP mode to share the hotel WiFi to your other devices, and say you set up your own internal WiFi and called it 'mysecurewifi' and added the security you need etc, when you go to hotel B and power it up, it won't broadcast 'mysecurewifi' - you need to keep the hardware button pressed and reboot it - it then resets itself to the factory settings 'edimax' ssid, no security etc. And you have to redo the process in every new hotel. Takes about 3-4 mins. Ideally, I would have preferred it to broadcast the previous SSID I set up so all I had to do was connect to it, log into its admin, and simply pair with with the new hotel wifi SSID.

however, its a great product. Its _so_ small and handy, you won't believe it.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 5, 2014 7:59 AM PST

Kikkerland UL03-A Universal Travel Adapter
Kikkerland UL03-A Universal Travel Adapter
Price: $9.99
8 used & new from $8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Great product for travel, March 29, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Its extremely flat and hardly takes any space in my travel bag. I used to use the fuji world adaptor before which is great, but this one is much more flat.

Note however that it may not work if you are plugging it into a 3 pronged receptacle which requires the 3rd prong to be ground.

Learning Cocos2D: A Hands-On Guide to Building iOS Games with Cocos2D, Box2D, and Chipmunk
Learning Cocos2D: A Hands-On Guide to Building iOS Games with Cocos2D, Box2D, and Chipmunk
by Rod Strougo
Edition: Paperback
Price: $31.18
74 used & new from $0.27

44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yet another Cocos2D book. Is it the best?, December 2, 2011
I have, so far, reviewed 2 cocos2D books.
1. "Learn iPhone and iPad cocos2d Game Development" (First Edition) by Steffen Itterheim (you can see the review on amazon)
2. "Cocos2d for iPhone 0.99 Beginner's guide" by Pablo Ruiz (again, the review in on amazon)

And now,
3. "Learning Cocos2D" by Strougo and Wenderlich

Naturally, with 3 around, your first question would be "Which one to buy"?

(About me: Not a game developer. Not a professional coder either. I learn this stuff purely for my non-commercial hobby purposes. My day job is different)

Summary: Which one should I buy?
For sure, go with either the one by Steffen or the one by Strougo & Wenderlich (S&W).
Which one, will depend on your needs. I'll explain later.

From my perspective, however, if I have Steffen's book a 4 star, this one deserves a 5 (not that is has no faults in my opinion).
First, lets talk about the good stuff:

The Good
a) This book is around 550 pages of excellent content.

b) If I were to compare technical errors between this book and the first one by Steffen, there are comparatively less errors here which make following the samples for a no-ob much easier.

c) A very nice thing about this book is that is actually spends two chapters on Game Design as opposed to just discussing cocos2D features. When I first started reading the book, I was a little taken aback that the authors chose not to declare functions in header files thereby dictating function placement in implementation files (if I recall the first two chapters). But then S&W gets into teaching us how to 'design for a generic game' - how to create appropriate abstractions for sprites, how to subclass generic sprite classes, et al, basically telling us "Don't design the game around your current view of the game, because as you get better, your game will get more complex and you need to ensure your code layout and object layout is strong enough to not need re-work each time you add new things". Their game design focus is actually split across two chapters: Chapter 3 which talks about how to handle different sprites and sub-class them correctly, and then there is chapter 7, that talks about how to manage a multi level game cleanly. I preferred to read Chapter 3 and 7 together so I could design my experiments
correctly. I also liked their approach of recommending plist files for controlling sprite animation instead of hardcoding them. If you are an individual developer doing both graphics and code, you may not think its very clean, but in their example, they sight the fact that if you are working with a graphics artist, they can create both the animation frames and the plist (sequence for animation) and that can keep changing without your code changing. You can imagine how useful this will be in practice - if your eye for perfection keeps changing the huffs and puffs of your sprites to make them look more natural.

d) This book handles both iPad and iPhone code which is nice

e) Through examples, S&W takes you through:
e.1) Basics of creating sprites, including, later how to save memory and use Texture atlases (Again, via Zwoptex or texture packer)
e.2) Basics of collision detection
e.3) The different cocos2d actions and animation options
e.4) How to use sound in your games, using CocosDenshion. Note that though they focus on SimpleAudioEngine, their handling is fairly advanced, because they cover how to load audio asynchronously, the caveats of it, as well as using NSOperationQueue to load audio in the background so your game does not stall. They also describe practical issues like stopping the sound when a sprite dies etc.
e.5) Next up, they describe how to implement scrolling backgrounds. They start with simple scrolling which is basically moving a larger image around the screen and them move to CCParallax that allows you to create multiple layers of backgrounds each moving with a different relative speed for depth perception (you know like say a guy is running, but the clouds above him scroll slower than the grass below him). During the scrolling chapter, they also introduce us to tilemaps, if thats your thing.
e.6) Next up, they dedicate two LARGE chapters on Physics engine. Box2D and chipmunk. I liked Steffen's handling of this too, but this book takes it much much beyond. And the best part is they spend a good amount of time both with Box2D as well as Chipmunk. Most others spend a lot of time on Box2D and then just a bit on chipmunk. To give you an idea, they spend 130 quality pages on explaining the core concepts and using box2D as an engine, and then around 60 pages with Chipmunk (Note that the core concepts apply to both engines). Really good stuff. In addition, they mesh physics with scrolling and other sprite actions (in other words, teach you how to create games where some parts of animation are controlled by the physics engines and some others by the usual Cocos2D animation actions).
e.7) Next up, they deal with CCParticle. Like Steffen's book, the focus is on using Particle Designer to create the effect. Its not complex and neither is the chapter. If they chose to explain how to create particle effects by hand, they would have to spend more time, but they chose not to
e.8) They then go into showing us how to integrate our code with Apple's Game Center including using their leader board etc. All of this is via Apple's game center. They don't describe how to make your own leader board, or use 3rd party ones - which is fine I guess. Every since game center came out, I can understand why the 3rd party ones may not be so important.

Note: In this book, they take you through a multi-layer game, so they apply different effects and chapters to different levels, just to show you how you can create a multi-level complex game with some levels having more 'gee-whiz-bang' stuff than others. So its not like you are changing the same level code over and over again to add new functionality

e.9) Finally, the end with a chapter on performance optimization which deals with the virtues of using texture atlas vs. individual sprites, tricks on reusing CCSprite objects, using flip functions instead of storing two flipped images. They also talk about the inbuilt Cocos2D profiler (basic stuff, but I did not know about it) and then end up talking about using Instruments for more advanced tuning and trouble shooting.

The not so good

a) If you are looking to try code by skipping chapters (say, for example, physics engine chapters), you can't. The book uses just one game from the start to finish - Space Viking. While its good to build complexities, learn game design etc, its not useful if you want to focus on specific areas and still use their code to try it out. You have to understand their concepts and do it in your own code. If you are looking for 'self contained' examples that you'd like to type out yourself without the legacy of previous chapters, you can't really do it

b) The code in several places is littered with if then for iPad vs iPhone code where a bulk of the code is exactly the same except for sizing ratios. I wonder why the authors did not simply make this into a macro.

c) This is more to do with timing - not the author's fault. This book was released just around the time iOS5 came out and Cocos2D 1.0.1 came out. Cocos2D is evolving code and it has a history of tweaking APIs. There are some API differences between the version they use (is it 0.99?) and the latest one. Next up, iOS 5 introduced automatic reference counting which this book does not use. It would have been very useful to see this - hopefully the authors update their book. People have already posted how to use cocos2D with ARC. It saves a lot of confusion areas (especially for beginners) with retain/release/autorelease

So finally, Steffen's book or This book
Steffen's book was the first one. His book is lighter to read, and easier to try self contained examples. He has even released an update to his book for iOS5 (which I don't own).
This book is deeper, spends more time with complex game logic.

If you are really keen on writing a solid cocos2D based game for commercial use right away: go with this book
If you want to learn and play around and want something lighter (and then maybe later you'll build your skills more to become a professional game developer: go with steffen's book

And now the tough question: If I had the money to buy only one book which one would it be? Hmm. For me, this one.
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