Reviewing today's game and yesterday's origins
This is a hands-on review of what I expect I'd be calling, easily, the best game I'd ever played, if only I'd kept my hand in. For I played the original Elite, the really original one, as first appeared on the BBC Micro in 1984. It was a marvel that stretched that 8-bit technology to its core -- yet as good as I got at it, I wasn't bitten by the gaming bug. I can't claim I've never played anything since -- I lost some decades of my life to Lemmings -- but Elite: Dangerous is my first exposure to modern games. It's my first introduction to Steam. Elite back after 30 years, and Steam in all its 2015 power: I'm really reviewing the game alongside this entire environment, and also exorcising some of my childhood.
Studio-in-a-box offers hi-quality, affordable start for podcasters, musicians
Despite being very familiar with Blue Microphones' lower-end products -- we've long recommended the company's Snowball line of mics for beginning podcasters or vocalists, and we were very impressed with Blue's Mo-Fi headphones -- we wanted to thoroughly test each component of the Blue Yeti Studio, which features a Yeti-class desk microphone bundled with software to enhance different types of recordings. It's a slightly pricier package than a basic starter mic for a first podcast, so is it worth it? Find out in our review.
The most important and least-used part of GTD
If anyone ever manages to collate some statistics about Getting Things Done, the productivity cult (nee methodology) of David Allen, there are some figures that are certain to be there. For a start, the number of people who begin using GTD and give up will be high. Equally, though, the customer satisfaction rating for those who stick with it will be enormous. You can just bet, however, that a giant number of GTD users skip one feature. For once, software is not the brilliant help we've been saying it is all week: even To Do apps often leave out this part. Yet the Review is crucial to every single thing that is good about Getting Things Done.
Microsoft appeals to Windows 7, Windows 8 users with Windows 10 changes
Microsoft recently unleashed Windows 10 onto the world, with the software giant deciding to make it a free upgrade for Windows 7 and later systems. Not only that, but Microsoft also brought back the Start Menu following user feedback, as well as included the Cortana virtual assistant on the desktop for the first time. Is the latest version of Microsoft's operating system enough to keep existing Windows users happy, while also being attractive enough to bring a new audience onboard? Find out what we think in our review.
Pioneer of digital publishing unifies its efforts into coherent whole
The release of QuarkXpress 2015 has given me an occasion to renew an old acquaintance; like many veteran graphic designers, I once made my living using programs like QuarkXpress, Pagemaker, and later, InDesign and even Pages to create various small-press type work all the way up to major magazine and newspaper advertisements, books, and other mostly-printed matter. Quark is back (it never really went away), both because the 2015 release in particular seems to have found its footing in the current design environment, and because it offers an option to those reluctant to climb on board Adobe's subscription-only model for pro apps. Should you switch teams, and throw in with the loyal opposition? We'll find out, but first, a little background on the program -- and the reviewer -- in part one of our full review.
A battery extender case that gives the user options for charging up.
Ultimately, there's one thing we all want from smartphone accessories; we want options. When it comes to keeping our iPhone charged, we don't always have them. Despite our best efforts, and theirs, not all of our friends have an iPhone like us, nor do we have a smartphone that charges off a micro USB cable as they do; then there's the issue of if we have something to plug into. The PWR Case by Prong gives us the options we crave when it comes to keeping our phone up and running. We'll tell you all about it in our review.
Use the sun to keep your mobile devices running outdoors
If you're the type of person who goes outside on a regular basis, you probably notice that there's a distinct lack of outlets out there, which makes charging up your iPhone a bit difficult. That's why we like like the concept of solar energy charging our electronics -- no outlet needed! We'd recently covered the SolarPod Buddy, a cute solar-charged power bank aimed at charging smartphones and tablets. However, we found out that there's a newer, updated version of that solar charger, known as the Helios Smart. How did it stack up? Find out in our review.
MacNN and Electronista deals for June 11, 2015
Welcome to Daily Deals, the post where we search the Internet for offers, sales, discounts, and bundles on hardware, software, and gadgets for you, the discerning MacNN and Electronista reader. All the old dead deals are gone, though still-active deals are listed, including the iTunes credit offer, with new additions including a Blu-ray player for $20, an Apple 27-inch Thunderbolt display, and the start of the Steam Summer Sale.
Just as good as the smaller version with the same drawbacks
For the most part, we enjoyed our experience with the smaller Rapoo A300, so we were interested in what would be different about the next model up in the line. The Rapoo A600 is about the mass of a good-sized potato, or of two A300s set side-by-side. We ran it through its paces, and while it performed admirably, we don't see -- or hear -- much in the way of a difference between it and the smaller version. Check out the full review here.
Cloud storage made personal
When it comes to backing up files, many users are now looking to myriad cloud storage solutions. There is no doubt that over the past few years, cloud storage has taken off, yet as ISPs begin to add tighter data usage restrictions, we, as users, are being forced to more closely monitor our uploads and downloads. Seagate, however, thinks it may have a solution to this problem with its Personal Cloud NAS. Does it? Read our full review and find out.
Insert 'label all the things' exclamation here
When you say the words "label printer" to people, they either just really don't care or they get incredibly excited. This is one of those "the new phone book is here!!" moments we discussed back in our Hands On for the iOS app Deliveries. Today, we're looking at the Icon label printer by Leitz. It's a bit smaller than a breadbox, and can be used without wires for power or data; most of the printing we did was though apps on iOS and Android devices. Check out what we thought of it here.
Two of the world's best news services on your Apple Watch
It's not as if either BBC or the New York Times is flawless in terms of news coverage but they are behemoths that are mostly trusted and what they write sets the news agenda across the world. Now both are among the burgeoning news apps available for Apple Watch and they have separately found similar yet sometimes distinctly different ways to do some nice touches. One has done it via a standalone app and one via its existing Newsstand version and this would be a news app smackdown except we're recommending you get both.
An old friend returns, but you can't always go home again
For veteran Mac users, the mere mention of the name of DiskWarrior often brings stories of multiple bacon-saving incidents or helping in the resurrection of drives and data nearly written off from across the last three decades. There are few Mac programs that have earned genuine "legendary" status, but DiskWarrior, from tiny outfit Alsoft, is one of them. Recently the company released a version 5.0 for modern Macs after a nearly five-year hiatus since version 4.4, but in the meantime much as changed. DW is still awesome at what it does -- but is what it does as relevant now as it once was? Check out our review to find out.
A tablet stand that can charge two devices at once
When we're traveling or just generally out and about, we've taken to bringing a tablet and Bluetooth keyboard with us, rather than a laptop or netbook. Power for both our tablet, phone, and any other chargeable devices is always an issue. Our personal motto is "ABC," or "Always Be Charging." When we're not in our car or near an outlet, if we're lower than 75 percent on something we plug it into an external battery. Really all anyone needs is power to nourish these digital brains, but extra features are generally useful. The Bracketron Power Flex Stand is a 10,400mAh battery with a built-in tablet stand and flashlight. It will not only support one's tablet or smartphone at a pleasant viewing angle, but will also charge two devices at the same time with dual USB ports. Is it a must-have? Check out our review to find out.
For home or light office
It's inevitable, at some point somebody needs a hardcopy of a document. Paper never runs out of battery charge after all. Our Mom, just as an example, prints out recipes like most people eat corn chips. We've been throwing all of our print jobs at a Brother HL-3140CW laser printer for a while now to see how it works out. We think it's a good model for home use or for light business use. Unfortunately, it lacked a few things that would have made us fall in love with it, but it does what it does fairly well. Check out our full review!
Announcing expanded gaming news, examining the LA School iPad debacle, more
Another week, another roundup on the week in tech through the eyes of our MacNN and Electronista staffers! This week, The MacNN Podcast takes a poll on backup strategies among our writers, while Managing Editor Mike tells campfire tales of data loss from his days as a network consultant. We spend some time talking about our own expanded gaming coverage, adding more Mac game reviews and coverage as well as doubling our overall industry news. We dissect what's getting chipmaker AMD down, try to figure out the LA School District's iPad waffling, and more.
Carbon Copy Cloner vs SuperDuper! vs ChronoSync
This is a rubbish smackdown. Where's the drama? Where's the bit where one of these backup utilities gets voted off the island? Here's the thing, though: over the last month or so, we've reviewed three very powerful applications that broadly do the same thing. They all back up your data to external hard disks, and they all create ways that you can startup your Mac again even if your internal drive dies on you. Carbon Copy Cloner, SuperDuper, and ChronoSync are surely the leading applications in this, and they are certainly needed. We just wouldn't be doing our job if we didn't pitch them against each other to help you pick one.
Space-exploration quest marred by mobile roots, frustration factor
Few would have expected -- when the iPhone was released almost eight years ago -- that our phones would become a major platform for gaming, but they did. One result of this phenomenon has been the odd movement of some games from mobile-first to the desktop. One of the most recent games to make this backwards leap is Out There from French developer Mi-Clos Studio.
The behemoth of PDF applications becomes more behomothy
Adobe Acrobat has long been the official PDF reader for Mac and it's just about as long since you ever needed it because you're on a Mac. You have Preview. If you want to do more than Preview offers then you have excellent tools like PDFpen. Nonetheless, Acrobat was the app made by Adode, the creator of PDF, and it was powerful. Now it's more powerful: it isn't just a single app anymore, Adobe Acrobat DC is more like a front door to an entire service that sees you using PDFs across Macs, iOS and more via a new service called Adobe Document Cloud.
Full review of Apple's new 13-inch MBP with Force Touch trackpad
Although the new darling of the Apple MacBook line up is the all-new MacBook, Apple has given its popular 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display a solid refresh. While the stunning new MacBook caters to a select audience of users who value portability above all else, the MacBook Pro is a much more well-rounded machine that is still portable, but offers much more power and flexibility. It also gains one of the marquee features of the new MacBook, the Force Touch trackpad, that ditches a mechanical clicking mechanism for one that has been completely re-engineered around haptic feedback. Read on in our full review to see how the new 13-inch MacBook Pro shapes up.
Absorbing and informed new look at the man's life
Becoming Steve Jobs is an engrossing account of the Apple CEO's life, and very specifically on his journey to becoming a businessman with art and style. It's not as well written as Leander Kahney's Jony Ive book but it's significantly better than Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography.
Brother's high yield printer offers practical solutions for small businesses
When it comes to selecting a printer, the process is not exactly something most people put a lot of thought into. Printers are often touted as fragile, fickle devices that break at the drop of the hat -- and in our personal experience, most home printers are this way. But what if someone owns a business, and is looking to replace their small, slow printer with something a little more substantial? That's the moment the market suddenly becomes quite a bit more intimidating. We're here to help, though, as we offer up our thoughts on the Brother HL-L8250CDN Color Laser Printer, a laser printer that promises to change your opinion about printers as a whole. Did it change ours? Check our review to find out.
Solid database app with good templates
Back in January, and during a review of the poor iDatabase, we lamented how database users have been abandoned by FileMaker's Bento app, and how we were struggling to replace it. Readers and developers alike chimed in with alternatives, and Tap Forms is a particularly strong one.
Unexpectedly handy iOS addition to the Alfred 2 application launcher
When we recently reviewed Alfred 2 for Mac -- it was a rave. We noted how it was the perfect app to feature in a Hands On piece because that's the point: just about anything you can do on your Mac, Alfred 2 lets you do from the keyboard. It's not the only application that does this, but it does it very well, and is a true boon for getting things done. So much so that the application has been around and continuously developed for many years, just always with this hands-on idea. Until now.
Neat way of keeping a log of hours worked, though setting up is weak
[Updated with correction for program authorization] This is you: you may be no good at the money side of anything. Unless you're an accountant, in which case we apologize. Everyone else, though, most especially anyone who works freelance, or in a one-man or one-woman company, often struggles with the financial side -- because the money part is not primarily why you got into business. Hopefully you'll be earning lots, but you started your business because you wanted to do what that business does, and you'd rather be your own boss and risk failure than do some other kind of work to make somebody else wealthy. Consequently, your interest and focus is on the job. Somehow, you have to also keep an eye on the money -- and that's where TaskTime4 comes in.
Excellent iOS note-taking app is equally good on Mac
It's not like there's a shortage of note-taking apps on either iOS or Mac: however, it is particularly good to see the familiar stubby-pencil icon of Notability on Mac because it's a boon to know your notes are with you everywhere. Although if you're a die-hard Evernote fan, currently thinking about reading a different review, hang on just one sec: The most important reason to use Notability is how it feels as you write in it. However, it also comes with a killer feature -- but it's a feature that specifically kills your desire to use Evernote.
Slightly fiddly but very impressive remote control for your Mac
Imagine squeezing your retina iMac screen down onto an iPhone 5. You can do it. It might look a bit silly, and initially you might wonder why you'd bother, but it has long been possible to see and remotely control your Macs and PCs on even your iPhone. Now that Google has released Chrome Remote Desktop for iOS, you can do it for free. You'll do it, too: try this once, and you will forever keep finding other reasons why it's incredibly useful.
Software to run your life, or at least your working life
This is going to be like reviewing a car by focusing on how great the radio is. DevonThink is a massive application that might as well aim to be your personal Wikipedia. Every thought you have, every note you make, everything you spot on the web, you can throw it all into your personal DevonThink database. So far that sounds very much like Evernote -- and it is indeed similar -- but DevonThink is equally focused on arranging and sorting that material.
Photo Suite 9 brings Adobe competitor in tight package
Thanks to the ever-improving cameras found in today's smartphones and less-expensive DSLR and mirrorless devices, both of whose work can increasingly be seen on popular social networks such as Instagram, more and more people are finding an interest in photography. Inevitably some will start looking for tools that can be used to manage and edit all of their images. While the most ubiquitous product in this field is Adobe's Creative Suite, with apps like Lightroom and Photoshop, it is far from the only option out there. The real question is, can any of the competition stand up to the quality that Adobe has become renowned for providing? Over the past few weeks we have spent some time with the latest version of OnOne's Perfect Photo Suite to test this very question.
Combined security suite, cloud storage for PC, smartphones reviewed
As free antivirus, firewall, and anti-malware software continues to offer decent protection, it is getting harder for companies to offer a comprehensive security suite as a paid product to users. Webroot is attempting to do just that with SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete, combining an antivirus, firewall, phishing protection, and cloud storage for computers as well as mobile devices in a single package. Is it worth the money? Our review tries to find out.
Reviews complain about build-quality, feature failures
The Samsung Galaxy S4 has seen mostly positive comments from technology publications, in reviews published today. The general tone across the board seems to be that the new Samsung flagship device is a nice step-up from its predecessor, the Galaxy S III, consumers will be forced to choose between the extra features the S4 provides with the design of the similar-in-specification HTC One.
Faster and better overall, with some mild annoyances
Reviews are starting to come in on both the new 21.5- and 27-inch iMac models, with the general consensus that both are lightning-fast (faster, in fact, than any comparable 27-inch Windows-based machine), offer much less reflectivity and a better display, and are gorgeous to look at. They also note some changes, such as the relocation of the memory ports (which are upgradable), and a reduction in quality of the built-in speakers (likely a sacrifice to the thin design). Though considered pricey, the new iMac is still thus far seen as being the best AIO computer around.
File recovery software does what it says it will do
Data loss generally results from three types of accident: user error in deleting a file they didn't intend to, some repairable disk or directory corruption, or an unrecoverable total (mechanical) drive failure. Cleverfiles' Disk Drill Pro institutes, well, a clever way of recovering files that have been lost due to causes one and two, and has a refreshingly candid way of educating users about file deletion and how various factors may hinder recovery. Should it be part of your utility toolbox? We give this drive saver a spin in our exclusive review.
Car audio brand targets high-end studio market
Pioneer may be best known for its vehicle electronics, however the company has also worked to establish its presence as a high-end brand in the DJ and music-production markets. The S-DJ05 speakers epitomize the expansion, placing the Pioneer brand on a pair of active reference monitors. In our full review, we try out the new speakers and attempt to determine if the offering is worth its hefty price tag.
Lack of full scanning support hinders function
Epson's Workforce line of printers is aimed at small businesses, and offers not only the standard "all-in-one" functions of copying, printing, scanning and faxing we've come to expect, but also remote printing via an iOS app. The Workforce 840 features two paper trays, fast (but somewhat noisy) printing and good-quality printing for a 4-ink printer. But there are a few flaws that may cause buyers to reconsider, as Reviews Editor Ilene Hoffman uncovers in our exclusive review.
Solid protection comes at a price
Level8's line of electronic accessory cases feature a lifetime warranty and plenty of padding, and include thoughtful touches such as TSA-friendly butterflied compartment for the laptops that keeps the rest of the items stowed. We take a look at the company's Atlas backpack and specially-designed iPad sleeve, and run them through the acid test of an airport or two. How do they stand up? Are they too bulky or "just right"? Will they stand the test of time, and are they a good value for money? We cover it all in our exclusive review.
Long-standing text editor nears perfection
BBEdit has been around seemingly forever -- it first appeared in 1991, when System 6 was the OS of the day. Since then, it has evolved into a powerful text editor that can be used for simple writing, creating web pages in HTML, editing Wiki entries or hand-coding in a wide variety of languages -- from 68K Assembler to XML -- all with syntax coloring, line numbering and other important programming features. We take a look at the latest version, which brings many changes and features to the venerable program, and rate how close it has gotten to full maturity in our exclusive review.
Browsers vary wildly on different platforms
Noted Windows review site Tom's Hardware recently reviewed the latest versions of some of leading web browsers running on Mac OS X and Windows 7 and found that, overall, Mac browsers -- particularly the one judged the best overall, Safari (v5.1) -- were catching up and in a few cases exceeding the Windows browsers, particularly with page load times, Flash, HTML5 and WebGL. Google's Chrome was judged the best overall for Windows and a stiff competitor on OS X as well.
Solid choice for genealogical research
There are several programs for the Mac that will help you track down the missing branches in your family tree, but few are as Mac-centric as MacFamilyTree from Synium, now on version 6.1.4. The program provides access to a family records database for some users and dazzling organizational options for everyone -- but is it the right choice and a good value for putting together a keepsake family history or discovering a missing relation? We'll answer those questions in our review.
Editing software takes on Adobe
The team behind DxO Optics Pro take a different approach to the task of editing RAW, JPG and TIF images taken with digital cameras: they start by creating settings customized to the camera, which removes flaws in the lens or sensor and makes manual editing less work. Chromatic aberrations, lens distortions, off-centered shots and noise are artfully corrected, leaving the user to "focus" on the image itself. Is it a better approach that can challenge Photoshop and Lightroom's dominance? Is it the right tool for a hobbyist or professional? We seek out the answers in our exclusive review of this often-overlooked software.
Charges iPads, iPhones, iPods
MacNN has reviewed XtremeMac's stylish InCharge Duo iPad, iPhone and iPod charger. The device allows almost any two Apple devices with a 30-pin dock connector to be charged simultaneously -- though it does not offer syncing capability. The vertical space-saving design, some thoughtful design touches and an included set of adapters make it handy for charging iPods as well -- but is the lack of syncing a dealbreaker? The answers await in our exclusive review.
The great Scan-tini?
After scanning more than 2,700 pages using the Canon ImageFormula P-150M "Scan-tini" personal document scanner, MacNN Reviews Editor Ilene Hoffman is ready to weigh in on whether this lightweight, compact, USB-powered scanner (which includes self-loading software for Mac and Windows and can scan up to 20 double-sided pages at a time) is up to the heavy-duty jobs. Able to scan at up to 600dpi and 24-bit color, can this pricey-but-portable scanner put a dent in your office clutter without the size and bulk of a traditional model? We'll find out in our exclusive review.
Offers more than just 'Filemaker Lite'
Filemaker, the name behind one of the most popular names in database software, has spent years pursuing its vision of a home-use database that people would actually like and -- more importantly -- use. The fruit of this vision, Bento, has found an audience thanks to an elegant UI and a low pricetag. With version 4, we'll see if Bento has reached its full potential and fulfilled its promise to make digital record-keeping and organizing enjoyable in our exclusive review.
WebOS tablet aims to compete with iPad, Android
HP has made another attempt to establish itself in the tablet arena, transitioning webOS beyond smartphones in an attempt to compete with Android, iOS and BlackBerry Tablet OS. Although HP suggests its TouchPad does not aim to displace the iPad, the company followed Apple's tablet strategy by choosing a 9.7-inch display with 1024x768 resolution and a 4:3 aspect ratio. In our full review, we take a closer look at HP's latest jump into the tablet market.
A novel approach for avoiding wrist strain
Evoluent says that its innovative "vertical" multi-button VerticalMouse 4, which one holds and controls in a handshake style that doesn't twist the arm, is a superior way of resting your hand while using the mouse that avoids wrist strain. Does the vertical orientation eventually improve efficiency and proficiency in ordinary activities from surfing the web to playing games? Our full review has the answers.
Photo app for iOS adds 21 filters, nine effects
MacNN has reviewed Camera Plus Pro for iPhone. The new Pro version of the app adds 21 photo filters and nine distortion effects, in addition to its numerous editing features, with support for uploading images to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others. When shooting images through the app, it also lets users add a Timer, Burst Mode, and Subject tags to their iOS 4.1 or higher mobile devices. Our full review has a discussion of the strengths -- and weaknesses -- of this camera-enhancement app, which sells for $2 on the App Store.
Noiseless keyboard, quality build a cut above
Sena Cases has launched their own entry into the increasingly-crowded case-that-doubles-as-a-bluetooth-keyboard for the iPad and iPad 2, made from genuine European leather in a variety of colors, and featuring an above-average built quality and silicon-based noiseless keyboard, perfect for meetings or class note-taking. Is it worth the extra cost for real leather? Is the case a snug fit, or is there wiggle room? Will the keyboard please the finicky typist? Our reviews editor Ilene Hoffman gives Sena the once-over in our review.
Replaces Bridge for photo management
Adobe Photoshop Elements is the budget-priced alternative to full-blown Photoshop, saving hundreds of dollars while retaining many of the same features wrapped in a more consumer-friendly interface. The latest version responds to customer criticism of Adobe Bridge by replacing it with a port of the Windows version's Organizer, and adds features borrowed from the recently-released Photoshop CS5 such as the context-aware tool. Will these moves prove a winning combination for non-expert users? Can complex effects really be made easy? These questions and more will be answered in our full review.
Restores files and purchases back to Mac
MacNN has reviewed The Little App Factory's iRip, software that can save a user's iTunes library if their hard drive fails by recovering the files off the user's iPod. The software can recover not only music, book, podcast, ringtone and other files, but also purchases bought and downloaded directly to the mobile device -- a rarity among iPod-to-Mac recovery tools. Is iRip 2 the best of the various alternate iTunes recovery programs? We'll find out in our full review.
A guided tour through our galactic 'neighborhood'
Are you one of those people who looks up at the sky at night with awe and wonder? The celestial heavens have fired the imaginations of scientists, explorers and astronomers throughout mankind's history -- but though we haven't yet travelled far beyond our own planet, a wealth of information about our own solar system is now available, from statistics to stunning high-resolution images (thanks to telescopes, probes and various manned and unmanned NASA missions). We take a look at an interactive "book" app for the iPad that takes us on a guided tour of the various features of our galactic "neighborhood" in our review of Solar System for iPad.