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Active Wrap Headphones Review. Only $29 yet incredibly uncomfortable

These SPBEAT9 Active Wrap Headphones kicking around on the stack social website for a tempting $24 plus shipping. It might seem like a no-brainer to get a set of wireless headphones given the price points but before you spend your money read on.

Updated.  Avoid these at all costs.  You can now purchase these for just $5 from AliExpress and since publishing TRNDLabs have removed the SPBEAT9 branding.  In short they’ve purchased these cheap, written some copy, taken a few pictures and watched the cash roll in.

Continue reading → Active Wrap Headphones Review. Only $29 yet incredibly uncomfortable

App Review: JpegMini, Put Your Photo On A Compression Diet And See The Difference.

There’s several ways you can speed up your website, use a CDN, get a better host but none of that is going to help unless your images are properly optimised.  JpegMini helps do just that, providing the optimum balance between compression, quality and clarity. If you used photoshop or Pixelmator and hit the file, export as jpeg function you could think that the jpeg defaults are set to optimal levels. Turns out this isn’t the case as theres more than one way to compress a jpeg for the best results

This is something I only found out thanks to the Mac And Forth podcast so I take no credit for this finding but JpegMini turns out to be a bit of a gem.

Jpeg mini is a small, easy to use program that shrinks down your jpeg image but proclaims to loose as little amount of the image detail as possible, all down to their own algorithms that look at all of the pixels in an image than taking just an average mix.

 App Review: JpegMini, Put Your Photo On A Compression Diet And See The Difference.

What this means in simple terms that JpegMini sees different shades of red as just that, different shades whereas programs like Photoshop tend to group reds in a more generalist sort of way and then clump them together.

Thanks to this more probing way at looking at the whole picture JpegMini claims to have less artefacts, color blow out and that annoying blockiness from things being over compressed.  / blooming when you compress images with their app.

I’ve now realised I’ve been making a mistake for the longest time at pulling an image into Pixelmatr, applying a resize, then exporting the file with the default settings looking at the small preview window trying to guess the right balance of size vs quality.  It takes a while to trust JpegMini to do the right thing as there’s no preview window, no quality settings just simply drag and drop the image.

So to test this I’ve pulled a selection of photos with varying colors and details for resizing and compression.

JpegMini has a default resize to 960 * 720 pixels, not enabled as default, with no other settings other than to where you want to save the new files.

So to test again Pixelmator, images were opened, resized and then exported as Jpeg twice.  Once with default compression settings and then with the level of compression adjusted to match the file size of JpegMini for a true comparison

Biscuit JpegMini 276 kb App Review: JpegMini, Put Your Photo On A Compression Diet And See The Difference.
Biscuit - JpegMini - 276 kb
Biscuit PixelMator Optimised App Review: JpegMini, Put Your Photo On A Compression Diet And See The Difference.
Biscuit - PixelMator Optimised - 242kb
Biscuit PixelMator Default 512kb App Review: JpegMini, Put Your Photo On A Compression Diet And See The Difference.
Biscuit - PixelMator Default - 512kb
Skyline JpegMini 66kb App Review: JpegMini, Put Your Photo On A Compression Diet And See The Difference.
Skyline - JpegMini - 66kb
PixelMator Skyline Default Export 148kb App Review: JpegMini, Put Your Photo On A Compression Diet And See The Difference.
PixelMator - Skyline Default Export - 148kb
PixelMator Skyline Optimised Export 68kb App Review: JpegMini, Put Your Photo On A Compression Diet And See The Difference.
PixelMator - Skyline Optimised Export - 68kb
Wales vs NZ JpegMini 176kb App Review: JpegMini, Put Your Photo On A Compression Diet And See The Difference.
Wales vs NZ - JpegMini - 176kb
PixelMator Wales V NZ Optimised Export 180kb App Review: JpegMini, Put Your Photo On A Compression Diet And See The Difference.
PixelMator - Wales V NZ Optimised Export - 180kb
PixelMator Wales V NZ Default Export 276 kb App Review: JpegMini, Put Your Photo On A Compression Diet And See The Difference.
PixelMator - Wales V NZ Default Export - 276 kb
WoodBuds JpegMini 156kb App Review: JpegMini, Put Your Photo On A Compression Diet And See The Difference.
WoodBuds - JpegMini -156kb
WoodBuds PixelMator Optimised Export 160kb App Review: JpegMini, Put Your Photo On A Compression Diet And See The Difference.
WoodBuds - PixelMator Optimised Export - 160kb
WoodBuds PixelMator Default Export 359kb App Review: JpegMini, Put Your Photo On A Compression Diet And See The Difference.
WoodBuds - PixelMator Default Export - 359kb

Another close up image where in the original 3.6mb file is surprisingly crisp given it’s taken on a iPhone

Desktop Tizi. JpegMini 93kb App Review: JpegMini, Put Your Photo On A Compression Diet And See The Difference.
Desktop Tizi. - JpegMini - 93kb
PixelMator Tizi Optimised Export 96kb App Review: JpegMini, Put Your Photo On A Compression Diet And See The Difference.
PixelMator - Tizi Optimised Export - 96kb
PixelMator Tizi Default Export 179kb App Review: JpegMini, Put Your Photo On A Compression Diet And See The Difference.
PixelMator - Tizi Default Export - 179kb


Here’s how things break down.


Original size

Jpeg Mini

Pixelmator 85% Compressed

PM Matching Compression

PM Final

Biscuit 1

4.1 mb

276 kb

512 kb


281 kb


2.6 mb

159 kb

359 kb


160 kb


918 kb

66 kb

148 kb


68 kb

Wales V NZ

2.4 mb

176 kb

269 kb


175 kb

Desktop Tizi

3.6 mb

93 kb

179 kb


95 kb


Not only does the file compression sizes speak for themselves but the quality of image is nothing to be sneeze at either.  The amount of compression and clarity, clarity being a keyword here, is spot on.

All of the image and bandwidth savings come at a grand old price of free providing you don’t want to do more than 25 images in a day. A normal edition is available via in app purchase for £14.99 with no limit on the amount of images you can compress but is limited to images of 28 mega pixel or less.  For those needing a multi user licence, plugin support and much, much more a pro version is also available with some seriously advanced features to boot with a price to match of £110.

If you want to take agenda at what Jpegmini can do with no uploads or perhaps take a snapshot of your website to see how much in terms of bandwidth / cdn costs you can save, JpegMini’s website will show you graphically what you can save.


Jpegmini represents fantastic value at being free if you want to do no more than 20 images a day.

If you’ve got a majorly busy website with CDN costs attached then JPEGmini is going to recoup its outlay in no time at all.

It;s hard to believe that with no tweaking or settings to play with images can get that compressed and still be as clear as they are.

JpegMini competently delivers in it’s promise to compress images without a major loss in clairty.  Recommended.

JpegLite Is Free From The App Store JPEGmini Lite – ICVT Ltd. JPEG mini with more features, 50mp picture limit and unlimited conversions £14.99 JPEGmini Pro, Lightroom support, all cpu core processor support and MUCH, much more £109.99

WoodBuds HeadPhones, eco-friendly and pocket friendly wood earphones

The time had come yet again to choose a new set of headphones. For some reason my house seems to be ergonomically designed to snag on my head phone cable at any given opportunity. The Wood look interesting especially given the eco-credentials at a pocket friendly price point. So can a set of headphones made from wood be any good?

Continue reading → WoodBuds HeadPhones, eco-friendly and pocket friendly wood earphones

Burn Off The Xmas Calories With The Best Running Apps for your iPhone

2014 was the year I started running and actually did the fabled “couch to 5k” running plan and all it took to drop a stone in weight and trim up was 20 minutes a day going up and beyond that.  For kicks I’d have RunKeeper in the background so i could see my time and distances ever improving.  But RunKeeper is not the only app out there.

Continue reading → Burn Off The Xmas Calories With The Best Running Apps for your iPhone

Review: Logitech K480 Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard

For those who use multiple devices that are on different platforms, finding a keyboard that can switch from one device to another and from one OS to another seamlessly can be a challenge. The Logitech Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480 offers not only wireless Bluetooth compatibility with all smartphones, tablets and computers with Bluetooth HID profile support, but it also offers a switch dial that lets you connect with one of your three connected devices to the keyboard in a flip of a switch. The Logitech K480 keyboard is spacious and has a standard layout. 

Logitech K480 Design

The Logitech Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480 measures 11.77 x 7.68 x 0.79 inches. It’s almost as wide as a standard desktop keyboard minus the dedicated number pad, and it feels as spacious as a desktop keyboard on the main deck. The Bluetooth keyboard is heavier than most mobile keyboards, weighing 1.81 pounds as it’s designed to stay either in your office or home on a coffee table. The keyboard is however designed to work with your smartphones and tablets as it has a sturdy dock cradle to hold your mobile devices at a comfortable viewing angle when you type on the keyboard. The cradle has soft touch rubber surface and it can hold a 10″ tablet, or a smartphone and an 8″ tablet securely and steadily. 

The Logitech Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480 has wireless built-in and needs 2 AAA batteries to power it. The batteries are included and should last you up to 2 years. The keyboard tilts slightly forward that makes typing easier, but the tilt isn’t steep enough to relieve the fatigue in your wrists from long periods of typing. The K480 has a power on/off slider on the bottom and the power LED light lives right next to the power slider. The Logitech Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480 comes in two colors: black with yellow docking cradle and OS selector dial, and white with gray cradle and dial. Five rubber feet help prevent the keyboard from sliding on slippery surface.


The Logitech K480 has built-in Bluetooth and can work with most devices that support Bluetooth HID profile. The supported platforms include Windows 7 and Windows 8 or later, Mac OS X and later, Chrome OS, iPhone/iPad with iOS 5 and later, and Android tablet and smartphone with Android 3.2 and later. The only major mobile OS that’s not supported is the Windows Phone which still has limited support for Bluetooth HID. 

Pairing and connecting the Logitech K480 is super easy. There’re two Bluetooth buttons above the keyboard deck. One that’s marked “i” puts the keyboard in pairing mode for all iOS and Mac OS devices and computers, and the one that’s marked “PC” puts it in pairing mode for all other OS platforms. We tested the Logitech K480 with several smartphones, desktop computers and tablets, and found that it paired and connected with all easily. The Logitech K480 offers one special feature that makes connecting the keyboard with all your devices quickly without the need to re-discover or re-connect. The keyboard has a three-position dial that allows you to switch among three connected devices with flip of the switch. In our tests, switching among the connected devices has been instantaneous regardless which device on which platform was connected to the keyboard.


The Logitech Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480 isn’t designed to replace your full sized desktop keyboard with dedicated directional keys, full Function keys (up to F16) and a dedicated number pad. But its width almost matches a full sized keyboard’s and that means the keyboard has plenty of room for key spacing and good-sized keys. The Logitech K480 has slight oval shaped keys that are large enough for most people, and a standard US keyboard layout. The key’s surface is matted so that your fingertips won’t slide off, which is a good thing because the keys offer a bit more resistance than a normal desktop keyboard and you’ll need to hit the key a bit hard. But fluent touch-typists shouldn’t take long to type on the K480 smoothly. The sound of the key clacking is tuned to dampen but it sounds a little like a court transcript typewriter, not like normal computer keyboard’s sound.

In addition to the standard layout, the Logitech Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480 offers double Contrl/alt opt and Alt/cmd keys for Windows/Mac, a dedicated Fn key and a Windows “start” key. Sharing the Fn keys are some dedicated tablet keys including Home launcher, screen slider, multimedia control, search, camera and more. It also has a dedicated “esc” key and a delete key shared with the Android delete button. It’s also worth to note that this keyboard works with Logitech’s Android keyboard app which adds 19 international keyboard layouts. You can check out the list of international keyboard layouts here


The Logitech Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480 inherits the smooth typing experience that usually comes with Logitech mobile keyboards. Though the heavy keyboard isn’t designed to jump into your gear bag for road trips, it offers convenient features to work with all your mobile devices including tablets and smartphones on most platforms. The easy switching among your devices comes in very handy for those who need to type email on a tablet and then quickly respond to a texture message on their phone. We like the cradle slot that’s built into the keyboard and holds tablets and smartphones, and we like the smooth typing on the spacious keyboard. Bluetooth means you can take the keyboard away from the devices or computers but it also means you don’t get a USB port for a wired mouse. Other things to keep in mind: the sound of the key clicking is tuned differently from most keyboards, the forward tilt isn’t steep enough for more comfortable typing and the Logitech Keyboard Plus app is only available on Android for international keyboard layouts.

Nakamich Bluetooth Speakers

Nakamichi NBS10 Bluetooth Speaker Review

Picture the scene, with the last throws of summer leaving us, well at least here in the Uk, venturing out to the beach with friends, enjoying the scenery and chilled out feel of all.  Someone decides it’s a good idea to put some music on and trying to listen to whatever comes out of the iPhone or iPad speaker.  Right there is when the Nakamichi NBS10 Bluetooth Speakers come into their own.

Continue reading → Nakamichi NBS10 Bluetooth Speaker Review

Hanx Writer with Brydge Keyboard

Hanx Writer TypeWriting App. From Tom Hanks Dontch’a Know

Back before the Amstrad PCW range of pc’s made by “business studies” group bearable I had to cut my chops on a manual typewriter and believe me there wasn’t a lot to miss when the moment you press the delete key, items deleted.  Anyone reading this has probably never experienced the pain of manually counting a title so to be able to centre align.  Yet there is a reason Hanx is a worthwhile app.

Continue reading → Hanx Writer TypeWriting App. From Tom Hanks Dontch’a Know

OverCast Podcasting App

Review: Overcast: Podcast Player. A good and free / trial ware podcast player

From the creator of Instapaper comes the oft talked about Overcast Podcast Player.

One thing that Overcast does which no other podcast player does is to ask for an account to be created before you can do anything with the app.

From Marco Arment, OverCast Developer:
I do know like if there be a lot of people who are offended by this and who would do would skip or more people who canceled their efforts to try overcast entirely just because they dont want to do that.

The reason the accounts are there is because this is an entirely server backed he servers all the crawling all the updating all the notifications and everything. The server does a lot of the work and like the app doesn’t even have an XML parser.
The server does everything and just outputs JSON to the app which you can can you decode quickly natively.

So there has to be some kind of user identification method between the app on the server. Now if all I ever had was an iPhone app or even if it all ever was iOS apps that were on the same account I could do things that kinda of hack around this.

I could do like generate a random id first-time use it and then use that as your username behind the scenes and never even show the user what their username is and that could work just fine.

I could also store a userid string in iCloud in the key value store so that way they could launch on on their iPad after I make an iPad version and it syncs over.
There are things I could do the big problem with that is first of all that would almost completely rule out web functionality, second of all if I then had a way for them to add an email address and password to this account believe me I know what would happen because I had similar issues with people making accounts at Instapaper. What would happen is people would make duplicate accounts they would know rather than associate an email address with their current account they would create a new account inadvertently with the email address and then you have two accounts and they emailed me saying all my podcast are gone because I log into the new one didn’t know. Then you have to find ways to merge accounts and it basically becomes of a big issue with with customer with perceived customer stability and dataloss because they will do something weird makes them think they lost everything and then blame me and be very happy and also it’s the massive burden on support email.

So I chose you know what let me try instead just require the account right up front explain it as best i can. I know a lot of people are still going to not do it, make it always require an emails address so I can do password resets and lets just see if that works.

Maybe that’ll be fine and it know in the future if it ends up a lot of people being turned off by that I really want their business then maybe I can add a the system where okay just starts up with anonymous ID and you can add an email address later. But I would rather try this first because if this can work well enough it is so much easier to support it so much easier as a user that it’s always the same.

Why Go Freemium With OverCast?

I’m not that confident in the market for a paid up front up anymore especially because I wanted to charge a good price for it.

The model is in summary, the app is free, there are some limits, the in app purchase removes those limits purchaser.  That’s it, its one purchase, one time five bucks and that removes all the limits.

So it’s kind of like a trial version it’s kind of my hacky way of doing a trial version except the entire app doesn’t expire just certain things just don’t work unless you pay.

The two big things don’t work, smart speed and  voice boost, you can actually demo them without paying it for five minutes theres  a five-minute trial of those features.  I actually wasn’t sure if Apple would allow that that she was even sure Apple would allow that but they did.

I don’t think if I launched today in the app store I’m sure my day one sales at five bucks would be decent but first of all I know I got way more people as this model that I would’ve with mode, I know that, second of all I I know over time that be very hard to sustain because once the initial PR is over and you know once all your friends and all your blog readers have bought it and once everyone was going to write about it has written about it then the sales of every app just tail off like crazy date they just drop like crazy if you look at the graph its like a roller coaster.

They settle into a point that eventually lowers, lowers and lowers, if your app is paid up front that happens faster and more severely. I’ve seen this happen and  Instapaper was always that model the entire time i owned it, and it still that model today.

I know that model very well that the paid up front model I also know that in today’s app store in a competitive category where I don’t even have the most features and people are very very picky with with what they want what they don’t want I knew that a five dollar paid up front app was not a good long-term solution so that’s why and I found a way to make free work

I saw with Instapaper there are so many people who I would come in contact with in real life even like family friends, I would be visiting them I’d see on their phone they were Instapaper even two years after I  discontinued it.

There are so many people who matter how much they like you  they don’t pay for apps it isn’t like it isn’t just that they like won’t is that they in their minds don’t I think that’s a something I don’t do it like that’s the kind of of the kind of mindset it is.

There are a lot of people and this isn’t just a small

and it provides batteries are, there’s there exists that a lot of people this is a small group a lot of people who really just don’t buy AND I knew that the biggest podcast app in the world by a very large margin is Apple’s podcast the second biggest by a pretty large margin is stitcher both of those are free I want to make an app that’s good and free to the fact of the Apple podcast app is not bad it’s not great but it’s not bad that’s the biggest competition of the market and it’s free and it has a lot of features and it has some features I can’t I can never have a integration with iTunes there are alternatives hearing I could like so many chats I could then add the know but I’ve never seen adding after I thought maybe apt look good it like it’s it seemed as after very intrusive because the thing of so much space and the inventory is usually a minute podcast ads here either avatars are good and because the rest of the show you were giving like you know six minutes of ads out of a 90 minute show when Anthony not only are the advertisers usually terrible but it’s taking a pretty big chunk of the screen all the time that’s a much bigger cost on the user then the kind of as a respect like podcast and a new well-done blog at the deck at the gate it’s a very different ratio and advertisers are all cheap and crappy and and so I just I don’t like app adds all there also features in the app at the Twitter feature where it is whatever it is a twitter big recommendations were you can connect router cannot even get recommendations based on the people you follow based on what they listen to anti-if it is Americans and that kind of feature works best more people you have is a social feature is why also Fletcher free recognizes the social network value a financial bubble block and so is the same way where that feature becomes a lot better if I have more people using it so I decided rather than you get five bucks and everybody I was going to try to get five bucks from us from a few the people use the app and just try to make the app as cheap as possible host like an iPhone is enough from day one because I did not want disappoint with his to where was Instapaper where was very very expensive to host this with with with overcast I’ve made every possible focus and keeping it as cheap as possible on the servers that’s why I’m online note that’s why my big expanded version of the hosting was only every 500 bucks a month and I’m probably get away with more like two or 300 F it is all done the whole point is was cheap hosting make the sustainable that way and so this next question is which a few will party asked is why not a subscription price and I thought about that a while to at my mouth for in a purchase I’ve been all over the place with that in my end in planning this is you I would do everything is unlocked and you just pay what you want for the app and that I I thought about that he get some input from some trusted people in and that’s it was very good is that it allowed on App Store how would you how would you get the money from them I actually asked him that if you like it identically question I I talked to a couple people at Apple whoever in the people I could find if there was a publishing directory or anything but the people I could find who might be relevant to an applet tried emailing in got various places in an Alden kind of ended with well maybe so it was kind of? Some women be allowed in the generally with app store stuff you don’t want to live on a? Edge of her rule what you said earlier John exactly right which is the cost of hosting each user goes down with time for the only way that Mike if I’m if I’m responsible of how I close this and how to manage the resources the only way to the cost really meaningfully go up over time if the user base is growing substantially over time because otherwise if the user based is the same and you 60s the same than the cost of posting will slowly decrease as Harbor gets better and hosting it cheaper like Instapaper where people like me to this massive back is a editing just thousands and thousands of our even when you archive them rise again when your policy was archive they are used to be like a window but if you paid for a Congress direct the list paper collections could in theory growers podcast this on working set and then you get after you played an episode like you are retaining that empower you while retaining the road database which is a ropelike five integers of liking of the podcast ID userid whether you completely are not and when as you determine stop off like that you don’t need to keep a record of that I listen to this episode three years ago is no longer visible Husband is only out for for years luckily if the podcast has fewer than 1500 entries it is the visible but and that’s a note that the reality is I I mean I know I know from tumbler how these tables grow and what that means what cost to host and the fact it


n App Purchases.

There are gentle reminders everywhere that you can “unlock all” on most screens but thesee are far from obtrusive and for the most won’t detract from using Overcast as your daily podcast player.

20140717 095602 35762372 Review: Overcast: Podcast Player. A good and free / trial ware podcast player
20140717 095602 35762305 Review: Overcast: Podcast Player. A good and free / trial ware podcast player

20140717 095602 35762230 Review: Overcast: Podcast Player. A good and free / trial ware podcast player

Putting down $4.99 or £2.99 will unlock the following

– Cellular downloads
– Variable playback speed
– Smart Speed To shorten silences
– Voice Boost to raise and normalize volume
– Per-podcast effects settings
– One-by-one playback option
– Sleep timer
– Unlimited playlists
– Unlimited episodes in playlists

You’ll also support Overcasts development and monthly server costs.

The developer,Marco arment, has done a very good job of running that fine line of releasing an app that has in app purchases without crippling what a podcast player is all about.

There’s even a nod to the competitors on the market if Overcast isn’t for you. The cynics might think that given the audience of ATP, the talk show with John Gruber endlessly teasing, referencing and adding hype to Overcast it’s a bit of a play. None the less this is a first I’ve seen where an app will give a nod to its competitors.

20140717 121532 44132083 Review: Overcast: Podcast Player. A good and free / trial ware podcast player

Keeping true to his word, Overcast is free from the annoyance of popup a asking you to rate the program. Distraction free apps like this defiantly hold their place and a good ap should get rated because people want to not just because they are bugged into doing it. When it gets too intrusive to the app experience I’ll hit no thanks out of spite.