A mini return

apps

Since I got my iPad Pro 9.7″, my iPad Mini3 has been relatively unused. As in, completely unused. The Pro has replaced it in all things, to the point where when I picked it up yesterday, the little red notification illustrating app updates from the App Store was in triple figures.

A sure sign that I haven’t been using it.

Sure, it’s regularly been placed on the charger to keep it full of juice, but that’s it. I almost felt guilty for abandoning this little, previously-loved, iPad. So I decided to do something about it.

Continue reading “A mini return”

A developing Knomad addiction

I love my Knomad mini, as is apparent from this post. It’s incredibly handy for traveling, keeping my passport and iPad safe and looks good too. Too good, perhaps…

Since that last post, my Knomad collection has grown, worryingly. I now have a black leather Knomad built for an iPad Air, the same model in brown and yesterday, I got a Knomad Mini in brown. Before you think I’ve lost the plot, each was at a significant discount and the last one I got on eBay for a steal.

A couldn’t-leave-it-there-for-that-price kind of price.

I may soon have more of these little things than I have Filofaxes. Which are in fact looking pretty neglected right now.

Let’s just let that sink in for a moment. That’s possibly sacrilegious to some of you, I know.

But I got rid of my Filofax collection once before and regretted it not long after. These babies aren’t going anywhere soon. The Knomads are getting a regular airing though.

The thing is, with an iPad Mini, an A6 notebook, a battery, pen, charging cable and iPad keyboard (etc. etc.) inside the Knomad, I don’t really need a Filofax with me.

Well done, Knomo. Proving again that iPad cases don’t have to be ugly.

Up, up and away

Sitting in Heathrow T5 – the British Airways lounge, to be exact – waiting for my flight to Singapore. I don’t mean to brag, but I think I might be finally getting the hang of these long-haul jaunts.

I used my usual Evernote packing list (don’t laugh) to ensure I didn’t forget anything important. Like underwear. Or shoes. You may snigger at my use of something so geeky, but you and I both know there’s nothing worse than arriving at your destination realising you’ve left something important back home. And shelling out a stupid amount of money to buy it locally. Or do without and kick yourself mentally until you get home.

Any memory is about as reliable as a Lada. So yes. Evernote.

Once I’m onboard? My iPad mini is stuffed to the brim with entertainment – films, tv shows and magazines. I’m actually pretty tempted to avoid all sleep and just watch the entire season 5 of Game of Thrones. I’ve not seen a single episode and am beside myself in my attempts to avoid spoilers online or in real life.

My Kindle Voyage is charged and ready, for when my eyes can’t handle the iPad’s illuminated screen anymore. As per, I’m readying about four books at the same time and I don’t really sleep well unless I’ve read a least a few pages of something on its soothing e-ink screen.

I’ve packed my BA pyjamas in my hand luggage – a delightfully useful souvenir from last year’s first class flights to/from Tokyo. I’ll change into them as soon as it’s possible and get a better chance of some sleep. Yeah, I really don’t care what I look like. Being comfortable is a lot more important that looking snazzy once you’re on board. I’ve also got a fresh polo shirt to get into when we’re on approach, so I’m not a complete stink-merchant once I arrive.

My iPhone is bursting to capacity with the latest podcasts and some that I’ve been saving up for my week away from home. Lots of TWIT, 5by5 and Relay FM productions.

That said, despite all preparation, I’m still likely to arrive in Singapore a hot mess, as cranky as a bag of cats and wanting nothing more than coffee and a shower. Let’s hope I adjust to the time difference better than I did this week coming back from Miami.

As it’s hot (31C) and wet in Singapore right now, I don’t think I’ll be doing too much outdoors when I’m not working. Trips to the deliciously air-conditioned underground malls on Orchard Road, green tea frappucinos at Starbucks and potentially some Japanese curry.

Bring it on.

 

Review: Knomad Mini Portable Organiser

I’ve been using the very lovely Knomad Mini Portable Organiser from Knomo for the last week. It’s something I’ve had my eye on for some time and, after a good month on the work front, I decided to treat myself.

What is it?

It’s built to carry an iPad Mini, along with the carious other things you might stuff into your pockets. In the photos below, I’ve shown what I carried around last weekend: iPad Mini (behind which is a Moleskine notebook for work), business cards, USB memory stick, pen, smaller notebook (three for £2 from Hema!), passport and my iPhone 6 Plus (not shown, as I used it to take the photo).

It folds up into a kind of canvas envelope which you can either carry around by hand or pop into a bag. I’ve used it for the last week while working in Amsterdam and it was perfect for taking into various meetings and workshops.

I had my agenda and meeting prep notes on the iPad Mini and a pen and paper to jot down any thoughts as they occurred to me. Definitely lighter than toting a laptop around and avoids you stuffing your pockets and ruining your trousers.

Flying to and from Amsterdam, it was all I had in my hand on board. iPad Mini for reading, notebook for notes and passport for the last minute security check at Schiphol airport, which I always forget about until the last minute!

Would I recommend it? Well, it’s high quality and built to last. I’ve had a few Knomo bags over the years and they’ve all taken the daily commuter abuse very well.

It looks nicer than bulging trouser pockets and is a really handy way to carry around some commonly used items. I admit my iPhone 6 Plus is a definite squeeze into the mobile phone pocket, but it’s canvas, not plastic and so there’s some stretch in there.

It would comfortably take most “normal” sized mobile phones. There’s also a space for a mobile battery that Knomo sell. I’ve not bought one, but I may well invest, as I have a morbid fear of being without device power while away from home.

If you’re like me and can’t leave the house with a selection of “stuff”, then you might find it useful. The sides of the Knomad are open to the elements though, so I’m not sure how it would cope in London’s typical wet weather.

I also have the smallest of small wallets, so this is a great place to keep various loyalty cards and assorted scraps of paper that just don’t fit into my card case. I’ll definitely be carrying mine around this summer. And it allows me to carry so much more information that any of my A5 Filofaxes, at a fraction of the weight.

(And dare I suggest it looks slightly more socially acceptable than a “formal” leather A5 Filofax?)

The Knomad comes in multiples styles and sizes (including one for the iPad Air and one for the Microsoft Surface).

Here’s the promotional video from Knomo, illustrating how they think you could use it:

Reviewing the Filofax Pennybridge iPad case

I’m working away from home all this week and, in an effort to pack as light as possible, I stripped back on the tech and Filofaxes, simply taking an iPad mini, an A5 Moleskine notebook and the Filofax Pennybridge iPad Mini case.

The latter neatly holds the iPad in a flexible shell, while also holding an A5-ish sized pad. All contained behind a zip, so loose papers don’t get lost. All in all, I really like it. Much, much lighter than carrying around my iPad Air in the Fusion organiser with an A5 Filofax. Not as flexible, in terms of removable pages, but that wasn’t needed this week.

All the same, I think it could be improved. I’d like more space for card slots on the left hand side and Filofax could have made use of the space behind the iPad’s plastic holder. They could also have added an external pocket for a smartphone (though I doubt anything they’d have added would have accommodated my massive iPhone 6 plus!)

I’ll definitely add this to my ‘everyday carry’, making my backpack or briefcase significantly lighter. I fear the A5 Filofaxes might be staying in my home office from now on…

My Travel Filofax

So I fly to Japan this Saturday. And I simply can’t wait. I don’t want to miss out on a single thing, but I just can’t trust my memory to remember every detail. No news there!

As always, I’m using Kayak to store my flight details and automatically add them to my iCloud calendars on my iPhone and iPad Mini. This trip, I’m also trying something different. Rather than bring along a heft guide book – that might be out of date – I’m using Tripomatic to build a personalised itinerary for the holiday.

Using this application – available on iOS and Android – you can access a day-by-day plan for your trip. Very neat and very easy to use.

However…

I’m also planning to bring along my Filofax and have converted my Clipbook into a “Travel Filofax” for the trip ahead.

I’ve printed out key information, like flight and hotel confirmations and reference numbers, as well as the Tripomatic guides for each of the cities we’re visiting: Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo. Handily, as well as accessing them via the web or on a mobile device app, you can also download and print the document as a nicely-formatted PDF.

But before any information, a printout of The Great Wave of Kanagawa. Because I like the look of it.

IMG_1090.JPG

I’ve got details of how to reach each of the hotels we’re staying in, contact details and a map of the vicinity for the final walk.

IMG_1091.JPG

Public transport guides are a must. I still have a guide to the Tokyo Metro, saved from my last visit. This is stored in a zip-up plastic envelope at the back of the Filofax. Meanwhile, I’ve printed off a simplified version of the Kyoto public transport system. Really important, as we won’t be limiting ourselves to the centre of town.

IMG_1092-0.JPG

And finally, a print out of each Tripomatic guide, divided by sticky tabs. I printed each single-sided, so there’s space to add in extra sights and plans as we discover them. It’ll all serve as a log of the visit, and get added into DayOne each evening – bits of it might even make it as far as this blog (or Google+).

IMG_1093-0.JPGThis combination of paper and electronic works for me – the Clipbook is still incredibly light and and the iPad Mini is barely noticeable in my backpack. It also leaves plenty of space for the things I’ll inevitably pick up along the way, if last year’s experience is anything to go by.

 

Considering a bigger iPhone

It’s mid-January, so obviously rumours of the next iPhone model have started. Actually, I read iPhone 6 rumours the day after the iPhone 5s was announced.

I suspect some people spend their entire technology writing careers creating and propagating crazy Apple rumours.

Implausible rumours aside, the trend for bigger mobile phone screens continues, while Apple has retained the same form factor some quite a while (in technology terms). I’ll admit I was disappointed that the iPhone 5s was effectively a pretty minor upgrade from the iPhone 5 – though increased memory and finger print scanning were both welcome.

For some reason, I’ve had a thing for ‘phablets’ (a phrase I dislike using, but it seems to have stuck. To me, it sounds vaguely medical and not at all appealing). Those impossibly large mobile phones basically straddle the space between large mobiles and small tablets.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3, the Sony Xperia Z Ultra and the Asus Fonepad Note FHD 6 fall into this category. Super-big bright screens and the potential for using a stylus rather than your finger. And I love them. The drawback fro me is they run Android and I’m firmly ensconced in the Apple iOS eco-system. Apps, music, films, TV shows, contacts, calendars… all the information and entertainment I use on a daily basis.

So I’ve been hoping that Apple will follow this trend – while simultaneously doing something interesting – and offer us a larger screen iPhone. Maybe it’ll be the iPhone 6. Maybe it’ll be a parallel iPhone model in addition to the iPhone 6. I don’t really care, as long as it has the following:

  • A screen that’s *at least* 5 inches
  • Retina display
  • Improved battery life, as it’s going to be used to watch movies as well as function as a phone
  • Optimised for use with a stylus (maybe even an Apple stylus)
  • Some phablet-optimised apps to take advantage of the bigger screen (like the Samsung Note)
Are these in any way realistic? Well, there are several hurdles, based on everything Apple has said and done before now. For example, Steve Jobs is on the record as criticising the use of a stylus with a mobile phone.
Then again, he was on the record as saying people didn’t want to watch video on a mobile device.
A bigger screen would add complexity to the app eco-system in that apps would need to work on multiple displays (iPhone 4S, iPhone 5s and iPhone phablet). I don’t think this is beyond Apple, but would require cooperation from the app developers.

There’s the potential for an Apple phablet to cannibalise sales of the iPad Mini, but then again, does Apple care where the cash comes from, as long as it continues to roll in, tsunami-like?

To this amateur enthusiast, it looks like phablets are here to stay. Both phablets and larger-screen mobiles like the Samsung Galaxy S4 are incredibly popular. I seem to be surrounded by Samsung mobiles on the tube every day and I’m insanely jealous of the large, bright screens when I compare them to my iPhone 5S.

From that perspective, Apple isn’t innovating – it’s not even keeping up with the competition.

Would an Apple phablet replace my iPad Mini?

Nope. But I might not bring it with me as regularly when I leave the house. A larger screen phone could replace it for reading the news and watching video podcasts. But I’d still want it for reading books and taking on holidays instead of a laptop.

You see? I’ve essentially rationalised my use-case for an Apple phablet, which doesn’t require me to sell my iPad Mini. A skill I’ve finely honed since my addiction to consumer technology began in the 90’s.

Rumour’s aside, I think it’ll be extremely disappointing – even to the most die-hard of Apple’s fans – if they don’t do something interesting with the iPhone in 2014. “Interesting” to me would be a larger screen.

“Jaw-dropping” would be a combination of phablet and iWatch.

Apple, please.

Take my money.

This just in: What an amazing screen!

l_21399865My new iPad Mini with Retina Display was delivered this afternoon. I was so busy preparing to finish work so I can recuperate from tomorrow’s knee surgery that I’d completely forgotten it was due.

I’ve only had about 30mins to play with it, and most of that was setting it up with my various accounts, but…oh my. What an amazing screen. They weren’t lying when they said it was “amazing”.

For me, it’s like the difference between looking in a foggy mirror and wiping it clear. It’s also super-fast. This upgrade was, for me, definitely worth the cash.

I’ll have plenty of time tomorrow and in the following days to get used to it, as I have “surgery recovery time” scheduled. Meaning bed, Kindle, podcasts and Twitter.

Expect a more detailed review in due course, but for now: wow.

I can definitely recommend.

An iPad has been purchased…

l_21399865In the end, I went for an iPad Mini (Retina) wifi model. Couldn’t justify the extra expense of 3G (4G?) when I’m pretty much connected to wifi all day and night. And when I’m not, there’s always tethering it to my iPhone and its (seemingly) limitless data allowance.

And if I can’t get connection on my iPhone either, then I’m somewhere I don’t want to be and it’s just the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s way of telling me to go home to civilisation.

Went for the 128GB model, as it’s the screen plus storage that convinced me to upgrade in the first place. My 64GB model was/is constantly full of comics, magazines, movies and content from iTunes University.

While the iPad Air is just gorgeous – it’s too big for what I need. I know – complete “First World Problem” complaining about such a light and beautiful tablet. But the size and weight of the Mini is perfect. For what I need, at any rate.

(And think of all the new iPad accessories I’d have to buy if I went for a model in a different size!)

Via Quidco, I get a few shekels back for my trouble, as well as free delivery. And the existing iPad Mini will sell for a decent price as it’s in great nick and is a model they don’t sell anymore.

It should be here Monday, meaning this weekend in Madrid is my last jaunt abroad with the faithful (non-retina) Mini. And after this week of insomnia combined with travel andcrazy working hours, I’m looking forward to it.