I don’t usually talk about products, particularly ones I’ve received as opposed to have chosen. However, there are a couple of mentions worth making:
I won a copy of Navigon. I’d always wanted a GPS, but didn’t want to buy one, figuring they’d get outdated. I was glad to get it, as Google Maps wasn’t allowed to do turn-by-turn on the iPhone. I’ve used it a number of times, and have been very satisfied. The nice thing as opposed to the apps is that it works where there isn’t cellphone connectivity. The interface generally maps well to my goals, and I can usually figure out how to do the unusual things. Note that I don’t usually try to put in extra stops or anything. It won’t seem to use my bluetooth headphone, unlike Google Maps, which now does turn-by-turn, so these days I may alternate. Note: the processing required for Navigon does mean using a car-charger, or seriously depleting your batter, but I can’t see how that could be worked around, it is a processing intensive task. It’s been a keeper, and gratefully used a number of times over the past few years. Nice to have it as an app that travels with my phone so no extra hardware needed, and they can upgrade the software and it migrates to new phones.
I also earned a pair of Sony Walkman headphones. These are digital, so you can load up your playlist, and then wear them. They’re very minimalist: two ear pieces and a cable that joins them that goes behind your head. As you might expect, they’re oriented towards Windows, with no information for a Mac user provided, but their website shows how to load music on them. I don’t listen to music via headphones much, but for working out these seemed like a great solution, better than figuring out where to carry an iPhone and having the cord dangling. It’s got decent storage; my workout playlist fits with plenty of room. One problem for a Mac is that there’s no obvious information about how to have different playlists, though your supposed to be able to shuffle between lists. Regardless, I am only using for working out at this point so my ‘rowdy’ music is just fine. Another nice point is that the USB cable that connects to the computer is also how you charge them. They fit easily in my luggage and are now a travel partner.
I didn’t win, but paid an expo price (or so I thought) for a HyperShield stylus for my iPad. I liked the two-tone silver/gold look and the pen form-factor I got it over a year a year ago, and in the past couple of months started using it occasionally to try taking handwritten notes (contemplating an app that allows both handwriting and tapping, because I like to take diagrams). The stylus is far better than my finger for such purposes, and though my writing makes a doctor’s prescription look legible, I liked changing inks, drawing pictures, etc. I am in awe and jealous of my colleague’s abilities to do the same and make excellent drawings and elegant writing, but it was good enough. Until, after not many hours of use, suddenly it started grabbing at the screen, not dragging smoothly but chattering across. I looked carefully at the nub, and saw that it was peeling. What was apparently peeling off is the smooth surface. Of course, there was only a 90 day warranty, and I didn’t really expect to get it replaced, but I am dismayed that it could fail after such a short period of time. Caveat emptor.
And a rude noise in the general direction of any app with a free teaser and a premium version that decides to increase the annoyance factor to get you to pay. Make a clear value proposition to upgrade that is on virtue of better capability. Don’t have an initial choice and then decide to pester people more. Ahem, Sol Free.