New Gadget Breakdown

I’ve recently received several holiday gifts and purchased a few items for myself. Now that I’ve had a chance to play with them, I figured I’d post some short thoughts on the gifts I received that are relevant to geeks.

Cosmonaut iPad Stylus

The Cosmonaut is a really great iPad stylus. It feels like a dry erase marker and has the accuracy of one, so it’s not for super detailed drawing but it’s great for writing and quick sketches. I had previously owned a Ten One Design Pogo Stylus, but it felt cheap, was too small for comfort, and was easy to lose.

I tried out several apps for sketching and writing in, and settled between two: Penultimate and Noteshelf. I thought Penultimate had a more appealing interface, but Noteshelf had great zoom functionality and more colors available. As such, I tend to use Noteshelf more frequently, but find myself going back to Penultimate for more casual and less detailed sketching and doodling.

Glif iPhone Stand

The Glif is an iPhone stand. While I do like it, it doesn’t fit when using Apple’s Bumper Case or my case of choice, the Case-Mate Barely There Slim Case. As such, I elected to take advantage of my AppleCare+ and just leave my iPhone 4S naked. I also can’t use it with my iPad 1, which is obvious as they are completely different form factors, but I did find myself trying to do it once or twice.

Jawbone UP

Jawbone’s UP is/was/will be a really cool device to get a better sense of your daily activity level. I say that because it has been recalled and does not have an official re-release date. Since purchasing mine it has failed, but while it did work I enjoyed it immensely. My favorite feature is the activity reminders, which vibrate the wristband when you have been inactive for a set period of time. I also like the alarm function, which will wake you up in a half hour window by vibrating when you are in a lighter part of your sleep schedule. And of course, being able to keep track of how well I slept is pretty neat. When it gets re-released I’ll buy another right away.

Jawbone Jambox

I used my refund on the Jawbone UP to purchase a Jambox. After only a few days of use I am in love with it. I use it to listen to podcasts at night before going to sleep, and greatly appreciate not having to chain my iPhone to speakers every night like I have been doing for years. Also, for such a small device it can get amazingly loud, with quite good quality.

Puerto Rico (Board Game)

Puerto Rico is a great game for 3 or more people. It helps if you know someone who can teach it to you, as learning the game from the instructions alone can be quite intimidating (our first game started with 2 hours of setup because none of us knew how to play, but I’ve since been able to teach people how to play in 10-15 minutes).

Puerto Rico (iPad app)

Puerto Rico HD is cheaper than the actual board game and gets the job done, but I found the interface to be rather confusing. And although you can play against A.I., they make moves far too quickly and I found myself completely lost as board pieces flew across the screen without any comprehension on my part. Additionally, in the actual board game players are supposed to keep the number of Victory Points that they have a relative secret by placing them upside down. For some reason in the app everyone’s Victory Points are fully displayed during each player’s turn. On the bright side, I learned from this app that I was making a couple of mistakes playing the actual board game, so having an app like this might make it easier to learn the rules of the game.

Kindle 4

I love the $79 Kindle. I don’t have much to say about it, other than that I really appreciate how light it is, how the e-ink doesn’t strain my eyes, and that I can’t get distracted by any twitter notifications while reading on the device.