Tag: review

Benuo iPad Case 10.5” Review

Cases for an iPad are a dime a dozen. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of iPad cases on the market. Some are great, some are not-so-great, and they all have their quirks. The Benuo iPad Pro 10.5” Case isn’t an outlier to this, but it is a case that I got to try out that’s worth talking about.
Full Disclosure: I was sent this case to review for free, but this doesn’t change my opinions for this review.

Look and Feel

To start off, this case is a leather folio style case that feels great to the touch. I am not sure how genuine the leather is, but it just feels way more expensive than it actually is.

Conversely, the microfiber cloth that is inside the cover isn’t as luxurious, and honestly does very little to clean the glass when it is closed. But if you want a case that cleans your iPad even the Apple Smart Cover doesn’t do a good job at that.

The final type of material used in the making of this case is a very study, yet somehow soft, plastic that houses the iPad. Putting it in the case is just as easy as taking it out, which is great. Not many cases have this kind of plastic material to house a case that is as forgiving and gentle to the iPad, which is a shame. Benuo gets this right on the money and they do it without it being a flimsy case that barely holds the iPad in place. I hope more companies looking to make cases for things like the iPad look into this material as it seems to be the sweet spot between security and flexibility.

One thing you will notice right off the bat with the look of this case is that the width of the case is bigger than other folio cases for the 10.5” iPad. That is because it offers a built in Apple Pencil holder next to the iPad. Made of the same material housing the iPad. It offers a secure and forgiving way to keep your Apple Pencil with you all the time without being a hassle to get it out for use.

To add even more to the pencil holder, Benuo takes the free space on the side and made a hole to put your Apple Pencil in as if it were a quill in an ink bottle. If you are using this for drawing in landscape mode, this added feature is a really enjoyable experience. It keeps your Pencil from rolling off the desk and allows you to keep it out of sight when you want but available when you need it. Benuo really put together a great looking, and even better feeling, case that is both simple in design but functional at that. But that isn’t to say there aren’t issues in that department entirely.

Functionality

The number one thing I look for in cases is a functionality that doesn’t look to reinvent the wheel. I don’t mind when companies do this, just not with a product I am going to use every day.

With that said, Benuo doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel with this case. They merely offer some extra flair to a type of case as old as the tablet itself; but Benuo does miss the mark on some of the more fundamental features you are looking for in a folio case.

For instance, the case does say it offers a sleep/wake feature. This is usually done by magnets as that is what Apple uses to determine if the cover is over the screen or not, but these magnets couldn’t hold a paper clip if it needed to. They are such weak and cheap magnets that if I tip my iPad to the side the cover rolls open without much resistance to stay attached to the screen. The cover has no attachability to the iPad leaving it flacid and pitiful.

This is really noticeable when I try and roll it up to use as a stand. If I tilt or even barely bump the triangle made to stand up the tablet it unfurls dramatically. It took some time to learn how to carefully place this case down on a surface while rolled up to not disturb the delicate connections these magnets make to stay together.

I will say that once you have the case leaning on the cover it somehow offers support to keep the magnets together, but it is still a horrible experience. It is probably the most disappointing thing about this case entirely. Magnets for a sleep/wake feature is nothing new, and has been perfected for years now, so why does Benuo drop the ball so hard on this? My only guess is to keep costs down and allow for a better price point.

Finally, I am also not a huge fan of how they put together the flap to hold the body and the cover together. Because the Pencil case is on the inside of the iPad, the cloth connecting the body and the cover has to be inward more. Which in turn means the flap itself is much longer than the normal folio cases. It seems to be also double the size than most other cases like this I have seen.

This is problematic because I hold my iPad in portrait mode when reading articles and apps with my left hand. Because of this, and the extra long flap, I am stuck with a fist full of flap when holding the case open for reading. In a perfect world I would have liked Benuo to keep the pencil where it is but offer a much better solution the to connection of the body and cover that didn’t result in an awkward experience when trying to hold it for reading purposes. I don’t personally know what the practical solution is, but I think between this and the poor magnets it is a hard sell to customers that use their iPad in many different positions day to day.

Conclusion

The Benuo case is very nice to look at and touch, but functionally it drops the ball on some very basic stuff. I think the company is on the right track from a design perspective, but they need to improve their quality for function, even if that means a slightly higher price point.

This review isn’t all bad though, I will be using it for those times where I am going to a family event and I need something to entertain me. It offers a place on my shelf, just not a daily case. but my uses aren’t that of the normal user.

I hope in the future Benuo keeps their design and materials as they were great to use. I also hope they spend more time on the fundamentals of the case and fix the issues with the magnets and hopefully find a better solution of the hinge keeping the cover and body connected.

If you want to give this case a try, and I recommend you do so even after my issues with it, you are going to have to wait for stock to come back in. the price I saw last I checked as $22.99 on Amazon. If you need an occasional folio case this isn’t a bad option to work with or watch videos on.

If you have any questions or want to let me know what you think you can find me on Twitter @iamJeffPerry. Thanks for reading!

PencilSnap Review

The Apple Pencil is a great tool when you need it, but when you don’t it can be more of an inconvenience than anything. This is why there are so many Pencil cases and products to allow you to store the pencil when you don’t need it.

Apple joined this game last year with their own case. But there was one problem: it provided no function for transporting it. To do that you would need to buy Apple’s $129.00 leather sleeve. I don’t know about you, but if I have to buy something that costs more than my Apple Pencil to just keep it near my iPad it isn’t for me. With that out as an option, I still needed a sleek, high functioning holster for my Pencil.

This is where Twelve South comes in with their new product, the PencilSnap

I recently bought my own PencilSnap to see if this would be the final accessory I would need to carry my Apple Pencil once and for all. I have to say, this little piece of leather has a lot going for it.

Look and Feel

This holster is very minimal looking and there is no noticeable branding on the product at first glance. However, If you look on the back of it where there are magnets to stick it on a Smart Cover to Smart Keyboard you can see the word PencilSnap embossed on the leather. It is a very subtle but nice touch that is something I wish other brands would do on their products.

The leather the PencilSnap is made out of is well crafted to say the least. It has the feel of fresh leather you would get from an Apple branded iPhone case. I haven’t had it long enough to see how this leather ages over time but if the photos I see of leather iPhone cases on Reddit indicates anything, it is going to look even better after some time and use. I will say that it takes a few time of putting it in and taking the Apple Pencil out for the leather to loosen up. Honestly this was fine after about a dozen time of me taking it out.

The backing with the magnets is firm but mailable enough to really allow you to pull your pencil in an out without worrying that you are going to break the case. It also bounces back very nicely, leaving my worries of it being forever bent backwards behind.

Functionality

This thing is crazy strong. Both with the magnets keeping it on the iPad and the overall casing for the Pencil. I have vigorously shaken the case with the pencil in it and it just doesn’t budge. the PencilSnap does its job well and without any margin of error.

I also have had the case on my iPad 10.5” Smart Keyboard and took a shake to that as well, way more than I would actually jostle my iPad in day-to-day use. Again, not a single budge. I wanted to see just how far I had to take things in order to get these magnets to fail.

So I removed the Smart Keyboard from my iPad and unfurled it to have one long silicone case and a keyboard and shook it like a mad man. Finally, after a few good shakes the force of the case whipping back and forth made it fly off the case. So if you end up whipping your Smart Cover around like it’s a bed sheet, this magnet won’t work. But if you aren’t insane, and you treat your tablet with even a little respect this thing won’t fail on you.

If I find any issues with this over time I will be sure to update this post and let you know, but honestly I don’t foresee me having to do that. I am utterly impressed with just how sleek yet strong Twelve South made this.

Conclusion

If you aren’t satisfied with how you are using your Apple Pencil for travel or just want something to keep your Apple Pencil with your iPad Pro, this $30 accessory will be the only thing you need. It keeps it close to your iPad and safely attached. I would recommend this over Apple’s case, or really any other Apple Pencil case, with zero hesitation.

Twelve South continues to uphold their reputation as one of the leading Apple accessory manufacturers because they sweat the details, and make sure products like the PencilSnap make your life easier and look great too.

You can pick up your own PencilSnap at Twelve South’s website for just $1 more than Apple’s and get ten times more use out of it.

Why iPad vs Mac

I love my iPad, so much so that I created a blog for it. It’s clear that I talk a lot about how to use an iPad as a “laptop replacement“” but I never have gone into why I chose to do this.

To explain this there are two schools of thought, one being why I personally chose this and then the reasons that can be universal to everyone.

Personal Reasons

Federico Viticci really changed how I looked at the iPad and is one of the biggest reasons I picked up my iPad for something other than Netflix and YouTube. It all started with him and his blog MacStories and his story of how while he was battling cancer he found a way to write on his blog with the iPad. This lead to him finding ways to use that device for everything he did. Knowing how someone can turn this big slab of glass into a work horse of a machine-made me really rethink of what you need from a computer, even what a computer actually was.

From there it was my curiosity and persistence to throw everything I could at these machines to see what stuck and what didn’t. To continue with the spaghetti metaphor, I found most of what I threw at the wall stuck.

I needed a machine that can handle multiple areas of my life: podcasting, writing, and the occasional image editing. All three of these things were handled in some capacity or another, some with less friction, and others with more. No matter the obstacles I had to hurdle there was a solution to allow me to use this tablet as my main machine, and that was easily the hard part of the battle. I was able to store my laptop away from my desk and accomplish everything I wanted with just my iPad Air 2, and now my iPad Pro.

But my personal reasons are just a portion of why I use the iPad. I also have some more general reasons that I think goes further than just my personal journey.

General Reasons

My personal reasons were much more intimate, but for the general reasons I wanted to list them out and just show how many reasons there are for me, and possibly you, to use an iPad over any other computer.

Portability

Having the ability to carry a tablet that weighs light enough to hold as a book in my hand-made even my MacBook Air seems cumbersome. The iPad is the epitome of a portable computer and having to take my computer with me to work and other places regularly this meant my bag was getting a lot lighter.

Ease of Use

David Sparks of MacSparky has said before that working on the iPad such a “delight.” I couldn’t agree more with him in the regard. Something about being able to move things with your fingers directly on-screen is much more satisfying than using a trackpad on any Mac. It felt like the future when I can actually move a piece of text or part of an image with the tips of my fingers.

There is also something special with the Apple Pencil as an input device. I know there are things you can buy to use a stylus with a computer but The Apple Pencil has no frills or hiccups because it is an Apple product for Apple devices. The Apple Pencil isn’t something I use all the time but when I do I am elated to have it. I jot notes down with it, markup PDFs, even just use to fight RSI when I get cramps on my hands. I posted some other reasons to use an Apple Pencil as well if you’re considering getting one. 

Battery Life

Charging my Macbook was a given when I decided to take it outside my desk, which meant that I also needed to find a place to do my work that had an outlet readily available. Finding a place to work that also has seating at or near an electrical outlet made my goal to find somewhere to work outside my home very undesirable.

iOS Software

Development for iOS is on a much more secure foundation than macOS is in my opinion. Buying a Mac App isn’t as easy as a one-stop shop that is the iTunes Store. The Mac App Store has had its issues over the past several years and it doesn’t look like there is a light at the end of the tunnel just yet.

Ability to Focus

One of the big reasons I love the iPad is because it allows me to focus on what matters. With a Mac or PC of any kind it is way too easy to have your writing app next to a YouTube video or search for things and go down a Wikipedia rabbit hole. With only having just one or two apps up and nothing else in the way I can find ways to focus on the things that matter.

Conclusion

So there are a plethora of reasons for me to love the iPad, but this is more about why you love the iPad. I hope these reasons helped explain that. If I missed something or you would like to add to this feel free to comment below!

iCab Mobile – The Best Browser for iPad

Browsing the net on any device that has internet capabilities is nothing new, but not every web browser is equal, and same goes for device.
A lot of people have been saying that the future of media consumption is mobile, and it is mostly right except for many use-cases where an iPad simply doesn’t work the same as a Mac or Windows computer.

The iPad is in a gray area when it comes to how it loads websites, some load it as a desktop would while other websites have been optimized to load their mobile versions on the iPad. Now, this isn’t normally a problem but sometimes you need to view the desktop version of a website. Thankfully Safari has some capabilities for this, but even then there’s no guarantee it will work. Enter the fix for this, and many other problems, iCab Mobile.

iCab Mobile is a web browser packed with features and workarounds that can tackle any issues you may have within other web browsers like Safari. From custom settings, modules, reader mode, and the ability to download files locally the power a browser like this has for the iPad is infinite.

Here are Four uses I come to iCab for regularly.

Downloading Videos

Videos on an iPad is nothing new, but when you are on the go with your device and not sure of the signal you will get or the wifi situation, it can be a hassle trying to get your videos to stream. This is where iCab comes in.

With a simple tap and hold on a video you can download it straight to your device and play it within iCab, which also allows you to have it play in Picture in Picture mode as well.

In my testing this works for nearly every type of HTML 5 player so Wistia, YouTube, and other native players on websites works with this.

Spoofing Device Network

As mentioned before, one thing that is an inconsistent issue is the fact that some websites treat iPads as mobile devices and shows the mobile version of their site, while other websites see it as a netbook/desktop version.

The times where you get the mobile version of the site but need the desktop version to get what you need to do done can be frustrating. Safari has this fixed in some instances where you can press and hold on the refresh page and request the desktop version of the site, but this only works some of the time.

the other times you are either out of luck and have to grab a laptop to get the task done, or you can use iCab and change the network settings to a plethora of options.

With this option you can change the device your iPad can be recognized as and voila you are set!

This might not be a frequent problem you have but it surely is one that can make you start ripping your hair out and solutions like this built right into the browser is a lifesaver.

A Better Share Sheet

Over the years, iOS has gotten better about allowing apps to share things to them, allowing tunnels and gateways to send information from one app to another with just a few taps, but there can be some issues with it.

The main problem is that sometimes the services you want them to go to aren’t readily accessible and you find yourself playing hide and seek to find the icon you need and checking every nook and cranny until it is found.

With iCab, this is no longer a problem as they have a custom share sheet that you get when tapping on the share icon. It gives you loads of options that may not be available in the standard share sheet. Things like a twin browser, and access to saving passwords are more accessible.

They also have a modules, allowing the most popular services like Pocket, Instapaper, and some not so known ones, to be just a tap away.

The inclusion of both of these options within the app make the standard share sheet almost obsolete, but if you do prefer it over these options you can just press and hold on the share icon and the regular share sheet will show without issue.

Keyboard Support

May people who use their iPad as their main computer find they have an external keyboard attached to their iPads to allow for faster typing and keyboard shortcuts. iCab Mobile has no shortage for keyboard shortcuts.

Honorable Mentions

While these 4 things are what i use iCab for the most this app isn’t close to being done. Here are just a few short things that iCab offers that may fit your needs.

Users

iCab is the only browser I have seen on the iPad that offers separate users, meaning you and another person can have their own username and settings that fit them. This also goes for bookmarks and quick start links per user.

Reading List

While safari has its own reading list functionality, with the other services and tools this app provides it seems antiquated to revert to the Safari reading list.

Fullscreen Mode

When you want to have a video take the whole screen or just want a more minimal feeling with your browsing experience iCab has that covered as well. With a simple tap you can hide nearly all of the toolbars and still have the functionality of the most common options iCab offers.

Reading Mode

Much like the Reading list, iCab also has a reading mode, which allows you to get rid of the clutter on a page and only have to worry about the media you want to consume. Safari has this as well, but like the reading list the options you have here are ten-fold more powerful. You can even have iCab read the text to you with Siri integration.

Conclusion

So if you find yourself frustrated by the limitation the iPad has on the web, or want something to increase you experience browsing online this app is for you!

iCab Mobile is developed by Alexander Clauss. If you do want to download this app you can do so here, the app has some in-app purchases but is at most $5.99 for the full upgrade, which is a steal for when you are in need of a quick fix.

Turning Your iPad Into A Second Display

Dual monitors are all the rave now a days. They make working in the office a breeze and even help increase productivity. Clicking between tabs and dragging windows here and there are a thing of the past. The best part about technology now is that you can have your multiple screens at home and take them on the go provided you have the proper hardware, and software, for the job. My favorite thing to do is have my reference image or whatever YouTube video I’m watching to pass the time, on one screen and have my work on the other screen.  The iPad is great for this.

As long as you have an iPad that runs iOS 7.0 or later, you can have a portable second screen. The app that I find the best for this task is Duet Display. I’d like to start off by saying that the app is a paid application and comes in at $15.99 but I promise, it’s worth it. Plus, the accompanying Mac app is one hundred percent free.

The Duet app supports all iOS device that run 7.0 or later (Older versions of the app are compatible for devices that can only run iOS 7.0). As far as the Mac, Duet supports macOS 10.9 and later. However, the creators of Duet Display recommend that for the best experience with macOS Sierra that you upgrade to macOS 12.12.2. If you’re running any of the older macOS such as Mountain Lion or older you won’t be able to take advantage of what Duet Display has to offer.

This isn’t an application just for Apple products, PC users don’t turn away, there is support for PCs as long as they’re running Windows 7 or later.

The best features include the fact that there is basically no lag which is amazing especially if you’re doing intensive work such as coding or video editing. Also, if you happen to have one of the latest MacBook Pros with touchBar support then Duet also bring that feature over to whatever tablet you’re using. I personally haven’t found any use for that feature but I’m sure someone, somewhere will. You can also change the display and performance levels to create a more optimal and efficient experience.

If you do choose to use your iPad as a second display then there is this amazing device that the people over at Ten One Design created specifically for something like this. The Mountie give you the option of clipping your iPad or iPhone directly to your MacBook and as per their website it also let’s the user “enjoy eye-level FaceTime video chats, monitor your Twitter feed, iMessage with family, or even host a live recording session with friends from afar.” Because I have the larger 12.9′ iPad Pro I haven’t personally used the Mountie but I have seen it in action and it does seem to provide a seamless experience. (If you’re interested in purchasing and for more information on the Mountie, please visit Ten One Design’s website HERE.)

Alternatives to Duet Display

If you don’t particularly prefer to shell out that much cash on Duet Display there are other apps that do the same thing at a significantly cheaper cost. These apps include Air Display 3 ($9.99) and iDisplay ($14.99).

Why I Switched to the Apple Smart Keyboard

Writing on a keyboard is something many people take advantage of when they use their computer or laptop, but iPad users have the burden of shopping around for a keyboard as an accessory.
The reason this is more of a burden than many think is because no keyboard is perfect. With three different iPads out on sale from Apple today, to call the market divided would be an understatement.

When I first wrote for this blog I posted a story about how I used the Logitech Slim Combo for my 10.5” iPad Pro. I said that the key travel and features like backlighting and media buttons were the reason why I chose it over the Apple Smart Keyboard. I also took some shots at the keys on the Smart Keyboard and the material on it. I was wrong. The Logitech Keyboard has since lost its varnish and the Apple Smart Keyboard is growing on me.

I purchased the Apple Smart Keyboard again earlier this week because I found myself hating having to use the bulky Slim Combo. I also was using my keyboard more on my couch and less on a desk. Using Logitech’s keyboard on my lap was like balancing china plates to get that keyboard to work for me outside of a desk setting.

Finally, the keys never felt right for my hands. This is the most problematic issue for me because if I can’t write properly then my brain will just tell me not to write at all. After leaving my iPad after writing a few hundred words to make food or use the bathroom, I noticed my hands needed to have an adjustment period from using the Slim Combo. This was very concerning because I felt like I was in the midst of an RSI issue. If my hands hurt when using a tool specifically made for writing then I need a new tool.

The Apple Smart Keyboard was my only option because of what I deemed necessary on a keyboard. I wanted something that was attachable to the iPad, portable, and used the smart connectors to power the device. Once I realized the Apple Smart Keyboard was the next plausible option, I took the plunge and tried this keyboard out one last time. I’m glad I did.

Writing on this after spending months with the Slim Combo feels like my hands can breathe and I have never had more relaxed hands when typing for a long time. I was worried about the key travel and if I would be able to write with them, but that has been the easiest part about using this keyboard. The main keys on this device are where you would think they are and the chiclet style keys are a welcome change to the cramped keys Logitech put together.

The thing that I found to be the most difficult to get used to is that fact this stand only had 3 positions: the traditional keyboard setup, the keyboard folded over for watching videos, and the usual setup where the keyboard is resting on the tri-fold to be used for playing games. Going from pretty much any conceivable angle with he adjustable stand Logitech had to only three options, all with different uses felt constraining.

I really miss the adjustable hinge on the back of the Slim Combo, it was great for when I wanted to watch a YouTube video or an episode of television on Netflix. I could set it anywhere I wanted and find an angle that worked for me to view it.

I haven’t watched much on my iPad since buying this but the times I did for the purposed of this review it wasn’t the perfect viewing angle but I adjusted just fine with it. I often found myself just using it in the keyboard position because of how small the footprint this case provides when compared to the Logitech Slim Combo.

All in all this keyboard isn’t perfect, but no keyboard is. It seems to be the best option for my plethora of prerequisites. The Logitech Slim Combo is still a great option for many, just not for me.

If you are in the market for a keyboard and find yourself trying to figure out which of these two is best for you I would buy it from a store that offers at lease a 14 day return policy and try each out before you make your final purchase. I did this, but I didn’t give the Apple Smart Keyboard enough time as I probably should have. If I had, then I probably wouldn’t be in the position I am in now.

Logitech iPad Pro Slim Combo Review – One Month Later

The iPad is my main computing device, I do all of my work on it, and I needed a case/keyboard that allowed me to do everything I needed without getting in the way, and for me the only option that seemed logical (no pun intended) was the Logitech Slim Comb; and after a solid month of using my iPad Pro 10.5” with the Logitech Slim Combo it is clear I made the right decision.
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