Friday, July 29, 2016

WinnerGear's MICFLIP 2 Reversible USB / Micro USB cable



I previously reviewed the MICFLIP 1 cable, but WinnerGear just launched the MICFLIP 2 cable. The big difference in version 1 from version 2 is that the cable is now reversible on both ends of the cable. The USB Type-A plug is reversible as well as the micro USB plug being reversible.

In the 5 or 6 months of owning the MICFLIP 1, it is probably my second most used cable behind the Lightning cable that came with my iPhone. Not only is it a nice looking, well built, tangle-free cable; but, both ends of the cable being reversible is a Godsend! I am constantly plugging in cameras to my iMac to get videos files off them, or to charge them and now having the Type A end be reversible as well is terrific. The ports on my iMac are on the back of the machine, the way my machine sits, you can't see the ports on the back of the iMac so I am always reaching in the blind when I plug in cables to my iMac. Now I don't have to fiddle with the cables as much since both ends are reversible, well worth the money just for one less irritating thing to deal with.

A bit about the MICFLIP 2 reversible cable;

  • Braided cable - Which means it is tangle-free 
  • It features an aluminum shell 
  • Gold coating - Which means it is corrosion resistance 
  • Comes in 3 different colors - silver, gold, red/black 
  • Comes in 3 sizes - 20cm (8 inches), 100cm (3 ft+), 200cm (6ft+) 


Buy from WinnerGear: http://winnergear.com


Ricoh Theta S



360º cameras / videos are all the rage these days, luckily they are not that expensive! I recently took this to Disney World with me to film some videos of my daughter and I riding on roller coasters, the few rides that Disney had that were outdoors came out great. Sadly all the fun coasters at Disney are all indoors – Rock 'N Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, Space Mountain, etc. With that said, the Theta S doesn't do well in low light situations but when you are outdoors with the sun shining bright, the Theta S does an exceptional job, highly recommended.

The fun factor of the Theta S alone makes it worth the purchase price in my mind, then when you take into consideration that 360º video and photography are going to become a norm really soon, you might as well get started with the technology now instead of waiting for it become a normal part of every day photography and filmmaking. 360º offers a unique way of recording memorable moments – like riding a roller coaster, now I can see the track and the look on my face all in a single video!

A few tidbits to keep in mind; you will need to download either the Android or iPhone app to view and edit your videos, unless you know how to edit in Final Cut Pro X or Premiere, or some other video editing application. The mobile app makes it easy to edit and it has built-in sharing features to Facebook. Learning about 360º video has a slight learning curve when it comes to editing those video files, if you are using Final Cut Pro X and want to learn more about 360º and how to edit them, I recommend checking out this post; https://fcpx.tumblr.com/post/146409073958.

I plan on doing a more detailed review of the Theta S applications and some of the other features of the camera when using the app in another post. Stay tuned!

Buy on Amazon; http://amzn.to/2ajyNVt

Apps for mobile devices;
Android; https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.theta360&hl=en

iPhone; https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ricoh-theta-s/id1023254741?mt=8&at=10l5Ha

DragonSoul for iPhone and iPad



DragonSoul is free to download in the iPhone/iPad App Store and the Google Play Store for Android. I have been playing this game non-stop for about a week now. I know it has been out a while, but I just discovered it in the App Store. I don't play too many mobile games, but this is the best game I have played since Kingdom Rush. DragonSoul is a fun fantasy game with wizards and dragons so of course the nerd in me enjoyed it from the day I downloaded it. There are a ton of different modes in the game such as campaign, fight pit, expedition, and more. You can also join a guild and battle other guilds if you choose. If you are looking for a fun game that has a group chat type environment on your mobile device then you should give DragonSoul a shot on your phone or tablet. It is free to download and play so why not?

Download Links;
Google Play Store for Android; https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.perblue.dragonsoul&hl=en

iPad; https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dragonsoul-rpg/id1020327340?mt=8&at=10l5Ha

iPhone or iPod Touch; https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dragonsoul-rpg/id1020327340?mt=8&at=10l5Ha

Developers Website; http://dragonsoulgame.com/

Monday, July 25, 2016

Why I returned the DJI Osmo

This is sort of a review of the DJI Osmo; as well as my thoughts on the Osmo and how I wished things had worked out. Before I get started, the entry level DJI Osmo retails for $569, that is what I purchased, so that is what I am reviewing. As with my Phantom 4, there are plenty of accessories for the Osmo as well, which will increase the price, some of the accessories are necessary in my opinion but not required, such as extra batteries. This is my experience with the Osmo and why I returned the Osmo after using it for about three weeks.




A bunch of meh’s..

Let me start off with the issues I had with the Osmo that led me to return it, then I will talk about a few of the good things about the Osmo. First things first, the Osmo is sort of clunky to handle, along with being a tad on the heavy side, especially if you are using it with an iPhone 6s Plus or other large smart-phone. What I mean by clunky is if you are using the Osmo but need to set it down it starts beeping because the gimbal I suppose detects that it is not longer free-hanging (for lack of a better term) then when you pick it back up I noticed that it took a minute or so before it would snap back into place, or center itself. If you are in a shooting session, you may not have one or two minutes to wait for the hardware to be ready to go again. Of course not every situation requires me to lay the Osmo down, but this is just something I noticed when I happened to do so. I also noticed that my iPhone screen, while in the DJI Go app would go black for no apparent reason and I would have to wait for the app to relaunch as well. It is very frustrating when this happens, it always seemed to happen in a crucial moment. The screen blacking out might have been an issue with the Go app itself and maybe an update to the app or the firmware of the Osmo will address this?

I noticed several times that the gimbal would just stop working, I am not sure what is going on but the Osmo would just totally ignore any command from the thumb-stick or any action performed on the iPhone in the Go app. More or less the Osmo would become useless. I consistently had issues when using the iPhone as a view finder, the experience is really buggy — a totally different experience of that versus using my iPhone with my Phantom 4. Something else I noticed that seemed to be a major issue; a lot of times my iPhone display would be a second or two behind what I am filming (lag), which can be nerve-racking if you are trying to get a perfect shot but you can’t tell if your shot is framed properly due to the poor performance.

Which leads me to my one of may biggest gripes — I have no idea why DJI decided to connect the Osmo to the iPhone (or smart-phone) over WiFi versus a wired connection of some sort like I do with my Phantom 4. I feel this would have totally made the Osmo a much better experience versus doing everything over WiFi. Not to mention the fact that using the OSMO over WiFi means I have to default to cellular if I want to stream to Periscope or Facebook Live for instance. Heck, as unreliable as it is, I would almost rather connect via Bluetooth just to be able to stay connected to WiFi while using the Osmo. Again, I bring up the Phantom 4, which connects to the remote controller via Lightning cable and works flawlessly. Even the Phantom 4 video feed is sent wirelessly to the remote, but it works perfectly. I don’t think I have ever experienced any sort of feed lag? If I have, I have not noticed it.

Battery life — all I can say; it is not that as great as DJI claims, at least not in my experience. DJI claims about 1-hour and 30-minutes, I am lucky if I get half of that, I’d say about 50 minutes is what I was getting on average. I did not do an actual real-world time test before returning it, but I do know that I was not getting 90 minutes! Personally though, even only getting an hour is more than enough in my opinion for all the Osmo is doing with such a small battery. Just like my Phantom 4, I have purchased several additional batteries, luckily the Osmo batteries are much cheaper @ only $35 each. Even though battery life was not a determining factor in me returning the Osmo, it was another issue that I did have with the Osmo itself.

Shooting in low light is not that great, I didn’t consider this a deal breaker as I mostly shoot in well lit situations, but I feel I should mention this to anyone who is thinking about purchasing the Osmo. When I tested my Osmo in low light, the result was a lot of grain (expected) and I could never get it to focus on my subject in low light, or well lit situations; more on that in a bit. Of course the darks or shadows were way too dark as the Osmo didn’t perform as well as I would have liked. I read a lot of reviews before deciding to purchase the Osmo; so, I decided that low light shooting was something that I didn’t really need to worry about as I mentioned, I rarely shoot in low light.

Focusing is atrocious. It was probably the biggest issue and the deciding factor in me returning my Osmo. If I was just running and gunning, shooting large object that did not require me to focus on, it was fine. When I would try to pin point a subject, move in for a close shot, the Osmo just ignored focusing altogether, which is something that I required for my line of work. Again, this is probably something a firmware update might be able to address; but, it was something that I couldn’t wait for.

I really don’t think I need to mention this as every review you find online is going to say the same exact thing; the built-in microphone SUCKS! What DJI should have done was included the cold shoe for external microphones since the microphone that shipped with the Osmo is such a piece of poop. DJI does sell the quick release cold shoe and a small external Flexi microphone, both are cheap at about $10 each. I still have both pieces, maybe I will give them away to someone who needs them?

Ultimately, the Osmo failed in the 3 situations that I would consider maybe the most important situation in filming:

  1. Focusing - The Osmo just doesn’t focus or at least I found it very difficult to get it to focus on certain subjects when filming.

  2. Framing my shot - Due to issues with with the Osmo connecting to my mobile device, I found it very hard to get my shots in frame. What I mean by that is, with the delay I would sometimes experience, I could not tell if I was getting the shot that I was filming. I could be filming something only to find out later the top half of my subject was cutoff due to not being able to see my subject in real-time. Just to note, this didn’t happen every single time I filmed, but it happened enough that it bothered me.

  3. Audio - The audio is dismal with the Osmo, I purchased several external microphones and it just seemed no matter which microphone I tried there always seemed to be an issue. The fact that DJI shipped the Osmo with such a poor internal microphone is telling that the product might not have been ready for primetime. The audio issues could be solved by recording externally, but I sort of like having an easy, all-in-one solution.

If you can’t focus, if you can’t frame your shot, and if you are constantly having audio issues with your camera, you might as well not even try filming anything.

What I do indeed like..

I know it seemed like there isn’t much to like about the Osmo, but indeed there are. I think first and probably most importantly is the quality of the video output! Most of the videos I shot with the Osmo were fantastic looking, the panning was buttery smooth, the 4K looked fantastic when I uploaded test footage to YouTube and Vimeo.

The gimbal is really steady, even when walking without the Z-axis attachment. You can see a slight amount of bounce but to be honest it feels more natural when shooting certain situations. I would recommend purchasing the Z-axis if you do buy an Osmo — I did not purchase the Z-axis myself; but, I would have if I kept the Osmo. Back to the gimbal, it pans really smooth when using the thumb-stick to the control the camera when panning left to right it and keeping the camera locked onto my subject — I was extremely happy in both situations. North to south or south to north wasn’t as great as side-to-side, but it still looked fantastic when I did test using the Osmo in different shooting situations.

I also think the price is great for what you get, issues aside. For less than $600 you are getting an electronic steady cam with an awesome camera built-in. So if you can overcome some of the faults of the Osmo, then this is a great deal. For my particular needs, I just couldn’t ignore the issues I was having with the camera.

Final Thoughts

There are a ton of reviews on YouTube or online that praise the Osmo. I am not knocking it, I am just writing about the issues I had with mine. Maybe a firmware update will address some of these issues, such as the focusing being poor. I could fix the audio issue by recording externally. Maybe my Osmo was a dud? Maybe I just suck as a videographer?

I have seen plenty of reviews that praise it, but I have also read plenty of reviews that have the same gripes that I had with the Osmo I purchased. Ultimately, the tools we purchase have to work for our needs — if those tools don’t work as we need them to work then we have to find another tool that does. In this case, the Osmo didn’t work the way I needed it to work. I am sure if and when DJI releases a second generation Osmo that a lot of these shortcomings will be addressed. I am huge DJI fan, I own several of their other products and I will continue to be a fan and purchase more of their products in the future!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Audiohand for iPhone and iPad



Audiohand is an excellent, free iOS application that will work on both the iPhone and the iPad. If you are looking for an excellent way to record audio to your iOS device then I highly recommend you checkout Audiohand.

Audiohand works with multiple devices, you can connect more than one iPhone or iPad to the application, simply by selecting ‘Group’ and creating a password protected private connection; you can also create a public connection that will allow anyone with the app to connect to the group without the need for a password. I tested out recording on two separate devices (iPhone 6, iPhone 6s) and it worked flawlessly for me. I have not yet tested the app with an iPhone and an iPad, but I assume it will work the same.


"Creating Hi-Def Audio with Multiple Phones, for Easy & Powerful Multi-Tracking, Anywhere."

Once you are finished recording, Audiohand automatically works its magic and mixes your track, performs noise reductions and polishes your audio track. You do have the option to export an original version as well, if you do not want the mixed version from Audiohand. You can share out your track to places like Twitter, Soundcloud or email it to yourself, as well as share it to other applications on your iPhone or iPad if they are supported or support audio files.



If you are a musician or maybe even a podcaster and you are looking for a beautifully designed application to record audio, and an application that works flawlessly, I highly recommend Audiohand.

Download FREE in the App Store; Audiohand - Audiohand LLC
Download the Audiohand cheat sheet; http://goo.gl/J7zl78.
Visit the developers website; audiohand.com.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Do parabolic signal boosters work?



This is my first test with the Skyreat parabolic signal boosters. Did it help boost my signal any?

I plan on doing 3 or 4 more test with these signal boosters before giving a final verdict on them. Stay tuned. I am not knocking them or disclaiming they don't work, I am just showing my results. Maybe I did something wrong? I understand the trees work as obstacles, that is the purpose of me trying to find something to boost the signal! If you have any opinions of what I could do or try for better results please leave a comment below.

You can purchase these on Amazon for only $19.99: http://amzn.to/294h41p

Check my initial opinion or "un-boxing" of them here; http://www.crizzo.net/2016/06/skyreatparabolicantennaboosters.html

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

SKYREAT Copper Parabolic Antenna Range Booster for Phantom 4



I purchased these parabolic range boosters for my Phantom 4 with the hopes of increasing the connectivity of the Phantom 4 to the remote controller. I live on a mountain in a highly wooded area, so a lot of times when I am flying my Phantom 4 will lose connection to the remote controller for a few seconds. It doesn’t happen every single time, but it happens enough to where I wanted to try something with the hope of addressing this issue. I enjoy live streaming Vermont sunsets to Periscope several times a week, I am also hoping this might improve the signal quality for that as well.



A few tidbits about these — they easily fit on the antennas, you just slide them over the top and they stay pretty snug on them. They do seem to weigh the antennas down a tad, I noticed one of my antenna flopping left and right a tad; but I might just need to tighten them a bit to avoid this. These are ideal when using a smart-phone, when I put my iPad on the controller it seemed to rub against the antenna boosters due to the iPad being more heavy and causing the mount to sit lower to the controller a bit. Yes, I can adjust the mount too, but I like having my iPad sitting at more of an angle when flying. I am not saying they don’t fit with the iPad, I am just saying you will need to make adjustments, possibly.

I know there are ways to mod the remote to greatly improve the signal strength, or you can pay to have someone do that for you. Both those options are much more expensive, although I am sure the results are vastly superior. I decided to try this cheaper route to see if it improves my connectivity any at all. Most of the videos I have watched on YouTube claim these will get you about twice the range, while I am not going for distance, I am just hoping to see a slight improvement.

I also wanted to mention, the Phantom 4 is amazing and when I am in a clear, opened area, I have zero issues with connectivity. I only experience issues when I am flying at home on this glorious mountain I live on! I do plan on doing a second video to report any improvement in using these range boosters, if any at all!

You can purchase these on Amazon for only $19.99: http://amzn.to/294h41p.



Tuesday, June 28, 2016

FM-15 Fleximic and Quick Release 360 Mic Mount for the DJI Osmo



Both are must have items if you are thinking about buying an Osmo. The Fleximic is $10, the 360 mic mount is $9.

I have not yet compared the Fleximic vs other microphones I have for the Osmo, I am still waiting for one more to arrive tomorrow, but I will have that up by this weekend. I will say, if you buy an Osmo, an external microphone is a must if you want to record sound, if you own one you already know the built-in microphone is a turd!

Purchase the Fleximic from DJI.com; FM-15 Flexmic $10
or
On Amazon;
http://amzn.to/29d6irn

Purchase the mic mount from DJI.com; Quick Release 360 Mount $9
or
On Amazon;
http://amzn.to/295RWtQ

The top 5 Google questions about Drones and the FAA ruling



 Drone360mag.com pulled in a list of the top Google questions about the new FAA ruling regarding drone usage and the Part 107. I personally think it is bullshit to have to pay $5 to register a hobbyist drones, but I understand why they are doing so. There are many people who use their Phantom or Parrot drones recklessly, having some sort of regulation to help those understand the dangers that could occur is a good thing I suppose?

I think for this to really reach the masses, the FAA will need to require retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, Apple store, etc. require literature be given out with every purchase, then have the manufacturers also include info; both, notices written on the box, as well as informational pamphlets with the laws and regulations on the inside of the box. Most weekend hobbyist are not going to know about these legal requirements, not unless they keep up with the drone hobby itself. How many parents bought their kids drones without a thought in the world of needing a FAA certificate/number to fly it?
"Who can fly 

  • Anyone 16 years old and up 
  • Those who speak, write, and understand the English language 
  • Those in physical and mental condition that does not interfere with safe flight practices 
  • Those who have been vetted by the Transportation Security Administration"

Monday, June 27, 2016

Editors Keys Backlit Keyboard for Final Cut Pro X (video)



The Editors Keys backlit keyboard retails for only $129.99, if you want a great keyboard that also has terrific visual reminders for shortcuts in your most used applications, the Editors Keys keyboard is for you.

The keyboard is not only fantastic with helping editors remember which shortcuts perform which shortcut, but the fact it is also backlit makes buying the Editors Keys backlit keyboard a no-brainer.

Full written review; http://www.crizzo.net/2016/06/editors-keys-keyboard.html

Buy from EditorsKeys.com; https://www.editorskeys.com/products/video-editing-keyboards/final-cut-pro-x-backlit-keyboard/

Buy on Amazon (Free Shipping); http://amzn.to/29exK76