Review: Speck Cases for smartphones and laptops

 I’m going to argue your cell phone case is almost as important as the phone itself. After all, if you drop your phone, or have something bad happen to it, a good case is the only thing that will keep you from a hefty replacement bill. So it pays to choose wisely.
One brand of smartphone case I’ve been loving is Speck. They have a few different models, and an infinite number of colors, which means there’s a case for every need and personality.

Speck Candy Shell + Faceplate
Speck Candy Shell + Faceplate

The Candy Shell cases provide impact and shock protection, and Speck says it’s drop tests meet or exceed military standards.  The Candy Shell cases have a dual layer design which Speck says provides “uncompromising protection without the bulk”. Indeed, the cases have a kind of rubberized lining on the inside, and a very hard plastic shell on the outside. But that shell is not so hard that it’s a problem to get your phone in and out of the case easily.
Speck also makes a different version of the candy shell cases called Candy Shell Card, which allows you to slide in a few credit cards into the case itself and hold them securely, so you can do away jamming both your wallet, and your phone into pockets. You can also slip some cash in there too for safekeeping.  The Speck cases also all have a raised edge, or what Speck calls the bezel, which protects the screen from impact as well.
IMG_2559Still another type of case, is the Candy Shell Grip, made for people whose smartphones often fly out of their hands. Candy Shell grip features rows of small rubberized lines, which help you get a better grip on that smooth plastic case.

Some other versions of the cases include the Mighty Shell, which claims to have two times the drop test durability of even its other Candy Shell cases.  This case contains what Speck calls “radial impact geometry”, where the inner walls compress on impact to absorb the shock. So if you’re one of those people very prone to dropping your phone all the time, this would be the case for you. And finally, yet another version is the Candy Shell plus Faceplate case, which provides all the protection of candy shell with a slick matching see-through cover to keep the glass protected. Something else I like, the Speck cases are warrantied for one year.

The inside of Mighty Shell
The inside of Mighty Shell

IMG_2443Another Speck case I had a chance to test was the See-through Hardshell case for MacBook Pro.  These ingenious and very attractive cases are made of durable polycarbonate, come in two pieces, and snap around your laptop (both top and bottom), but give it almost no extra bulk. The semi see-through plastic gives the laptop a nice look, and it doesn’t pull off easily.  Nice additions to the bottom of this case, are an opening for the fan underneath, as well as rubberized feet, to keep the slippery plastic from going anywhere.  Openings along the side also provide full access to the ports and buttons that I need. It’s probably important to note that this case in particular is more to prevent the computer from scratches, spills, and stains, than to protect it from a hard drop.

The Bottom Line
I recommend Speck cases not only for their durability, but theirversatility, and attractiveness.   I tested each of these cases out, and yes even dropped the phone a couple times (more accidentally then on purpose). I’m not only happy with the way they responded, but I really enjoy the way they look.

A close up look at the slim laptop shell case by Speck.
A close up look at the slim laptop shell case by Speck.

I advocate for having a couple of different cases in your case wardrobe, so you can adapt to different things you’re doing. I think it’s good to have a nice case for going out, as well as a more durable case if you are into running cycling or other outdoor activities.  You can also have a very slim case for when you need to stash your phone in a pocket, but a slightly bulkier one you don’t mind dropping into a bag, or sitting in your car’s console.

Speck Candy Shell in action.
Speck Candy Shell in action.

What’s Meerkat? Why do you need it?

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By now you’ve at least heard of Meerkat and possibly wondered what everyone was so excited about.

In short, Meerkat is an app that gives you the ability to send live video to the world via Twitter. It’s like opening the curtains of your home and showing the whole neighbourhood what’s happening in your living room and your life. You’ve been warned.

Why would I want to do that?

Concerts, meetings and forums, or major public events, like parades and celebrations are all examples of things you can share via Meerkat.  Is it someone’s birthday, but some key family can’t be there?  Meerkat lets them take part and watch the festivities in real time. (Granted, so can anyone else who follows you on Twitter, so take note!)  Big car crash on the highway?  You (if you’re the passenger, of course) can Meerkat that crash to your feed and who other drivers what they’re in for, and give them a real time look at the traffic backup.  The possibilities are endless, and will probably also include tweens Meerkatting what they’re having for breakfast.

The original meerkat.
The original meerkat.

Amazingly this app is picking up serious steam, despite the fact it was only launched in February 2015.  Famously, Jimmy Fallon ‘Meerkast’ a rehearsal, and numerous public figures have used it to do live interviews with media. It’s unique in that once the stream ends, it’s over.  The stream ceases to exist, and that’ not unlike another app darling, Snapchat.  Something to keep in mind is that your cell phone bill may skyrocket using Meerkat.  Transmitting large amounts of video data over a cell network isn’t without its costs. In a recent Mashable article, the company said, “Streaming video from Meerkat uses about 4 megabytes of data per minute, while watching a stream uses 2.3 megabytes per minute.”

The Rules of Meerkat

Yes, Meerkat has rules.  Here they are according to the company’s website:

  • Everything that happens on meerkat happens on Twitter.
  • Streams will be pushed to followers in real time via push notifications.
  • People can only watch it live. No reruns.
  • Watchers can re-stream any stream to their followers in real time.
  • Scheduled streams will be distributed in the community by their subscribers.
  • Your own streams can be kept locally on your phone, but never on the cloud.
  • Everyone can watch on web.
  • Be kind.

The response to Meerkat has been amazing in the month since it started getting attention worldwide after making a big splash at the South by Southwest tech conference also known as SXSW. Yes, it’s getting major hype, but some are already expressing frustration with how it works.  It’s all too easy to click on your pal’s tweet of a Meerkast, only to find it’s already ended; a constant complaint. There are also complaints about the quality level of audio and video.  But inevitably, Meerkat will grow, improve and probably find ways to alleviate users complaints.  It’s going to be interesting to see where Meerkat goes in its next month of life, and beyond!

 

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Do Sony’s new Blu-ray player/wifi streamers measure up?

sonyWe all want versatility in our home entertainment devices .  That’s why companies are making sure their gadgets and appliances do more.  Take, for example, Sony’s new line of Blu-ray disc players that also double as media streaming devices.  You get wifi connectivity, and access to dozens of online channels, while still maintaining the ability to watch high quality Blu-ray discs.
Today we’re looking at two of Sony’s offerings: the Blu-ray Disc™ Player with super Wi-Fi, model BDP-S3500  and the upgraded version of this, the 3D Blu-ray Disc™ Player with super Wi-Fi, model BDP-S5500

What these players do: Blu-Ray & Streaming
Both models offer Blu-ray disc playback, as well as what Sony calls its “Super Wifi”.  Let’s look at each of these players in depth. To read the full review on the Future Shop Tech Blog, click here.

sony 2

What the Heck is IFTTT, and What Can it Do for ME?

ifttt logoMost of us have heard of “smart” home technology, and most of us know that means many new appliances and products from dishwashers to light bulbs will have some degree of automation.  While home automation is really handy, it’s limited by the software each manufacturer supplies with it.  Maybe you don’t want your lights to just turn off and on, you want them to come on at a low level of brightness to gently wake the kids instead.  Take it one step further; you want the lights to come on gently, and as they do, you want to coffee maker to turn on and start brewing your coffee, maybe even have the radio come on softly too. That’s where IFTTT technology comes in; it lets YOU decide exactly how your connected appliances, accessories and devices work by creating simple and easy to use shortcuts.

IFTTT Channels

What is IFTTT?

The acronym stands for “IF This Then That”.  Simply put it translates to, “IF I do This (your choice of activity), Then That (your selected result) happens automatically. IFTTT (pronounced to rhyme with ‘gift’) is actually a website where you go, create a free user account, and start automating your life.  Still not sure what it can do?  Let’s look at some examples, including what apps, products, and services work with IFTTT by clicking  HERE to read the full article on Future Shop’s Tech Blog!

Smartphone Cases That Do MORE; they can light you, power up, & hold essentials

tech talk marchDo you hate trying to stuff your wallet into a pocket already crammed with your phone?  Why not amalgamate?  Cool new cases now allow you to lighten the load, take great selfies, and even juice-up on the go!

This month on CTV’s Tech Talk, we looked at some awesome case options:

Speck Cases

speck

From hard candy shell cases of slick plastic, to grip-ier rubberized cases, Speck has it all. One of the crew favourites today was the card holder cases. They’re functional, durable and come in lots of really bright colours.  Another great thing about Speck is they make cases for nearly every type of phone.

Mujjo Cases

mujjo case

If you’re looking at a case that protects, with card slots, but also looks business-appropriate, Mujjo has some great options. Designed to hold 2 or 3 of your essential cards, this chic and low profile leather wallet case helps eliminate bulky pockets. Add a key and this case is all you need.

Caseco Cases

caseco

I love featuring Canadian companies whenever possible.  I was recently contacted by Caseco and they let me now about some of their versatile and beautiful leather-look exterior, suede interior cases.  I liked the ID Wallet case, with small window and mirror.  Chic and handy.  When the folio cover is closed, the phone can be unlocked to show time or screen calls through the window, and when dark, the window can be used as a mirror.

Eyn Cases

eyn case

We looked at leather wallet-style cases,but these are these cool plastic, snap-clutch cases from Eyn.  They’re pretty, durable, and hold a good amount of stuff, so ladies will no doubt fall in love. The satisfying snap they make when they close securely is a nice touch too.

Ring Light Photo Case

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This was the darling of the TV studio today! Photojojo’s Ring Light and case protects your phone and has a swing out, fully adjustable light  (warm and cool colours) that lights you softly by hovering over the smartphone’s camera lens, as you snap photos on your phone.

Ina Sidhu tries out the Ring Light.  All the ladies wanted one of these babies!
Ina Sidhu tries out the Ring Light. All the ladies wanted one of these babies!

PhoneSuit

phonesuit

Are you the type who always runs out of juice on your device? The Phonesuit Elite battery case will keep you going all day long.  On its own, it protects, then when you need the extra hit of power, you just turn it on, and it gives you an additional 120% charge. The beauty of these cases are they recharge in 2 hours, and are fairly slim, considering all the power it packs.  While it’s off, it protects the phone, but turn it on, and it starts the charging process.

While we showed off mainly iPhone cases on CTV today, most of these cases are available for a wide variety of smartphones. Click HERE to watch the video!

tech talkWhat’s your favourite case?  Is it one of these, or another case I may not know about ? Let me know in comments!