CandyShell (iPhone 3G Case) Review

Speck Candyshell (Watermelon Gumball)

Speck Candyshell (Watermelon Gumball)

Company: Speck
Product: CandyShell for iPhone 3G
Price: $34.95

Looks: 10/10
Durability: 9/10
Overall: 9/10

Those have been following me on Twitter, know that I never bought a case for my iPhone.  When I got my iPhone 3G, I quickly bought a Speck Pixel-Skin, which is a really nice silicon case.  Although I liked the soft case, I needed one with the strength of a hard case, with the grip and flexibility of a soft case. The Speck CandyShell fit that category perfectly.  It comes in 4 colors (Lemondrop Liquorice, Key Lime Jawbreaker, Cranberry White Truffle, and Watermelon Gumball), and costs  $34.95.

The real magic of the CandyShell is it’s design.  The inside and corners of the case are rubberized and offers shock absorption while retaining the durability and sleekness of a hard shell.  The case can actually bend and twist!  It comes with a removable screen protector film and cleaning cloth!  But the best part of the case is that the Sleep/Wake and Volume buttons are protected by the soft material of the case.

I tested the CandyShell for 3 ½ weeks, and for a few days, I had some concerns.  First of all, it was really hard to insert and remove the iPhone out of the case.  On top, the sleep wake button took a lot of effort to press.  In fact, you can see some nail marks on the rubber portion of the case directly above the sleep/wake button.  These problems bugged me for the first 3-4 days, but on the fifth day, I was able to quickly remove the phone and I could easily press the sleep/wake button.

Other than that, the CandyShell was a delicious treat that looked attractive and protective, and iPhones everywhere should be honored to be protected and covered with one of these.

Pros: Lightweight, durable, and has the best parts of a soft case and a hard case blended in one.

Cons: Sleep/Wake rubber coating on case is a little hard to press, and it is a little hard taking off the case from the phone.  But you get used to it fairly quick.

Chess Pro Review

Developer: 99Games

Price: $3.99

Version Reviewed: 1.2

iPhone Integration Rating: 3

User Interface Rating: 4

Reuse/Replay Value: 5

Overall: 4

Chess Pro is an intuitive application that allows you to play chess on your iPhone. With a realistic gameplay, hints for beginners, and 2-player mode, it’s a must-have for chess lovers.

The UI on this game was pretty good, but the menu wouldn’t respond for a few seconds sometimes when I was testing it out, which is annoying because you think that the app is going to crash (that’s even more annoying:). My personal experience with the game was pretty good, thanks to the hints, but I still lost. I haven’t tried the two player mode yet, though. The Reuse/Replay Value is high not necessarily because the app is good, but because chess is really fun.

Overall, Chess Pro is a good application. At a low price of $3.99, Chess Pro is a pretty good deal.

Parallels 4 Review


When Apple started the Intel transition, it opened the opportunity for Windows to run quickly and simultaneously on Mac OS X. Previously, the only option was a slow, clunky solution, Microsoft’s Virtual PC for Mac. I tried that on a modern, mid-range iMac (for the time, a 2.0 GHz PPC iMac with 1.5 GB of ram), and something as basic as a click would take time to occur in windows. I gave up on Virtual PC, and thought that I would never get a chance to run Windows alongside Mac OS X. Then Parallels came along.

Parallels Desktop 4.0 for Mac is a snappy easy-to-use Windows (or almost any other OS that will run on an Intel processor) virtualization solution. I ran Parallels 3 for Mac on my mid-range MacBook, a 2.16 GHz computer with 1GB of RAM, from 2007. Parallels made it possible to run Windows XP on that computer, but not enjoyable, since it was not the most responsive and sometimes had other troubles as well. Although I had those issues, a friend, who has a MacBook Pro, with 2GB of RAM, said that it was very responsive. An abundance of RAM is a must have when you are running two (or more) operating systems at the same time. Although Parallels requires 1GB of ram, 2GB should be the minimum requirement for anything more demanding than word-processing. I’ve found Parallels Desktop 4 for Mac a much needed and well-crafted update to the extremely useful, albeit sometimes slow Parallels 3.

The installation experience is very smooth for most people, and the software is able to install Windows for you, as a virtual machine, with little interaction from you. I ran into a problem with file permissions while I was migrating my virtual machine from version 3 to 4. I emailed technical support, who was extremely helpful and knowledgeable, and my issue was resolved quickly. My issue had not been seen by them before, so you will probably not run into my migration issue.

A feature that enhances the usability of Parallels to the point that you start to forget where Windows stops and where Mac OS X begins, is Coherence mode. In Coherence mode, Windows applications live in the Mac OS X dock, and what would have been in the Windows Taskbar, are in your menu bar. Parallels has gotten it right, making every windows application independent in the order of windows. For example, I could have my windows in this order (front to back): Finder, Google Chrome, Mail, Paint. The Windows “apps” feel like any other app, even with the drop shadows—illustrating Parallels’ amazing attention to detail.

The Mac integration is another key feature that sets Parallels apart from Boot Camp. Parallels allows you to access your Mac’s files and folders from Windows, either as a mounted volume, or by linking your windows Documents, Desktop, and media folders together. That allows you to work with the same files between the OSes. If I was trying to work on the design of a news letter in Indesign, a desktop publishing application, but I was making illustrations with Corel Paint Shop Pro, I could share the files in the same folder, while working across OSes.

I’d suggest Parallels Desktop 4 for Mac to anyone who needs to run Windows applications as well as Mac applications. It’s a good alternative to getting another computer, and far more affordable. It retails for $79.99, and can be purchased directly from Parallels, or from hundreds of other retailers through out the world. The choice to purchase Parallels Desktop 4 for Mac is a natural decision to anyone who needs to, or wants to run windows on their Mac.

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Hell’s Kitchen Review

Developer: Ludia

Price: ON SALE at $2.99

Version Reviewed: 1.0.3

iPhone Integration Rating: 3

User Interface Rating: 4

Reuse/Replay Value: 5

Overall: 4

Hell’s Kitchen is an game application emulating the famous show Hell’s Kitchen. It features multiple account possibility on one iPhone, a great gameplay, and a great imitation of the show.

The User Interface features just a touchscreen menu and gameplay. There are ways to incorporate the accelerometer, but this would change the whole gameplay. There is an arcade mode and career mode. I personally tested the career mode, as that is the funner one, and the most advanced one. The UI is above average, but not amazing, so it got 4 stars. The reuse/replay value is very good on this game as the career mode is long but entertaining, and you can always play the arcade mode.

Overall, Hell’s Kitchen is a very good application. With its great gameplay and low price of just 3 bucks (again it’s on sale, so buy now if you want it), it’s really entertaining and a great imitation of the show.

(Hell’s Kitchen is rated 4+, in case anyone has little siblings/kids who love the iPhone)

BeeJiveIM 2.0 for the iPhone


Developer: BeeJive
Price: $15.99
Version Reviewed: 2.0

iPhone Integration Rating: 5
User Interface Rating: 5
Reuse/Replay Value: 5
Overall Rating: 5/5!

Beejive IM [iTunes link], the king of instant messaging, turned 2.0 a month back. Beejive allows you to use many different instant messaging services like AIM, Google Talk, ICQ, Jabber, MSN/Live, Myspace IM, and Yahoo messenger all in one application. This application was already top-notch in the previous versions and this new version just makes things a lot better. Here are some of the changes in BeeJive 2.0:

 

You are now able to send photos directly from your iPhone and have them show up in-line with the body of the chat. In addition, you can now easily see photos sent to your iPhone. Probably one of the coolest new features is the ability to record and send voice notes to the people you are chatting with. Tapping on the toolbar at the top, which lists the current chat name, gets you four options. One of those options is a small microphone; tapping this icon makes your iPhone show a recording view, and instantly starts recording audio. When you tap the stop button, your recording will be saved. You can play or record your voice note over again and if you want to send the voice note, tap the “Send” button and your voice note will be directly transferred to the current chat.

In addition to being able to send/receive audio on your iPhone or iPod touch using Beejive 2.0, you can also receive and open multiple types of files, including:

– Most image, audio, video files, PDFs, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint documents (Any file you can open as an attachment in the native “Mail” app)

I found that once you receive these types of files, you can also forward them to another person on your buddy list. Once you accept the file transfer, you will get a small blue button that will give you more details about the file that you just received; when you are in this view, you will be able to tap the forward button and find another person to forward it to.

By default, Beejive will use the default sounds for incoming/outgoing messages. These sounds are very similar to the sounds that iChat ships with; however, if you get tired of them, there is an option for you in this new version. You are now able to change the sounds in the Beejive section of Settings.app. Under “Sounds,” you are able to change between default, AIM, and Yahoo sounds.

I found that there were two settings for transferring files, and both are useful. Under the “File Transfer” section of Settings.app > Beejive, you are able to choose between two ways of sending files: post a link or direct send preferred.

I testing BeeJive IM with 3 of my friends who have iPhone’s. We did everything from normal chatting, to sending voice notes and pictures.  Overall, the experience was amazing, and the UI was very clean and clutter free.

Priced at $15.99, BeeJiveIM isn’t cheap, but it is a great instant message program, that deserves a place in every iPhone.

Cro-Mag Rally Review


Developer: Pangea Software, Inc.

Price: $1.99

Version Reviewed: 1.0.4

iPhone Integration Rating: 5

User Interface Rating: 4

Reuse/Replay Value: 3

Overall Rating: 4

Cro-Mag Rally is a racing application used for entertainment. It features accelerometer use, audio, and some good old fashioned racing fun!

The UI in Cro-Mag Rally was OK, the quick tips that come up were on a tiny screen, which I found was not a good use of space as lots was said in that little popup. The menu interface was normal, and once in the game the graphics were pretty good. My experiance with the application only came across one audio bug, but I really liked the game (especially since I came in 1st place in my first race!)

Overall Cro-Mag Rally is a very good app. Costing just 2 bucks, you can’t go wrong purchasing this app!