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iOS On The Road: Post-PC Takes a Vacation

The 4th of July is coming fast, and it’s time to hit the road again! And if it’s a trip with me, it will be a trip taken with iOS. The other two entries in this series have been focused on using iOS devices for productivity and production, but with Spring behind us and Summer in full swing, I thought this would be perfect time to take things in a different direction. So, let’s take a look at some cool accessories that you will save you time, headaches, and hopefully some dead weight, when the time comes for your next vacation or weekend getaway.

For most of the last two years, “the road” has meant work for me, but since January, I have had a couple of occations to use my iPhone and iPad extensively while on vacation. The first was a seven day trek to Walt Disney World in Orlando, followed by a recent Memorial Day weekend getaway to Land Between the Lakes, a National Recreation Area split between North-Central Tennessee and South-Central Kentucky. On the first trip, my iPhone and iPad, and the rest of my family’s iOS devices worked just as advertised. I took tons of pictures and video, used the GPS heavily with park mapping and ride time apps, and my wife and I used iMessage, Find My Friends, and even phone calls (I know. How quaint.) to keep up with each other while going through the parks when we would split up.

However, while the devices themselves and some key accessories such as my Mophie Juice Pack and Apple Camera Connection Kit worked great, we still ran into some snags. The biggest of these was the fact that, to clear space on my iOS devices, as well as my cameras, we had to bring my wife’s netbook along. This might not have been such a big deal on a one-hour car trip from home, but taking her netbook to Disney required packing it in checked luggage for a flight, and then leaving it hidden in our hotel room while we were gone and having fun 98% of our waking hours. And for what? I powered it on twice, for nothing more than to move pictures from my iPhone and my camera’s SD Card to a hard drive. That’s it. Grrr.

So, for all of the talk about the “Post-PC Era,” I often feel like we aren’t quite there yet. Sure, I could have uploaded some of my pictures to Dropbox or Box, and I could have let Photo Stream take care of my iPhone’s photos. I had my iPad Camera Connection Kit, and our Disney resort had surprisingly solid WiFi in the rooms. However, we aren’t talking about a few hundred megs of photos here. It was more like over 25 gigs of photos and video for the entire trip. No WiFi is going to handle that in a few overnight hours.

As we prepared for our Memorial Day trip a few weeks ago, I decided to look around for accessories that would help us hit the road without any of our laptop computers. I was surprised to find that there are a few devices out there that actually handle the job of freeing up memory or offloading content from your iOS devices quite well. I also found a couple of very useful aids that can help you either handle moving pictures off of your cameras, or even better for some, leaving your camera at home with the laptop. Let’s take a look at these items that will help you pack a little lighter and work a little smarter on the road for some Summer fun.

Kingston Wi-Drive

What Summer is complete without a road trip? And what road trip is complete without a little entertainment to keep boredom at bay, especially if you have young children like me? The Kingston Wi-Drive is one of two devices that I took on our trip that could handle this job. It is a battery-powered flash memory hard drive that can be loaded with content via a MiniUSB connector and cable, and share that content with multiple devices through a built-in web interface, or a free universal iOS app. It is light weight, about the same size and shape as a 3rd Gen iPod Touch, and is available in 16, 32, and 64 GB sizes.

In my initial testing, I found that the Wi-Drive works as well as advertised. Thanks to the use of flash memory, file transfers are fast, and the device is more durable than a hard drive with a spnning disk. These attributes make it perfect for the road warrior. Once plugged into a computer with the included USB cable, the Wi-Drive shows up as a folder, just like any external memory device, and can be loaded with any content that you choose. However, according to Kingston’s device specifications, only the following formats are supported by the iOS app for playback and viewing on devices:

General file format support:
Audio: MP3, WAV
Video: m4V, mp4 (H. 264 video codec)
Image: jpg, tif
Document: pdf

This may be a bit limiting, but these formats are ones you would already be using with your iOS device, so it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. I also did discover that this list isn’t absolutely set in stone, as I was able to play music in aac and m4a formats, as well. This is important to note, as it should make anything in your iTunes music collection immediately compatible, so you can move these files right over without having to convert anything first. I was also able to open an Excel document in a read-only window for viewing, so other files formats are accessible, as well. Even better, the app has included iOS’s Open In function, so you can open documents for editing in other apps, as well. Also, while Kingston’s app is the preferred method of accessing content, it is possible to read files from other apps that have WebDAV compatibility. This potenially opens up the file compatibility of the Wi-Drive a little wider, making it an even more useful device on the go.

While it may only work with the more standard iOS music, video, and file formats, Kingston’s Wi-Drive app is certainly no slouch.

It actually works quite well, and I found myself using it 99% of the time to access content from the device. The look is certainly unique among iOS apps, with a sort of Tron-esque blue text and lines on black background. Some might find this very unique look a little off-putting, but I actually think it looks good, and offers a great low contrast look for night time viewing. However, it might not be a bad thing if Kingston added the option for a more traditional look, for those who prefer it.

As for accessing content, the Wi-Drive app works very well. All you have to do is connect to the Wi-Drive’s SSID in your iOS device’s WiFi settings, and then launch the app. It can take a couple of minutes for the Wi-Drive to boot up after you power it on, but once it is ready, the Wi-Drive app will find it and you are ready to roll.

Once inside the Wi-Drive portion of the app, you are presented with all of the files and folders that you have loaded. The app has tabs at the bottom of the screen, where you can filter your photos, videos, and music if you have chosen to not organize it yourself. If you have a lot of content loaded, the tabs can take a minute or two to populate when you first tap on them. However, once the list is populated, it comes up instantly from there on out.

I did find that it definitely pays to organize your music before you move it over. All of my music files have track numbers in the title, which made it much more difficult to find anything under the music tab, which sorts alphabetically. However, if you just transfer your music out of iTunes by folders like I did, it will be no problem playing an album or set of songs that you have organized. So, while the Wi-Drive doesn’t support playlist files, you can easily make your own sets by organizing songs into folders, where they will play consecutively without you having to bother with them. This is essential if you are going to be using the Wi-Drive for music in the car. Also of note is the fact that, like most iOS music apps, you can continue to play your songs when the app is in the background.

As for controls, you have the basics that you would expect from any music app. You get play/pause, back, forward, shuffle, repeat group, and repeat single track, as well as the volume adjustment slider and track length and progress bar. The app also displays the track and album names and album art instead of just the file name, which is a nice touch. You also get the basic, but useful controls for Photos and Videos, as well.

There is one caveat with the Wi-Drive’s video playback capability, however. You cannot play DRM protected content in the app. So, anything you have bought in iTunes or have downloaded as a digital copy will not work directly. Fortunately, however, iOS’s built-in QuickTime plug-in for Safari has no trouble with this. To get to your videos from the browser, just point it to th Wi-Drive’s IP Address, which defaults to 192.168.200.254, and you will get the device’s built-in HTML5 web app.

From here, you can get to all of your content, and even the Wi-Drive’s settings. Just play your protected movie or tv show from here, and all is well.

Also, even though the Wi-Drive is obviously geared toward iOS and Android tablets and smartphone users, the web app opens up compatibility to a wide range of devices. I was able to view and play back content on my work laptop, my wife’s netbook, and even my Dad’s HP Touchpad. For any media sharing device, the wider its range of compatibility, the more useful it is. The Wi-Drive definitely has it where it counts in this department.

One of the main concerns with a device like the Wi-Drive is that, if you are connected to it via WiFi, you are no longer connected to the Internet. As handy as it is to be able to free up memory in your device, it’s hard to stand being off the grid for long in today’s permanently connected world. Thankfully, Kingston addressed this issue by adding pass-through capability to the Wi-Drive, which allows you to connect to the Wi-Drive, and then connect it to a home or work router for Internet access. You lose some speed by accessing the web through the Wi-Drive, but it does work, and is easy to set up.

The pros for the Kingston Wi-Drive don’t stop at the built-in software features, either. I love the fact that the device has separate lights for power, WiFi traffic, Internet traffic, and drive read/write so you can easily tell what’s going on with it, and potentially diagnose problems. Also working in the Wi-Drive’s favor is that it has a very reasonable price tag. In fact, I have seen the 16GB model available lower than $50, making it half the price you would pay Apple for another 16GB of built-in memory. The fact that this memory can be simultaneously shared between multiple devices makes it an even better value. Now you can carry media with you that you don’t need access to all the time without it taking up valuable space on your iOS devices.

This flexibility made the Wi-Drive a HUGE hit with my kids on our Memorial Day trip. Two of them have 8GB iOS devices, which can be rather limiting when they want to carry some music and movies along with all those games and apps they love. The Wi-Drive really helped with this, especially since more than one person can connect at a time. They used the Wi-Drive for three solid hours on the way to our destination, and for several shorter stretches over the next two days. The advertised battery life of the Wi-Drive is four hours, and we found that to be pretty close to what you can expect in the real world, as well.

As good as the Wi-Drive is, however, it isn’t quite perfect. First of all, while it is perfectly suited to streaming media and storing files to take with you, you cannot write content to the device with the native app or the web interface. I contacted Kingston about this, and they said that the Wi-Drive is geared toward streaming storage, and that write capability is not currently in their plans. If you are an enterprising user, you may find a way around this, but it isn’t officially supported, and may not be reliable. So, if you are looking for a device to help you break the chains of the PC while on the road, the Wi-Drive unfortunately doesn’t fit the bill.

There are a few other smaller issues, as well. While the four hour battery life is very solid, you cannot use the Wi-Drive while charging. So, if you have a longer flight or road trip, you may have to take some breaks in between watching or listening. Also, keep in mind that the Internet pass-through can be slow at times. Other, more minor drawbacks, include the fact that the Wi-Drive runs very hot at times, and that the glossy plastic exterior can also be a bit of a fingerprint magnet.

Despite its shortcomings, the Wi-Drive is currently the best device available for those who want to stream media files without taking up space on their iOS devices. Considering that the price up to $50 cheaper than buying the same amount of extra space from Apple, and that the Wi-Drive is available in sizes up to 64GB, it is an excellent value for its target audience.

Maxell AirStash

When it comes to external, WiFi storage devices with native iOS apps, the Kingston Wi-Drive isn’t the only game in town. The AirStash, which is manufactured by Wearable and distributed by Maxell here in the US, is also a very compelling device. It offers most of the same functionality as the Wi-Drive, such as a native iOS app, web browser access, and storage space for music, movies, photos, and files. It also has additional features that make it much more flexible for those looking to travel without a computer. Let’s take a closer look.

If the Wi-Drive is a nice sized, portable device, then the AirStash is downright tiny by comparison. Coming in just larger and heavier than an old-school pack of gum, the AirStash packs a lot of power and features into a very small package.

As you can see here, one advantage the AirStash has is a built-in USB port for charging and data trasfer. You’ll have to keep up with the preotective cap on the end, but that’s easier than keeping up with cable that doesn’t attach to the device itself.

Another big advantage of the AirStash is the fact that it uses standard size SD Cards for storage. This makes the AirStash an incredibly flexible device. As flash memory continually gets cheaper and faster, there is almost limitless opportunity to upgrade your storage space. Even better, the AirStash is compatible with the newer SDXC standard, potentially giving you access to up to 2TB of storage when those sizes become available. That’s a lot of space to stick in your pocket!

When I spoke to a representative with Wearable, I was told that the AirStash has currently been tested with as high as 128MB SD Cards, and that compatibility should never be an issue. He did make me aware of one small issue. At present, users have to re-format any cards 64MB according to the product support site’s instructions before they will work with the AirStash. However, he assured me that this is a temporary work-around for compatibility with the newer, higher-capacity SD Cards. A future firmware update will resolve this small issue.

Yet another feature worth mentioning is that, not only does the AirStash have a longer battery life at around 7 hours, but you can also use it while it is recharging. First off, we also “field tested” the AirStash on our trip, along with the Wi-Drive. Multiple people used it simultaneously, as well (we had 7 people in our mini-van, so there were plenty of gunnea pigs to go between the two devices), and it also held up for the rated battery life (which is rated closer to 5 hours for HD video streaming and simultaneous use) under real-world use. Also, the ability to use the AirStash while it is plugged in can’t be understated. This is a huge advantage on long trips.

The biggest advantage that AirStash holds, in my humble opinion, is the ability to not only read from, but also write data to its storage. This can very easily be done from within AirStash iOS app, as it can write from the Camera Roll, Photo Stream, or any of your albums to the device.

Even better, the app can import entire folders at a time, so you don’t have to go through and manually select everything in your chosen folder to move it. You also have the option to exclude either pictures or photos, depending on what you are looking for.

You can also move photos in the opposite direction, to your iOS device. As with the export capability, you also have some options that help things along.

You can automatically reduce your photos to your device’s screen size, convert photos to JPEG, and delete the original photos in the directory on the card. Again, another nice touch from Wearable and Maxell.

Not only does the AirStash give you the ability to write photos from its native app, but Maxell’s support website for the device actually gives detailed instructions on how to access the device with other iOS file and photo management apps, such as ReaddleDocs or PhotoSync, via WebDAV. This is important, because it not only gives users access to photos, but also other types of files stored on the AirStash. Kudos to Maxell for stepping up here, and making sure that they help users get the most out of their device.

As for the AirStash’s iOS app, it can be a bit of mixed bag, but it gets the job done. It has the aforementioned write capability, which is definitely a positive. Like the Wi-Drive, you can view files and utilize Open In to open files in other iOS apps for editing. The AirStash iOS app also has similar limitations, as it cannot play DRM video files, but you can still play those through the web interface.

Unfortunately, like the Wi-Drive, the AirStash isn’t a perfect device, either. While it has many superior capabilities, it is also waiting for a few features that are thankfully coming in the near future. First of all, the AirStash will soon offer a superior form of Internet access, which Wearable calls SideLink.

Instead of accessing the web through the device like the Wi-Drive does, SideLink allows you to connect the AirStash to a router with Internet access. Then you can get high-speed access to both the Internet and the AirStash through the same router. No comprismises, right?

Unfortunatly, this feature is a long time coming. It is thankfully available as a public beta, right now, but that does mean you have to manually load it onto your AirStash. However, I was assured that the final release should be rolled out in the next month. I do applaud Wearable and Maxell for wanting to get this feature right. I just hope they get it out soon.

The other notable missing feature is background play for music, which is a head-scratcher since that has been a basic feature of most music apps for two years now. I was even more surprised when I did some further testing and discovered that the AirStash can’t even play in the background through the web interface. It seems that Wearable created a custom HTML5 music player, while the Wi-Drive just uses Apple’s native QuickTIme player, which does play in the background. Thankfully, I was assured that this feature is also coming, but is a little further out after the SideLink update is released.

The last thing about the AirStash that might give some users pause is the price tag. The base model, which comes with an 8GB SD Card, costs around $120. This is quite a bit more than the base model Wi-Drive, which also comes with twice the memory. However, remember that the AirStash is a much more flexible device, which can use any large SD cards that you may already have sitting around, and has write capability. At the end of the day, the AirStash is definitely worth the price if you need all of the features, and don’t mind waiting a month or so for a couple of coming updates. However, for people who are just looking for a media storage and streaming option to extend their iOS device’s memory, the Wi-Drive is the better value right now.

Now that we have looked at both the Wi-Drive and AirStash, and what features they have, we know that they can both help us consume media while travelling. How about that other, more difficult task of helping us hit the road without the extra weight of a laptop or netbook, if we don’t need one? Unfortunately, this is where we part company with the Wi-Drive, thanks to its unfortunate limitations. However, I found the AirStash was definitely up to the challenge, and actually handled it quite well.

There are two photo tasks that you may find yourself needing to manage while on the go. First, if you take a lot of photos and videos with your iPhone, then you may need to offload some of that content to free up additional space. This is especially true with the 4 and 4S, as the file sizes of their high-quality photos and HD Videos can quickly fill up a crowded device.

The AirStash knocks this task out of the park without batting an eyelash. You can use the AirStash app, or another app of your choice with WebDAV capability to transfer your content. I personally use PhotoSync, which is one of the more feature-packed apps in this popular category.

It allows you to move photos from your device to either the cloud, FTP, a PC, another iOS device, or WebDAV capable device. You can pre-set all of your accounts, and have them all ready to go, right when you need them. It can also be set to delete your device’s photos and videos after they have been synced, although I would recommend doing that manually after the transfer. You never know when a glitch or reset can happen with any device. Waiting gives you the security of knowing everything transferred over properly before you delete.

Transferring photos off of your device is fast and easy. Using the AirStash’s DirectLink direct WiFi connection, I was able to transfer 40 iPhone 4S photos in less than 10 seconds. Obviously, videos will take a bit longer, but the AirStash still handles them like a champ. Even if you have taken a gig or two worth of pictures and video, you can plug both devices into a power source, and let them do their work without having to manage the process.

Since almost every digital camera today uses some form of SD Cards for storage, the AirStash can quickly become a photographer’s best friend. Just pop in your SD Card, and not only do you have access to your photos, but also anyone else with a WiFi enabled device (and the wireless key, if you need a little more security). And, with your iOS device and native app, you can quickly and easily upload any of the photos that you choose. Sure, you could do this with your iPad and a Camera Connection Kit, but what about video formats that the iPad doesn’t support? How about photos in RAW formats? You’re out of luck there. And what about doing this with an iPhone? No dice there unless you are jailbroken.

With an AirStash, you can get around ALL of these limitations. You can upload pictures directly to your iPhone without hacks or jailbreaks. Also, using other tools, you can upload file formats that aren’t compatible with the native Photos app for use with 3rd party iOS photo editing apps. You can also pick out your best photos for viewing on your iPad’s larger screen, touch them up a bit, and then upload them to your favorite social media site.

Even better, if you have a device with extra space, like I currently do with my 64GB iPhone 4S, you can actually use its additional storage to offload content from your cameras SD Card. Why, you ask? I know that SD Cards have pretty much become a commodity item at this point, but maybe not all of your cards are class 10. If you are shooting HD video or RAW + JPEG, you need that extra speed in your camera. I personally have a 32GB Class 10 card that I always use in one of my Sony cameras that takes particularly good 1080i HD video at 60 FPS. This camera needs that speed to keep up while shooting video, and then again to get files writes completed so the next video can be started. Currently, swapping out for another card isn’t an option until I get another of the same size and class. Thankfully, I was able to leverage my iPhone’s extra room to move content from one card to another using the AirStash and PhotoSync. The process works well, and fast enough to be done overnight while you are sleeping.

For example, after our first day at the park, I set up my transfer to my iPad before dinner and left it running in the hotel room when we went to dinner. It was only 4GB, so it wasn’t necessary, but I figured it would still make a good test for this article. I didn’t check it again until right before bed, and it was finished without errors. I was then able to transfer the files from my iPad back to an older 16GB Class 10 card that I put in the AirStash. It was done by the time I woke up in the morning, and all of my devices were charged. Perfect. Using this setup makes the term “Post-PC” ring a little more true to me. I just wish I had known about the AirStash before my family went to Disney World in January.

So, there are always situations where this might not work as well. If you are a higher end digital photographer, and are taking gigabytes of photos per day, one AirStash might not cut it for you, speed wise Of course, there are professional level devices that handle these situations, but not everybody wants to pay the kinds of prices that they command. What about those occasional situations, like a Disney vacation, or a graduation or wedding weekend, where you are taking a lot more pics and video than normal?

Sure, you can just load up on SD Cards, but who the heck wants to carry around a bunch of them, and then have to organize all those pictures after the fact? I also took along another little gadget on our recent trip that worked quite well with the AirStash, and may help users out in keeping a handle on situations where you are taking more photos than normal.

Eye-Fi Pro X2
It was the Eye-Fi Pro X2 ($99 MSRP), which is the latest version of a device that has been around for a while now. For those who aren’t familiar with the Eye-Fi, it is a WiFi-enabled SD Card that users can connect to a router, or connect to directly to upload photos and videos directly from their cameras. Like the Wi-Drive and AirStash, the Eye-Fi also has native apps for both iOS and Android.

The iOS app is honestly far from perfect, but it’s free, and it does give you access to some device settings, and photo upload capability. It is also compatible with both the iPhone and iPad. As long as you have items like the Transfer Mode set to your liking while you are at your computer, before you hit the road, you will be fine.

While the Eye-Fi app has its drawbacks, there is another universal iOS app available called ShutterSnitch, that actually works quite a bit better. It ought to, because it costs $9.99. Ouch. That’s pretty steep for an iOS app, but it works so much better that, for me, it was definitely worth the cost.

It gives you access to more details about the images you are viewing, such as EXIF information, as well as other features, such as the ability to orgnize your photos before moving them to your Camera Roll or sending them to an FTP.

It even has a special Backpack Mode that allows you to turn off the screen to conserve some battery, but continue to recieve pictures from the Eye-Fi, as well.

The Eye-Fi can be set up to either transfer photos as you take them, or after you specifically tag them, by putting them in protected mode in your camera’s built-in photo viewer. Also, since the Eye-Fi cards are only 8GB, small by today’s standards, you can also set up an Endless Memory mode, where the card will not only automatically transfer pictures, but then go ahead and delete them from your card as you go. This is a great feature for those who want the convienience of the Eye-Fi, but are shooting HD video and RAW images.

So, what’s the point of having both the Eye-Fi and AirStash. Well, if you take a lot of pictures, they actually make a great pair. The Eye-Fi can continuously send your photos directly from your camera to your iPhone or iPod throughout the day, so your SD card always has plenty of space. This also gives you the ability to see your pictures on a larger screen, if you’d like. They typically transfer within seconds of being taken if you are using automatic transfer. Then, whether you wait until you get back to your hotel, campsite, cabin, or wherever you happen to be staying, or take your AirStash with you, your content is in one place, ready to be transferred to it for safe keeping.

Having the both Eye-Fi and AirStash takes a step out of the content management process, gives you options for management while on the go, and makes the whole process wireless. The only real drawback to this combo is the impact on camera and iOS battery life, which will take a noticeable hit if you use have continuous transfers enabled. I actually use the selective transfer mode on the Eye-Fi, and transfer pictures only when I select them and initiate the process, for this very reason.

Anyway, the battery life issue is real, but easily manageable with spare batteries or a little planning. Despite this small concern, the Eye-Fi and AirStash make a really solid team. If you are looking to break the bonds of a traditional computer on your next trip or vacation, and don’t want to invest several hundred dollars in dedicated extra gear, then this pair make a killer combination that will also have use beyond your iOS devices.

olloclip

Time for my own little “one more thing.” What if you want to take the packing light thing a step further? What if you don’t really care that much about carrying a dedicated digital camera? If your iPhone 4 or 4S camera is good enough for you, then I also tried out another accessory that you should be very interested in. The olloclip, which started life as a Kickstarter project that knocked its goal out of the park, is a single device with a set of three enhancement lenses that clips onto the corner of your iPhone, and slides over the camera lens.

You have a Wide Angle lens on one side, a Fisheye lens on the other, and then if unscrew the Wide Angle section, you have a Macro lens cleverly hidden underneath, as well.

The whole package is very well designed and well made. The lense body is constructed from aircraft-grade aluminum, while the clip is made from light-weight but rigid plastic. It has no unnecessary moving parts, comes with lens covers, and also includes a small microfiber drawstring bag that doubles as a carrying case and a cleaning cloth. It’s a neat and tidy little package. The only addition I would like to see would be optional lense cover lanyards, but I can see how that might clutter the very clean existing design and look.

There have been plenty of add on camera attachments and cases for various iPhones, but most have been awkward to use, poorly constructed, didn’t work well, or all of the above. The olloclip, however, is a much different story. I saw the awards it has won, and that it has many other positive reviews, but I still had realistically low expectations. That was a mistake, as the olloclip really blew me away. I was shocked at how much it enhanced some of my pictures, and how much fun it was to use. I’m still a guy that prefers a traditional digital camera, but if you want to do more with your iPhone 4 or 4S camera, then you should DEFINITELY pick up the olloclip.

Taking a closer look, the Macro lens only had limited usefullness for me, but could actually prove very valuable for someone who has to do a lot of close up work.

 

As you can see from these photos, it really brings out a lot of detail. You just have to be VERY close to get your picture in focus.

The Fisheye lens is certainly a dramatic effect, expanding your camera’s field of view to 180 degrees. Not being a professional photographer, I was never quite sure exactly what to do with it. However, it was fun to use, and made for some funny moments with me and the kids.

 

After taking several pictures, I did see some that actually turned out fairly well. These were purely by accident, but I’ll take it.

No matter how good my pics are or aren’t, this lens will definitely be useful in the right hands, and produces and effect that no after-applied filter can properly duplicate with the same quality.

As good as the Macro and Fisheye lenses are, the Wide Angle lens makes this package worth every penny and more. Have you ever found yourself backpedaling while trying to frame a shot with your iPhone, trying to get more people or things into the picture? I know I have, especially with landscapes. That won’t be a problem with the olloclip Wide Angle lens.

Here is a picture taken without the olloclip:

And another with the olloclip Wide Angle lens

The Wide Angle lens almost doubles your lateral field of view, without comprimising image quality. Other than some minor barrel distortion, which is normal for wide angle lenses, I felt that this one improved my shots whenever I had it on. It never got in the way.

It’s this performance that justifies the $70 price tag for olloclip in my eyes. The fact that, unlike the myriad of cheap iPhone lenses that I’ve seen before, the olloclip doesn’t ever keep me from getting good pictures. When the lenses are used properly, they always enhance. Combine that performance with the quality construction and beautiful design, and you have a real winner.

For some much better examples of what is possible with the olloclip, visit their Flickr site. You can also catch some more using #olloclip on Twitter and Instagram. If you are interested in taking your mobile photography to the next level, you should definitely check these out. There are some really impressive shots here.

In my testing, I only came across one major issue. I use Best Skins Ever wet-apply skins front and back on my iPhone. Unfortunately, because of the olloclip’s tight fit over the corner of the phone, it is incompatible with them. It peeled the old one I had on my iPhone at the time of testing right off. According to the manufacturer, the olloclip should work with slick, thin, dry-apply screen protectors. He also mentioned that some fans of the olloclip who prefer wet-apply skins will the cut the corners off of them so they can use the olloclip.

While this may be an issue for me, personally, if you don’t use screen protection, are willing to alter them if you do, or get rid of them all together, then don’t hesitate to pick up an olloclip. If you aren’t married to carrying a DSLR, digital point and shoot, or dedicated video camera, then it can definitely lighten your traveling load even more, while helping you take some great mobile photographs.

I guess it’s ironic that my iOS on the Road entry on vacations and how to pack a little lighter is longer than either of the work-related articles. What can I say? Sometimes play can be more work than work. It’s good work, if you can get it, though.

Seriously though, since Post-PC is all the rage these days, there is just a lot here to cover. Especially when considering that we usually focus on work when we think about making the most of our mobile devices. However, it can be even more beneficial to break free when getting away for a little R&R. Who needs to mess with waiting for a laptop to boot up when there is picnicing, swiming, camping, or any number of other non-tech related activities to indulge in? Like I said earlier, I’ve been really interested in this topic since my family’s trip to Disney World. I don’t want to be stuck lugging a nebook or work laptop around on trips unless I absolutely have to anymore. I just hope that my research into this will help some of you out there break some of these chains, as well.

Stay safe on the road this 4th of July, wherever you’re going. Pack light and HAVE FUN!!!

Product Links:

Kingston Wi-Drive: As low As $40 for 16GB Model  Wi-Drive App in the App Store

Maxell AirStash: As Low As $120 for 8GB Model  AirStash App in the App Store

Eye-Fi Pro X2: $99 MSRP  Eye-Fi App in the App Store

ShutterSnitch App In The App Store: $9.99

olloclip: $69.99. Available in Red or Black.

 

The Wi-Drive, AirStash, and olloclip were provided by their respective companies for review on iSource. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.

The Eye-Fi Pro X2 and ShutterSnitch were independently purchased by the post author. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.

 

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  • BTW, this is in reference to the flag/fireworks shot: http://www.flickr.com/photos/d200shooter/475011539 Please remove my photo from your page!

    • jhrogersii

      My apologies to Mr McNally. I certainly did not intend to improperly use his copyrighted photo. It appeared on a site that claimed all of the content was public domain and for free use. That was obviously incorrect. His image has been replaced with another that was confirmed to be public domain.