Daily iPad App: MyScript Memo takes your handwriting and turns it into text

Author: ally keer  //  Category: Apple, iPhone

Handwriting is one of those things that seems like it should be easy on the iPad, but, in reality, it is fairly difficult. Unlike Apple’s legendarily quirky handwriting recognition on the Newton or the Windows tablets of more recent vintage, the iPad is designed primarily for finger-based input, not for longhand wirting with a stylus.

Though it’s not optimized for use with a capacitive pen, several companies including Vision Objects are enthusiastic about the iPad as a writing device and have developed apps that’ll let you scrawl to your heart’s content.

MyScript Memo uses a proprietary algorithm that’ll take your handwriting on the iPad or iPhone and convert it to text. You can use any stylus or even your finger to write some words and then convert to text when you are ready to share it with a friend via email, SMS, Facebook or Twitter. You can also copy the converted text or save it to Evernote for future reference.

The algorithm used to detect the handwriting performed beyond my expectation. Even with my chicken scratch, Memo was able to convert 90 percent of what I had written. One of the most useful features was a movable palm guard that lets you cover the area where your hand sits on the screen. It works really well to block that part of the screen and prevent accidental input from your palm. You can adjust this area to make it bigger or smaller as needed. The app also includes an eraser so you can remove words and a lasso tool to remove blocks of text at a time.

MyScript Memo is a universal app and is available for free from the iOS App Store. The free version will let you convert handwriting to text using MyScript’s server; an in-app purchase of $2.99 will let you convert directly on your device.

Daily iPad App: MyScript Memo takes your handwriting and turns it into text originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Tue, 03 Jul 2012 08:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Max Payne 3: Reviews Are Good For Rockstar’s Gritty TPS

Author: ally keer  //  Category: Games and Players, PS3, Xbox, others


Max Payne 3 reviews have hit the internet, with most proclaiming Rockstar’s game a triumph.

Max Payne 3 hits Xbox 360 and PS3 this week, but the review embargo has lifted today, revealing a slightly mixed, but overall positive reaction to Rockstar’s long-awaited return to bullet-time.

“Brilliant in places, utterly frustrating in others,” reads NowGamer’s PS3 review, while our Xbox 360 review states: “Max Payne 3 is very much a modern refinement of an old formula, and if you’re looking for something brand new or revelatory it just isn’t here.”

Other scores range from 7/10 to top marks (5/5), with The Verge claiming that Max Payne 3 “is the best game Rockstar has ever made.”

Check out the other scores below:

Edge – 7/10
G4TV – 5/5
GameTrailers – 7.6/10
IncGamers – 9/10
OXM (US) – 8/10
Strategy Informer – 9.0/10
Telegraph – 4.5/5
The Verge – 9/10
VideoGamer – 8/10

FIFA 13 Will Include More Captured Player Faces Than Ever – DI3D

Author: ally keer  //  Category: Games and Players, Xbox

FIFA 13_3.jpg


Scotland-based digital capture firm to help EA Sports pack FIFA 13 with realistic player faces.

FIFA 13 will feature a higher number of players with accurate 3D facial likenesses thanks to tech developed by Glasgow-based Dimensional Imaging, the firm has revealed.

“We recognised a few years ago that raising the quality of facial appearance was an increasing priority for our game teams,” said Mike Harrison, director of EA Capture at Electronic Arts. “Working closely with Dimensional Imaging has allowed us to develop a highly accurate 3D facial capture pipeline that is now so efficient that we can apply it to more characters than we ever thought possible.”

“The relentless increase in the quality of computer graphics makes it ever more necessary to capture real life human likenesses in order to create believable virtual characters, but this process has traditionally been very time consuming for video game development,” added Dimensional Imaging CEO Colin Urquhart.

“EA was one of the first developers to recognize the need for improved capture workflows, and working with them since EA Sports FIFA 10 has been instrumental in helping Dimensional Imaging to develop a product suite that is now suitable for even the most demanding development pipelines in the business.”

Decide what you make of the results with the first batch of FIFA 13 screens.

More FIFA on NowGamer:

  • UEFA Euro 2012 Review
  • FIFA Street Tricks, Skills, Moves Guide
  • FIFA 12 Trick Guide

 

Epson MegaPlex MG-850HD projector is a powerful iOS companion

Author: ally keer  //  Category: Apple, NDS, iPhone

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When it comes to giving presentations, teaching classes, or even watching videos or photos in a group environment, there’s still nothing to replace the traditional PC projector. Sure, there are little pico-projectors out now, but they lack the sheer power and features of the magic black box that can push out 2,800 lumens of illumination. Epson loaned TUAW a MegaPlex MG-850HD projector (US$799) for review, which turned out to be a helpful companion for giving a volunteer presentation with nothing but my iPhone and iPad today.

Like many projectors, the MG-850HD has HD capabilities (720p), has HDMI and VGA connections, can work with a simple USB connection to a Mac or PC, and has a remote for adjusting color, keystone, and resolution. But the MG-850HD has a very unique capability — a Dock connector onto which an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch can be placed. I first had a chance to see one of these projectors at Epson’s booth at Macworld | iWorld 2012, but wanted to use one hands-on.

Gallery: Epson MegaPlex MG-850HD Projector

While your iOS device is on the Dock connector, it’s getting charged. The projector is able to pump out an image from any iOS app that supports video out, such as Keynote, YouTube, or the Photo Library. Unfortunately, like most devices that support the Dock connector, the MG-850HD doesn’t work with the video mirroring capabilities of the latest iPhones and iPads. You can connect via an HDMI cable (not included) to use video mirroring, but not through the Dock.

During a presentation today, I used the iOS version of Keynote to deliver the presentation with my third-generation iPad plugged into the MG-850HD. For a remote, I used Apple’s Remote application on an iPhone 4S. The iPad, which runs on Verizon’s 4G LTE network, was used in Personal Hotspot mode to connect the iPhone remote to the iPad host.

The MG-850HD provides extremely bright output. Our presentation was done in a large conference room using a wall as a screen. While I had no way to measure it, the image was probably a good 18 feet wide and about 10 feet tall. Even with some lights on in the room, the image was clearly visible, and all of the graphics looked sharp.

One very helpful feature we used was the set of two built-in 10 Watt speakers. Since the presentation didn’t have audio, we connected a mic to the audio input and use the speakers to amplify our voices to a large crowd of students. In a pinch, you could use the MG-850HD as an audio speaker dock for your iPhone without even using the projector.

The MG-850HD comes with a bunch of pre-set color modes. For home, there are special settings for “living room”, cinema, and game, while for businesses there are special color modes for presentation and blackboard. The device can take just about any composite or component input signal up to 1080p in addition to the HDMI, VGA, and Dock inputs. The native resolution is WXGA (1280 x 800 pixels), which means that the HD projection output is limited to 720p.

When the projector was turned on and the iPad securely situated on the Dock connector, a “Dock” light illuminated, and a special menu screen was displayed on the screen (wall). Depending on the type of image (still or video) you’re projecting, you make a menu selection and then press continue. One concern is that these settings must be made using the included remote control — if you lose the remote or your batteries die, there are no controls on the projector as backup.

There are two very nice security features built into the MG-850HD for instructors; first, there’s a standard Kensington lock slot for locking the projector to a heavy piece of furniture. The second is that you can set up the projector to only “unlock” (become usable) to certain iOS devices. You place a device onto the Dock, go to a hidden menu that is only described in the user manual, and then select “iPod Management”. Once that’s done, pressing a few buttons will display a confirmation screen that asks if you want to register your iOS device. Selecting Yes and pressing the Enter button on the remote control auto-fills the projector’s memory with the device serial number. From then on, the projector is only usable with devices that have been registered.

In terms of portability, the MG-850HD rocks. I’ve used a lot of projectors over the years, and this was one of the lightest big-screen projectors that I’ve ever had the pleasure to carry at just 8.6 pounds. Size-wise, the projector is just 11.5″ x 13.4″ x 5.1″ and could easily fit under an airplane seat.

It’s obvious that Epson expended a lot of time and effort into making the MG-850HD work well with Apple devices. This is a projector that can be used in both home and business environments to view anything from iPhone slide shows to HD video from a Blu-ray player, and do it well. The price is also fairly reasonable — a few years ago I purchased a much less capable projector for my business from Dell that cost quite a bit more and broke after only two years.

You don’t have to take my word for it; the reviews online are equally as happy with the MG-850HD. Whether you need an iOS-compatible projector for work or play, the Epson MegaPlex MG-850HD is an excellent choice.

Epson MegaPlex MG-850HD projector is a powerful iOS companion originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Fri, 20 Apr 2012 20:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Daily iPhone App: SpellTower is a fast-paced word game with local multiplayer support

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: Apple, iPhone

SpellTower is a challenging word game that was recently updated to version 3.0. This latest version includes retina graphics for the new iPad and local multiplayer support. Similar to Bookworm and other word games, SpellTower has a grid of letter tiles that you use to spell words by selecting adjacent letters. Each correct spelling removes tiles and earns you points. The goal of the game is to remove as many letter tiles as possible.

There are four different game modes – a Puzzle mode that’ll add a new row of letters every time you correctly spell a word, an exPuzzle mode that challenges you to spell longer words, a Tower mode that lets you spell as many words as possible and a Rush mode that forces you to spell quickly. The game includes a few specialty tiles that’ll sometimes help, sometimes hinder you in the game. There are blue lettered tiles that knock out an entire row of letters and black tiles that’ll block you from spelling words. These black tiles disappear when you spell an adjacent word.

The biggest improvement in version 3.0 is a new multiplayer mode that lets you play against a friend via Bluetooth. This multiplayer mode takes the Rush game and pits you against a friend. You have to spell as many words as possible before your letter tower reaches the top. SpellTower adds a twist to the game by throwing letters to your opponent every time you spell a correct word. Not only do you move ahead when you spell a new word, you also set your opponent back.

Whether you’re playing the fast-paced Rush mode or the casual Tower mode, SpellTower will give your brain cells a workout. It’s available for US$1.99 and includes both an iPhone version and a retina-capable iPad version.

Daily iPhone App: SpellTower is a fast-paced word game with local multiplayer support originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Mon, 16 Apr 2012 15:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Keep an eye on those you love with the Withings Smart Baby Monitor

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: Apple, iPhone

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In early March, TUAW’s intrepid Dave Caolo reported on the U.S. release of the Withings Smart Baby Monitor, a US$299 device that works with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to let you keep an eye on your baby, aging parents or grandparents, or even your pets. As you’ll see later in this review, it does more than your average cheap Wi-Fi baby monitor, even providing a level of two-way interaction.

Design

I am a huge fan of Withings products, all of which are incredibly well-designed and very functional. I’ve used a Withings Wi-Fi Body Scale for almost two years and keep my health in check with their iOS-connected blood pressure monitor, and both devices work flawlessly month after month. As I’d expect, the Smart Baby Monitor is another Withings product that balances great design and functionality with easy integration to your favorite iOS device.

The monitor is a small 3.6″ x 3.6″ x 2.5″ (92mm x 92 mm x 63 mm), .65 lb. (293 gms) white box that flips open like a jewel box to reveal the camera and many controls. It’s actually quite attractive, looking more like something that Jony Ive would design for Apple than your run-of-the-mill webcam. The monitor has a 3 megapixel HD camera at 2048 x 1536 pixels — that’s identical to the resolution of the new iPad.

The Smart Baby Monitor also has a large speaker through which your voice or lullabies can be transmitted to baby, a multicolor nightlight, audio sensors, humidity and temperature sensors, and tactile command buttons. There’s also a support stand for attaching the monitor to a crib, although it can be set on almost any flat surface and has a surprisingly wide-angle lens.

Gallery: Withings Smart Baby Monitor

For nighttime use, the monitor has infrared LEDs that “light up” the area up to about 15 feet (5 meters) away. Those LEDs automatically power up or down based on the amount of ambient light in the room. There’s even a carry bag included if you wish to take the Smart Baby Monitor with you on a trip.

To connect to the Internet, you’ll need to have either a Wi-Fi network (up to 802.11n) or Ethernet connection. The monitor also requires a nearby power plug, although it can run off of an internal Lithium-ion battery for use when you’re not near a plug. A handy red LED flashes near the power socket on the monitor to tell you when you need to recharge the battery.

Setup and Functionality

As with the other Withings products I’ve used, the Smart Baby Monitor is a piece of cake to get set up and running. Once the device is plugged in and powered up, you make a Bluetooth connection to the monitor through the iOS settings app on your favorite device. As soon as a connection is established (no pairing code required), you’re asked if you wish to install an app from the app store — that’s the WithBaby app (free). With three taps and your iTunes password, the app is installed, and you can launch it.

You’re asked if you wish to accept push notifications. With this capability, you can receive alerts from the monitor on sound, movement, temperature or humidity. You’ll need to set up a free account, which requires only an email address and a password. You can have up to three different accounts connect to the monitor simultaneously. One nice feature is that by default, the iOS app is set up to monitor sound even when the WithBaby app isn’t running.

There’s a place to set up a baby profile. When I added one, there was a Next button at the bottom of the profile page that didn’t seem to work — I had to kill the app, then start it up again and go through the process a second time in order to get it to finish. Once that was complete, I had access to a high-resolution image of the room the camera was pointed to. Double-tapping or reverse-pinching the screen allowed me to zoom in on details. In bright lighting conditions, the image is in color; when the infrared illumination is turned on the image is grayscale.

Unlike many web cameras with the ability to be used in dark conditions, the bright-light abilities of the Smart Baby Monitor are incredibly good. I was even able to point the camera out into the bright Colorado sunshine and get a shot out the window.

With a tap on the screen, you get access to some simple controls that provide a way to look at sound and motion in the room over the past fifteen minutes, speak to your baby, turn the nightlight off or on, play lullabies, or take a screenshot. The nightlight can also be set to a number of different colors and intensities through the app. There are four built-in lullabies — it does not appear that there’s a way to add your own from iTunes.

Since the video is transferred through Withings’ server to securely travel to your iOS device, there’s a bit of a lag in both the video and audio. However, that lag was only about a second or two at worst, which is much better than the ten-second lag I’ve seen with some other monitors.

One thing that I wish Withings and other companies would do is market these as “home monitors” rather than baby monitors. For people with elderly relatives, this product would be a great way to keep an eye (and ear) on them and even talk to them on a regular basis, and I can see where this would be an amazing product for watching what the dog or cat is doing while you’re away from home. You could even yell at your pet if she’s clawing at the couch.

Conclusion

Withings makes great products, although the $300 price tag on the monitor is a bit steep — you might want to ask someone to give you one of these for a baby shower gift. The video is some of the best I’ve seen from a baby monitor, and the feature set is unparalleled. I can definitely recommend the Smart Baby Monitor to any new or prospective parents as a top-notch product that will keep them happy through baby’s first years and beyond.

Keep an eye on those you love with the Withings Smart Baby Monitor originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Sat, 07 Apr 2012 16:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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How To Write An Effective Video Game Review

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: Games and Players

Basically, writing a review on anything is subjective because you are appealing to your own ideas, appreciation or impression. While it is given a review writer should base what he writes about something he had first-hand experience with, he should be able to give objective facts and not depend on his own thoughts.

Again, writing a review is subjective but a reviewer should base his subjective perception on the objective facts and confirm or deny them based on his experience.

The best example of this is when you are reviewing a car in which the engineers who designed it say it can reach up to 200 miles per hour. The reviewer should, if allowed to do the test drive, see if it can indeed reach up to that top speed. If so, only then a reviewer could confirm that the car lives up to the expectations.

So, how will you review a video game?

You Should Play – there is no way you can produce a good and honest review of a video game if you haven’t played it. Therefore, you should spend some time to play it and discover about the things you heard about the game and compare them to your own gaming experience.

Evaluate the Graphics – for modern video games, the graphical representation is very important because they give life to a game; hence, the name “video” game. Evaluating the graphics would require you to switch to different resolution and screen size and see if the performance is affected by every setting. You should also see if the game provides what the developers promised regarding the video.

Listen and Criticize the Audio – listening is definitely different from criticizing. You should first listen so that you will know how the audio is being recorded and put into the game. If you have heard enough, criticize it and extract some facts from your experience.

Learn the Controls – playing a video game well means you should also learn how to effectively use the controls then be mindful of the sensitivity of every button or keys. Some games are just not so responsive than others. If you need to differentiate the control sensitivity with other games, then do so but don’t overdo it.

Learn the Gist of the Story – learning the story of the video game is easier than you thought but evaluating whether it is competitive is difficult. However, you have to be honest about this because most of the gamers base their interest on the storyline of the game. If you’re playing a sequel, for example Mass Effect 3, you should research about the storyline of the first two iterations and see if there is continuity.

Writing a game review may be a difficult task at first that’s why I’m advising you to read video game reviews written by someone you know or by any popular game reviewer. You can usually find them in any gaming community so you need to browse some sites which you knew publish good stories.

Daily iPhone App: NFL Flick Quarterback

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: Apple, NDS, iPhone

If you want to pass like Tom Brady from the comfort of your living room chair, then you should grab a copy of NFL Flick Quarterback for the iPhone. The app is a flick-style passing game that lets you take on the role of an NFL quarterback. The game isn’t a full-fledged football simulation like Madden 2012, but a passing game as its name suggests.

Even though it focuses on only one aspect of the gridiron game, NFL Flick Quarterback is a lot of fun. You star as a quarterback of your favorite team and get to choose your jersey number. Your goal is to complete passes to receivers down field. Sounds easy until you throw in a defender or two who’ll try to deflect your pass.

You throw the pass by flicking the ball out of the quarterback’s hand. The faster and straighter you flick the ball, the harder and straighter your pass will be. Once the pass is in the air, you can swipe left or right to nudge the ball in either direction. The game is easy and enjoyable which makes it perfect for the casual iPhone gamer.

NFL Flick Quarterback is available for $.99 from the iOS App Store.

Daily iPhone App: NFL Flick Quarterback originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Fri, 03 Feb 2012 18:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Daily iPhone App: Async Corp

Author: ally keer  //  Category: Apple, iPhone

Async Corp. is about as charming as a puzzle game gets. There are a few flaws with it (most notably that the game does a terrible job of actually telling you how to play, but I’ll fix that in a second), but it’s just so cute and so charmingly devised that it’s hard to put down. The idea is that you’ve got two grids of colored blocks next to each other, and it’s your job (in an almost literal sense, as the game’s premise casts you as a worker at a fictional corporation) to “pass packets” back and forth by touching one grid and then the other. The trick is that you can only pass packets when they combine up into a rectangular box of four or more, at which point they create cute little boxes with faces on them, which can then be tapped away for points.

There are three different modes to play that challenge you to accomplish things within various limits, but that’s basically how the game works. And yes, once you get over that initial learning curve, there’s actually a lot of depth to the game: You can trade pieces to create two cute boxes for a “sync” move that earns you extra points, and once you make a box, you can add pieces to it to keep growing it for more points (though every piece you move has to actually finish off the box, so you can only complete them, not build them up).

The game is a lot of fun, and the cute little graphics, excellent chiptune music, and puzzle replayability make it more than worth the 99 cents. Definitely check it out if you’re in for some cute puzzle fun.

Daily iPhone App: Async Corp originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Fri, 20 Jan 2012 15:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Able Planet Clear Harmony headphones deliver top quality sound at a premium price

Author: ally keer  //  Category: Apple, iPhone

One of the more widely-used accessories for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Mac is a set of headphones. Whether you’re using that little headset that came with your iPhone or iPod touch, or you have moved up to another type of headphone, you know how important it is to be able to listen to your music or movies clearly. I recently had an opportunity to test a pair of Clear Harmony NC1100B noise canceling headphones (US$299.99, but be sure to look for the NC1100BA option that includes an 8 GB iPod touch at no extra cost) from Able Planet and found that they’re outstanding for enjoying sound from any of your Apple devices.

Design

As you might expect from the name, Able Planet builds audio products for people with all levels of hearing. According to the Able Planet website, their patented Linx Audio technology “creates high frequency harmonics that enhance sound quality and speech clarity of difficult to hear words or notes, and increase the perception of loudness without increasing volume.” In layman’s terms, you don’t necessarily have to “turn the knob to 11″ to be able to hear music or speech the way you want to. The company has won a bunch of awards at CES over the past five years for this technology, and it should be interesting to see if they continue that string of wins this week.

When you open the box that these headphones come in, the first thing you see is a nice cloth-covered and zippered carrying case. Opening that case, you see the headphones, the cable, and adapters. The NC1100B comes with both 1/4″ and 1/8″ plugs for use with a variety of devices, and the plugs are all gold-plated. There’s also a dual 1/4″ adapter that works with most airline sound systems.

The NC1100B headphones use an over-the-ear design that totally covers your ears. I’m partial to this type of headphone design, since earbuds have a tendency to fall out with movement and I can’t stand the feel of in-the-ear designs. The padded headphones are quite comfortable, perfect for those long flights where you might want to watch a few movies and listen to some tunes.

Noise canceling headphones require power, so the cap on the right ear “cup” slides off easily to accept two AAA batteries. The headphones weigh about 8.2 ounces with the batteries inserted, which is surprisingly less than the pair of custom V-Moda Crossfade headphones I usually use (9.6 ounces).

Functionality

I’ll be the first to admit that I am usually a skeptic when it comes to claims of sound quality with high-end headphones. That’s why I’m totally surprised with just how good these headphones sound. I listened to a wide cross-section of music in my iTunes library, from classic rock to classical, and for each selection I listened not only on the NC1100B ‘phones, but also the V-Moda Crossfades.

The NC1100B headphones also did a surprising job in getting rid of hiss and background noise in a number of older recordings that are in my collection (a lot of my tunes are older recordings — hey, I’m an older person!). When I listened to music with the V-Moda Crossfades after listening to the same tune with the Able Planet headphones, the music just sounded muddy with a surprising amount of hiss. The NC1100B headphones made everything sound much cleaner, crisper and more “real” than any other headphones I’ve ever used.

The noise cancellation capabilities are also impressive. In my office, I have a DroboPro that is constantly adding a level of white noise to the ambient sound. Turning the headphones on and off while sitting at my desk really showed me just how loud that noise is. As with other noise canceling headphones, the NC1100Bs don’t totally eliminate background noise, but they do temper it to a tolerable level. My test here was to listen to music from my iPhone while standing next to a running washing machine and dryer, turning noise cancellation on and off. Again, I could still hear the background noise a bit with noise cancellation turned on, but the noise was largely filtered out.

Since many TUAW readers may use headphones to listen to movies, I also watched several movies on my iPad while listening to the soundtrack with the NC1100B headphones. Once again, the sound quality was outstanding, especially in situations where there was a mixture of dialogue with background noises or music.

One final note: years of listening to music has caused me to have a moderate level of tinnitus in my left ear which seems to be getting worse as I get older. With most headphones, I have to turn down the volume in order to listen without discomfort. The NC1100Bs are so distortion-free that I can listen to tunes at a lower volume while still picking up all the nuances of the music.

Conclusion

Considering the number of headphones I’ve tested over the years, I was totally surprised — in a good way — with the Able Planet Clear Harmony NC1100B headphones. As with all of the items that we review here at TUAW, these headphones will be given away to a reader at one of our meetups, but this is one situation where I’m going to personally spend my own money to pick up a pair. The sound quality is that good.

While Able Planet certainly doesn’t have the name recognition of Bose, V-Moda, Beats by Dr. Dre, or Skull Candy, the company should. The Able Planet Clear Harmony NC1100B headphones are my new gold standard for comparison to any other headphones on the market.

Able Planet Clear Harmony headphones deliver top quality sound at a premium price originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Sat, 07 Jan 2012 21:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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