Archives For Apple


The “second screen” onslaught continues as DISH unveils a brand spanking new Explorer companion app to kick off their CES festivities. Available to Hopper owners tomorrow, the iPad app opens to “What’s Hot” as a launching point to social television discovery and DVR control. Of course, the requisite Twitter and Facebook interactivity is present. Interestingly, DISH has also licensed a variety of real time sports-related data to incorporate into the experience. Continue Reading…

While I’m the CTO of the Zatz household, my wife Melissa is also capable of making tech purchasing decisions… and living with the consequences. What follows are her thoughts on swapping the iPad 3 for an iPad Mini.

Living with a tech expert I’ve come to appreciate (and depend on) the latest gadgets. Dave understands what we all might like or need. And when the iPad Mini was introduced, he knew that the smaller size was going to be more comfortable for me (yes, size does matter!). While I enjoy taking my tablet to Starbucks or Panera, I also love lounging on the couch with it. My iPad 3 was incredibly uncomfortable and difficult to hold in this position and I frequently found myself putting it down – reaching for my iPhone instead.

So Dave took me to see the iPad Mini, thinking Apple’s newest product addressed my need for a smaller device. Dave was confident I would walk away with a new toy (and maybe secretly hoped I would want one so he too could play around with it while he decided what gadget changes to make). While I was impressed with the Mini’s form and size, I was disappointed in the quality of the screen. I recall removing my sunglasses thinking that maybe they were dirty, causing the screen to appear blurry! Unfortunately, my specs were not to blame. And I walked around the display table comparing units hoping that first one was defective. The Mini’s screen resolution is just weak compared to my iPhone and iPad 3, fuzzy-looking and not sharp or gorgeous like a retina display. We walked out of the store empty handed. Continue Reading…

Add Gift Card To Starbucks App

Dave Zatz —  December 25, 2012

Like many this season, I’ve received a Starbucks gift card. Three to be exact. And instead of bothering with the Starbucks website, I figured there must be some way to add the balance to my existing virtual card/account via the Starbucks iPhone app. Indeed there is… And the trick is that you must first add gift card to Starbucks app before move balance to existing card. Follow along below for details:


  • From within the Starbucks app, bring up your current card(s) by tapping “Pay” in the upper left
  • Click “Manage” towards the lower right
  • Click “Add Starbucks Card” towards the bottom


  • Enter the new Starbucks giftcard number and 8 digit pin, which you may have to scratch off
  • Click “Add” in the upper right and “Cancel” the Passbook prompt
  • Once presented with the gift card, click “Transfer Balance”


  • Click on “To” to if you’d like to change the card you’re moving the gift balance onto
  • Click “Transfer” towards the bottom to complete the transaction
  • Click “Remove” so that the empty gift card doesn’t clutter your app


lifeproof-fre-backAfter much anticipation, the Lifeproof frē ($80) arrived at Best Buy last week. Like its predecessor, this iPhone 5 case is designed to protect your smartphone from dirt, water, and drops… in a much more svelte form factor than the fairly well known ruggedized Otterbox line. Yet, while Lifeproof’s marketing materials are compelling, I don’t have much confidence in the reality.

My case survived the recommended one hour water test, sans phone, and I expect it would have done fine job protecting from splashes at the kitchen sink or in the rain. But there’s no way I’d be comfortable fully submerging the iPhone 5 — given the case’s construction, including an issue with the bottom corner that didn’t have a flush seal (below right) despite realigning the O ring. Also, speaking of construction, while the frē is certified to survive 6′ drops it’s less rugged feeling and thinner than the competition — so they’ve presumably achieved this feat via superior engineering, Continue Reading…

Cyber Monday Streaming Deals

Dave Zatz —  November 26, 2012


Ah yes, it’s that time of year again where we give thanks for deeply discounted gear. Fortunately, Cyber Monday online sales provide relief from the Black Friday mall riots and we’ve spotted bargains on some of our favorite streaming boxes.

Roku HD
Roku, one of our perennial favorites in this category, sees a $10-$20 discount across its line. Despite a much-needed UI refresh and lack of YouTube, Roku retains the broadest selection of streaming content  -including staples such as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and Pandora. I’d say the best bang for the buck is the Roku HD, which caps out at 720p but clocks in at a mere $40. For comparison, the competing Apple TV runs $99 and adding streaming services to an Xbox runs $60/year.

Refurbished Apple TV
Let’s say you’re deep into Apple’s ecosystem and would appreciate streaming your iTunes collection and beaming content from your iPhone to your television. And maybe you’d like one of the more polished appearing interfaces and YouTube to go along with Netflix and movie rentals. Well, the refurbished 1080p Apple TV is 15% off list at $85. Gifting a refurb might be a bit tacky, despite Apple’s full warranty and pristine hardware, so this would be best for close relatives… or yourself. Continue Reading…


TiVo’s fine iOS app has just been updated to version 2.1, bringing support to the new resolution Apple introduced with the iPhone 5. While I generally find content weirdly elongated on the 16×9 display, widescreen television video is a perfect fit – and those with the TiVo Stream are the prime beneficiaries. Having said that, all TiVo Premiere subscribers can make use of the additional screen real estate when perusing the guide or reordering Season Passes.  Continue Reading…


Another week, another streamer? A year after introducing their Roku competitor, Netgear expands the NeoTV streaming line with “Pro” and “Max” models. And, as we’re wont to do, we picked up Netgear’s latest. Similar in form factor to that aforementioned Roku, I was prepared to dislike the NeoTV MAX ($60-70) given it’s sluggish response and pixelated fonts… as seen from many sub $100 streamers. However, a recent update has sped up the UI to mostly acceptable levels and Netgear offers a few compelling features versus the competing Apple TV and Roku devices.

The most obvious enhancement is the bundled QWERTY remote… which looks positively svelte next to Gigantor the Vizio Costar equivalent. However, it’s obnoxiously encumbered by “the bullshit buttons” — presumably paid placements, by the likes of Best Buy’s CinemaNow, that you’re bound to hit at inopportune times.


Also on the value-add list is integrated Intel WiDi reception capabilities. Much like Apple’s Airplay, WiDi allows you to beam content from specific Intel-powered laptops to your television screen. Related, unlike Apple TV or Roku, NeoTV can also receive content via DLNA network resources.

On the appearance front, Netgear’s interface exceeds Roku’s simplistic approach. Although many of the NeoTV apps are really just aggregated feeds powered by Flingo. But, hey, at least they provide YouTube — still missing from Roku devices, along with a promised UI revision.


Thus far, we’d say the 1080p Netgear NeoTV MAX is a solid and promising streaming player at a competitive price given the broad channel selection, including Vudu and Netflix, QWERTY remote, and integrated Ethernet (as we’re somewhat disappointed that Netgear chose to forgo dual band 802.11n wireless capabilities). Yet, while the space continues to expand, we find ourselves somewhat uninspired given overlapping features and lack of innovation compared to say the mobile industry.

A bird in the hand…

Dave Zatz —  October 23, 2012

Right on schedule, Apple unveiled the iPad Mini ($329). And, I suppose, there’s really not much to say. It’s a smaller iPad. Or, maybe, a larger iPhone. With a lesser DPI than either. But thinner than my recently returned Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. Brian Lam, of The Wirecutter, was hopeful that folks attending Apple’s event might go beyond the press release verbiage in their coverage… to which PC Mag‘s Sascha Segan responded with allusions to the inevitable “in the hand” descriptions. My colleagues were only happy to oblige with nearly universal iPad Mini hand praise:

Continue Reading…