Crayola DJ Review

Crayola DJ Review

Jun 16, 2015

I was hanging with some friends I wasn’t supposed to hang with, watching a movie I wasn’t supposed to watch when I decided what I was going to do in life.

The movie? Juice. The coming of age movie that featured Tupac and Omar Epps. Even Latifah made an appearance. Folks will remember Tupac’s tragically gritty performance, but it was all about Epps’ character, up and coming “local” DJ Q. Yes… the honeys, the money. Juice. I was going to spin and scratch my way to glory.

Unfortunately, I never came up with the money for a turntable, and Napster changed the direction of the music industry, so I changed paths. Deep down though, there has always been a KG-Spinderella hybrid in my soul.

Crayola DJ, a new game introduced at Google I/O, awakened the dormant monster.

It’s a simple app, and the tutorial guides one through the appropriately flashy user interface; the game incorporates several musical bits in different, broad musical categories, like hip hop, dance, holiday, pop and fusion. Within each of these are sub-components, like drumbeat and melody. using a two table visual system, it’s possible to add, subtract and otherwise tweak a jam pretty specific targets. It’s even possible to blend outputs, adjust tempos and special sound effects. It is surprisingly vivid, and the game gets high marks for the creativity alone.


Then the game challenges one to really rev up the production, allowing the player to chase points over a set time period; in this, the player gets points for being as creative as possible, with combos, effects, speed ups/downs and just keeping it steady. It is interestingly logical, and quite an enjoyable concept. There is even a local PVP option.

Created sounds can then be saved, piped via wired speakers or bluetooth and other wise enjoyed.

Crayola DJ does the enviable job of being easy to pick up while also hitting on the fun and creative. It is relatively self-contained, so nothing else is really needed to get it going after purchase. The number of musical loops and pieces make it possible to mix and match a countless number of times; the possible permutations allow for something new to be created every time. The scoring aspect is simple, and the PVP option is a nice touch. I think a multiplayer option would be nice (across devices), but for the target demographic, it works.

For a creative game that masquerades — delightfully so — as an offering for younger folks, Crayola DJ is remarkably cross-generational in appeal.

I suspect even Tiesto would agree.

Milk Video Review

Milk Video Review

Feb 20, 2015

The internet is a wonderful place.

It’s all about the content. Meme videos. Music clips. Technological reviews. News analysis. Satire. And a whole, whole lot more.

Yep… it boils down to so much content, and so little time. Samsung’s Milk Video looks to be the bridge in the process, a service that pulls in video from a host of sources, and gets smarter as it goes.

Opening up the app the first time gives an idea of the breadth of offerings; off the bat, one gets to see an interesting swathe of options with regards to channels to pick from: Jimmy Kimmel Live, Laugh or Die, The Tonight Show, NBA, HuffPost Live, Engadget, Android Authority, VEVO and a whole lot more. The basic concept is to “follow” milk2channels, and said channels will then show up in the users feed.

Then in the feed, the channels are stacked upon each other vertically, and tapping on any video makes it play embedded in the feed. Switching to landscape allows the app user to consume video full-screen, which is a nice feature. Also, videos can be acted upon from the feed; long-pressing (or tapping the three-dot menu at the top right) a video gives one the options of saving a video, formally “liking” it, or even sharing using on-device utilities like email or social networks. To do any of these operations though, one must have a Samsung account, Google account or a Facebook account.

Altogether, it works well as an aggregator, with videos playing smoothly. Content providers continue to increase, and for music lovers, the presence of genre-specific VEVO channels is huge. Sadly, the ad-free goodness is restricted to owners of specific Samsung devices — no tablets — and as such, this is an unabashed exclusive directed at a specific set users. Still as an anchor service, it does resonate surprisingly well.

For folks who do a lot of video — and who doesn’t — it is a more than just an enjoyable diversion.

Sony Music Unlimited Review

Sony Music Unlimited Review

Oct 8, 2014



“What is that ‘CD’ thingie they are talking about on that show?”

We’ve come a long way. Not that long ago, having one’s music on the go meant investing in a CD case or one of those hideous auto visor holders. Now, our smartphones are our streaming hubs.

And mighty Sony is on it it — in the manifestation of the subscription-based Sony Music Unlimited streaming service.

After setting up the service (which involved redeeming the review code Sony provided), the next thing was to download the accompanying from the Play Store. using the app, one is easily able to navigate the service. it’s possible to browse the catalog by genre. For premium subscribers, there is the channel feature, which parses thesum1 music into common-ground groups; channels range from “Bollywood” to “Assassin’s Creed” and beyond. There is even a “Comedy Nightclub” channel, which rocks stuff from Cheech and Chong all the way to Chris Rock, I liked the ability to create one’s own channels. There is also a Library section in the main menu which allows users to collate favorite music.

The service allows for streaming (obviously), but also gives users the ability to pin music offline; this is great for when might be lacking internet connectivity.

One of the biggest question a music service has to answer is the one that pertains to content. On this front, Sony Music Unlimited packs a major punch; not shocking, considering we’re talking about, well, Sony here. It boasts more than 30 million songs, which is far from shabby. In reality, it picked up almost every artist I threw at it across genres. I was happy to find entire albums from even obscure artists; it didn’t have ALL, but I think I could be satisfied with the selection. The audio is quite clear (320 kbps High Quality Audio), and no ads to contend with.

The ability to access the premium service on the web, multiple mobile platforms, Playstation consoles/handhelds and compatible Sony electronics adds to its allure.

I think the search engine can be tweaked a good deal; in some of my searches, it seemed to be quite reliant on exactness, which can be a tough with regards to zany spellings of artist names and songs, and even then, finding songs can be infuriating. There are some instances that I think the UI could be a bit more logical off the search too; there were times a song/artist search came up blank when the song was indeed in the catalog.

Yes, the streaming music space is pretty packed for Android, but Sony knows a thing or two about this entertainment, and it brings that knowledge to bear in this product.

Good for us.

MEElectronics M9P Headphones Hardware Review

MEElectronics M9P Headphones Hardware Review

Sep 13, 2013

M9P Headphones are off the shelf of MEEleoctronics, and I was looking forward to getting these in to review.

This presentation of these accessories is unusual… in a good way. They are described as flat cable, and the cable on these are indeed flat, which is an interesting testament to the craftmanship involved. The light plastic coating feels tough without being uncomfortably unyielding; the cable itself it black on one side, and tamed red on the other The end pin is angled, which makes it usable with cased hardware, and on the other end, the cable split is capped with tipped, labeled ear pieces. here is also a black remote control on the right line, and a lapel clip further down.m9p1

I liked the handy case as well; it matches the colors of the headphones, and is stamped with company logo and website information. It’s small, pocketable and perfect for storing the headphones and the extra tips the maker was smart enough to include. The officials specs include 97 dBm sensitivity and impedance of 16 ohms.

These are described by the manufactures as being the second iteration of this piece, and to have “engaged bass and superior clarity” with regards to sound output. I like to test headphones with “natural” activities: kids playing in the background, sitting in a motionless car and with different types of music. Dre instrumentals reflected well; it didn’t blow out the bass meter, but it handled itself quite respectably, even with a disgruntled lawn mower roaring in the foreground. I found myself enjoying the bass tweak a good deal, as it was not overcooked. The plastic coating comes into play again outdoors, as it helps the headphones to be impervious to sweat and moisture, and I did not experience them retain the heat. They are not advertised as having a noise canceling feature, but I was suitably enamored of its ability to block out tertiary sounds.

The control buttons worked well, too, though I did not much care for its placement as high up on the right side.

When it’s all said and done, The M9P’s biggest weapon just might be the price. Pound for pound, is feels like a relative steal at its sub-$50 price range, and the projected durability is another plus.

Compelling hardware, inviting price and great pedigree. It usually equates to little risk of disappointment. Such is the case here, no doubt.

The M9P headphones are available at the MEEleectronics and Amazon websites for (at the time of this review) for $39.99.

iRig MIC Cast Hardware Review

iRig MIC Cast Hardware Review

Sep 3, 2013

Stretching smartphone functionality will always be my hobby, and finding accessories that enable me in this quest is always fun. Checking out the iRig MIC Cast? Fun. And there is no need to wince at the name; yes, it supports iDevices, but Android is not just a cheap add-on; IK supports the platform fully.

The review box had the Cast and a handy dock included. Physically, the Cast is small and lightweight, almost diminutive, which makes it infinitely portable. It’s a small square with coaxial pin, and plugs directly into the 3.55 mm audio jack of Android phones. It has a sensitivity switch, and its own mini-jack for real-time audio monitoring via headphones.irig6

Thus, in use, the Cast sits securely on top of the device, not too large or big to be make the phone unwieldy. This is where the dock can come into use, as it can hold up the newly created microphone to be used without hands.

A big part of the Cast’s usability is tied into the companion app, which makes the mobile device a full fledged recording portal. After installing the app (I did the extra step of registering the app as well), user interface pops up and provides a record button. The rest is quite intuitive. Tapping the record button invokes the microphone to start recording. The app also helps with processing and trimming the recording, which is perfect for podcasting.

The actual recordings underline the usefulness of the item; I noticed some background noise, but the playback sequences were surprisingly clear, and with the distance toggle, it did create noticeably better recordings. The software editing tools are straightforward, and the end result of manipulations were favorable. The pro version of the software is required for advanced features. It will probably be off-putting to some users to have to shell out more money, but the free build may alleviate some discomfort in that regard.

All in all, the MIC Cast is a great idea that is implemented quite well. The amalgam of hardware and software is great for the price, and it’s true value is in its portable utility.

The iRig MIC Cast is available (at the time of this review) for $39.99 from the IK Multimedia website and for $37.49 from Amazon.

JBL Charge Hardware Review

JBL Charge Hardware Review

Aug 30, 2013

Wireless audio is a must-have, almost. When companies with JBL’s rep spit out stuff like the Charge Bluetooth speakers, it generally pays to take heed.

First, the hardware itself: the review piece was the blue colored unit, which was a pleasant change from the sometimes drab black that most electronic pieces seem to come in nowadays. For those weird folks that are not enthralled with everything Carolina Blue, there is grey and green.

It’s a deliberate item, likened to a well-hewn cylinder with somewhat shaped edges. The speaker grills cover a good portion of the body, and the ones on the one end hint at the possibilities with regards to placement during use. There are charging spot and a 3.5mm aux-in ports at the back of the unit, and a covered USB slot at one end.charge1

What the Charge claims to do well is transmit music. The pairing prices was seamless for all the Android devices I paired it with; it’s a simple matter is discovery and selection. On my main device, it reconnected easily enough as long as I hadn’t paired anything else to it in the interim. It also connects well with my laptop.

I’ve said it before: I don’t rate orchestras in my spare time, but I think the sound quality from the unit is impressive. It handles  audio files with reasonable aplomb, from Brit pop (don’t judge me) to audio translations from YouVersion. It’s nice to be able to test equalizer and actually hear the difference in the rendering of music. There isn’t really an explosion of bass, but I am okay with that.

I really like the extras; the charging cable and pouch are nice. The Charge can be placed upright, can be used while charging and, with the included USB cable, can also trickle charge devices. Not bad. Especially nice is the ability to plug in devices via male-to-male 3.55 mm cables.

In my testing, I was able to play music and podcasts continuously for about 9 hours straight; I did notice some static and connectivity issues when tethered via bluetooth short of a several dozen feet away. Unlike it’s stablemate (the JBL Flip), this one doesn’t have a speakerphone toggle, and a dedicated app would have been an acceptable form of vanity.

It was a surprisingly nice item, and competes well with similarity priced speakers and docks.

The JBL Charge is available from the JBL site and/or Amazon for $149 at the time of this review.

Space Beats Review

Space Beats Review

Aug 2, 2013

Ever imagined something like Dance Dance Revolution for the fingers? Yes! We all have, and Space Beats is just the game for folks with sturdy digits, keen eyes and wrists that move to the rhythm.

Nimble fingers win the day. Simply put, you tap rapidly forming three-dimensional objects with the beat to keep the music going. The pieces to the orbs all come in from different angles, playing havoc on the eyes. Tapping on the orb scores points, but actually tapping on it to the beat scores even more.

An arcade-type game is not worth its salt without multipliers, and in this aspect, this game is worth its salt; there are multipliers to be had, and they can be invoked by tapping. Additionally, the freestyle level is yet another change of pace, allowing players to tap on beat for even more points.

At random points in the game, orbs with the word “tap” appear; rapidly hitting these score extra points as well. Since they rarely stayed still, and other orbs are still appearing, it is somewhat of a challenge to maximize scoring here. A key part of the challenge is dealing with “The Golden Hedron” orb, which I viewed as a boss level of sorts. Defeating it unlocks special features.

It starts out easily enough, but success has consequences; the objects start really flying in, and they come in bunches, making rapid reaction a key part of successful strategy. Thankfully, there are three game modes for different space2type of play moods: easy, normal and difficult.

Graphically, this game is a psychedelic, futuristic-looking wonderland. With dark hues as the background, the pastels of the orbs stood out reasonably well, with the animations looking especially engaging. It looks like it is happening in orbit.

Even though the game does offer variation, I can imagine the risk of monotony over time. I would have loved even more types of music… maybe even juicier multi-genre mixes to jumble things up.

It’s a fun game works well as a time waster… or more, if need be.

MixZing Media Player Review

MixZing Media Player Review

Jun 10, 2013

MixZing comes in trying to be an All-Star. It mostly succeeds.

The design decisions make for a very pleasant opening salvo. The interface is smooth, with the opening screen looking pretty snazzy with its stock red theme and dark highlights. There is also a rolling pane of recently played media files for quick access.

The main navigation screen gives boxes for Music, Videos, Folders and Internet Radio. Tapping the music button leads to the listing of individual songs, with headings for listings of by artist, album, songs, and genres. There is a also tabs for playlists as well. The music player has all the options one would expect from a premium player: big, visual mix1buttons, play all and shuffle functionality. In addition to that, it has a sleep timer, file scanner, per song equalizer and a pretty nifty song identifier.

The music identifier works to search an online database to pull up information like tags and album art. The ability to attach art to individual music files is quite a welcome feature. In a lot of cases, its possible to select from different ones, too. Each song, if properly identified, yields tons of track data if he info button is tapped: lyrics, artist bio, Google, Wikipedia and Youtube links included. I did find one or two lyrics imaginative, but overall, the database it pulls it from seems accurate.

The scanner is great too; a big test, for me at least, is the ability to pull in music files from different parts of the phone. This app does this relatively well, and allows me to not include songs from, say, my ringtone folder or game sounds.

The online radio is a relatively new feature, but it’s pretty fun. There are several choices to choice from, with track info included, just like for the on-board music.

One of the cooler features is the lockscreen widget. When toggled, it allows music playback to be controlled without unlocking the device; advanced features include waking the phone when tracks are changing and only having the widget available when the app is active.

Even before you toss in the mood player functionality or the Song Recommender, MixZing comes across as being an all-round media player capable of handing hefty tasks. With free and pro versions, it’s easy to find a reason to get addicted to it.

USB Audio Recorder Pro Review

USB Audio Recorder Pro Review

Mar 22, 2013

By default, Android doesn’t have much in the way of support for USB audio devices, which pales in comparison to iOS, which does support them on the iPad via the “Camera Connection Kit” which comes with a USB adapter. Now, eXtream Software Development has a solution with USB Audio Recorder Pro, a recorder app that works with USB microphones on devices that support USB host capability. This is available on devices like the Nexus 7 by way of using a micro-USB to full-size USB female port, though some devices actually have a full-sized USB port, like tablets or some docks. I found the app and became curious if I could use it as a way to easily use my high-quality Blue Snowball mic while on the go.

And well, it does just that!

This officially makes my Nexus 7 a high-quality recording device; I can take my Blue Snowball with me and record audio when necessary while on the go, like going to record an interview somewhere. This surpasses the iPad, which has at times required low-power mics because Apple reduced the power output of the dock connector. At the default highest allowable settings, the audio quality was identical (to an untrained ear like my own) to a recording made on my Mac with Audacity. There’s different settings like audio frequency, audio channels (if you want to output a stereo recording, though my mic is mono), and others for audiophiles. For a basic user like me, it works well.

Now, the USB connection is a bit finnicky because the app is using its own drivers. I frequently had to unplug cables and re-insert them to try and get the app to recognize my mic. As well, if you have another USB app like Nexus Media Importer installed, then an issue will arise with the mic not being recognized until that app is uninstalled; I saw this on Android 4.2.2, it may not exist on other Android versions or with other Android devices.

Now, not all mics may work but most mics that support USB audio will probably work; the free demo version is invaluable for testing this support out. There’s a list of supported mics at this link. This is a great companion with Audio Evolution Mobile for editing audio on the go, especially for podcasters who don’t want to have a laptop with them. As well, the USB functionality of this app will soon become integrated with Audio Evolution Mobile in a month or two for recording directly from within that app. This app will remain on the store with its own recording functionality, and will also serve as the way to unlock the USB recording functionality in that app.

Beat Hazard Ultra Review

Beat Hazard Ultra Review

Feb 5, 2013

Beat Hazard Ultra lets the music control the action.

The gameplay was fairly fierce, and I found it to be a cool space shooter in and of itself. The action was unrelenting, with enemy spacecraft of different destructive and defensive capabilities coming at me singly and in waves from different angles on the screen. I really liked the ease of handling at the lower levels, in that it allowed me to enjoy the game and learn how to be successful at the same time. The wavy nature of flight and the altering aggressiveness of the enemy made for interesting sequences. Arcade staples like power-ups, multipliers, game cash collection leveling were all present.

When the games hints at an explosion of color, it is not exaggerating; Beat Hazard Ultra packs in some serious strobe-y power which especially popped against the dark background.
The game made music a major part of its infrastructure, by appealing to my inner Dr Dre. I could source the soundtrack from music on my device, or even streamed music. I found that to be even more fantastic in practice than I imagined before playing. With this game, being intertwined in the fabric of the game allowed for an almost innate connection that made it more enjoyable. And yes, the game literally moved to the beat, making song selection a valid part of difficulty.

The game had plenty of options. For example, the control-set had options, as I could use a singe stick to dance around. Still, I thought the controls did take some getting used to at the more complex configurations.

Beat Hazard Ultra was an enjoyable romp that any music lover would be almost insane to not love. If blasting aliens out of the sky was not enough fun, doing it to overlay of Brick House definitely will be.


Skifta Review

Skifta Review

Aug 20, 2012

All of the digital media collected over time seems to end up sitting at home more than it should. On those nights out, there are times when a playlist from home might be just what the party needs. Skifta is an app for Android giving access to all of your digital media and the ability to stream it to a Wi-Fi device like a TV or PS3.

The way Skifta does it’s thing is not just through the Android app, there are other parts too it. An online account is needed as the “middle man” and an app is needed for the Windows computer at home to allow the connection. All of those can be downloaded for free here:

Once everything is downloaded, it’s a matter of connecting everything. The steps to make the connections are pretty are laid out pretty well on the Skifta site. One tip many people might overlook is to make sure the firewall on the home computer will allow Skifta to accept incoming requests. This may also need to be changes in the computer’s anti-virus program.

In testing, everything went great with streaming music. It pulled up my entire music library and streamed music I don’t have anywhere on my tablet. I have a few .avi files on my computer from screencasts. They played just fine but took a little longer to load than the music did.

When using a PS3 to stream to, there is an option for an unlisted player. This will let any device connected to the same Wi-Fi network find and stream from Skifta on the Android phone. Simply fire up the PS3 and go to the spot where the media servers show up.

Overall Skifta is pretty easy to use. Because there are not a lot of other free options that work this well, I have no real complaints on how it works.

New Spotify Mobile App Review

New Spotify Mobile App Review

May 21, 2012

I’m going to start this app review by saying how much I love Spotify. I made the unfortunate mistake of getting Spotify Premium and now I am hopelessly addicted. For those who are not aware of what Spotify is, it is a service that allows the user to browse and listen to nearly every music track in existence. It is like owning the entire iTunes Store, but for free. Naturally there is a paid version that offers advanced features such as higher streaming rates, offline playback, mobile access, and ad-free listening. For subscribers of Premium, such as myself, one of the biggest advantages was being able to stream songs through Spotify onto any mobile device. Unfortunately, until now the Spotify app had been one of the most frustrating experiences on a smartphone since Facebook updated their Android app.

Now available on the Spotify website for download is a completely new app that bears no resemblance to the old clunker, and has been completely rebuilt from scratch. Because this is still in testing phase, it is not out on the Play Store but rather available for download as an .apk file to be manually installed. For any Spotify Premium user, I would definitely recommend giving it a shot, even for those who have never manually installed an application before.

The app has too many changes to name, and every one of them is for the better. It is more stable than its predecessor as well as markedly faster. The styling has changed from a dreary dark gray and green to a white and lime combo that takes definite nods towards Google’s restyling of all their web services. The giant gray buttons are now replaced by simple, flat squares and rectangles, and the obtrusive ‘Now Playing’ tab is gone. The menu is accessed in the exact same way as in Facebook’s new app, and the two look so similar that I cannot tell specifically if there are any differences. Searching for a song is finally logical and the feeling of needing to outsmart the app just to find a song is mercifully gone. While the whole app revolves around the ‘Playlist’ feature, ‘What’s New’ makes an appearance and artist and album pages have been redesigned with giant cover photos adorning the header.

With the reincarnation of their Android app, Spotify has more than likely brought themselves Premium subscribers in droves. The argument to stay at Spotify Free and not upgrade to Premium just got a little bit harder to make.