Category Archives: Product reviews

Duet Display- Make the iPad a secondary display for your Mac or PC

 Even though I have a 15 inch MacBook Pro retina display, I often find myself needing more screen real estate when I am using my MacBook  while traveling. As a specific use case, I feel that academic radiologists can benefit from having an additional display especially when they are checking trainee reports on imaging studies or monitoring scans remotely. Or having an excel spreadsheet on a separate screen while going through a series of research studies. There are a number of iOS apps (with companion apps on the Mac) that let you use the iPad as a secondary display. However, many of these apps are pretty slow as they communicate using Wi-Fi which is not fast enough for what I would like to use the secondary display for.

I recently came across an app called Duet Display which works in conjunction with a companion Mac app and provides a wired connection using the lightning cable between the Mac and the iPad. It costs $15 on the iOS App Store and has been developed by ex-Apple employees.
This app provides a high-speed connection between the MacBook and the iPad and unlike its competitors, it works using a wired connection created between the two using the lightning cable. The combination of a custom driver and a wired connection means the speed of the connection is extremely fast. The app developers claim up to 60 frames per second and I personally did not have any trouble switching between the two monitors and also dragging windows around on the secondary display. There are two display options for the iPad display – one with a frame rate of 30 fps and the second at 60 fps, and if you have a retina display mac like me, you can also choose between retina and normal display modes via the app’s menu bar interface.
The only downside to using Duet Display that I could find is its relatively heavy usage of CPU capacity when running it using the discrete graphics as recommended. This can mean a battery drain when the MacBook is running on battery power, like in a coffee shop. This is easily remedied by ensuring that you are plugged into a power outlet. The developers have provided an option (via the menu bar) to use integrated graphics for energy savings, but this choice comes  at the cost of responsiveness. Apart from this minor drawback, this is a fantastic app for $15 that provides a fast and very responsive extra display for your Mac and is a boon when I travel with my Mac and iPad as my only display options. I now use this as my app of choice to connect my Mac to my iPad Air 2 and highly recommend this to anybody who wants to use an additional display for the MacBook. And all you Windows afficionados might be interested to know that I have friends who have used this app to use the ipad as a secondary display on their Windows laptops.


iOS 6 maps app sucks!

I am on vacation in India and have been trying to find my way around the capital city, Delhi. Last year, I used google maps on my iPhone 4 and everything went well.
This year I have tried the Maps app offered by Apple as part of iOS 6 and it really sucks! Sample screenshots of what I encountered during my day are attached and compared to the richness of Google map web app. I had to zoom the ios Maps app to the size shown to get just a couple of named buildings to to show up.
More than half the time, the iOS 6 maps app failed to suggest directions and local search was almost non-existent. I doubt Apple actually tested this outside their internal San Francisco/Cupertino bubble, because rest of world, like me, believes they did not bother to use data from other sources like Yelp to enrich maps from other countries or even US states.
I know that some may not like this, but I have got to say it- Steve would never have allowed this to happen!!
I am seriously considering buying a Galaxy S3 seeing as the maps feature on my Nexus 7 is awesome..
Unless Apple allows Google to put their maps application on iOS 6..
Come on, Apple- swallow your pride and do the right thing.



Nexus 7 review

Playing with the newly arrived Nexus 7. This is definitely an awesome tablet! Just the right size for reading and gaming. Super search functions using Google’s voice search. Google Now is something that I have not tried out but looks pretty good based on what it came up with regarding my favorite sports teams and local pizza joints. Best of the Google vanilla flavor Jelly bean Android OS and play store combined with the ability to load Amazon Store apps! One has to remember to turn on the capability to add third party apps in order to enable Amazon store apps.
The Kindle book reading is so sweet on the 7 inch interface.
Navigating between screens is indeed buttery smooth as Google promised. Installing apps and widgets was a breeze and most apps that I use on iOS are free anyway (e.g. Dropbox, Facebook, WordPress, Kindle, Sonos, Spotify) and downloading was quick and seamless.
Unlocking with facial recognition and pattern unlocking worked great for me- new to android, so never seen this in action before and was definitely impressed! My nine year-old son was so impressed with this that he wants to swap his iPad 2 for this tablet!

Minor quibbles
1. highlighting on the Kindle app is not as elegant as on
the iOS device
2. No rear facing camera and front facing camera is just acceptable.
3. The Google play store is harder to navigate through than the iOS app store. You should know what you want and then it is easy o search. Using the staff and editor picks sections helped immensely.

Recommendation: If you are in the market for a portable device, this is an awesome tablet worth buying.

Price: And the price of $199 plus tax and postage for the 8 GB model and the $249 plus tax and postage for the 16GB model is a fraction of the cost of an iPad. And remember Google is enticing you with $25 to spend on apps, music and books in the Play store.

Update- After more than 3 months with the Nexus 7, I have some additional comments.
First, I find reading e-books on the small screen more difficult than on the iPad. I gravitate towards the iPad to write emails, but can read through emails on the Nexus 7 just fine.
The Google search and voice search are just awesome.
Google maps works fine as long you are near Wi-fi. My solution- tether the iPad’s LTE connection to the Nexus 7. Some may think that is crazy, but a geek has got to do what it takes… right?
The camera on the Nexus 7 is okay for hangouts but not much else.
The two things that Google must do for the next version are get 4G and LTE on board and get good front and rear facing cameras.
Also, fixing the problems with rotation that require a special app like Ultimate rotation control is also a must.
Just hope that Apple does not beat them to the punch with a smaller iPad with all these additions. Then, Google will have a real challenge on its hands, not that they are cruising along happily right now!

Retina display MacBook Pro- it is here!

Hallelujah! The Retina display MacBook Pro is here! I have been holding off on updating my late 2009 MacBook Pro and eagerly awaiting the new updated version of this Apple notebook. And it is finally here! I had written about this in March and had wished that in addition to the high resolution display, this notebook would have dictation built in to the operating system. Looks like someone at Apple was hearing my prayers and the new updated MacBook Pro has both these features.
In addition to this, the ability to cram in 16 GB RAM and high end graphics make it ideal for my advanced image analysis needs. And having used the dictation feature on my IPad for writing emails and short notes, I can see how this would be a good feature for radiologists to dictate reports.
And the ability to AirPlay from the Mac using an apple TV means that creating an audio-visual room set-up in a meeting room will be child’s play. No more fiddly cables, yay! Give me a high resolution LCD screen and an apple TV, and I will be all set. Using screenflow and keynote, I can deliver my talk and make a screencast at the same time!

I will post a detailed review here after playing with this new gadget. I am hoping to get it in my hands by the end of the week, if my IT support team can get its act together!


Macbooks with retina displays coming soon?

Rumors that Apple may be working on a Retina Display MacBook laptop have emerged. As per Ars Technica, indicators based on Mac OS 10.8 X Mountain Lion suggest that Retina Displays will soon become the standard within majority of Apple’s product ranges.

The Retina Display on the new iPad, iphone 4 and iphone 4S have introduced this screen style to the mobile market and it is only a matter of time before this is part of the MacBook range. I think that initially this may be introduced for the Macbook Air range followed by the 13 and 15 inch Macbook Pro line. This pixel-packed display on a laptop will be Apple’s “next big thing” followed by large touch screen iMacs.

Presence of double resolution icons feature in the beta version of the Mac OS update, indicate that devices with higher pixel-density screens will be part of the Apple product range. Currently the 17 inch MacBook Pro has a 1,920 x 1,200 resolution screen. While this is nothing to be scoffed at, it falls short of the retina display on the new iPad.

Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion is expected to launch at WWDC in June. I would like to see the new Retina Display laptops released around that time. I am hoping that imaging studies will look great on these screens. And if Apple could add the dictation button on the keyboard to go with this, this will my idea of a perfect laptop to view scans and generate radiology reports on the fly- no wires!!

The New iPad- is it really a game-changer?

The new iPad is here! After I opened the box, I was worried that it looked just like my iPad 2 and I had been conned by the good folks at Cupertino into buying another device!
After using it over the weekend, I think that I was wrong… The new iPad is truly “resolutionary”!
And here is why- once you start getting used to the beautiful retina display and read books or play games on it, other “high definition screens” start looking pixelated. Text on web pages or in reading apps like ibooks is so crisp and sharply detailed that you will not want to go back to reading on another device like the iPad 2 or the Kindle. Movies and photographs reveal sharp detail and amazing sharpness.
As an illustration, I was on call this weekend and when I looked up from my ipad at my HP monitor with a resolution of 1920 x 1200, I can immediately see the difference in resolution.
Looking at radiology images on the new iPad screen is absolutely amazing! Chest radiographs project well and in the right lighting conditions, I can definitely see one using this to check scans on the go.

And here is why I think this will be a game-changer-
Once you have used the retina display at this size, there is no going back. I cannot wait for the next MacBook Air with the retina display- and believe me, that day is not far off!
I predict that with the increasing sales of the iPad, we will start seeing a demand for devices to have the higher resolution for tablets, laptops, desktops and phones. Manufacturers of Android and Windows tablets like Samsung, Amazon and Acer will have to step up to the plate and provide devices with the retina display to compete in the market.
Television manufacturers now have the challenge of delivering higher resolution on the large screen monitors at a reasonable price, although one could argue that at the distance we watch televisions, the resolution increase may not be appreciable. I cannot wait for the 60 inch television with iPad like resolution! This will also mean that content providers have to provide more 1080p content for tablets and more importantly, the Shylocks of the cable Internet and wireless provider world like Comcast and AT & T have to stop throttling heavy data users and improve their infrastructure and rethink/change their delivery model.

Needless to say, the other features of the iPad pale in comparison to the retina display, but are worth mentioning. The ability to dictate emails (sort of Siri lite), better rendering of the graphics within games and the battery life that is as good as ever even when you use LTE are note worthy features.
I only wish Apple could make the bezel transparent- that will make walking around with your iPad and looking around you with the 5 megapixel camera making videos a more immersive experience.

So- bottom line- I give the new iPad a thumbs up and cannot wait for everything that I look at to come in a retina display flavor!!


5 easy steps to increase size of your dropbox

Click the Getting Started Tab and go through the steps – 250 mb

Connect Dropbox to Your Social Media Accounts – 250 mb

Refer Your Friends to dropbox (without spamming them) – 250 mb for each referral

Send it Out to Your Friends and Family – 250 mb

Connect your .edu account to dropbox (doubles the space for referrals – 500 Mb instead of 250 mb)


Microsoft signature edition

I was at a Microsoft focus group event today, arranged by the company in association with Paul Thurrott, author of a number of excellent books like Windows 7 secrets and Windows Phone 7 Secrets, the commentator on the Windows Weekly podcast on the Twit network and the creator of the very informative website Winsupersite for windows.

At this event, Microsoft demonstrated its signature series PC.  As per Dave, the Microsoft representative at this this event, consumers who buy a PC directly from Microsoft from their online store or the physical real-life Microsoft stores will get the “Microsoft signature series edition” on their machine. These computers are equipped with Windows 7, and just like a Mac bought from the Apple store, these will have all the Microsoft software that you will need pre-installed or will be available for automatic download or update after purchase, so you can just plug and play.

Microsoft’s programs like Internet Explorer 8, Windows Media Center, Microsoft Security Essentials, Microsoft Silverlight , Adobe Flash for IE 8, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Virtual Earth 3D, Zune 4.0, Live ID login wizard, Windows Live Essentials, Windows Live Photo Gallery, Windows Live Writer, Microsoft Office Live Add-in Toolbar with Windows Live Sync, Windows Live Movie Maker, and  Windows Live will be pre-installed on the machine. You can also get Microsoft Office and other programs pre-installed for you so you do not have to. Your computer will be ready to  use right out of the box! This is a boon to those among us who support their colleagues and friends to “set-up” a new PC!

These PCs will be priced competitively compared to the retailer’s prices so you do not pay a premium for the “Microsoft experience”.

This approach is similar to Google selling its Google Nexus loaded with the latest version of Android without the cell phone manufacturers’ “crapware” installed on the machine.  Based on my experience comparing the two machine configurations side-by-side, the Signature edition  PC will improve our perception of windows PCs in general. If any one is planning to buy a computer in the next few months, I would encourage you to explore the option of buying directly from Microsoft. I can assure you that the experience on this PC will be vastly better than the PC one buys from manufacturers like HP or retailers like Bestbuy.

Microsoft promises to take care of all the problems that arise, both hardware and software, within the first 90 days, on these machines- no questions asked. And one should have the choice of various hardware configurations at this store.

I must admit- even as a critic of Microsoft and an Apple enthusiast, the signature series PC is a refreshing development!

Macbook air review

Having spent time with the new Macbook air, this is my opinion-

If you are a current Apple user, who hates carrying a bulky Macbook pro to every conference or trip, then the Macbook Air is definitely for you. It has to be your second laptop, as it offers most of the functionality of the Macbook pro, but most importantly, not the same power. The advantage is obviously, the reduced weight and more friendly size.

If your use of the Macbook is for email, surfing and iphoto, you should be fine with the Macbook Air. But if you do heavy video editing and you want to do this on the road, you cannot rely on this as your only laptop. Also, it is important to remember that the lowest end model will not suffice for most people who carry this on a trip or conference. You’ll want to upgrade and that will cost you- and it will cost you a lot. Getting the 256 GB hard drive and 4 GB RAM particularly, if like me, you want to run parallels to run Windows will set you back $1699 (without the educational discount for the academics amongst us).

Another thing to remember is that this is not a netbook- its cost and its capabilities are different from a netbook.
Also, if you’re shopping for a standard notebook, don’t buy this. Get a Macbook Pro or better still, a Windows 7 computer- you will get a lot more for your money.
However, everyone is different and if you have the cash and the urge to buy a very slim MacBook and wow the people around you, then go for it!
For others who need a full-fledged laptop, I would look elsewhere.

Google becomes Santa- offers free airport Wi-fi for the holidays (until January 15th, 2010)


Google has announced that it will be offering free Wi-Fi at selected US airports and on all Virgin Atlantic America flights within the continental United State this holiday season. Google says the Wi-Fi will be available until January 15, 2010.

For a complete list of participating airports visit Google’s dedicated Free Wi-Fi for the Holidays Website. Google also has a list of FAQs for the eager public interested to learn more about this generous offer.

When you are stuck in the airport terminals due to weather delays with only your laptop for company, you will definitely appreciate the value of free Wi-Fi.

Google has partnered with airports across the country, as well as Time Warner Cable, Boingo Wireless, Advanced Wireless Group and many others to offer Wi-Fi. Because Google’s partners don’t have a presence in all U.S. airports Google’s free Wi-Fi won’t cover everybody traveling this season.

Here is breakdown of how this free Wi-Fi offer works:

Get Online For Free

Airports across the country offering Google’s free Wi-Fi include Boston’s Logan Airport, Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Las Vegas’ McCarran International, Seattle’s SeaTac and many others. But a number of important hubs like Chicago O’Hare, LAX in Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St.Paul, Dallas-Fort Worth and all three New York-area airports are missing from this list. On the other hand, Google says that Seattle and Burbank airports intend to offer free Wi-Fi for an indefinite period as a result of this free Wi-Fi program.

Prizes and giveaways!

Starting next Monday, you will be able to win prizes by submitting photos of yourself using free in-flight or airport Wi-Fi during the holidays. Google doesn’t specify what the prizes are or what constitutes a winning photo, but it looks like you’ll be submitting photos to Picasa, Google’s online photo storage and sharing service. To get more details about the photo contest, you have to enter your e-mail on Google’s Holiday Wi-Fi Photo Contest page.

Google is also encouraging free Wi-Fi users to open their hearts and their wallets this year. When you log on to free Wi-Fi from any of the participating hotspots this season, you will be given the option of donating to your choice of charities including Climate Savers Computing, One Economy Corporation and Engineers Without Borders USA via Google Checkout .

Google says it will match donations across all the free Wi-Fi hotspots up to $250,000, and the airport that generates the most donations by January 1, 2010 will receive $15,000 to donate to the charity of their choice. Check out Google’s charity page for more information.
What is the catch?

No catch is evident from a careful reading of this offer.  You will not need to enter any credit card or other payment information to get the free Wi-Fi. Ensure that you choose the free complimentary Google hotspot among the available wireless networks. There will be scattered ads as expected with any Google free product, but I expect this to be unobtrusive.

You should also know that Google says it “will have access to some aggregate, non-personally identifiable information.” This should not come as a surprise to regular Google users, but if you’re squeamish about Google and its data practices then free Wi-Fi may not be the gift for you this year.

Simple security while using free Wi-Fi

Sure sounds like a great way to save money, but it is worthwhile to remember to employ adequate security measures to thieves and nefarious hackers who will no doubt, throng airports to prey on clueless travelers.

Public hotspots, are open and unencrypted, and therefore notoriously insecure. There are ways to stay safe, however and here are the top 5 hotspot safety tips:

1) Configure your Wi-Fi device so that it does not automatically connect to an open network without your approval.
2) If there’s a storage device or another PC on your home network, you may have sharing enabled on the laptop you’ve brought to the airport. Before connecting to a public hotspot, make sure that you disable sharing.
3) Use a virtual private network (VPN), to access secure and sensitive information like hospital data.
4) Switch on your personal firewall, (Mac or Windows PC), or a from a third party vendor like Symantec.
5) Avoid paying bills and shopping online at a hotspot? If you do have to, use a hotspot that has WPA2 security.