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My Gadgets | One L Productions

Archive for the ‘My Gadgets’ Category

iPod Touch 4G

Jan
2011
08

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iPod Touch 4G

How Apple keeps making these products thinner and thinner blows my mind away.  The fourth generation iPod touch is even slimmer than the 2G/3G.  It finally lays flat again and the addition of the Facetime camera as well as the camera on the back are welcome changes, sort of.

Having the front facing Facetime camera is awesome, it works just as you’d expect allowing you to connect with other iPhone 4s, iPod touches and Mac systems.  However it’s the recent roll out of Skype Video to iOS this makes video calling really fun and easy to use.  Sure Facetime is cool, but not everyone I know has a device that supports Facetime.  But virtually everyone I know has or can get Skype.  More on that later.  First lets get the the sore spot out of the way, the camera on the back is absolute crap for still photos.  Don’t get me wrong it works great for video and I’m super psyched about being able to make video calls with it.  But it breaks my heart with a paltry 0.7 mp it really feels like a step back.  I suppose it’s either Apple’s way of leaving something for the 5G touch or their way of teasing people like me to getting the iPhone 4, which I ended up doing.  On a positive note at least it does have the camera and at least it does take stills unlike the iPod Nano 5G.  And yes that is me bitching about the camera for it’s lack of quality YET still wishing that the previous Nano did this.  I suppose because a crappy still camera on the Nano would have just been a crappy camera but on the iPod touch, with it being a close cousin to the iPhone with a higher price point, I expected more.

All in all the latest version has enough upgrades to make it a must have, unless you want to hold out for a higher resolution camera this thing is amazing.  After all people don’t buy because of what it doesn’t have or do, but what it does have going for it is amazing.

Starting with the Retina display, it is incredible to look at and if you haven’t seen it in person you really should.  Crisp, clear and vibrant are only some of the words to describe how different the screen quality is.  I can’t wait for that kind of pixel density to start showing up on Desktop/Laptop systems.  The only gripe about the screen is the lack of IPS, again this is something Apple could roll out in the next version but that’s a minor point for me as I’m not usually showing anything to anyone else via the iPod.

The A4 chips makes this one fast puppy.  Having multi-tasking (here I’ll say the iOS version) and folders really make the latest incarnation of iOS feel like a whole new device, now when I pick up the 1G or even the 2G it feels like I’ve step back into the stone ages.

The change in the form factor makes the hardware buttons virtually disappear while looking at the device head on.  The switch of the Sleep button from the upper left to the upper right is a welcome change as well.  This brings it more inline with the iPhone hardware interface.  Having the new one side by side with the previous generation makes the elder look down right fat.  They’ve trimmed the edge, while still giving the same chrome lining just thinner.  Where the previous touch felt like it had a chrome border, the latest feels like it’s got a classer chrome edge.  The speaker sounds louder than before, but I don’t actually use the on board ones much anymore since Airplay support as been added I’ve been sending my music to my AppleTVs though out the house (more on that in the AppleTV review).

If you’re in the market for a mini-mobile computer but don’t want the monthly fees of an iPhone this is the closet you’re going to get with the iOS eco-system for under $500 and its worth every penny.  With the ability to play/view/read music, movies, photos, books and apps it’s almost like and endless amount of entertainment.  Add in Skype and you’ve got yourself a Wi-Fi’ish iPhone.  Here’s hoping that the next version has a camera on par with the iPhone, thought then you start to wonder would that make the next iPod touch an Apple version of a digital camera?

I can’t stress how much the App store is an incredible way to expand the devices core functions.  It’s how you can add iBooks with it’s own build in book store.  With iMovie you can record and edit a movie directly on the device and then upload it to Facebook or YouTube.  And those are just the Apple apps, add things like 360 Panorama, RunKeeper, and your just starting to slide down the iceberg of 3rd party apps available.

If you’ve got yourself a MiFi or a phone with MiFi the iPod touch makes a great PDA that can be synced with just about any smart phone that supports either MobileMe or Google Accounts.  I do this personally to save on my phone’s battery and rely on my iPod to keep me informed of my plans and contacts.  I personally also like to have redundancy, some of the same basic functions work across all the devices like Skype, email and web surfing while each has it’s specific duties.

The iPod touch 4G gets a 4 out of 5 Ls.  I knocked one L out for the lack of IPS and the low quality camera.

iPad a Week Later

Apr
2010
10

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Wedge

Okay I’ve been using the iPad for a week now. And I’m adjusting quite well to the on screen keyboard much like I adjusted to the iPhone keyboard. In fact I’m typing this update using the on screen keyboard. I’m also using Pages instead of Notepad. I like it’s interface. The biggest adjustment I need to make deals with words with an ‘ like I’m, we’ll, we’ve. I just need to remember that if I let the auto correct happen, I’ll be good.

I can not stop raving about the battery life. I’ve gotten 10 to 12 hours on each charge and doing my best to drain it down to 1% before plugging it back in for a charge. For now I’m strictly using the mini power brick to charge it back up.

On top of the incredible battery life, the screen is absolutely stunning. I had on my Motorola 820 bluetooth headsets and was checking out Star Trek HD which I purchased specifically to check out on the iPad. I had only planned on checking out a couple of scenes to see the quality and about 1/2 way thru I realized that all that detail just sucked me into the movie.

I have mostly tried to stick with iPad apps, just because I want to see how different developers take advantage of the larger screen. Skype doesn’t have an app so I was stuck using the iPhone version. Using the screen doubler is a little weird with text heavy apps because it gets all pixelated. I prefer to keep some in 1x mode, but then it begs to have four more apps on the screen too :). If your looking for a great all in one IM client check out IM+ it gets you into Skype, Facebook, and most other IM systems.

I love that the iPhone 4 system will add multi-tasking, there are times where it will be nice to be able to be in Skype while I’m surfing or reading email. I love how Skype can work just like a Phone should on iPhone 4. Can’t wait for the update this fall.

The biggest complaint I have is there was no heads up that you can’t use the dock while the case is on. Which after having the case on for a few days I see why you won’t need both. The case surprising works well for what appears to just convert the iPad into a cheese wedge. It actually makes it easy to hold in landscape by use my hand into the wedge. It’s also nice to be able to have the case sit the screen up right. It made watching Dune on Netflix incredible. Luckily Apple was understanding and issued me a refund, I wanted to trade up for another case so we have two, but they were out of stock so I’ll either have to order one from the store or check out the other alternatives.

I picked up a copy of Layers and after I got past the annoying in app purchase to get the full version I love this App almost as much as I love the Netflix app. This is just the basic things I’ve wanted from Photoshop, some nice brushes, a smudge tool, layers and the ability to send it to Photoshop on the desktop. This App just made the iPad my new digital sketch book. Now I just need to pick up a Pogo stylus because while drawing with my finger is fun, it feels more like finger painting than drawing :)

So all in all the iPad is at least for me a net book killer. I loved the portability of the net book but that was about it, their wasn’t enough horse power and it’s odd screen made reading documents difficult. The iPad is much better at not just consuming websites and media but also documents. It’s so nice to have this dynamic form factor that can provide the onscreen keyboard or a full screen experience if you use a Bluetooth keyboard. And I recommend that you get a Bluetooth one over the keyboard dock. That gives you more flexibility of having the screen landscape or portrait where having the dock restricts you. I also like that the keyboard and screen are apart to make it comfortable based on where I’m at.

But don’t get me wrong, even with the on screen keyboard this is very usable. I mean I did type this whole thing on here :). It won’t replace my MacBook obviously because I can not work on webpages, or write apps but this is sure one heck of a way to keep up on news, information, entertainment, comics, games, ect. This is really is a whole new step forward in interfacing with the computer. I’ve always said I’m a pixel pusher, now I’m literally pushing pixels with the iPad. If you’ve got an Apple store or Best Buy near you, check out the iPad. You really aren’t going to understand until you get your hands on one and really start to work with it.

A friend asked me the other day, is the iPad a computer? Well the short answer is yes, but not like any other computer out there. This computer won’t run your off the shelf software in that sense. But that’s because you don’t have to go anywhere to get software, you don’t have to worry about if it will work or not you just have to tap a few icons type in your password and the software you requested gets installed. No need to deal with serial numbers, no worry about loosing the cd, and no limits on the devices you can install them on. At the same time it’s almost a reset to the playing field. Example the top app I’m using for drawing isn’t by Adobe, it’s by a small developer. Microsoft Word is $79 where Pages is $9 (I know it’s not an Apples to Apples comparison) but even on the Mac all of iWorks is $79 and iWorks is much nicer than Microsoft Office.

Here is a another way to think of it, the iPad is the EPCOT of Apple’s version of a digital mega resort with iPod Park, Laptop Land, and Desktop Heaven. Apple keeps it locked down to keep you in the “experience” just like Disney wants to make sure you have a great day at their park, Apple wants to keep you the end user happy with the way you interact with the system and they don’t want anyone else to ruin it for you. Where other devices that are going to try and take on the iPad are going to be like Universal Studios which is full of shops of brands from all over the spectrum. But everything funneling through Apple helps them maintain a level of Quality Control. While I don’t always agree with such a locked down system, there are times when I do need that freedom and that’s why it won’t completely replace a laptop.

But I digress the only complaint that I hope Apple will resolve one day is needing a computer to set it up. I think it would be great to someday be able to order an iPad for someone and have that be their sole system for interface the web and connecting with family and have is be a simple set of basic steps of taking it out of the box to start using it. Until then, it’s a great device that’s just going to keep getting better. Starting with an upgrade this fall that I just can’t wait to get my hands on.

iPad Review

Apr
2010
04

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pad.jpeg

Okay I’ve been using this bad boy for going on 10 hours of using the iPad in what I would consider ‘normal’ daily use and I’m only at 47% usage of the battery life. Keep in mind though that while doing some driving I played music via my car stereo and my FM transmitter which also provides a charge to the iPad, but from what I’m reading I’m not sure if it’s enough to charge the iPad. Looks like only the power adapter or hooking up to USB2? maybe that’s charging it. Regardless I’m sure it helped provide at least a little juice while it was in use for the 15 min drive.

What can I say. This thing just blows my mind away. It’s an evolutionary step forward in computing, just as adding the GUI and mouse was to the computer. This goes back to the classic Apple saying of ‘Think Different’.

Currently I’m typing this up in Notes, with my bluetooth keyboard and as I stare at the screen of the iPad in landscape mode I’m drawn to notice all the fine details that they put into the interface. It looks just like a notepad in a leather case with a white notes lies on the left. These are all the fine point details that really help sell the iPad. Granted I am typing this review on a real keyboard, but that’s not because I don’t like the virtual one. In fact I really love the virtual one, but it takes up part of the screen. While having the bluetooth one paired up that is automatically turned off, really nice too because it gives me more real-estate on the screen to work with. It also provides me the opportunity to use the arrow keys for navigation quickly through the text for any kind of edits, changes or corrections. The nice thing is the standard command-c and command-v keystrokes work as expected.

Back to the iPad, while working with it at home it worked flawlessly, connecting directly to my local network after going through an initial setup syncing to my MacBook. I have to say I am a little disappointed that you have to have a computer to set-up the iPad. I’m hoping one day that it will be a simple off the shelf purchase that won’t require a system to get it setup. But I digress while the iPad is an amazing device it isn’t perfect. I personally don’t really mind that it’s missing flash, especially with the last minute announcement of the NetFlix App to make up for any additional viewing content that would otherwise be missing. Add Hulu and Amazon’s VOD and I’ll be in hog heaven. Though it is nice that ABC and CBS are starting to put their shows in HTML5 so that it can be viewed on the iPad and other non-flash systems.

So far I’ve only purchased two apps, Comic Zeal 4 which if you can’t tell from the name is a Comic Book reader for CBR files you might already have. The second app was the Autodesk Sketchbook, which is great, now I just need to get one of those iPhone stylus ordered and I should be good to go. I have loaded almost every news app out there, BBC, NPR, USA Today, NYT and WSJ. They all work a little different but you can see some really innovative ways they bring you a digital newspaper. I’m looking forward to picking up a couple of Magazines too and check out what they have in mind, I saw the preview for Wired and it looked really smooth and elegant.

iBooks is another step above the rest. I also loaded the Kindle App thinking it would be on par with iBooks, but it’s just not. Don’t get me wrong it works well enough but with the elegant page turns. I’ll have to decide if I’ll be purchasing my books from iBooks or from Amazon. Buy getting them from Amazon I can still load them on my Kindle or my iPhone/iPods as well as the iPad. Though I’m sure that Apple is working on an iBook app for their other devices as well.

Currently there isn’t a Slingbox iPad app, so I was left with loading up the iPhone/iPad version with size doubling. It wasn’t bad, we were able to watch an episode of Melrose at the hospital on their WiFi, which was a little more difficult getting connected too for some reason. All in all it looked ok considering. I’m excited that once the iPhone/iPod app for Netflix comes out I won’t have to use the Slingbox to my HD Tivo to get Netflix on those devices.

I’m a little disappointed the my case and dock didn’t arrive, and from what I’m reading they can’t be used together. Which means I’ll have to take it out of the case to get it on the dock. I’ll have to figure all that out once it arrives next week. I do have to say that having the bluetooth keyboard really helps sell the idea that this can replace a net book. I know I’ll get some flak for that because some people really love their net books, and they do have more storage, more options for external storage as well as Flash support yada yada yada. With that being said, I can hardly run Hulu on my net book. Now it’s an HP Mini from last year, but still it just doesn’t have the horse power to do much of anything except monitor Skype for me and occasionally I pull up Facebook to check message on it since it’s apart from my regular working desktop system. The really nice advantage of the bluetooth keyboard is how I can place the iPad in a perfect place to view while having the keyboard in a comfortable and more ergonomic placement.

I could go on and on about all the cool features, but the real thing to do is visit your local Apple / BestBuy / Authorized Reseller and play with it hands on. If you are someone who wants/needs something to use to read/write mail, check the news and play some games, then the iPad is surly for you. If your concerned about the lack of keyboard I highly recommend getting a bluetooth one. Of course the best one I’ve used is the Apple Bluetooth Keyboard, and once I got it un-paired from my MacBook and Mac Mini it was a breeze to setup and I must say works fabulously.

My original plan wasn’t even to pick up the WiFi version and go directly to the the 3G one, but I just couldn’t wait any longer and I didn’t want to miss out on the experience of being one of the early adopters. I figured once my 3G does arrive I could put this bad boy on eBay to recoup a little back. But at this point it looks like Ma will want to get her hands on this one once I get mine. I’m so glad I did, already my mind is racing with ideas on how this device could be a benefit to business and help get things done more efficiently. I’m still debating on picking up the iWork apps, Pages, Numbers and Keynote, however I don’t do much building of presentations and spreadsheets as much as I use to. But they just look so fun to work with, who knows.

I’m sure the next version will have a Camera there are times where I’m really annoyed that they didn’t have one, in the initial version. Maybe they didn’t want to take off more than they could chew, or they want to save some stuff for iPad 2.0. My guess is that this year they will finally add camera to the iPod, if they don’t I doubt that this stage i’ll upgrade it. Currently my iPod touch works as my PDA it’s the perfect size and is thin and light enough to fit into my shirt pocket the iPad certainly is not. If they do add a camera to either device I hope it’s actually two, a forward facing one for video calls and one the back for taking pictures. Only time will tell.

I’m also hoping that their will be an iWeb app for the iPad. I’ve loaded up an iWeb over at http://www.astralplain.com just in case they do. Once I get the camera kit I think it would be great to be on vacation. Spend the day loading up the camera with pictures and videos then pull them into the iPad and updating my website without having to touch a computer. Though that’s in a perfect would we’ll see once I get the kit how well it will work, and if I’ll be able to pull the video clips of my Nano into the iPad. Of course that then brings up the, once I have video on the iPad can I do anything with it? Could I do some basic editing like on the iPhone 3GS?

As I continue to explore the possibilities with the iPad I can’t help but wonder if we’ve just touched the tip of the iceberg. It’s like when I first started surfing on my iPod. I’ve been saying if they made a larger version then they would have a device that most people could use without the confusion of a full fledge computer for people that have trouble with them (aka Ma). And the best part is, the possibilities are almost endless I can’t wait to see what developers come up with on a system with this much power behind it. It also make me wonder how long down the line Apple will drop Intel and start making their own processors for their systems. The A4 could just be the start.

How about you? Did you pick up an iPad? If so which apps did you get? If not are you thinking about it? As usual comments are always welcomed.

The iPad WiFi version gets a 4.5 out of 5 L’s a couple dings for no 3rd party multi-task. I would like to be able to login to Skype and continue surfing or working and not worry about missing a message there. But if the rumors are true, 3rd party multi-task might be coming in the 4.0 release, whoo hoo.

Now, is it freaking late April yet? I’m hoping the iPad doesn’t arrive on Alganon’s Official Launch day. Though if it does while I’m working I’ll just have it sync up my comics with Comic Zeal ;).

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Sound Walk

One drawback to having a personal music player, that there aren’t a whole lot of convenient options for sharing with others.  Portable speakers and docks are always kinda bulky and not always on the top of my mind if we head out somewhere.  But now the folks over at Unicsen have a product that solves the problem perfectly.  Enter the Sound Walk Portable Speaker Vest.  It’s a light weight set of straps and material that have pockets for your MP3 player and built in pockets for the battery operated speakers.  Simply connect the headset jack to your player switch on the speakers and your ready to go.

Now these aren’t Bose speakers by any means, but they do the job.  For my semi-daily bike ride (okay more like monthly) these are great to have.  I don’t feel like I’m going to miss out on anything important I need to hear (like a car) while I’m out biking and yet it’s just loud enough for fellow riders to enjoy.  This would have been another great thing to have while we were on vacation and wanted a little mood music.

So if your looking to have some portable speakers and have your hands free, check out the Sound Walk.  This was the perfect solution to the problem we were looking to solve, so it’s getting a rare 5 out of 5 Ls.

You can pick up the Sound Walk from Unicsen, be sure to tell them Bily sent ya ;)

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Nano 5G in Capsule Thin

Wow is this thin.  This is a great case for the Nano 5G, it is cut just right with laser precision so that it doesn’t get in the way of the camera or the mic.  While on the Nano the case adds hardly any weight and it’s great to take all the scuffing so that the screen stays nice and scratch free.  And of course the folks over at SwitchEasy provide a stand so you can rest it on the side and watch the movies you’ve recorded or loaded up on the Nano.  They also have a slug to protect the 30-pin connector on the bottom.  Surprisingly enough I haven’t lost the one I thought I would with my iPod Touch, so as long as I’m just as careful with this one I won’t need the backup SwitchEasy gives you.

I really wish I had this Nano and case for the Disney Vacation as the Flip cams were mostly forgotten while we were there.  The ONLY drawback to the case is that while I’ve got the AV Cable connected I have to take the Nano out of the case.  But all in all I love the Nano 5G and the SwitchEasy Capsule Thin Clear has got to be the best case out there for it.

The Capsule Thin comes in Colors, Clear and Ultra Black (which to me looks like it really darkens the screen) and are available directly from SwitchEasy for $19.99 plus shipping.  I give it 4 out of 5 Ls

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Yogen

It’s been ordered before the 2010 CES rush :).  What I like already about this, it should be able to charge my iPhone, touch and nano as well as Matt and Ma’s cell phone, my bluetooth, and the GPS.

Updated HELM

Sep
2009
07

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Had a monitor go out on me, that will teach me to get a cheap generic, only lasted 3 years.  So here is the new setup. :D

IMG_0734IMG_0742IMG_0736

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Okay been really busy with the Alganon and getting the new skin to MyAlganon.com wrapped up.  Now that it’s done I’m catching up on reviews.  And finally the review of the Griffin Clarifi case for the iPhone 3G/3GS.

To start the micro lens is awesome but the case cover is only so so.  Compared to the Switcheasy case this feels like a cheap knock off type case.  I personally haven’t been really impressed with any of the Griffin cases.  If it wasn’t for the Microlens I’d have this bad boy wrapped up in a Switcheasy RebelSerpent.  That being said, the Microlens works incredibly well and is the only saving grace to the case.

With Micro Lens

Without Micro Lens

As you can see from the sample the lens works very well, and lets you shoot text up close and when your not shooting up close simply slide the lens cover to the left and your back to your normal lens.  The case isn’t the worst in the world, it does offer basic protection.  It has “easy” access to the bottom port by sliding off the bottom half of the case (which actually annoys me).

But tie this case in with such apps as Evernote to take pictures of all those business cards that get handed to you and you can search for any text on them.  Even the tiny, tiny 8pt font on some of the cards I tested.

All in all I give the Griffin Clarifi 3 out 5 Ls and can be ordered from Amazon.com

lslslslsls

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photo1OMG, okay I was looking to pick up an iPhone 3G so I could test some Bluetooth connectivity I’m looking to add into my app.  Well I was plesantly surprised when I picked one up off of Craigslist that was already hacked and ready to go for T-Mobile.  photo-4He already had it loaded up on the 3.0 OS and so all I needed to do was configure it and go.  So after updating the Network settings I was able to start MMSing right away!

Not only that but as of Friday I’ve been able to teether on photoT-Mobile!  Okay it’s not 3G it’s only Edge and is by no means a Speed Demon, but it’s nice to have the feature again in a pinch.  Not to mention that I use to be able to do with my DASH (cough WinMobile) but of course that was TAKEN by the shady characters that took over the station, but that’s another dramatic story for another day.  Another cool feature is the ability to tether via Bluetooth!  While I’m sure that would be a battery drain, its really cool that it’s possible.  Something Apple should consider is the ability to double tap the blue tether bar to quickly jump to turn it off and on.

It appears to me that the iPhone 3G has either much better speakers or at least a little more volume than the original iPhone.  I was hoping to have my Clarifi with Micro Lens case by the time I got to finishing this review, however Amazon seems to be holding out on me >grrrr<.  photo-21But out of the box the camera appears to be the same quality of the original iPhone.  (The Clarify is a case by Griffin that adds a macro lens to the 3G & 3G S iPhone)  But by far my most used 3.0 upgrade is the multi-selection of photos, in fact that’s how I get most of my photos into the blog.

I don’t think the 3G is REALLY that much thinner than the original, the tapered feel makes it LOOK thin, but when I popped it into my Treadz case (until my new case comes) and it appears to bulk out more in the center than the original.  But it’s a about the same size as the 2nd Gen iPod touch in the Rebel case.

photo-41photo-31photo-2

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photo-23WOW, the Mobiblu UFO mp3 player is the perfect accessory for a little music at a party.  Simply load it up with music and connect to a large surface and listen to the music radiate from the surface.  This is the first (if not only) NXT mp3 player.  For those of you who don’t know what NXT is.  It’s the same technology you see in the flat panel speakers.  I’ve had previous experience with the Macally Tune Pro for my iPod.

Basically how it works is the UFO comes with a sticker with a metalic side.  Stick it to a table, desk, door what ever you want to turn into a speaker.  photo-33Then you attach the UFO player magnetically to the sticker and it sends the good vibrations into the surface and the sound radiates from the surface.  It worked perfectly on my desk and pretty wild having the sound coming out of the desk.  While the Macally version of the speaker I have doesn’t have any “hotspot” the UFO does get hotter closer to the device.

One of the coolest things was taking the UFO player and attaching it to a metallic closed lid trashcan and the sound was great.  I was walking with my Ma the other day and when we stopped to take a little break, I attached it to the utility box and it turned that into a speaker.

photo-43The Mobiblu UFO player is the funnest and EASIEST MP3 player without a display I’ve gotten my hands on.  It’s so simple that Ma can use it.  Keep in mind simple and easy to use, usally means some of the extra features aren’t there.  Obviously with no screen the only feedback to what is playing is the actual audio.  It would be nice when your going to sleep to be able to turn off the very cool blue LEDs that light up the bottom.

Next party I have I’ll be using the UFO player to provide the music, it’s a great center piece to making conversation too. ;)

I give this MP3 player a 4 out 5 Ls

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The Mobiblu UFO player is available now from UnicSen

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