Review of WaterField’s External Keyboard Slip Case

Logitech makes an amazingly good external keyboard, the K811, which I reviewed here. At the time I noted:

It would be nice if the keyboard came with a carrying case or simple sleeve, though–you’ll have to figure that one out on your own.

And, boy, did I figure it out! Turns out a San Francisco manufacturer named WaterField makes just such a product: the Keyboard Slip Case. Here’s their description:

Thin is in. The Keyboard Slip Case offers gentle protection in a slim ballistic nylon case with a lightly padded liner. A piping trimmed edge lets you choose to add a splash of bold color, or to stay under the radar with subdued tones. Pack it up and off you go.

I can at last not worry about whether my keyboard keys will pop off inside my messenger bag, and my neighbors and friends can now avoid the unseemly sight of my walking around with an external keyboard in my hand. (I mean, not literally just walking around with it. But going from point A to point B.)

The dimensions are 12″ x 6″ and 3 ounces, perfect for the Apple wireless keyboard and my Logitech model.

To remind you, here’s what the K811 looks like:


Image via Logitech
Image via Logitech


And now, in its case:


Keyboard in Sleeve


Pretty awesome, yeah? I know–I’m too excited about a piece of gear, but I use my K811 a lot, and am glad to protect it well.

The inside is protective yet soft:


Soft Inside


It’s made in San Francisco, so you’re buying a made-in-the-U.S.A. product with WaterField.

There’s even a nice little piece of trim that gives it a slight pop:




Here it is next to an iPad:


With iPad Air 2


The slip case is well constructed, and looks like it perfectly blends being lightweight with protecting your keyboard.

The keyboard fits snugly, so the lack of a closure is no loss. I’d initially wondered about this, but it’s not a problem. And it’s still easy to slide the keyboard in and out. (But if you’re worried, you can get this model.)

My only critique is that the nylon exterior is a little slippery. When carrying around an iPad and notebook and keyboard-in-its-case today, I felt the iPad slip against the keyboard case. So be aware of that so you don’t drop something!

Otherwise, the K811 has found its perfect match. Or as I put it in a six-word review on WaterField’s site:

Just what my external keyboard needed.

WaterField makes a lot of other really cool-looking gear, which you can learn more about here. Find the Keyboard Slip Case here.



Thanks to WaterField for the product review sample, given to me for purposes of review, but with no expectations or influence on the review’s content.

Review of SHARKK® 15W Bluetooth Wireless Speaker


I’ve been jamming to some sweet tunes with SHARKK’s 15W Bluetooh Wireless Speaker recently. I’ve used it around the house for some organizing projects, as well as took it on a trip with me.

Here are the full specs from SHARKK:

◦ Rock the House with this Powerful 15 Watt Bluetooth Speaker with 2200Ah Lithium Battery which supports up to 10 consecutive hours of playing time.

◦ Subwoofer + high-performance amplifier combine for incredible volume and high quality sound.

◦ Can also be used to charge your phone or other rechargeable USB devices with its built in Power Bank.

◦ Supports AUX, Bluetooth 4.0, and NFC with Siri/S Voice Functionality. Make and receive phone calls with the built-in Mic.

◦ Includes Charger, Carrying Pouch, and a 3.5mm audio cable.

Here is what it looks like out of the box (images via SHARKK):



Sharkk Speaker: What’s Awesome

Battery percentage indicator


You can see the battery level right next to the phone battery percentage—it’s always visible from the device from which you are streaming music. There’s no real battery life indicator on the speaker itself, so being able to see it from your device is neat.


Sound decent for cost


The sound is good for the cost. Not stellar, but solid. The bass is noticeable, if not wholly sufficient, and the highs and the mids come out, though perhaps not as crisply as one might want for a speaker at $80. Still, the sound is decent.


It remembers your device


Once you connect a device to the speaker via Bluetooth, the SHARKK speaker remembers it, so you don’t have to keep setting it up each time. I really appreciated this.


Totally portable


The speaker fits on a towel rack in the shower room. It’s easy to hold in one hand and move around the house to follow you from room to room. Highly portable and light enough to carry around, if you want.


What’s Not Awesome

The speaker died one night


One night, for no reason that I can discern, the speaker died. I charged it overnight. It still didn’t work. I charged it a second night. Still nothing. Then on the third day (I don’t mean this to be a religious parallel), it sprang back to life and has been working fine since.

Support was responsive throughout the issue, but I never could figure out why the speaker stopped responding like that.


No remote control


Lacking is a remote way to control the speaker. You cannot do it via remote control or from your phone. I know it’s not a huge deal to get out of your chair to turn it on or off, but a speaker in this price range should support remote control.


Play/pause button flashes


The play/pause button flashes blue when the speaker is on. I noticed this one night in the middle of the night from across the room, when I had forgotten to turn the speaker off. A minor nuisance, and certainly not a deal-breaker. But an auto-off feature would be nice.


Cloth carrying case


The speaker comes with a cloth carrying case, which is handy, but doesn’t do much to protect the speaker. On a recent trip where I wanted to take the speaker (it is very portable), I just packed the speaker up in its original box, which was a much better solution.


+ and – buttons


It’s awesome that you can play and pause your iTunes or even Spotify app from the speaker itself. One tricky thing, though, is that the “+” button fast forwards the track. Only holding the button turns the volume up (the expected result from a button like that). So, too, with the “-” button. It turns the volume down, but only if you hold it. Otherwise it rewinds the track. I found this less than intuitive, and still think it’s an odd design decision, but I got used to it over time (mostly). It is nice to be able to change tracks from the speaker itself.


Concluding Evaluation

I can recommend the speaker, but only with the reservations above. I’m not sure it would be my first choice for a sub-$100 speaker, but it does have some nice features that make it an attractive option worth considering.

Find the speaker here (SHARKK) or here (Amazon).


Thanks to SHARKK for the review sample, given to me for purposes of review but with no expectation as to the content of this post.

Review of Belkin’s MIXIT↑™ Metallic AUX Cable

Belkin cable

It was probably about my fourth time unsuccessfully digging through the same bag of old cables before I got in touch with Belkin for the one I really needed: an auxiliary 3.5 mm cable to plug my phone into the back of some speakers.

The look of the cable is unremarkable, but the only person I’ve ever met who cared about aesthetics in cables this small was the guy at Radio Shack who tried to convince my old college roommate and me that we were idiots for buying a pink aux cable when we could spend a dollar more for a black one. (We rocked the pink.)

I’ve been making good use of this Belkin AUX cable, especially while in the kitchen. It’s durable and does exactly what it should.

Here are the summary features, from Belkin:

  • Auxiliary cable connects any two devices with 3.5mm port
  • Sleek cable with metallic finish
  • Available in five colors to match your device
  • Designed to withstand heavy use
  • 4-foot length ideal for use everywhere

It works at home, it works in the car, and it coils up nicely for transport. I’ve never had the audio cut out or give feedback while listening via the cable.

At four feet long, it’s all the length you need–not too much, not too little.

Given its durability, the $20 asking price is fair, though some buyers may want to seek out more budget-conscious options–even if they are pink.

But I expect to make use of this (stylish gold) cable for many more hours of audio.

Find it here (Belkin) or here (Amazon).



Thanks to Belkin for the review sample, so I could write this review. Receiving the cable for review purposes did not influence the content or nature of this write-up.

Review of Logitech Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard K811

Images in this post via Logitech
Image via Logitech


There is a proliferation of external keyboards for iPads and iPhones. Logitech’s Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard K811 is by far the best.

Here is a short video of the keyboard in action:



This is no foldable, plastic, tag-along keyboard. It looks and feels like something native to an aluminum-body Mac Laptop.

This is what’s great about the keyboard:

  • It’s backlit. You can use it in the dark and make out all of the keys easily.
  • It’s got three keyboard shortcuts for toggling between three Apple devices at a time. So once you’ve paired it with, say, a computer, an iPhone, and an iPad, you can switch between any device the keyboard is paired with… with just one press of a button. You don’t have to pair, un-pair, re-pair, etc.


Logitech K810 Image 2


  • That backlit keyboard? It’s smart. The keyboard has sensors that allow it to adjust the illumination level based on the light in the room. Amazing. (You can also manually adjust the keyboard brightness via its F5 and F6 keys.)
  • The battery life is long. It’s rechargeable via an (included) USB cable. And there’s an on/off switch, of course, so you don’t drain the battery between uses.
  • There’s no lag. The Bluetooth connection is fast, so there’s really no lag between the time you type and see a character on the screen, regardless of the device you’re using.
  • It is a full keyboard. Nothing is missing–the command key, volume up/down keys, the escape key… all here.
  • It’s got “hand proximity detection.” From the product page: “A motion sensor detects your hands as they approach the keyboard and turns the backlight on/off to help you save power when you are not typing.” From what I can tell, this feature also helps to preserve and prolong the battery life.
  • Setup couldn’t have been any simpler. I probably could have figured it out without the manual, but the manual succinctly and clearly explained how to pair with devices.
  • Having easy access to up/down and left-right arrow keys for iPad and iPhone is really cool.

And here is what I really like about the keyboard:

  • If feels better than any other keyboard (portable or otherwise) I’ve typed on. Very smooth, and just the right amount of resistance on the keys.
  • You can use keyboard shortcuts with iPad as easily as you would on a desktop computer. The app Drafts and this Logitech keyboard make for a great combo. I started this blog post in Drafts, for example, and then with a single key stroke had sent the draft to Evernote for backup and future work across devices.
  • This is a little thing, but there is a keyboard key (on the actual keyboard) that lets you toggle your iPad on-screen keyboard on and off. Unlike other external keyboards, you can even have your native iPad on-screen keyboard up at the same time as using this physical one.

As for drawbacks? Nothing significant, that’s for sure. It’s not foldable, so of course it’s less portable than other external keyboards, but that is the (small) price one pays for its durability and full-size feel. I don’t mind that it can’t be folded up. It would be nice if the keyboard came with a carrying case or simple sleeve, though–you’ll have to figure that one out on your own.

The keyboard isn’t inexpensive, but it’s the best external keyboard on the market, easily. Find out more at the product page here, or via Amazon here.



Thanks to Logitech for the product review sample, given to me for purposes of review, but with no expectations or influence on the review’s content.

Apple Music Launches Today

Apple Music
Image via MacRumors/Apple


Apple Music launches today, and you can jump right in with a free, three-month trial. Individual user subscriptions will be $9.99/month thereafter.

The big question will be: How does it compare to similar subscription-based, streaming services like Spotify? MacRumors has a nice round-up of some early reviews here. From that article:

Everyone will be able to test out Apple Music for themselves soon enough, with the official launch of the updated music app in just a few hours at 9 AM Pacific. Those interested should remember to first download the new iOS 8.4 update an hour before in preparation for the streaming music service’s debut.

Get all the details at Apple’s page here.

Review of Anker PowerDrive 2 Lite 12W 2-Port Car Charger

Impossibly Cute (and a Good Charger)
Impossibly Cute (and a Good Charger)

Yeah, I know: it’s weird to refer to a phone charger as “impossibly cute,” but this little guy (pictured at left) from Anker looks great. More important, it charges a device (or two at once) just as fast as your typical wall charger.

It’s the Anker PowerDrive 2 Lite 12W 2-Port Car Charger.

You can connect any USB cable to it, allowing you to charge your iPhone (of any generation), iPad, or other device. The best thing about it is that you can charge two devices at once–so you and your friend don’t have to fight over whose turn it is to charge a phone on a long road trip.

Here are a few things I like about the charger (with no counterbalancing complaints so far to lodge):

  • As with another Anker charger I tested, the PowerDrive 2 Lite charges a device quickly. I have an Apple wall charger that gets warm when plugged in, but this one maintains a normal temperature.
  • It’s small. You can easily fit it in your pocket, or stash it in even the smallest compartment of your car. Anker lists its weight as 0.7 ounces. (!)
  • The design isn’t fancy, but it looks great. The red and black color combo gives it an attractive look.
  • It pops in and out of the cigarette lighter (what else do you call that port in your car?) really easily. It’s nice and secure when plugged in.

Despite its size and being 12W as opposed to a 24W model Anker makes, this model gets the charging job done just fine. At the time of writing, the 12W model appears out of stock on Amazon, but the (comparable) 24W model is here. (UPDATE: Here‘s the in-stock link to the model I’m reviewing here.)

And you can check out the 12W PowerDrive 2 Lite at Anker’s page here, with all the specs.



Thanks to Anker for the review sample, offered for my honest impressions.

A Review of the Dell Venue 8 Pro Tablet


Image via Dell
Image via Dell


I’ve been impressed by the Dell Venue 8 Pro in my use of it these past few months. I recorded my initial impressions here.

This post completes my two-part review of the device by way of a three-question Q and A session. (Leading up to this review I’ve benefited from conversations with R. Mansfield, who knows the Dell Venue 8 Pro–hereafter, DV8P–well.)


How Does the Dell Venue 8 Pro Compare to an iPad?


See… I knew you were going to ask that question! Here are five points of comparison.

First, the iPad still does not allow the user to view and use more than one app on the screen at a time. Why this continues to be the case is unclear to me, but the DV8P lets you have two apps open at once. So you can read an article from your Facebook feed without leaving Facebook. Or you can go to a Web link that pops up in a Kindle book you’re reading, while not having to leave and then navigate back to the Kindle app. Advantage: DV8P.

Second, the DV8P is more compact than a full-sized iPad, but close in dimensions to the iPad Mini. The DV8P is longer and skinnier, by a little bit. Its 8-inch screen size (measured diagonally) just edges out the iPad Mini’s 7.9 inches. To hold it feels about the same as the iPad Mini, though. Advantage: Both.

Third, the Dell Venue Pro is both tablet and personal computer. You can use it as both. You can run full-on Windows programs from the Desktop side, which Apple’s iOS on iPad does not permit.

I love being able to access full-bodied programs on this little tablet. Much as I appreciate Accordance’s iOS mobile app, for example, being able to use the full desktop version–but not having to be at a desktop or laptop–is awesome. Advantage: DV8P.

Fourth, the gesture-based interface of the iPad gives the user more options. Or is more intuitive. Or something. I know “intuitive” is a fuzzy word in software and hardware reviews. Of course, I’m way more used to an iPad than the Dell Venue Pro, but the former is easier to just pick up and tap and swipe your way around. Advantage: iPad Mini.

Finally, battery life on the 8 Pro leaves something to be desired, especially in comparison with the iPad Mini. Battery life when the device is in use is fine, but it does not hold charge very well when it idles/sleeps. If I put the tablet to sleep with full battery life, don’t use it at all for a couple days, then come back to it, it’s completely out of charge. I’ve never had this issue with the iPad mini. (And I’m not the only DV8P user to notice this, either.) Advantage: iPad Mini.


Does it Replace a Computer?


Because you have the computing capabilities of a desktop computer in your hands, one could think about the Dell Venue 8 Pro as a possible replacement for a computer.

With the loaner review unit Dell sent me, they also included a stylus (with a responsive point) and a keyboard. Each of these are essential companions when using Windows and navigating full-bodied programs like Word or Accordance or whatever else. (Not the least reason for which is that the touch points on Windows apps are too small for even tiny fingers.)


Accordance on the DV8P (click or open in new tab/window to enlarge)


Being able to use–on a portable tablet–programs/apps that you could until now have to get to a desktop or laptop to use… is really sweet. If you don’t want to be limited by Android’s environment or iOS apps, the tablet-as-computer could make sense.

However, a limitation is in the memory size. The Dell Venue 8 Pro comes in 32GB or 64GB models, but even the latter is too small to make this your one-and-only computer (think: lots of images and movies stored). The Dell Venue 11 Pro model, however, has a hard drive up to 256 GB, which is definitely workable for making the DVP your only computing device.

Speaking of, here are the specs of the machine (compared to the 11) from Dell:


Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 9.47.25 PM


Does Abram K-J of Words on the Word
Recommend this Device?


I would be too tied to the Apple app ecosystem to be able to move all my work over to the DV8Pro, much as I like the device. I’d have no way to run OmniFocus, for example. Or Nisus Writer Pro. I could easily still access Evernote, and other such apps.

But if you’re already rocking in the Windows free world, with no Mac or iOS-only apps to consider, this small but powerful device is worth looking into. (I can’t say from experience how it compares to the Microsoft Surface.) It’s reasonably priced, too. And while I experienced more learning curve with the Dell Venue 8 Pro than I did when I first picked up an iPad, after a while it becomes intuitive, and convenient to have more computing power than one would expect in a tablet.



Thanks to the fine folks at Dell for loaning me a Venue 8 Pro 5000 Series Tablet to test for the review. Check out the Dell tablet page here.

A Bundle of Septuagint Resources in Olive Tree, Under $50

Rahlfs LXXWant to read the Old Testament in Greek on all your devices? This is the cheapest way I’ve seen to get started: until midnight PST tomorrow (1/6/15) night, you can get this Septuagint bundle for less than $50. It includes

  • The Rahlfs-Hanhart Septuagint text
  • Its critical apparatus
  • The Kraft-Wheeler-Taylor parsings of each word in the text
  • The LEH Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint (Lust, Eynikel, and Hauspie)

This is really an incredible deal, given that the Rahlfs-Hanhart text in print is about $50 (and doesn’t include running parsings). The LEH Lexicon in print runs anywhere from $40 to $80.

What can Olive Tree do, you ask? See my gathered posts here, including my recent review of a five-volume dictionary set that is still on sale.

The advantage to having the above combo in Olive Tree is that you can tap any word in the Rahlfs-Hanhart Greek text and get instant parsing information.




You can instantly access that word’s lexical entry in the LEH lexicon. I especially appreciate LEH’s inclusion of word frequency counts, according to sections of the LXX:


LEH Entry


Using the split window setup, here’s what the Rahlfs text with apparatus looks like:


Rahlfs with Apparatus


Though Rahlfs never intended his apparatus in this volume to be fully critical, it does help you at least compare LXX readings as found in Vaticanus (B), Alexandrinus (A), and Sinaiticus (S).

And because Olive Tree is fully cross-platform, you can sync any notes you take or highlights you make and they appear on any device on which you have Olive Tree.

Find the whole bundle here, on sale for just a little while longer.

New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, $99 in Olive Tree

NIDB Olive TreeAn underrated but really good Bible dictionary is the New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (NIDB). Published by Abingdon, the five-volume set is edited by Katharine Doob Sakenfeld and includes contributions of nearly 1,000 scholars.

For a short time the dictionary set is $99.99 in Olive Tree Bible software. Below I offer–from my perspective as a preaching pastor and Bible reader–my take on the set, with a focus on Olive Tree’s iOS Bible Study App.


What The NIDB Is and How It Has Helped Me


There are more than 7,000 articles in NIDB. The contributing scholars are diverse in terms of gender, ethnicity, and denominational background–a refreshing mix of voices. The dictionary balances reverence for the biblical text with rigorous scholarship–though the dictionary is rarely arcane.

The NIDB has been eminently useful to me in my weekly sermon preparation. Last fall, for example, when preaching through Genesis, I knew I’d have to make sense somehow of the “subdue” command that God gives the first humans regarding their relationship to the earth. The dictionary’s “Image of God” entry helpfully clarifies:

While the verb may involve coercive activities in interhuman relationships (see Num. 32:22, 29), no enemies are in view here–and this is the only context in which the verb applies to nonhuman creatures.

The same article puts nicely the implications of humanity’s creation in God’s image: the “image of God entails a democratization of human beings–all human hierarchies are set aside.”

This sort of blend between technical detail and pastoral application is present throughout the dictionary.

I’ve also found useful background for my Greek reading. This year, for example, I’m reading through the Psalms in Greek with a group of folks (see here). In the “Septuagint” entry in NIDB I find this:

The 4th-cent. CE “Codex Vaticanus” contains all of the books of the Hebrew Scripture or Protestant OT, and the following material that is today classified as deuterocanonical: 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras, Ps 151, the Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus or Ben Sirach, the additions to Esther (several of which were originally composed in a Semitic language; others of which are original Greek compositions), Judith, Tobit, Baruch, the Letter of Jeremiah, and the additions to Daniel (Azariah and the Three Jews, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon).

The entry goes on to describe other Septuagint manuscripts, with hyperlinks in Olive Tree to related entries.


iOS Features in Olive Tree


Olive Tree logo


Olive Tree is as cross-platform as a Bible study app gets: it runs on iOS (iPhone and iPad), Mac, Windows, and Android. The app itself is free, and you can get some good texts free, too, so you can preview the app before you buy any resources in it.

I’ve got the Olive Tree app on Mac, iPhone, and iPad Mini. It’s one of the best-executed iOS Bible study apps I’ve seen. It is visually appealing, highly customizable (especially with gestures and swipes), and easy to learn.

When reading the New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (or anything else), here are a few features that have impressed me:

You can navigate with “flick scrolling” (how iBooks is set up) or “page scrolling” (like Kindle). This will make just about any user feel at home in the app. Flick scrolling (how you’d navigate a Web page) feels more natural to me, so I use that.

Dictionary entries are easy to get to. You can simply tap on “Go To” and type in the entry you’re looking for. The auto-complete feature saves having to type very much on the iPhone’s small keyboard:




You can search the entire contents of NIDB by word. If I wanted to see not just the entry for “Septuagint,” but every time the NIDB mentions the Septuagint, I would simply type that word in to the search entry bar:


NIDB Search


Then I can select a result and read the given entry.

The full-color photos are zoomable. The NIDB contains full-color photographs that help visualize various entries. You can select the photograph and pinch-zoom for more detail.




I’ve noted this before–there is a great deal of customizable “Gestures/Shortcuts” preferences in the “Advanced Settings” menu. Olive Tree is the most versatile Bible study app in this sense. For example:

  • Two-finger swipe left and right takes you through your history within the app. I can swipe between NIDB, and the last NIV Old Testament passage I was reading, and a commentary, and…. No need to go through menus.
  • Two-finger tap gets you from any screen to your library; right away you can get at your other resources.


Concluding Assessment and How to Buy


One of my favorite features of Olive Tree’s apps is that you can view two resources at once that aren’t tied together by Bible verse. It’s like having split windows on an iPad. So you can have the NIDB open in the top half of your screen, and a Bible text or other resource open in the bottom half–even to unrelated topics if you want.

The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible is about as good a Bible dictionary as you’ll find. If you can use it to complement the Anchor Bible Dictionary (also available in OT), you’d be very well set with Bible dictionaries.

Olive Tree has done a great job, especially with its iOS apps. As much as I loved my print copy of NIDB, I unloaded it not long ago since I can essentially carry it around with me now. And getting at its contents is even easier with the enhancements Olive Tree provides.


Thanks to Olive Tree for the NIDB for the purposes of this review, offered without any expectations as to the content of the review. You can find the product here, where it is currently on sale for $99.99.

Review of Anker 10W Home and Travel Wall Charger

Anker Plug
Anker 10W (2A) Home and Travel USB Wall Charger


I’ve been testing and using a fast, reliable, and highly portable wall charger from Anker lately: the Anker 10W (2A) Home and Travel USB Wall Charger.

Any USB cable connects to it, so you can charge your iPhone (of any generation), iPad, Samsung, etc.

Here are a few things I like about it:

  • It charges a device quickly
  • It doesn’t get hot when plugged in (one of my Apple chargers does)
  • The prongs fold in–especially useful for travel or putting it in a pocket
  • It’s compact and lightweight (under two ounces)
  • Sleek and simple design
  • There’s an 18-month warranty

I haven’t found anything so far that’s not to like. The wall charger seems built well and looks to last a long time. It’s $7.99 at Amazon.

It’s especially suited and recommended for those who travel often, and need a charger that is quick and easy to pack up.


Thanks to Anker for the review sample, offered for my honest impressions. The case reviewed above can be found at Amazon here.