Category Archives: Digital Media

What’s Best for Seniors: Electronic or Paper Magazines?

Electronic Magazines - Great for Seniors?
Electronic Magazines – Great for Seniors?

I’ve always loved to read magazines; more than TV, more than radio, even more than books. As a kid I preferred Boy’s Life, Popular Science (or Popular anything: Mechanics, Photography, et. cetera), National Geographic, Mad Magazine, Car & Driver – and many others. It was how I learned about stuff, and it showed me how that stuff worked.

Reading on Mac’s and Windows PC’s:

I’ve tried to read magazines electronically for many years; first on Mac’s and Windows PC’s by using services like Zinio. But this approach was often cumbersome – resulting in slow downloads, big downloads, tedious scrolling, and hard to read type-faces and -sizes. Overall, not a great experience. I thought that there had to be a better way.

Reading on Smartphones and Tablets:

In January of 2007 Apple introduced the iPhone, and it was now possible (but not enjoyable) to read magazines on a high resolution, yet very small (3.5”), screen. In January of 2010 Apple introduced the iPad, allowing us to now be able to read a magazine on an ultra-high resolution, and almost perfectly sized, screen (9.75”). This approach is much better than reading a magazine on traditional desktops and laptops. Magazines designed for mobile devices download faster, have smaller file sizes, are easier to navigate using your fingertips, and have adjustable type sizes. A much better experience. This is the better way.

Is this really a better way than paper to read magazines?

Maybe. Some people prefer paper. It’s easy to carry around. Some like the “look and feel” of paper (similar to how some prefer paper books over digital books). Some people even like the smell of paper and ink. The flip side of the coin is that electronic (digital) magazines may be better for the environment (no trees die in this process). They are also easier to store as collections, have far easier search-capabilities, have additional features like hyperlinks, embedded audio and video, and some even have interactive features built into the magazines, which is not possible on paper.

Are seniors better off with electronic magazines?

I believe so. Most seniors have diminishing vision over time. Improvements in eye glasses and eye surgery have helped. Digital magazine reading software (provided by the magazine publishers as part of the magazine itself) allows seniors to adjust the size of the typeface. With most mobile devices you can pinch and un-pinch your device screen to increase or decrease the size of the magazine article. Some newer magazine software, like the magazine service Magzter, offers a feature called “EZread” where the magazine article is automatically re-sized and re-paginated for easy reading.

Where do I get electronic magazines?

Almost all traditional paper magazines offer electronic versions; some charge for the digital edition, some offer it for free with a paid paper subscription. Check the magazine’s website for more details. You might consider an electronic magazine service like Magzter which offers unlimited access to over 4,000 magazines for $7.99 per month if you use Apple iTunes. If you pay the annual price of $49.99 directly to Magzter, it works out to just $4.17 per month – less than the price of 1 paper magazine. Magzter has a thirty-day free trial – a good way to see if electronic magazines are right for you. Go to: http://www.magzter.com and check it out. Further details about the annual pricing are available on their website. Magzter also lets you share your subscription with up to four family members at no additional charge.

Happy reading!

Missing headphone jack? much ado about nothing!

Apple iPhone 7
Apple iPhone 7

Much ado has already been made about the “missing” iPhone 7 3.5mm audio (headphone) jack when Apple introduced the two new iPhone 7’s yesterday.

Apple claimed that the reason they removed the jack was to make room for new technology in future iPhones.  I also suppose that the jack will be missing when Apple introduces new iPads in late 2016 or early 2017.

Sure, Apple saved a few pennies and gained a bit more room by removing the jack, but they spent more than they saved by including a set of earbud headphones with a lightning connector – and also included a little device that lets you continue to use your analog headphones by connecting them to the convertor and then onto your lightning connector.

Most folks would say that a digital headphone sounds crisper and clearer than an analog headphone.  So where is the harm or foul?  You can enjoy your new iPhone 7 with the included digital earbuds – or connect your existing Beats, Sennheiser, Sony, Motorola or other studio headphones to the phone with the included adapter. In addition Apple and Beats (owned by Apple) introduced new wireless headphones that can be used with the iPhone 7’s.  And finally there are dozens of Bluetooth wireless headphones already on the market that will work with the iPhone 7’s.  

Tell me again why you are unhappy?

Early on Friday morning (3 AM EDT) I’ll be placing my order for a new iPhone 7 Plus.  Am I disappointed that it won’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack. Nope!

“Say Hello To A Good Buy!” Is Apple Music right for Seniors?

 

Apple Music
Apple Music
 

What! Seniors spending money on a music subscription?

No way!  Just a few years ago I worked at Barnes & Noble in what was then called “the music department.”  Seniors would come in and look over the bins of CD’s for the musical genre they liked and then grumble as the paid $14.99 each for the two or three CD’s that they would purchase and take home.  In the three years that I worked in “the music department,” I noticed that the number of bins containing CD’s was dramatically shrinking as more and more people were turning to digital music.

A lot of seniors love music, but are limited in what available funds they can spend on entertainment like books, magazines, movies – and of course music.  Many times while working at B&N I heard seniors express that they really wanted that new release, or that fourth CD but they “better not.” 

Along comes iTunes…

Apple’s iTunes software, which runs on Mac’s and Windows PC’s, has been around for several years.  It’s a great way to organize your digital music and videos.  Of course you could “RIP” the music CD’s you already owned to iTunes – all perfectly legal – and enjoy them on your computer with a good stereo sound system or “SYNC” them to a mobile device.  That is if you understood how to “RIP” and “SYNC.”  A lot of seniors didn’t “get it.”  

Along comes Pandora….

For seniors, who really embraced digital e-readers (like the Barnes & Noble “Nook,” or the Amazon “Kindle,” they migrated to more advanced digital devices like iPhones, iPads, Samsung/Nooks, and Kindle Fires that include the ability not only to read digital books, but also to listen to digital music and watch digital movies.  One of the first, and still one of the most successful music apps is Pandora.  It has that magic senior word “FREE!” and gives the listener the ability to pick a performer, song, or album and create a “station.”  For example I could have a Moody Blues “station.”  Pandora will play a Moody Blues track every third or fourth song – plus then fill in artists that are very similiar to the Moody Blues.  All for “FREE!” if you don’t mind an advertisement every quarter-hour or so.  I could have dozens of stations to accomodate my eclectic taste in music!

The come and they go…

Over the last five years there have been well over a dozen music services that have come and gone.  Some free, some paid.  All of them trying to find the magic formula that would attract millions of music lovers world wide to come to their mecca of music.  Some of them came from pretty big name brands you know, and some brands you never heard of before – or after.  Undoubtedly the most successful to-date has been an app and music service called Spotify.  There is a free version (ad supported) and a paid version (no ads) of Spotify.

  

Now comes Apple Music…

A few months ago Apple introduced a new music subscription called (naturally) Apple Music.  The service provides access to over 43,000,000 music tracks – and also music videos – all for just $14.99 per month. The monthly charge allows you to share the service with up to six family members (spouses, kids and grandkids included!). It’s just $9.99 per month for an individual subscription.

Here is the good news…

  • Millions of music songs and albums to choose from.  All your favorite artists, and all your loved genres! Easy to create playlists.
  • Music can be streamed over WiFi or cellular and also downloaded for off-line listening.
  • Each family member can have their own music library.
  • Apple Music works on MOST newer iPhones, iPads, iPod Touch, Mac’s and Windows PC’s.  It does not currently work on Android devices but Apple has announced that it will with a forthcoming App.
  • It also works (like magic!) on the latest Apple TV streaming devices (version 4).  The advantages of working on Apple TV is that you can watch music videos on that big new 75″ 4K Ultra High Definition flat panel TV that Santa will try to stuff down your chimney. 

Of course there is a little bad news…

  • If you cancel your subscription all the music goes away (remember you are only renting it).
  • No you cannot “burn” the music to a CD.
  • The Apple Music software is a little clumsy to use for the first few days – until you find your way around the icons.

But it’s $14.99 per month you say…

It amazes me how many people (not only seniors) grumble that they don’t want to pay $14.99 per month (or just $9.99 if you don’t want to share) for a music subscription, but they paid hundreds or even thousands of dollars for the best smartphone, best tablet, best computer or best flat panel TV that money can buy.  They think nothing of spending $7.99 – $14.99 (and up) per month for NetFlix, Hulu or HBO Now.  They will still spend $14.99 each for CD’s – but are reluctant to purchase a music subscription – which can be easily cancelled.

“Just Do it!”…

As Nike would say “Just Do It!” – the first 3 – months are FREE (and is easy to cancel).  Learn more by going to CLICK Here…

A final note…

As a senior (almost 70) and a tech weenie and geezer I think I speak with authority and experience on personal technology for seniors.  I’ve been messing with personal computers since 1978.  Comments – both pro and con are aways welcome.  Thanks for reading my blog.

“Say Hello to a Good Buy!” Should Seniors buy the new Apple TV?

  

The “Buzz”:

The “buzz” you are hearing over the normal roar of the Internet is all about the NEW 4th generation Apple TV.

What the heck is an Apple TV?:

You may be asking “What the heck is an Apple TV?” Well… an Apple TV is a hockey-puck sized box (see the picture above) that you hook up to your digital (flat screen) TV.  It is easy to set up and install with your existing WiFi system and can provide hours of video and audio enjoyment.

Apple has dozens of both free and subscription channels – everything from NetFlix, Hulu, PBS and many more.  The newest models (the ones with all the “buzz”) even have an App store so that you can download more channels and now even games to play on your TV.

Can it replace your cable TV service?

Maybe.  If you live in one of the over 110 lucky CBS affiliate cities (check out this link for a List of CBS All Access affiliate cities) providing the new CBS All Access channel and you like CBS local and national programming, for a whole $5.99 a month you are all set.

Which model should I buy?

OK, as a senior, let’s say that you are now sold on the concept of “digital streaming” with an Apple TV, but which one should you buy?  The new one (4th generation) comes in two different media storage sizes for $149.99 or $199.99.  Take my recommendation and stretch for the $199.99.  The old ones (as of last week) are still available as new $69.99 (usually in stock at Best Buy, Staples, Walmart, Target and others), or refurbished $59.99 (directly from Apple) and both come with a one year warranty and free shipping.

My advice for “Savvy Seniors” that want to get a great value is to buy the Apple 3rd generation Apple TV as refurbished from Apple using this link: http://www.apple.com/shop/browse/home/specialdeals/appletv

Are there other brands you should consider?

Other “digital streaming” boxes include Amazon’s Fire, Google’s Chrome Stick, Roku and others. All have plus’ and minus’.  I’ve owned and used Apple, Roku and Google.  My first choice is Apple (now there is a surprise you are probably saying to yourself). Second would be Roku and then Google. 

I like Apple because of the reliability, ease of hook-up, channel variety, and that I can broadcast any video or audio that is on my Mac, PC, iPhone or iPad directly to the Apple TV wirelessly using Apple’s AirPlay system that is built into almost everything Apple sells.

Here is to happy channel surfing and maybe cable cord cutting!

“Say Hello to a Good Buy!” – Jam Transit Bluetooth Headphones. Good Quality, Great Price!

 

Jam Transit Headphones
Jam Transit Headphones
 
Looking for a “good buy” on a pair of studio style headphones that are good sounding – and inexpensive?  Consider the Jam Transit Bluetooth headphones.  

Here is why we recommend these great value headphones:

  • Good sound quality – not Bose or Beats quality – but then they are not $300-400 – Just $59.99 or less (see below). Surprising amount of bass reflex.
  • Wear while relaxing, biking, walking, treadmill and more.
  • Sturdy construction, comfortable to wear for hours at a time.
  • Retail packaging is also a “carry case” for after purchase use. Easy to use for travel or storage.
  • Perfect for music, audio books, podcasts, movies, Internet radio and more.
  • Up to 6 hours of listening on one charge.
  • Bluetooth range is about 30 feet. 
  • Does NOT shut out outside noises (like the lawn mower).
  • Built-in microphone lets you use for your mobile phone calls.
  • Micro-USB cord for charging (included) can connect to your USB phone charger.
  • Studio style can be worn over in-ear hearing aids – great for seniors (including me!)
  • Easy to set up and “pair” with your Apple or Android device – even works with my new Apple Watch (and iPhone, iPad, Mac – and the list goes on).
  • On-ear control panel for play, pause, volume up, volume down, next track, past track
  • LED lites for charging (glows red), in use (slow flash blue), pairing (fast flash blue)
  • Available in black or red.
  • 1 year manufacturers warranty

 

Control Panel
Control Panel
 
Easy to pick-up at your nearest Kohl’s department store for $49.99.  Amazon web site has them listed for $42.99 (Black) with FREE shipping for Prime members.  Amazon also has them for $40.46 (Red) with FREE shipping for Prime members.

 

Jam Transit Headphones
Jam Transit Headphones
 
Finally…

“Say Hello To A Good Buy!” is a new style of post that we will publish from time to time when we find a really good value (value = good price, good technology, easy-to-use, good customer service) – especially for our senior readers.  Let us know (please leave a comment) how you like this new section!

Digital Magazine “Joy!” No, this is not an ad – but it could be.

 

My Favorite Magazines
My Favorite Magazines
 

The Bad News – Digital Magazines are a Nightmare!

I’ve messed with digital books, newspapers and magazines for over seven years.  I’ve tried them on everything from iPhones, iPads, Nooks, Kindle’s, Androids, Mac’s, PC’s and more…

IMHO the most difficult transition from print to electronic are magazines.  Books are much easier – any of the popular apps like Amazon’s Kindle or Barnes & Nobles Nook make it very easy to read books – after all books are pretty much text and an occassional photo, drawing or map.  Newspapers are more difficult.  A good example of a digital newspaper done right is the USAToday app.
My favorite things to read are magazines.  But magazines vary in size, shape, design, use of photos, story length, publishing frequency, back issues and dozens of more “challenges.”

Over the years I’ve tried many digital magazines some in a horizontal format, some in a vertical format – some in both.  I’ve tried magazines on Mac’s and PC’s with large screens (up to 22″), tablets with 7″ and 10″ screens and smart phones with 4″, 5″ and 5.5″ screens.  Almost every attempt at reading magazines has led to disappointment.  Mostly because of small, almost unreadable text (requiring “Zoomed-in” text.) Poor formatting, and big download size (and time to download) were very discouraging.

Another big digital magazine hassle is the individual magazine app or Apple newstand app required to manage your magazine account(s).  Each required different log-in and password procedures, some required lengthy account numbers (from the magazine labels themselves) and on and on.

 

Sample  Magazine  Page
Sample Magazine Page
 

The Good News – “Next Issue” App solves everything

A realtively new company and app (for Apple and Android) is called “Next Issue” and has solved (for me) 95% of my digital magazine nightmares. The “Next Issue” app allows me to manage and read all the current and past issues of my favorite magazines.  The formatting is almost perfect on my iPad (10″ full size model) and actually usable on my iPhone 6 plus smartphone (5.5″ screen size).  The formatting features are pretty consistent from magazine to magazine.  The magazines download quickly (1-2 minutes, about 250Mb each).  It’s easy to download, delete, and re-download any issue of any of the over 140 supported magazines.  Web site links, video links, audio links and animation and special effects are all supported.

The cost – $9.99 per month for access to all monthly magazines that are supported.  $14.99 per month gets you all the monthly and the weekly (Time, People, etc.) magazines.  No contracts.  Free 30 day trial.  Actually saves me money because all my magazine subscriptions for the same print and or digital magazines was substantially more than $14.99.  Plus the same account can be used on up to five devices.

It won’t cost you a thing to check out “Next Issue” on your iPad or iPhone for the next 30 days.  Start here to see if your favorite magazine(s) are supported – I’ll bet most of them are: Next Issue Web Site (click this link.)  Then download the app from the Apple App Store or Android Play Store.

 

App in Apple App Store
App in Apple App Store
 
I’m very confident that if you enjoy reading magazines – you will enjoy “Next Issue” – and think about all the trees you will save!