Category: Android News Info

Gadget Review: Lightspeed iHelicopter

I’m always intrigued by some of the displays and product demonstrations that I come across in indoor shopping malls. You know, the boomerangs, the magnetic bracelets and those pesky remote controlled helicopters. Well, the iHelicopter from Lightspeed fits right into this category of amazement, and I was privy to try one out this holiday season. The iHelicopter is an actual working machine that can fly throughout your house or possibly outdoors on a calm day all while being controlled from an iPhone, iPad, or Android mobile device.

Prior to takeoff, there are a few steps that need attention, and do note that they take a bit of time, so don’t think that your gift recipient will be flying right out of the box.  Namely, preparation comes in the form of charging not just the helicopter, but also the signal remote that attaches to your mobile device.  I needed to wait a good 30-40 minutes for each before I was flying. Granted, you could probably get by on a shorter charge, but I wanted the full 8+ minutes of fly time that was quoted on a full charge.

As the chopper was charging, I downloaded and installed the “Copter Controller” free app on my Droid X. When both the helicopter and the receiver were fully charged, I turned on the helicopter, attached the receiver to my phone, and opened the app. There were a few buttons on screen, and after experimenting a bit (the included instructions actually were helpful, but I wanted to see if I could figure it out without them), I saw flashing lights on my chopper and a blue light on my receiver. Taking these to be good signs, I went ahead and practiced a few takeoffs and landings as recommended by the manual. 

Soon, I was flying a helicopter in my basement, and save for the limited space, the experience was quite enjoyable. The machine proved to be rather durable, as I had multiple crash landings on a hard ceramic tile floor. However, this is certainly not a toy for a toddler, as the blades remain quite fragile and would certainly crumble if handled improperly. Still, if supervised by an adult, a young one could have some fun and a unique experience of flight with the iHelicopter.

Back to the mall, you always wonder whether it’s the skill of the salesperson that makes it look so easy to control a remote controlled helicopter. And you wonder whether it would be worth the money to purchase and try later on your own. For about $50 US, the iHelicopter is a reasonably priced device that can offer entertainment for a wide variety of ages. Perhaps paired with another helicopter or two, simulated missions or flight shows could be had in your basement or backyard.

Article Author: David Chan

David Chan is the Science/Technology and Gaming editor at Blogcritics. He enjoys gadgets, sports, and caring for his newborn son. During the day, he is the Technology Integration Specialist at Evanston Township High School. …

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Review: Free software runs Android apps from within Windows

BlueStacks announced that a free alpha version of its software allowing Windows 7 users to run Android apps is now downloadable — so naturally, we had to give it a try. The initial BlueStacks App Player comes with ten apps and allows an additional 26 to be installed, while a related Cloud Connect service allows pushing apps from a user’s phone to his or her desktop PC, the company says.

The BlueStacks App Player was first announced back in May — see later in this story for more background — and later promised for release with ViewSonic’s ViewPad 10Pro tablet. It gives users “one-click access to their favorite Android apps right on their Windows 7 PCs, via a gadget that may be clicked on to view a list of installed software (below).

The BlueStacks App Player
(Click to enlarge) Continue reading…

Bluestacks Android Player for Windows (review)

At first blush running Android apps on Windows PCs might not seem like a good idea, but given the number of apps in the Android Market it’s worth giving a try. The Bluestacks Android App Player was released today in an early alpha version, and I have been using it all day.

While the ability to run most Android apps on a Windows system is nice, the real story is the Cloud Connect app for Android devices which lets you shoot apps from the phone or tablet to the Windows PC. It is worth noting that using Bluestacks requires having a physical Android device for getting apps. You cannot simply use Bluestacks as the sole Android “device”.

Installing the Bluestacks Player is a simple process, as long as you have a PC with current hardware. I tried loading it on an older notebook and the installation would not complete. Once I grabbed a ThinkPad X1 with a Core i5 processor the installation ran with no problems.

The first thing you notice after installation is a Bluestacks Windows gadget (image above) that is installed on the desktop. This is the only way to run Android apps, so it’s important to leave it on the desktop. Clicking this icon slides a window open with a few Android apps and games that are run by clicking one.

The Android apps run only in full screen, which is disappointing as running windowed makes more sense on a large screen like a laptop. The apps display flawlessly on the PC, and the mouse and keyboard make working on the PC quite good, even though Android apps are designed to be run by touch.

Most apps I tried worked fine, with a few exceptions. Some games indicate they will only run on a Pro version of Bluestacks that is scheduled for the future. Other apps just never started properly, including Pocket Informant which I had great hopes for.

Bluestacks includes an icon in the gadget for Get More Apps, and when clicked it opens the Windows default web browser to access the Cloud Connect web site. Getting more apps requires allowing Bluestacks to access the user’s Facebook account, something some will find troublesome.

Once authenticated there are apps that can be shot OTA to the Windows PC for use in Bluestacks. Most of the apps presented online are games or news apps.

The real story is the Cloud Connect app in the Android Market, that makes it a simple process to send any installed Android app on the phone or tablet to Bluestacks on the PC. I tested this on both my Nexus S 4G phone and the Galaxy Tab tablet. Running the Cloud Connect app results in a list of installed apps, any of which can be clicked to sync to the PC.

gReader Pro for Android running on Windows PC

It can take a few minutes after syncing for the apps to start appearing on the PC, so patience is required. A popup appears on the PC when each app is installed and ready to be used. Apps shot to the player appear in the app window in the Bluestacks gadget on the PC desktop.

Both the Bluestacks Player and Cloud Connect are in alpha, so there may be some bumps in the road while using it. Both have been pretty stable in the few hours I have been using them today, so it’s a pretty decent start.

I have to admit that it is pretty nice to see my favorite Android app, Plume, running in multiple columns on the big PC screen. It’s more useful than I though it might be. I do wish the onscreen keyboard wouldn’t take up screen real estate on the PC given the physical keyboard.

Plume for Android (3rd column removed for privacy)