App of the Month: Genius Scan

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If you are like me, you use your smart phone everyday. I believe most people in ministry do, as well. That’s why we’re introducing a new monthly post for a feature app we love! Here is November’s.

I’m on the go a lot and often have to deal with documents or write something down or need to show something to someone else. The problem is that I usually don’t have access to a scanner when I’m on the road. Even if I do have access to a scanner, I have yet to invest the money into a fancy scanner that auto-feeds the papers for me, so the process is arduous to say the least. Then along came Genius Scan.

The concept is super simple: take a picture of what you want to scan and Genius Scan saves it to your phone. You’re probably wondering how this is different from using the regular camera app already on the phone. Genius Scan will generally detect and properly crop the document, leaving only the document and no background. It can also turn the document to black & white or keep it in full color. What really sets this app apart is the ability to take the picture you took and turn it into a .pdf document that you can then share on Dropbox, Evernote, email, etc with ease. You can easily add more scans to the .pdf document or make a new document for each scan.

I use this app at least once a week, sometimes much more. I use it for receipts, business cards, and even some more heavy-duty scanning in my very slow venture to eventually go paperless. Occasionally, I will use Genius Scan to scan a page from a book I am using for a class so that I can combine it with my notes into a single .pdf.  It’s a really neat, functional app that’s available in the app store. Purchase the free version or an upgraded version for $2.99.

Review: Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0

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Since 2008 I’ve been an Apple fanboy. I’ve traded-in or sold everything non-Apple related in exchange for every Apple product I could afford. In the tablet world, I have owned the i-Pad 1, i-Pad 2, and the i-Pad Mini and for the most part, I have loved their products. In June of this year, I decided it was time for a change; mostly because I realized my i-Pad mini was lying around unused all the time since my iPhone did the exact same thing. So, I did the unthinkable: I switched to an Android device, with the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0.

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What I Love

I have adored this tablet. I could not put it down for the better part of three months and still use it nearly everyday. It is so different from an i-Pad, that it’s a bit unnerving. What originally sold me on this tablet was the S-pen that comes with it. This thing combined with S-Note (native) works and functions exactly like a pen. You can literally write with same ease you would on paper and it even has a feature that turns your handwriting into text, (it has been tested and works with my own TERRIBLE handwriting). The S-pen also has some nifty navigation features to use, as well as making typing things so much easier.

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Another feature that I love is the ability to have dual screens running. Though the screen real estate on an 8 inch tablet is a bit small, it still works beautifully. You can have two apps running at the same time, side by side. I use this most often with my Bible app and note taking app, and I have found this especially handy during lectures or sermons.

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The Samsung Galaxy Note also has expanding memory with a microSD slot for up to 64 GB of cheap, extra memory should I desire it. In my opinion, this is where Apple is severely lagging behind. This tablet also has a feature called, “smart eyes”, that detects if your eyes are reading something and doesn’t allow the screen to go dim. It doesn’t work perfectly, and it is, admittedly, a slight bit creepy, but it has come in handy a time or two.

What I Don’t Like

Despite all of the features I love, there are a few I just cant stand. First of all, the construction makes this feel extremely cheap. Perhaps, it’s because I’m used to the quality of Apple stuff, but Note 8.0 feels like a kid’s toy sometimes. I just never have gotten the same satisfaction from holding it that I did from the iPad mini.

The camera on this tablet stinks. Granted, I don’t take a lot of photos with my tablet; but on the few occasions that I have, they have not turned out well.The camera never seems to focus the way it needs to.

The Samsung book case is the worst $50 I ever spent. Terrible doesn’t even begin to describe it. The case doesn’t snap shut and is constantly flapping open. The functionality of what it is supposed to do (make is stand in different positions) is an absolute joke and has never worked.

My one other pet peeve with the Samsung Note is that you can’t find any accessories for it in stores. Finding a case in a store is extremely difficult, especially since they just released a new 10 inch version.

 

Overall, I have really enjoyed this tablet. I have used it several times for preaching and teaching classes and have thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s small enough that it fits into my back pocket and extremely functional and practical. I’ve traveled with it extensively (without a case) and, so far it has held up incredibly well for as cheap as it feels. If your looking for a wonderful alternative to an iPad give this one a try.

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293284_4561400396965_1525240434_nBen Wright is the founder of Stuff Preachers Use and co-founder of Enwrightened Publications. He is the author of “Branded:Bearing the Marks of Jesus” and the soon to be released “52 Days: Rebuilding Our Spiritual Walls”. Ben currently serves the church of Christ in Paintsville, KY.

 

Preaching With The iPad Air (First Impressions & Review)

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Apple started selling its 5th generation iPad – the “iPad Air” – this past Friday, and I was among the first to walk through the doors of my local Apple store to pick one up. I’ve had an iPad 2 since early 2011 (putting me behind the iPad Air by 3 generations!), so you can imagine I was excited to upgrade. I opted for the cheapest version (since that’s all I needed): the 16GB + Wi-Fi. I chose the “Space Gray” model (because that’s how I roll).

The First Impression

The moment I put my hands on the iPad Air, I realized how great a job Apple did at shaving off the weight. This thing is surprisingly light, coming in at exactly 1 pound! The 3rd and 4thgeneration iPads weren’t any lighter than my iPad 2 (in fact, they were slightly heavier), so this is a significant change for all iPad owners.

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Being only 7.5mm thick, the iPad Air is noticeably thinner than previous models. It is nearly 2mm thinner than the 4th generation iPad.

The screen is still 9.7 inches, but the bezel has been trimmed. The iPad 2/3/4 had a width of 7.3 inches, while the iPad Air has a width of 6.6 inches. Additionally (and hardly noticeably), the height of the iPad Air (9.4 inches) is 1/10 of an inch less than the height of the 2/3/4 generation iPads.

Overall, compared to the iPad 2 I used to lug around, the iPad Air feels much more like the iPad Mini. I have slightly larger than average hands, so I can almost comfortably hold the iPad Air in one hand by gripping it between my thumb and my pinky

 

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Hands down, the Retina 2,048 x 1,536 resolution screen blows the iPad 2’s 1,024 x 768 resolution screen out of the water. The text is significantly clearer and crisper, which is a big asset to me (When I’m preaching, I need to be able to read my notes as easily & quickly as possible.). It also seems to have a brighter display than the iPad 2, and has a warmer tint to it.

As is to be expected from any 2.5-year-old device, the battery of my iPad 2 doesn’t hold a charge as long as it used to. The battery of the iPad Air can hold a charge for a continual 10 hours of use.

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The Specs

The iPad Air is super fast & zippy, making my old iPad 2 seem like a turtle. I know “super fast & zippy” aren’t exactly quantitative terms of measurement, so I installed an app calledGeekbench 3 on the two iPads so you can get a better idea:

Geekbench 3 Performance Comparison

Single-Core Score Multi-Core Score
iPad Air: 1,481 2,691
iPad 2: 265 499

That might not mean much to you, but it does provide some sort of metric when comparing the two models. Both iPads are running the same version of iOS7 (7.0.3), and I closed all of the apps except Geekbench 3 before running the benchmark.

Device Specification Comparison

iPad Air iPad 2
OS Version: 7.0.3 7.0.3
Processor: A7 chip & M7 motion coprocessor A5 chip
RAM: 1GB 500MB
Cameras: 5MP Rear iSight & 1.2MP Front FaceTime .92MP Rear & VGA Front FaceTime
Siri Capability: Yes No
Connector: Lightning 30-pin
Screen Resolution: 2,048 x 1,536 (Retina) 1,024 x 768

Functionally, the iPad Air doesn’t seem to be a huge improvement over the iPad 3/4, but if you want the newest A7 chip and the lighter weight (1LB!), this is the iPad for you.

The Pulpit Commentary

Since picking it up over the weekend, I’ve spoken six (6) times: 4 times at a weekend youth retreat, and 2 times on Sunday. While that’s a lot in such a short amount of time (I’m exhausted!), it did give me a chance to see the iPad Air in action.

From the audience’s perspective, I’m sure the iPad Air didn’t noticeably improve this young preacher’s preaching (that department is probably a lost cause!). But from my perspective, using the iPad Air was a remarkable upgrade.

The Good

  • It is noticeably lighter. Since I rarely preach standing stationary behind a pulpit, I have to hold my iPad. A .33 pound difference is noticeable after a 30-45 minute lesson!
  • I can transition between apps faster. Thanks to the new A7 processor, the iPad Air is blazingly fast. This is especially important to me, since I don’t have time to wait for apps to load when I’m before an audience.
  • The Retina screen is bright and crisp. I can distinguish text slightly faster than I could with my iPad 2. This is valuable for me since I occasionally have to look down at my notes while preaching.
  • It has 10 hours of battery life. Actually, I’ve gotten closer to 11 hours out of mine. It also charges faster than the iPad 2.
  • It is more comfortable to hold. The iPad 2 had relatively sharp edges, while the edges of the iPad Air are more gently curved.
  • It has about the same 2D dimensions as my 6.25” x 9.4” Bible.

The Bad

  • My thumb doesn’t have as much room to hold the edge. The left & right bezel of the iPad 2 provided roughly 1.75 cm of real estate for my thumb. This made it easy to hold by the edge with one hand. The iPad Air, on the other hand, only has 1 cm for my thumb, making it more difficult to hold with one hand without accidentally turning a page of my notes.
  • 1GB of RAM. The iPad Air needs to have at least 2GB of RAM in my opinion (Come on, Apple! Keep up with the competition!).

Conclusion

Really, here’s all you need to know:

  • It’s surprisingly light! That will be your first thought when you pick one up. I feel like I’m holding an iPad Mini, almost.
  • It’s snappy. You will not be annoyed with slow-loading apps and web pages like you certainly must be if you have an iPad 2.
  • The battery life is great. 10+ hours of continuous life.
  • Be prepared for the 1 cm bezel. It isn’t a big deal, but if you preach while standing/pacing, be prepared to make some adjustments to how you hold your iPad.

That’s all you really need to know. If you’ve been holding out like me (I generally like to upgrade my Apple products every two generations), go get one! You’ll enjoy it!

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1464779_10200846531074657_2145661931_nBen Giselbach is a graduate of Freed-Hardeman University and currently lives in Louisville, Kentucky with his wife Hannah. He writes for his blog, www.PlainSimpleFaith.com, and serves as the pulpit minister at the Cedar Springs church of Christ.