Welcome to IRL, an ongoing feature where we talk about the gadgets, apps and toys we're using in real life and take a second look at products that already got the formal review treatment.



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This week's IRL is a quirky mix of vintage and modern, with Billy getting comfy with a new iPad stylus and Jason clinging to the Sansa Clip+ player he's owned since 2009. Rounding things out, Darren's decided to put all his digital media in one proverbial basket: a 128GB CompactFlash card.

SanDisk ExtremePro 128GB CompactFlash card

ImageFor my Nikon D3S, there's nothing else I'd shove into its pair of CF slots than an Extreme Pro card from SanDisk, but even I was a little taken aback upon hearing that SanDisk was crafting one with one hundred and twenty-eight gigabytes of storage. My typical setup is a pair of 32GB cards, and I've had absolutely zero issue shooting nine frames per second in RAW while capturing my wife leaping off of a cliff in Kauai (good times, good times). But the 128GB version is actually slightly speedier (rated at 100MB/sec), and for pro shooters picking up the D4 instead, it suddenly makes a lot more sense than it did on Nikon's prior flagship.

The D4 only has a single CompactFlash slot; the other one is that snazzy new XQD format. On the D3S, you're better off buying a pair of 64GB ExtremePro cards, but if you're going to be doing an awful lot of 1080p shooting on the newer D4, being able to handle 128GB of content on a single card is a serious boon -- particularly for off-the-grid projects where it's just not convenient to dump your card after every day.

Make no mistake: the 128GB ExtremePro is by no means affordable. It's currently selling for just under $800, while a 64GB Extreme Pro can be easily had for $190. That said, it handles 11fps rapid shooting on the D4 with poise, and in fact, you'll be hard-pressed to find a device that accepts CF capable of overwhelming it. To be frank, this is hardly a consumer card, but pros who capture gigabytes on end in order to put food on the table will absolutely love it. (In a year or so, when it's half as costly.)

-- Darren Murph
Sansa Clip+

ImageAs someone who once rocked the waffle maker of portable music players -- the Sony Discman -- my iPod Video didn't look that big to me when I bought it in 2005. By 2009, though, I was on the hunt for a more compact player that would free up some pocket space. At the time, I decided not to get another "i" gadget -- the iPod nano was still a bit too big, while the iPod shuffle's user interface was just, well, I'm not gonna go there, okay? Instead, I opted for the Sansa Clip+, which offered a robust feature set and attractive price, too. For starters, I wanted something with a screen for browsing and selecting music. That, combined with the player's small size and clip made this guy an ideal companion for flights and the occasional venture into the great outdoors.

The sound quality is quite good and can be tweaked via several preset settings or the built-in custom equalizer. Getting music into the device is also a cinch -- I can just drag and drop stuff like I would with an external hard drive. Otherwise, I can use Windows Media Player to sync libraries or create custom playlists. Additional listening options include an FM radio and compatibility with subscription services like Rhapsody. It even comes with a voice recorder, which is always a nice backup to have in case my regular recorder fails when I have to do interviews for my reporting job. Built-in storage ranges from 2GB to 8GB and that can be further expanded via the built-in microSD card slot.

Unfortunately, a relative who shall remain nameless (you know who you are!) accidentally stepped on my defenseless little blue player sometime last year. Now, my Sansa Clip+ is sans clip, with reduced volume when I connect it to an external speaker. It still sounds good with headphones, though, so I've decided to stick with the little bugger. The only difference now is that it goes inside my pocket instead of clipping onto it.
-- Jason Hidalgo
oStylus Dot

ImageIf you've been reading Engadget long enough, you might recall that time we took the previous model of the oStylus for a spin. Now, the outfit's released a new model, the Dot, which naturally brings various improvements. I use it mostly just to scribble down notes and do some sketching on the iPad, though it also makes for a nice tool when combined with the Magic Trackpad -- especially useful for navigating alongside Photoshop brushes. You know, if a Wacom tablet just isn't in the cards. Overall, the oStylus feels great in the hand. It really is the perfect size for an accessory that's meant to be used like a pen or brush. With the latest effort, the company has made the head smaller, which makes navigation on mobile devices that much easier.

However, the open metal ring on the end is now a closed dot (hence the name), and it still isn't fully covered in that protective white material. This means that anywhere on the input end (edges) is off limits except for the coated bottom portion. More times than not, when sketching rough ideas for a logo project, I feel like I'm scratching the screen of my iPad. So far, there hasn't been any noticeable damage, but it feels like there is, and that always makes me a tad uneasy. Other than that, the oStylus works great. Input is a breeze and I never struggle to make the iPad and capacitive pen play nicely together. At around $35, it's priced on par with other styli but with a more unique experience. Hopefully you don't mind a little scratch anxiety from time to time.
-- Billy Steele

FCC Fridays: April 13, 2012