IRL: Wacom Bamboo Splash, Triggertrap Mobile and the iPad 3

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.

IRL Wacom Bamboo Splash, Triggertrap Mobile and the iPad 3

We've got a mixed bag this week. Billy, who's reviewed a bunch of Wacom products on this site, talks about what it's like to live with the Bamboo Splash pen tablet. James, meanwhile, uses a mobile photography tool to ensure his reflection doesn't show up when he's shooting tablets and such. Rounding out the list, Darren takes a closer look at the iPad's display. He thinks it's alright.

Wacom Bamboo Splash pen tablet

IRL Wacom Bamboo Splash, Triggertrap Mobile and the iPad 3

While it may not have all of the bells and whistles that the Intuos 5 touch does, the Bamboo Splash does come in handy for me from time to time. I use the aforementioned larger pen tablet when I'm working from home for all of the added custom commands, finger swiping and extra real estate. When I'm traveling, though, a larger peripheral just isn't that practical for carrying around in the ol' backpack. That's where the Splash fits in quite nicely.

Sure, the smaller stature isn't ideal for my intense regular work sessions, but it does make for a handy accessory that doesn't take up much space in my rucksack. I just connect via USB, which adds an extra cable to the fray but is at least straightforward. While I do find myself trying to use those touch gestures from my regular kit, that's really the only issue that might slow me down while I'm working on the go. The Splash is quite adept when it comes to pen input, and the size actually complements smaller (read: 13-inch) laptop screens quite well.

For the price, you can't beat this as an add-on to your road pack or for your first leap into the pen-powered peripheral realm. Sure, the pricier options with additional features and buttons (and surface area) are better for your permanent work flow, but when you're working from Starbucks -- as I often am -- the Splash offers just enough without weighing me down.

-- Billy Steele

Triggertrap Mobile

IRL Wacom Bamboo Splash, Triggertrap Mobile and the iPad 3

When you spend a lot of time peering at gadgets through a viewfinder, you soon get tired of your own reflection. That's why anything that helps alleviate the issue is greatly appreciated. The Triggertrap mobile dongle in one such thing. Sure, there's a bigger version that will let you fire off shots from your DSLR in number of exotic ways (with sounds, lights and whatnot), but the dongle is more appealing if you're just looking for a small, tidy way of setting off your camera without you standing right behind it. Not only that, but it rolls in some extra functionality for your trusty shooter too.

The dongle comes in a variety of editions that cover most big-brand DSLRs. Mine is a Canon, but the back of the box tells me that there's support for over 300 cameras in total. The device itself is great because it's small and about as simple to set up as you could hope for. One end plugs into your Android or iPhone's headphone jack; the other into the camera's cable-release port.

The companion app, however, is where the fun is really at. From here you can take shots using the phone as a trigger (which is how I'm mainly using it) to avoid those self-portrait reflections, but there's a stack of other options that many will find useful. Timelapse, is one of the more obvious, but distance lapse is interesting too -- letting your phone's GPS trigger the camera at certain distance intervals. For me, it's more of a glorified shutter release tool, but one that's really easy to integrate into my workflow (after all, I always have my phone). And at $25, it doesn't cost all that much, either. Most importantly, thanks to this little thing you'll be seeing a lot less of me peering back at you in product reviews. No complaints about that, I'm sure.

-- James Trew

The iPad 3

IRL Wacom Bamboo Splash, Triggertrap Mobile and the iPad 3

When I first spotted the iPad 3, I wondered: is this the new iPad? It look me a minute to figure out why. When I upgraded from a 1440 x 900 resolution MacBook Pro to one with a 1680 x 1050 panel, I immediately noticed more screen space for more icons. It enabled me to multitask with more efficiency. It enabled me to add more icons to my Dock without it falling off of either side of the screen. The increased amount of pixels were instantly put the use.

The iPad is different. Despite having a killer display with 2048 x 1536 pixels, you can still only have six icons in your Dock. There is no extra room for more apps on your home pane. Why? This makes no sense whatsoever. Sure, 12 icons in the Dock would mean that each one was small, but who cares -- I have awesome eyesight for the moment, and I want to use all of those pixels that Apple gushed about during its press event.

Instead of using the bonus pixels to usher in legitimate multitasking on the iPad, I'm forced to notice just how "sharp" text looks. To be honest, text looks fine on the old iPad. I'm all about making things "look better" -- and the iPad's display looks marvelous -- but I'd rather Apple put all of those new pixels to work in more places than Newsstand and iPhoto. Enable the pixels to change the way we think about and use iOS. Allow that real estate to enhance productivity. Give me just a little bit of OS X in iOS. Is that really too much to ask for?

-- Darren Murph