be.ez La Robe Club

The laptop revolution started around 2004. It became cooler in May 2006, when the MacBook scampered out of Apple’s labs. It’s taken a while, but in 2011, cases have finally caught up. The be.ez La Robe Club combines portability, functionality and style to make, possibly, our favourite laptop case.

Beez

The reason for this La Robe Club lust is not simply adoration for black-and-vibrant-colour combinations – although the Club’s black-and-saffron is pretty fine. No, it’s because a lot of thought has been put into the whole design. What else would you expect from a French brand?

Made from low resilience polyurethane, there’s 5mm of memory foam on either side to protect from square-on drops. The interior of the sleeve features a reinforced inner lip to protect from corner impact – the biggest cause of laptop damage.

Our favourite part, however, is the two pockets on the front. Finally, a slimline sleeve that looks cool, is well-built, and has a place for accessories. Aging systems appreciate the opportunity to charge wherever they are, so it’s reassuring to know the charger is always near-by.

And if you don’t want to use the pockets, they’re barely noticeable anyway.

Nothing’s perfect, however, and in our ideal world there’d be a waterproof seal instead of the zip closure – to protect the system spills and leaks, as well as knocks and scrapes.

We’d also like to see a variety of colours. Sure, we love the current aesthetics, but we’re all about the black-and-Tron-blue at the moment. Still, this is the current front-runner for our laptop case needs. Comment if you’ve got a better one.

The be.ez LA robe Club is available for the Macbook and MacBook Pro 13” and 15”, as well as the iPad. Prices start at £24.95.

Kindle apps roundup

Just as trees are grown for books, Amazon has slowly been growing an eco-system for reading books anywhere – the Kindle software. Now available or planned for eight different devices, Kindle plans to become far more than just hardware for eBook rendering. It wants to be a one-stop shop for all your book reading needs.

Kindle-Apps

And with such clever features, it’s no doubt an important reason to buy into the closed Amazon environment. With any piece of Kindle software, you can view your entire eReading library. Forget your Kindle? Read the same purchased book on your phone. Spare moment at work? Whip open the PC program.

Aside from granting you access to all of your books, Whipsersync software will also automatically synchronise the last page you read , as well as any annotations. It’s like having your book on you no matter where you choose to read.

Despite standard Whispanet features, each platform has slight variations in what the program can do. We’ve ran through every piece of Amazon software, isolating the key features of each version

PC Version

You’d expect the PC version to be the most fully-formed installation, but you’d be wrong. Feature-wise, it lets you create new highlights, notes, and bookmarks, and manage old ones. It also lets you search for words or phrases within the book you’re reading.

In terms of readability, it is one of only three versions with a multi-column reading mode, full screen functionality, and brightness adjustment. You can also alter the presentation, changing it from black-text-on-white to white text-on-black, or to a sepia option (a personal favourite). You’re also allowed to fiddle around with the amount of words per line.

Unfortunately, Kindle newspapers, magazines, and blogs are not currently available for Kindle for PC (or any other app). All those subscriptions can only be realised on the actual Kindle device.

Mac Version

The OSX installation (for Leopard and Snow Leopard only) is exactly the same as Windows. It’s almost an identical port, bar the change around in the menu due to the operating system’s layout.

iPhone Version

The only option the iPhone loses over the computer versions is multi-column support. Otherwise, viewing annotations and adding notes and highlights are there, size, search and background colour are all present.

Far from being a stripped down experience, the iPhone app actually adds three killer features. The first is the ability to tap a word for a definition. The second is the automatic orientation adjustment, and the third is swipe to turn a page. Brilliant.

Android Version

The Android version started out as a poor man’s iPhone app, but a recent update has put it above its Apple brother. There are two reasons for this. First, you can change brightness in-app, so it is much easier to adjust depending on your reading conditions.

The other iPhone-beating features is that you can search inside a book via text input or by voice, as well as look up the definition of words in Wikipedia.

Blackberry Version

The Blackberry version hasn’t received very favourable reviews, mainly due to the lack of touchscreen and small display. Still, you can create new highlights, notes, and bookmarks and manage those created on other systems, as well as change the font size between six different sizes and select a certain page or chapter to go to.

There’s also a whole host of shortcuts to make book navigation easier, though:

• Press ‘P’ or ‘shift’ + ‘space’ to go to the previous page.
• Press ‘B’ to add a bookmark to the current location (page).
• Press ‘F’ to toggle full screen reading mode on or off.
• Press ‘-‘ or ‘+’ to change font sizes.

Kindle for BlackBerry is available to U.S. customers only. It should install on your UK device, but the book store probably won’t work.

iPad

The iPad edition takes the best bits of the iPhone and adds customised background colors, font colors, and font size to help ease eyestrain. Then it takes the adjust screen brightness function from Android and puts it within the app.

Finally, it takes the multicolumn display from the computer system versions and makes it available when reading in landscape. It’s the most complete version and our top pick.

• They’ve even added a page turning animation to replicate the look of turning a page in a book, or you can use the default Basic Reading Mode for a simpler and unadorned reading experience.

BlackBerry Playbook Version

This app is as mysterious as the platform right now. We imagine it’ll be like the iPad’s version, however. Watch this space.