Review: iPin adds freakin’ lasers to your iPhone!
Well, the must have holiday gift for both you are your pet is clearly the iPin ($86 at Amazon).
OK, OK, the iPin may technically be designed to help business folks control and interact with their presentations on stage, but where it REALLY excels is at entertaining/tiring out your pet. What is it? It’s a tiny pin-like device that you insert into your iPhone’s audio jack, and that when paired with the free iPin remote app, turns your iPhone into a laser pointer! And it does it with style. Unlike a couple other laser pointer attachments I’ve seen which are a tube that sticks out about an inch from your iPhone, the iPin sits nearly flush with your iPhone, allowing it to be left in and even used along with many cases, so you always have it with you.
Now that the temperature appears to be have settled in to 32 degrees F and under here in NJ, I’ve been looking for a reasonably quick way to tire out our 10-month old Samoyed. As you can see, he is built for this weather, where I am not, so minimizing my outside time is important.
Everyone knows cats chase laser pointers, but slightly less known is that a good 80% of dogs I met also go nuts over them, including my own. The iPin has got to be the best thing that has happened to my pet and I since the tennis ball, and honestly, this is WAY more fun and doesn’t tire your arm out.
I have taken my dog to the tennis courts and the beach at night, and given him a 40-minute workout in about 10 minutes with this thing. The beach is especially fun as the iPin can shoot it’s bright red dot at least 100 yards, and Chewie will run full out after it, chasing each twist and turn I make while I exert ZERO effort. Seriously, I cannot recommend this device highly enough if you are a pet owner. Since I always have my iPhone with me, I always have a laser pointer with me on any walk where I find an deserted parking lot or field, I can run my dog ragged.
Operating the iPin is easy. Simply twist the iPin about 90 degrees in your iPhone’s audio jack to turn it “on” and launch the iPin app on your phone. When in laser pointer mode, the app has one big button on the main screen whose sole purpose is to turn on the pointer when pressed and turn off when you let go.
Its intended use
OK, I am using the iPin solely to tire out my dog, but it actually was designed as a presentation tool for serious business folks who wish to be able to control their Keynote and Prezi presentations from their iPhone. In order to function for presentation purposes, you need the iPin, the free iOS app, and the free host app for your laptop (both Mac and PC are supported). Assuming your iPhone and laptop are on the same WiFi network, setup is a breeze, and I was able to verify that I could advance Keynote slides in a presentation using the iPin app, as well as pull down a “track pad” mode which allowed me to control a cursor on screen from my iPhone. If you are not on a WiFi network where you will be presenting, iPin provides some instructions on creating an ad-hoc wifi network, similar to the steps used to tether your iPhone when jailbreaking, if you are familiar with that. It isn’t too difficult, but if you find yourself at all put off by technical things, you’ll likely want to do a test run before showing up at your meeting expecting it to work. Overall the app is fairly basic, but did what I needed it to do. If you are on a MacBook you should be able to use Bluetooth to connect as well according to iPin, but I had trouble painting my iPhone and MacBook Pro. Perhaps pilot error.
Well, honestly the only issue I have run into with the iPin is that it only really works at night, although it works 24/7 indoors, if you have the space, or a small dog, which I do not. Also, it is a little hard to pull out since it sits so flat against your iPhone, so I have been using a lot of bluetooth and wifi speakers vs line-in models for listening to music to avoid having to take it out. And if you DO pull it out, you need to be quite careful not to lose it, given its size.
Also, if iPin’s designer’s are reading this, I would love the ability to toggle the pointer ON and OFF. Currently you have to keep your finger in contact with the screen in order to activate the laser pointer, which in cold weather, makes for a frozen hand. How about a double-tap to lock the iPin ON or turn it off?
The iPin is a really fun presentation tool that allows you to control your Keynote and Prezi shows from your iPhone, but it makes an even better dog/cat toy. With it’s low profile there is no reason not to leave it in and have a laser pointer with you at all times. Based on bang for your buck, I am giving this a 10 and calling it THE holiday present of the year (assuming you have a pet who would be into this).
Price: $86 (Amazon)
Pros: Amazing pet toy, small, always have it with you, long range, bright, / can also be used as a legitimate presentation tool for flipping through keynote/Prezio slides
Cons: Like all laser pointers, only works at night or dark rooms, if you are doing a presentation and not on the same WiFi network you will have to do some work to hook the iPin app to your laptop. You have to keep your finger on the screen for the pointer to work – there is no ON/OFF button.