App of the Week – Fiz: The Brewery Management Game

Developer: Bit By Bit Studios

Compatible with: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch

Requires: iOS 4.3

Price: $1.99

Available: Here

While every man has no doubt entertained the thought of brewing their own beer at some point, the incredibly pricey and unappealing process of actually doing so tends to successfully deter all but the most die hard of brewmeisters.

Instead of lamenting another goal tossed by the wayside, though, why not download “Fiz: The Brewery Management Game” and put those ale ambitions and distillery dreams to the test?

“Fiz” is another in a line of micromanagement games that have have thus far covered everything from restaurants to the death star. The objective here, as you no doubt guessed, is to start a brewery in your garage and turn it into a world wide name in fine beer.

As you also probably guessed, it takes a lot of work to get there. On the road to success you’ll have to perfect your recipe, craft it, sell it, keep an eye on the market place, hire and fire employees with various skills, upgrade your equipment, compete with rival breweries, compete in beer challenges, kill rodents, complete special assignments, and much, much more.

Fiz

If it sounds like a lot of work that’s because it is. This is a game that asks a lot out of you and, no matter how successful of a brewery you may be running, is constantly giving you something to do.

While that could be a bad thing, somehow the developers managed to present all of this information and all of these tasks to you in a very gradual way that makes it so you may always be busy, but you’ll never be lost. This philosophy extends to the controls as well, as everything is handled through  just a few taps.

You can’t overstate how important that balance is to the fun factor of this game. Too often this genre produces titles that are either too simple to last, or too complex to be enjoyable. That “Fiz” so expertly gives you so much to do, and presents it in a way so that the instant you’re asked to do more is the moment you’re ready for it, is a true accomplishment in game design.

It also doesn’t hurt that the game doesn’t take itself seriously at all from an aesthetic standpoint. Everything from the writing, to the sounds, to the character designs have been expertly crafted to infuse a level of fun into all the game’s various proceedings, and they go a long way to keeping the proceedings light when they could otherwise so easily become hectic and aggravating.

Another in a strand of Kickstarter success stories, “Fiz” is simply a highly enjoyable game that takes some already intriguing subject matter, and bolsters its appeal with airtight game design. I never realized how little I was enjoying other micromanagement titles, until I started to spend some real time with “Fiz.” It’s such a marvel of the genre that that you’ll want to buy the developers a beer after just a little time with it.

With no micro-transactions to its name and hours upon hours of content to explore, “Fiz” is a prime example of mobile gaming done right. Take a break from all your worries, crack open a cold one, and be sure to spend some time with this lovingly brewed app of the week.

  

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2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers

As gadgets and electronics become a bigger part of our lives with smartphones and tablets, gadget accessories are becoming more popular as well. We’ve assembled a few cool products that fit the bill, as well as other stocking stuffers you can consider for everyone on your holiday list.

Click on the image next to each item to purchase it online, and for more gift ideas, check out the other categories in our Holiday Gift Guide.

Phiaton PS 210 BTNC Bluetooth 3.0 Active Noise Cancelling Stereo Earphones with Mic

That’s a pretty long name for a set of headphones, but this item from Phiaton is loaded with features. What’s unique is that they combine both Bluetooth 3.0 and noise-cancellation in one half-in-ear headset. They also make it easy to plug in the audio cable to bypass wireless mode/battery operation when needed. Bluetooth 3.0 connectivity provides increased bandwidth, longer battery life and wider range, while making music sound more natural and thus improving the sound quality dramatically. The Noise Blocker Active Noise Cancellation technology blocks out up to 95% of ambient background noise, which is great for commuters and travelers. Finally, Phiaton’s Echo-Off technology eliminates most background noise while on a phone call. These earphones will be great for anyone on your list looking for quality and versatility.

Cobra CXT 545 28-Mile Range Walkie Talkie

Here’s the ultimate gift for kids of all ages and anyone who loves the outdoors and activities like camping, hiking, the beach, road trips etc. Walkie talkies are also great for safety purposes, as well in a wide variety of situations. The Cobra units performed very well for us and are loaded with features, including rubberized grips and belt clip, micro-USB charging, digital display, 22 channels combined with 121 privacy codes, water resistant, built-in LED flashlight, dedicated weather button and rechargeable NiMH batteries and a two-port charging dock. It’s amazing how advanced these units are compared to what we had years ago. You can’t help but have fun with walkie talkies, but they also have tons of practical uses as well.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Gadgets

Adults like toys too, so if you’re on the lookout for a memorable gift for your spouse or just treating yourself to an early Christmas present, a cool gadget is always a great option. Of course, prices run the gamut in this arena, so you’ll need to be careful, but whether you’re shopping for the latest and greatest tablet or something to please that audiophile in your life, you can find something that fits almost any budget.

Click on the image next to each item to purchase it online, and for more gift ideas, check out the other categories in our Holiday Gift Guide.

Seiki 4K TV

4K TV is very real. By that, I don’t mean that it simply exists, but rather that it is the heir apparent to HDTV as the next format of television which will become standard. However, you should be cautious. 4K is an improvement over HDTV like Blu-ray is an improvement over DVD. That is to say that it’s noticeably better looking, but not necessarily mind blowing. Not to mention, the technology is still in its infancy. That being said, if you want to get in on 4K now and don’t want to pay a price too ridiculous to do so, the absolute best way to go is Seiki’s 4K model, which routinely goes for around $1,000 for its 50-inch model and, for a limited time, around $500 for the 39-inch model on Amazon. It’s the cheapest 4K on the market to be sure, but having sampled it earlier this year at CES, I can say with some confidence that it is far from a bargain model in quality. Sooner or later, keeping up with the Jonses will mean buying a 4K TV. If you need that to be sooner, the Seiki is the way to go.

Sceptre LED HDTV

By now, most people have some sort of HDTV in their home, but if you still haven’t gotten around to upgrading and don’t have the money to splurge on a higher-end brand, Sceptre makes some pretty nice budget-friendly LED and LCD HDTVs that are worth checking out. The company’s newest 40-inch model features a FullHD crystal clear viewable area, 1920×1080 panel resolution and 3 HDMI ports for as cheap as $250 depending on where you look. And if you don’t need all the fancy add-ons (like Wi-Fi, entertainment apps and 3D capabilities) that some of the more expensive brands feature these days, that’s a really good deal for a TV that isn’t too far off in terms of quality. It also boasts a lightweight and slim design, which makes it perfect for mounting on a wall, and is Energy V6.0 compliant, with an estimated yearly energy cost of about $13. You really can’t ask for more from an HDTV that costs less than most tablets.

Apple iPad Air

Ah, the iPad. Since the very first iPad model was released, gift guides have featured one iPad model or another, and for very good reason. However, the iPad market has grown more crowded than it once was with many consumers wondering just what model is right for them amongst a sea of options. While it’s difficult to account for personal needs, if you’re looking for the best iPad period it’s hard to argue against the iPad Air. Its $499 price tag may be daunting, but for it you get a model that is in a league of its own among full-sized tablets. No other product in the field can possibly compare to the iPad Air’s enticing paper-thin design, crystal clear display or flex-worthy processing muscle. The debate on the best overall tablet period is not an easy one, but if price is not an issue, then it’s a conversation that begins and ends with the iPad Air.

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Cobra 28-Mile Range Walkie Talkie

Cobra CXT 545 Walkie-Talkie

We checked out the Cobra CXT 545 28-Mile Range Walkie Talkie and had plenty of fun trying it out. It’s the ultimate gift for kids of all ages and anyone who loves the outdoors and activities like camping, hiking, the beach, road trips etc. Walkie Talkies are also great for safety purposes as well in a wide variety of situations.

The Cobra units performed very well and are loaded with features:

- Rubberized grips and belt clip,
- Micro-USB charging,
- Digital Display,
- 22 Channels combined with 121 privacy codes,
- Water Resistant,
- Built-in LED Flashlight,
- dedicated weather button
- VibrAlert® to notify users of a call in noisy or all-quiet environments,
- Voice-activated transmission frees hands for other tasks, and
- rechargeable NiMH batteries and a two-port charging dock.

It’s amazing how advanced these units are compared to what we had years ago. You can’t help but have fun with walkie talkies, but they also have tons of practical uses as well. With the holidays around the corner this Cobra Walkie Talkie makes for an excellent gift or stocking stuffer!

  

Product Review: HeadBlade All-Terrain Razor and Shave Cream

atx

I am not a smart man, Jenn-ay, but I know what love is.

I am not a bald man, but I know an effective head-shaving razor when I see one.

The All-Terrain Razor from HeadBlade is truly awesome, and not because it looks like a miniature ATV, complete with HeadBlade logo hood ornament.

It looks gimmicky at first, but the minute you insert your fingers and take it for a ride, you notice it was built for maximum efficiency and ease of use. Once you use it, you wonder why no one had ever thought of this before.

With your fingers in place, you gently pull the All-Terrain Razor (ATX) over the area you want to shave, leading with the wheels with the blade pulling behind. The ATX has a suspension system that adjusts to the pressure you apply and to the curvature of the area you’re shaving.

It may seem strange to be a 30-plus-year-old man shaving with a toy car, but you get over that feeling pretty quickly thanks to the effectiveness.

Even though the ATX is something you can use for hair on any part of your body, I felt that its true purpose was to shave the head of a man who maintains the “cue ball” look. So I enlisted the help of my neighbor Brian, a former marine who keeps his head smooth at all times.

When I handed him the ATX, he looked at me curiously. He flipped it around in his hand and said, “What am I supposed to do with this?” I explained the concept and showed him this video:

Two days later, Brian said it was the easiest head shave of his life. He only had to go over areas one time and he didn’t have to go slow to avoid cutting himself.

The wheels on the front of the ATX really take all the work out of it for you in terms of lining up the next area you want to shave, and makes it easier to avoid missing patches of hair. They also guide the blade over uneven areas, where a normal straight razor could potentially knick or scratch the area.

HeadSlick shave cream was the perfect complement to the ATX. For a shave cream with water as the most prominent ingredient, it exceeded my expectations for not only a smooth shave, but for how well it moisturized my skin. It had the consistency of a pre- or post-shave balm and functioned like a cooling strip on a razor.

The HeadBlade ATX is as effective as it is innovative. There is truly no other product like it on the market.

Check out HeadBlade at www.headblade.com

  

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