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The Magical FlutterBye Fairy Reviewed

Posted in reviews,Toys by Joe Colburn on the December 17th, 2013

At one of the local shopping malls last week, I saw some incredible – and very large – fairy displays the mall had commissioned for the holidays. I imagined this was because the holidays are a magical time and fairies are pretty magical in their own right. Last night, I spent some time with a fairy of my own, FlutterBye.

FlutterBye Fairy

What Is FlutterBye?

My first thought when I saw this toy was, “Another remote control toy… Cool!” But There’s no remote control here, at least not how you’re thinking. The fairy flies in the same way a helicopter or quad-copter might, with a kind of propeller except that she is the propeller. For the most part, she will fly on her own and without guidance she will eventually crash down. The control comes from your use of sensors on underneath FlutterBye that can tell how close your hand is. She will attempt to hover inches above your hand, but will wander off horizontally. Check out the review video below for a demo and a better idea of how she works.

The Magic

When I get toys in the mail to review, I joke with friends about how horrible it is that I have to go play with all these toys. In this case, I wasn’t dreading it, but I wasn’t prepared for how much I’d enjoy FlutterBye. After some initial doubt (see below), I found myself having a lot of fun with it and forgetting I was reviewing it.

I also found the battery life to be pretty amazing. With a remote controlled helicopter, I often get about six to eight minutes of flying time on a charge. Here, I was well into about 15 minutes with no sign of slowing. And while I’m comparing her to a helicopter, she turned out to be tougher as well. Crashing her a lot of times before getting the flying down, I left no sign of damage anywhere on her. She’s one tough fairy.

Some Cautions

Something that wasn’t immediately apparent to me was the risk of long hair and propellers. Though I hadn’t thought of it, it’s worth mentioning although the use of a pony tail and and not headbanging to FlutterBye are probably sufficient precautions. Having that fast propeller hit your hand is another story, though, so you’ll want to heed the advice in the user guide and grab FlutterBye close to the ankles when recovering her mid-flight.

Control eluded me at first, but it wasn’t like with R/C aerials that require practice. This was more about learning. Once I learned how to control her height and became more comfortable with when to grab her feet to regain control, all was well.

Final Thoughts

Retailing for about $28, she’s priced well to fit under nearly any tree this Christmas and well worth the cost, which is probably why it made the Amazon Hot Holiday List, among other things. While the box indicates FlutterBye is a toy suited for children aged five and up, I would think this would be a great toy for girls seven to twelve or so.

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Performing Stunts With The Helix X4 Stunt Quadcopter

Posted in reviews,Toys,video by Joe Colburn on the December 15th, 2013

RC Helicopters are cool, but I’ve always thought quad-copters are even cooler. The use of four rotors makes them fast, stable, and easier to manipulate mid-air. Still, I never got around to buying one. Then the Air Hogs Helix X4 Stunt showed up in the mail. As one of Wal-Mart’s Top 20 Chosen by Kids, I was excited to dive right in.

Air Hogs Elite Helix X4

Usability and Control

With 4 ducted fans and gyro stabilization, the Helix X4 was really easy to get (and keep) in the air, even for a first-timer like myself. I’ve had a few RC helicopters and this was a lot more fun. While a helicopter requires constant attention in the air, the X4 was a little more self-sustaining and as a result, I crashed it far fewer times. The controls are easy to use and understand though not immediately intuitive. By this, I mean that you should always read the manual first. The thing that caught me off guard was how it isn’t ready to fly until it’s really ready. The X4 indicates via its lights when it is stable for launch and then you can get to the fun. The benefit is that it will always have a clean lift-off.

Features and Stunts

Other than the launch procedure, the lights on the front of this quad-copter will also flash orange if the battery is getting low and red when it’s time to land and re-charge. This is a step up from other quad-copters that just drop out of the sky when the batteries are done. Below is a list of other features of the Helix X4:

  • 2.4GHz radio control
  • Gyro stabilization
  • 4-ducted fans
  • 4-channel control
  • Incredibly crash-resistant materials
  • Superior durability
  • Charges from remote or using USB cable (included)
  • Did I mention stunts

Durability and Design

Let’s talk about the durability for a second. I’m super extra nervous-guy careful about my electronics, especially the ones that fly. The problem is, once it’s in the air, there’s not a lot you can do when it crashes. I’ve crashed my share of flying gadgets and much of my X4 flight time was in a cramped office, so I crashed this one even more. The difference this time is that the fans are protected by ducts as an extension of the quad-copter’s body.

The design, to me, is secondary, but also wasn’t lacking. There’s really not a lot of room to make one quad-copter look substantially better than others in it’s class, but the right colors and a little aerodynamics make all the difference.

The controller had a good weight to it and felt right in my hands. It also had features I liked such as the smooth stick control and right-hand placement of the stunt button and control as well as the handle, which was a nice touch. Unfortunately, the few fake controls that are built onto the controller but don’t do anything seemed out of place and the batteries didn’t seem to stay put very securely – although neither impeded performance in any way.

Helix X4 Stunt Video

With anything as fun as this, I try to include a little video with the review, so here you go!

Conclusions

With the suggested price of $79.99, the Helix X4 Stunt is might be a little more spendy than some of the lesser quad-copters, but it has the features to back it up. If you have limited skills and want to wow friends with some stunts, wrap your hands around one of these and you’ll be set.

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Attracting Younger Employees with BYOD

Posted in Guest Posts,Uncategorized by Rick DelGado on the December 13th, 2013

We’ve all heard about the benefits associated with formally embracing a “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) policy in the workplace: It increases employee productivity, saves on costs, and makes employees happy. However, what too few people are discussing is the possibility of using BYOD to attract the right kind of employees. After all, a recent Unisys report found that 44% of potential job-seekers are more willing to investigate a company if they offer personal iPad support. Add to that the growing number of iPhone and other smart-device users, and you have a substantial chunk of the workforce that views BYOD as an important feature in an employer.

This all makes sense when you look at it from the point of view of a prospective employee. Most new hires—especially those from Generation Y—already own a mobile smart device of some kind. Thus, having a company supply them with a second, work-only device is completely superfluous. No one wants to have multiple smartphones or tablets on their person, and having to alternate between the two when juggling business and personal calls and contacts could get frustrating very quickly.

Businesses are beginning to realize that, rather than having to draw a distinct line between work and leisure, employees prefer to be able to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done.

Add to that the increased flexibility and comfort from working with a familiar device, and it only makes sense that the younger generations will want a company that supports BYOD.

Still, BYOD isn’t all advantages. While it is being used to attract the best new hires in the field,it may also catch the eye of certain less-desirable employees. BYOD creates some very well known security problems that could be easily exploited by someone with the desire to do such a thing. By allowing sensitive company data to be accessed by personal devices, the company essentially loses control of it. That data can be copied and shared without restriction, thus potentially compromising valuable company information. To protect themselves, companies will need a detailed BYOD policy, and the digital security to enforce it.

However, at least for now, it seems as though the rewards of BYOD outweigh the costs, and nowhere is this more true than in relation to attracting employees. And as time moves on, more and more employees are going to demand that their employers allow BYOD in one form or another.

With the Millennial Generation slowly moving towards becoming the majority in the modern workplace, most employers are going to find that their workers are more connected and personal-device dependent than ever before. There certainly seems to be a connection between younger workers and a desire for BYOD policies, with six out of ten workers in their 20s and 30s relying on personal devices to do their jobs. These younger employees may not currently make up the majority of the workforce, but as older workers retire and their positions are filled, more and more Millennials will flow in to replace them. Thus, for a company to be competitive—perhaps not today, but in a few years from now—they’ll need to be not simply BYOD supportive, but rather they’ll need to be BYOD reliant.

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