Kinsa Stick Smart Thermometer Review

I hate being sick. Sometimes I miss work because of it, but it almost always means I don’t know when I’ll feel better or what to expect. This is largely because I’m horrible at self-diagnosing. As I write this, I find myself at what I’m hoping is the tail end of a bad cold. What better way to review a smart thermometer like the Smart Stick Thermometer from Kinsa.

First Impressions
When I first heard about this thermometer, I took note of all the marketing materials and how they seemed to be geared towards parents. To be honest, I have a digital thermometer that works just fine, so having no children, I’d probably glance at this and forget all about it. Regardless, it did strike me as a great idea for parents and having a way for someone like me to track my symptoms seems like a big plus. The thing that really stood out, however, was the price. At $24.99, the stick falls right into the middle of the pricing range for digital thermometers I’ve seen in the past, but for its feature set, it’s priced very well.

Out of the Box
When my Kinsa Stick arrived, I liked the case that it comes in. My old thermometer is a single piece that has a plastic cap that covers the part meant to go into my mouth. This one has an extension cable, a setup adapter, instructions, and the Kinsa Stick, itself. The extension cord is meant to wrap around the case and the clear platic top keeps it in place. Flipping over the case, I found that the bottom comes off to reveal the setup adapter and instruction booklet. This is well-designed over all, but the cable can be problematic if not wrapped back in place just right.

Using the Kinsa Stick
A couple minutes after heading to the Android App store and searching for Kinsa, I had the app installed and guiding me through the setup process. This consisted of plugging in and unplugging the Stick with and without the setup adapter until finally plugging the Kinsa back in on its own for use. The whole process took just over a minute on my Nexus 6. For those curious about compatibility, the Kinsa Stick will work with quite a few smartphones when running iOS 8.0 or Jelly Bean (v 4.1) and later on Android.

I’m not sure what the setup adapter does, but it seems to be necessary as part of the process getting started. In fact, I had to use it twice on my phone for some reason. Other than that, everything went pretty smoothly. I tried the Stick orally and it read my temperature without having to keep the thing in my mouth for 3 minutes. I decided to also try taking my temperature in my armpit. The first time, I did it through a thin t-shirt just to see what would happen and it was off by 4 degrees. When I tried again under the shirt, it read just about the same as the oral reading, which is what I would expect. Throughout the process, I was guided with video and prompts, which helped everything run smoothly.

For adults, this thermometer adds the ability to set up profiles and keep track of symptoms and readings for each person. While this is handy, the real value seems to be for parents. These same features are useful for the whole family, but there’s also the ability to keep a child entertained by popping bubbles, for example, while the temperature is being read. Being able to read a temperature via the armpit could also be an advantage to parents. The app also offers the option to read a temperature by ear or rectally, though I did not try those features.

Conclusions
As a non-parent, the Kinsa Stick is a convenience, to be sure, but not a necessity. That said, the price point of $24.99 could easily sway a non-parent. For parents, this could be a great device to help make unpleasant times a little easier to deal with. I would imagine this being well worth the small cost for most parents, more so when there are multiple younger children in the house.

PDF Max – More Than Just A Reader

I use iBooks for most all my iPad reading activity, but what if you want to do more than just read on your iPad. An iPad app I checked out this week, called PDF Max, goes well beyond reading for iPad power users.

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PDF Max Features

By and far, the number one feature is the ability to edit PDFs. Here’s some of what I found in PDF Max:

– Add, move, or delete pages
– Add notes
– Create and fill shapes
– Freehand draw
– Sign documents with your finger
– Add audio notes
– Add stamps like “Approved” or “Confidential”
– Create external links
– Create and edit a document outline
– Tabbed document viewing
– Search within the document

There’s actually a lot more to it, but that’s the stuff that really stood out to me. Of all those features, the ones I think I’ll use the most are the ability to sign documents and the page management. It’s pretty common for me to get a document emailed to me in PDF format and have to print, sign and scan before I can email it back. With PDF Max, I can send the PDF to PDF Max right from my email, sign it, and email it out right from the app. Of course, the ability to email out anything other than the original PDF (without your changes or signature) requires the Pro version of PDF Max. Luckily, it was only $1.99 and came as an in-app purchase, so I didn’t have to stop what I was doing to upgrade. This Pro requirement applies to some extended features like creating shapes in more colors, but the free version let me do everything I listed above without bugging me for an upgrade. There were no ads and the it fell short of being called “nagware” as it didn’t nag me about upgrading. They gave away everything but the one piece I’ll fork over the $1.99 for. Well played, Mobeera.

Shortcomings

I absolutely love free, so of course I didn’t like having to pay for the Pro version, but that also means I’m picky and only pay when I see value. Despite giving me nearly everything in the free version, I saw the value of the two dollar upgrade and went for it. As a paying customer, I have but one concern about this app, and that’s the bookmarks. Without adding much to the traditional bookmark model, PDF Max actually made it less user friendly than the iBooks way of bookmarking. In iBooks, I tap a bookmark icon and I’m done and when I look at my bookmarks, I get page previews. In PDF Max, I have to give my bookmark a name. It’s a nice option, but the little bit of work to pre-fill the Name field with “Page [x]” would make it so much better. And page previews would be a great update to the bookmark panel. That said, I really had no other complaints.

Conclusions

If you need to export your PDF with changes, drop the $1.99 for the Pro version of this robust app. Either way, this is a great addition to your iPad, even in the awfully function-rich free version. Both are easily worth every penny.

This was a sponsored review, but all opinions about this app are entirely mine and are a result of spending plenty of time using it.

TrustR Identifies Smartphone Security Concerns

Have you ever gotten a virus or had someone hack your account? With all the private data you store on your computer, it can be a gut-wrenching feeling. Today’s smartphones offer the same worries. Your phone can contain all of your contacts, web browsing history, private messages, photos, videos, and access to lots of online accounts. Luckily, the likelihood of your phone data and access being compromised is minimal, but it’s always better to play it safe. There are several options out there to help you protect your smartphone from potential threats, but the one I am going to review today is called TrustR from Rookie Systems.

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Identify Smartphone Security Threats

TrustR is an app that scans your device to locate security issues found in other apps. The system that it uses is based on a large database of known security issues and is updated by security professionals daily, according to the developer. The operation couldn’t be easier. After installing the app, you press a giant button (aptly labelled “Press”) and it scans your device, comparing installed versions applications against their central database. From there, it identifies matches in three categories:

Existing Security Problems – These are all the apps that have some level of insecure data or some other issue that may compromise your data or device.

Malicious Apps – These are apps with known malicious behavior such as theft of information or spying built into the app.

Patched Apps – These are apps that had a problem at one point that has since been resolved.

The free version shows the first three threats, and the paid version ($3.99) shows you all threats. After you’ve discovered potential threats, it is up to you to upgrade or remove an app or decide that the threat doesn’t warrant removal or upgrading.

How Well Did It Work?

As mentioned, the app is incredibly easy to use, which is refreshing for a security application. This is because Rookie Systems smartly decided to stick to what’s important.

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I was not too surprised to see a few popular apps I use daily had very minor infractions that I’m not worried about. I was a little surprised to find that my PayPal app had a pretty serious man-in-the-middle hole in it several upgrades ago. It’s been fine for a while, but I wonder how long the hole was there before I upgraded.

Although it wasn’t listed as a paid feature, the paid version of TrustR asked for permission to send me push notifications. I agreed, thinking that this would generate a warning when I installed a new app. Sadly, when I removed and then re-installed the WordPress app, there was no notification. I can only imagine, then, that this allows TrustR to periodically alert me if a new threat is added to their database that matches an already installed app. The more I think about it, it would be great if TrustR did both.

Over all, four bucks seems like a jump from free without additional features (other than the unlimited warnings) but it also feels like a good price for piece of mind. Download the free version and list your top three problem apps in the comments below.

This review, although sponsored, contains my honest opinions of the product reviewed.