Posts from the ‘Reviews’ Category

Review: Check Writer III for Mac – Print Your Own Custom Checks from Your Mac

If you run a business, or run a busy household, you’ll likely find yourself writing checks to contractors, suppliers, workers, and such for the goods and services they all supply. Sure, in a perfect world, everyone would accept PayPal or Apple Pay, but we’re a long way off from that, so check writing it is.

CheckWriter_III_1

Check Writer III for Mac, by Match Software, offers a convenient way to create your own custom checks, save them as a style, and then use the app to enter amounts, payees, and even supply a digitized signature, before printing out the check, along with an accompanying letter to the recipient. This is quite handy for business purposes, if you need to list itemized items, or an explanation as to what the check is for.

 

Check Writer III is easily purchased and downloaded from the Mac App Store, or it can be purchased directly from the developer’s website. A trial version is also available for download, so you can try it before you buy it. It should be mentioned up front that while some banks use Optical Character Readers to scan checks, and can read the special characters at the bottom of the checks to be recognized for processing, some banks still require those characters to be printed using MICR toner, which is readily available for most printers from Amazon, and office supply stores. Match Software provides links on their site to suppliers of the MICR toner.

 

The developer of the app says the checks are absolutely 100% compliant with U.S. and Canada banking standards. While I didn’t actually attempt to use any of the checks I used the app to create and print out, I will say they look perfectly standard to me. I didn’t attempt to cash any of the checks I printed, as I couldn’t find the “rubber check” option in the app. Checks can be printed on blank paper, or any standard VersaCheck 3000 or commercial size check refills. (Available from office supply houses, and Amazon.)

 

Check Writer III offers easily editable fields to enter your bank’s routing number, along with your checking account number. In addition, fields are provided to enter your name, address and such, all the usual information found on any personal or business check. A good way to make sure to enter all of the needed information is to simply use a check from your checkbook, or a cancelled check, to enter the info from.

FamilyCheck

As well as the usual required information, the app offers the ability to customize your checks with a graphics file. This could be a logo, a family photo, or the logo of your favorite superhero or restaurant. Simply drag and drop the graphic onto the check. (The developer even supplies 12 graphics for use, if you’d like.) The scanned signature of an authorized account user can also be dropped into the provided signature area, to print the signature along with the rest of the check, saving a bit of time for the user. You may need to play with the size of the scanned graphics to get them to display exactly as you want.

Register

Check Writer III also acts as an electronic check register, keeping track of the user’s bank balance just as a paper record book would. The app can be set up to be used with different accounts, so keeping track of both personal and business checking accounts is a breeze.

 

Verdict

While I only had a short time with the app, and didn’t use it for any actual check writing or tracking. (My wife does all that, and won’t let me anywhere near the checkbook), I can tell that Check Writer III would be a great way for any Mac user to print checks and keep track of their checking account. Due to my limited time with the app, I’m sure there are features I missed, but the features I was able to explore were easily worth the $19.99 tariff, from either the Mac App Store, or the Check Writer III website.

 

Rating: 3.5/5.0

 

Price: $19.99 – Available from the Mac App Store, and the publisher’s website. A free trial version is also available.

 

Note: The above review was commissioned by the developer, and has been written in an objective, unbiased fashion.

Review: Ancient Tower War for iOS – Win Every Battleground on Every Planet

Ancient Tower War for iOS from MNZ Software, offers iPhone and iPad players the opportunity to gain peace on a number of different planets by waging war. While that might sound counter-intuitive, the planets are apparently being held by the bad guys, and the only way to bring peace is to conquer them and bring peace to the universe.

 

Review: Ancient Tower War for iOS - Win Every Battleground on Every Planet

 

Ancient Tower War offers players a fa simple, but attractive gaming environment. They direct their troops toward the enemy, and conquer each of their towers. In addition to single player mode, the game also offers the ability to play online against your friends and other Ancient Tower War players, allowing player to settle once and for all who is the strongest of all!

 

Ancient Tower War offers:
* The ability to fight through 36 unique colorful levels
* Adventure Mode
* Online matches determine who’s the best player of all!
* Multiple levels of difficulty offering a challenge to even the best players
* An optimized HUD and controls offer complete control of warriors

 

Players must first enter a nickname, which they’ll be known by both in single and online battles, and then select a color for their army form one of five colors. Gameplay is available  in any of eleven different languages, offering international players the ability to join in on the fun.

 

Review: Ancient Tower War for iOS - Win Every Battleground on Every Planet

 

While the game offers a multiple planets to battle on, players are limited to playing on “Earth” at the beginning of the game. Other planets include “Fire” and “Ice,” as well as “Online Match.” Other than “Earth,” and “Online Match,” they are all locked away. The initial level offers a “tutorial,” that while not full blown like those in many other games, does offer a guide to new players, allowing them to learn the aim of the game, and its controls, as they play the first levels.

 

Controls are of the simple tap and drag variety. Tap the army you wish to send into battle with your finger, and then drag them toward the tower you wish to attack. Your soldiers will go forward as directed, battling to the death against the enemy. Strategy is important in deciding which towers to battle, due to troop strength.

 

While Ancient Tower War is priced at $0.99, instead of free, as many of these types of game are, I believe players will enjoy the idea of paying one price upfront, without the need for being nickeled-and-dimed later in the game.

 

Review: Ancient Tower War for iOS - Win Every Battleground on Every Planet

 

Verdict

Ancient Tower War offers players a well done, well-rendered challenge. Battle is decided on troop strength, and while easy to learn, strategy becomes a challenge in the later levels. Players will enjoy the simple concept, while appreciating the ever increasing battle challenges.

 

Rating: 3.5/5.0

 

Price: $0.99 – Available for iOS devices, in the App Store. [GET IT NOW]

 

Note: The above review was commissioned by the developer, and has been written in an objective, unbiased fashion.

Review: Petagon: Rise of the Dragonlord – RPG Action for iOS Devices

Our review today covers Petagon: Rise of the Dragonlord, a rather entertaining Role Playing Game for iOS devices. While this appears to be developer Orion Arts first shot at making a game in this genre, it has done a decent job of providing the kind of action most RPG fans will require.

Review: Petagon: Rise of the Dragonlord - RPG Action for iOS Devices

 

I’ll admit, RPG type games have never been my cup of tea, but that said, Petagon does a good job of providing the type of action that RPG fans are certain to love. The game is available free in the App Store, (with the usual in-app purchases, NATCH!), so fans of the genre would do well to visit yon App Store and bequeath the game unto their iOS device.

 

Upon starting the app, you have a choice of playing a male or female character, and then bestowing a name on said character. Once you’ve named your warrior, you’ll find he/she is the leader of an elite force, whose mission is to journey into an enchanted forest, and “take down the Goblin King.” (Sounding familiar yet?)

 

Review: Petagon: Rise of the Dragonlord - RPG Action for iOS Devices

 

As a member of the “elite force,” your main companions are Erek, an older member of the Royal Guard and Lisbet, an attractive thief who apparently has known the main character, (you), for many years. But just because Lisbet is an old friend, that won’t stop her from attempting to talk you out of a bit of your treasure from time to time.

 

Features:

  • Story-based Role Playing Game
  • 3 Realms to explore
  • Control multiple Heroes with Special Skills
  • Tame Dragons as Battle Companions
  • Unlock and Evolve Troops
  • Special Events

 

In true RPG fashion, you’ll travel across “3 realms filled with magic, charms and mystical creatures among many other weird and wonderful things.” Along the way you’ll battle enemies, and even maybe turn them into allies. You’ll even tame a dragon or two.

 

Review: Petagon: Rise of the Dragonlord - RPG Action for iOS Devices

 

At the beginning of the game, there is the usual tutorial that accompanies their first battle for treasure, and it definitely helps you pick up the finer points of gameplay as you first begin playing.

 

As you advance through the game, you’ll deploy troops, acquire and cast special magic spells, and acquire special abilities that will help you as you work your way through the game.

 

Review: Petagon: Rise of the Dragonlord - RPG Action for iOS Devices

 

Verdict

 

From my limited experience in playing role playing games, I would venture to say that there isn’t anything in Petagon: Rise of the Dragonlord that you haven’t seen before, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you like RPG games, you’ll want to take a look at Petagon. The game offers plenty of action for RPG lovers, and also offers up a decent sense of humor, which goes a long way with this reviewer.

 

Rating: 3.5/5.0

 

Price: Free, and available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices in the App Store. [GET IT NOW]

 

Note: The above review was commissioned by the developer, and has been written in an objective, unbiased fashion.

Review: System Info – Device information for iOS

Did you ever wonder what exactly was going on inside your iOS device? How much memory is in your device? How much storage do you have left? Is there room for that movie you want to download? It’s easy to find out all of this, and much more by using the System Info – Device information app from developer Harry Bachmann.

Review: System Info - Device information for iOS

The System Info – Device information app shows plenty of information about your device at a glance. Upon starting the app, you’ll immediately see the “Overview” screen, which shows two gauges that display CPU load and Memory load at a glance. Both are updated on the fly, showing the latest stats at a glance.

 

In addition, You can quickly note the amount of physical memory that is available on your CPU, the type of device you have. (I have an iPhone 6s Plus, which shows up as an iPhone 8,2, which is correct.) It also shows the name you’ve named your device, which version of iOS and kernel version the device is running, and a button to tap to run a quick test that is designed to test your free disk space, battery, and filesystem.

 

The “Hardware” tab displays more information about your device, such as how long the system has been running since its last reboot, the device model, iOS version, screen width, and screen height, what your screen brightness is set to, number of processors, processor speed, and more.

 

The “Disk” tab shows how much storage your device contains, how much of it is being used, and how much is left free. A handy gauge shows how much space is being used at a glance.

Review: System Info - Device information for iOS

The “Memory” tab displays a handy pie chart which displays Free memory, used memory, inactive memory, active memory, and wired memory. (If you’re a developer, you probably understand all that much more than I do.)

 

The last tab, the “CPU” tab, shows the CPU load on a handy at a glance gauge.

 

While the app ran smoothly, and seemed to work well enough, I did notice some oddities. The Hardware tab report some unusual stats for my iPhone 6s Plus, such as a screen width of 414 pixels, and a screen height of 736 pixels. What it actually appears to be reporting are the points on the screen. The 6s Plus has an actual screen resolution of 1080 X 1920 pixels.

 

The app also reported my device’s processor speed as “0Mhz.” I’m fairly certain my iPhone’s processor runs faster than that. (GRIN!)

 

Verdict

The System Info – Device information app offers a handy look at the current state of your iOS device. While I noticed a few oddities in how the app reports things on my iPhone, they could likely be put down to semantics, and as long as you know the correct terminology, it shouldn’t be a big deal. At $1.99 for the app, you could probably find a better deal in the app store, as there are free or lower priced alternatives available.

 

Rating: 3.0/5.0

 

The System Info – Device information app is $1.99 (USD), and is available in the App Store.

 

Note: The above review was commissioned by the developer, and has been written in an objective, unbiased fashion.

Review: The Menu Says Puts Menu Translation Power in Your Pocket

While I enjoy visiting foreign lands, one thing I don’t enjoy doing when traveling abroad is ordering dinner. Attempting to figure out a menu written in another language can kill your appetite in a New York minute.

 

Review: The Menu Says Puts Menu Translation Power in Your Pocket

 

Luckily, Creekcats LLC has recently released a lineup of handy menu translation apps for the iPhone and iPad. I had the opportunity to try out their latest, “The Menu Says 2.6,” which was developed to easily translate French menus to English.

 

While there are many apps that attempt to do general translation for travelers, all making a stab at being a jack of all trades type app that translates everything from conversations, to street signs, to the fine print in a rental car contract, The Menu Says is designed to do one thing, and one thing only, translate menus.

 

I sat down with the app, and a couple of menus I had downloaded from the Internet and printed out, and gave the app a try. (Sadly, our review budget here at Mac OS X News doesn’t allow me to travel to France, or even Montreal, or even the French restaurant down the street, just to test an app.

 

I have to say, the app does a very nice job of translating French menus into readable and understandable English, which I believe I would be able to use to order food in a Paris restaurant. While I am nowhere near fluent in French, I do know enough about French cuisine to tell that the app does a good job of translating.

 

Using the app is easy-peasy. Simply fire the app up, take a photo of the menu, crop the photo to highlight the column of the menu you wish to translate, hit the “Translate” button, and wait a few short moments for the translation to take place.

 

The result is a line by line translation of the menu, with the French menu item first, immediately followed by the English translation. This is handy, as it could allow the user to be able to point at the item they wish to order, secure in the knowledge that there won’t be any big surprises coming their way when their order is brought to the table.

 

If you are planning to travel to France sometime soon, or a French speaking province in Canada, or even that snooty French joint downtown, I highly recommend downloading The Menu Says to your iPhone and giving it a try. The Download is free, and you can try it three times before needing to pay anything. If you like it, it’ll cost you $0.99 for a weeks worth of use, (more than enough for most vacations), or $2.99 for unlimited use.

 

Verdict

 

I really liked The Menu Says. I’m a big fan of apps that don’t try to do everything, but instead concentrate on doing a one thing really well. This app is that type of app, and I enjoyed using it. There’s a very low learning curve, and anyone should be able to figure it out in just a few moments.

 

Rating: 4/5

 

The Menu Says is free, and is available in the App Store. As mentioned above, users will get three free uses before needing to rent or purchase the app.

 

Note: The above review was commissioned by the developer, and has been written in an objective, unbiased fashion.

Review: BC Blackjack Offers Realistic Blackjack Action for iOS Devices

There are many Blackjack and other casino card game apps available for the iPhone, so I have to say I wasn’t all that excited to review another one. However, I have to say BC Blackjack from developer Bedrock Code proved to be an entertaining time waster.

 

For me, any gambling game has to offer a simple interface, an ability to allow for a quickly started game, and the ability to pick the game back up where I last left off. I’m not the type of player to sit down and play a game of this type for hours at a time. I look at card games like BC Blackjack merely as a vehicle to kill a few minutes while I’m waiting for an appointment, or while having my car’s oil changed.

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BC Blackjack allows users to quickly pick up the game and start gambling. The interface, while it could be better, serves the purpose, and it’s easy to load the app and hit the tables. The game starts you off with $20, and sets you down at the $2 table. (All of the other tables, with higher limits and such are locked unless you unlock the Pro version, via a handy $3.99 USD in-app purchase, NATCH!)

 

The Blackjack table, cards, and chips are all nicely rendered. I’ve seen better, but for a game like this, that’s not really the most important thing, gameplay is. When you begin a new game, the rules are laid out nicely for you on an easy to read screen, informing you of how many decks are being used, when the dealer hits, when you’re allowed to double down or split, and more.

 

After what seems to be a long “Shuffling” notification, (an an ad, don’t forget about the ads, although they go away if you spring for the Pro version), the action begins, and you’re prompted to bet.

 

The betting interface is clean, and easy to follow, tap the chips to place your bet, then hit the “Deal” button. Using a nice animation, the cards are dealt out on the table, and you make your decision on how to proceed.Tap the “?” icon in the upper right hand corner if you’re at a loss on what to do, it will walk you through it.

 

A built-in trainer tracks your moves, and immediately indicates if you made a right move, (with a green checkmark), or a bad move, (with a red “X”). The game provides a handy screen to view your previous moves, and whether or not it followed sound Blackjack gaming strategy. If you’re not sure whether to hit or stand, simply tap the light bulb icon below your bet, and it will display a handy chart telling you what strategy is the best for the current situation. I found the advice offered was usually sound, and parlayed my way into a couple of nice winning streaks by consulting the chart each time.

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If you play Blackjack as badly as I do, you’ll quickly find yourself out of money, and ready to start over. Luckily, it’s just a matter of a few taps, and you’re back at the tables with a  new $20 bankroll. (You can access other tables with bigger limits and a larger bankroll with the “Pro” version.)

 

The $3.99 Pro version offers:

  • Access to the higher limit tables
  • Customizable table settings
  • Practice modes: hard totals, soft totals, pairs
  • No ads
  • Bigger bankrolls
  • Speed Deal

 

While most players will find the free version will be fine to itch their gambling scratch, serious players might want to spring for the Pro level action. (And don’t we all want to step behind the velvet rope and play in the high-rollers room from time to time?

 

Verdict

 

BC Blackjack offers entertaining, and easy to follow Blackjack action. It seems to play fair, and follows the rules. I wish the beginning bankroll was a little higher, but if they gave you everything for free, you wouldn’t play to pay, right?

 

As I said earlier, games like these are simply something to use to kill the time while I’m waiting for an appointment or similar situations, and I have to say, BC Blackjack does the job.

 

Rating: 4/5 Stars.

 

BC Blackjack 1.0 is free, and is available through the App Store. A $3.99 in-app purchase is available to unlock the Pro version of the game.

 

 

Note: The above review was commissioned by the developer, and has been written in an objective, unbiased fashion.