Top positive review
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Two reviews for the price of one
on 3 February 2014
REVIEW 1 (for people who already know what an NFC tag is and just want to know if these are any good)
In terms of how well they work, all tags of the same specification are going to work about the same aren't they? Not sure about that, but I have written to these, re-written them, erased, re-written again with no change in performance.
What makes the difference is that these are very robust, with a shiny laminated front that should withstand sensible levels of heat and damp, and a very effective adhesive on the back. Do be careful though: the adhesive is very good. Only stick them somewhere that you really want them to stay stuck to.
The other difference is in the approach of the manufacturers who, despite being based on the other side of the world in Australia, have replied to e-mail queries very promptly. They appear to be very enthusiastic and evangelical about the whole idea of NFC rather than treating this as just a commodity amongst a raft of other products and they are small enough that you will get a response from somebody who knows what they are talking about.
REVIEW 2 (for people who don't know what NFC is)
NFC stands for 'near field communication'. It is a technology where a small tag can be programmed with an instruction and then when a mobile phone or tablet is touched to the tag it performs the instruction contained on the tag. It is very similar to the technology used in cashless payments or Oyster cards.
Some devices like wireless bluetooth speakers have this technology built in to them so you just tap your phone to the speaker to pair with it. I have some wireless speakers without NFC built in and used one of these tags add that feature to the speakers.
If the idea of programming sounds a bit difficult and scary there is no need to worry. You just need to download a free app from the Google Play Store and that does it all for you. The tags come with some recommendations of which apps work best and instructions in how to use them, and their website contains plenty of examples. Apart from that YouTube has dozens of how-to videos. I think I had my first tag programmed within a few minutes of opening the bag.
So what are the uses? Well really you can set them up for anything you keep finding yourself doing manually over and over. For example, you might take your phone to bed as an alarm clock and every night mute the notifications so you don't get woken up by spam texts or emails, set the alarm and dim the display. When you wake up you might reset everything back to normal. Instead of that you could program a tag ajust tap the phone on it at night to set the alarm and everything, then tap it again in the morning to reset everything.
You are only limited by your imagination. And whether your phone or tablet has NFC capability. Unfortunately I don't have a lot of imagination and my phone (Sony Experia J) doesn't have NFC capability. I have programmed some tags to connect my Nexus 7 tablet to a wireless speaker and load up a music app on it and that all works very well. Beyond that, all the uses I can think of would only work on a mobile phone.
In way this technology is a bit of a solution in search of a problem. If your life revolves around your mobile then you will probably find dozens of uses for NFC and these tags are as good as any. They look good, stick well, and if you do have any questions or problems the support is second to none.
Personally I have only found a couple of uses for NFC so far but maybe when I get my next phone I'll get more ambitious. At the moment I use some tags for controlling a speaker and I have programmed the keychain with a link to a website that contains links to all my various online accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc. If I touch it to somebody else's phone they can follow the links to follow or friend me.
At this price it is worth getting a pack just to play with even if you only have a limited use for them. There are only a couple of things to watch out for:
* Not all phones have NFC on them, though most current Andorid ones do. Wikipedia has a good list of compatible handsets and tablets including some BlackBerry and Windows phones.
* Some phones and tablets do have NFC but it needs to be turned on in settings.
* Apple devices do not have NFC on them at all. Blame Apple - they decided to go their own way.
* The tags won't work if you stick them on metal surfaces. It interferes with the radio signals.
* There are loads of apps for programming tags. Some cost money but most are free and you should be able to find a free one for just about anything you want to do.