Gadget Watch: June 14, 2014
From waterproof e-readers and old-school (sort of) newspapers to stylish Mac stands and remarkably big buttons, here's what's new on the gadget front this week.
The Beach Vault is a threaded plastic chamber with a watertight lid. You screw it onto the sand down at the beach and use it as a sandy safe for your belongings. Not only does it make your gear harder for pickpockets to snatch, it also protects electronics from sand and salty sea.
It even comes with a matching towel. $35
Training wheels don’t teach your kid to balance a bike – how could they when they won’t let it tip? Here in Germany the 3-year-olds buzz around on balance bikes, little two-wheelers with low seats and no pedals. These let kids run and learn to balance and steer, ready for a big bike.
The FirstBIKE features a special seat that’s hard to slip out of, Schwalbe tires and a rear drum brake with a lever that won’t pinch kids’ fingers. Prices start at $130.
Grovemade desktop accessories
Grovemade produces great handcrafted wooden accessories for MacBook and iOS devices. Now it is turning to the desktop with a range of wooden stands and trays. From the $59 mouse mat (LOL) to the $19 paperclip holder, not all of it is practical, but the plywood Maple Monitor Stand looks beautiful and practical, and costs a relatively reasonable $79.
The Nova is a proper flashing flash for your iPhone, one that actually syncs with the camera instead of just acting like a dumb flashlight. You can even adjust the color and brightness of the light using the free companion app, and the whole thing connects using low-power Bluetooth 4. $60
Do you use a read-later service like Instapaper or Pocket? Click, save, ignore. Now you can have those unread articles printed into a real newspaper, which will land on your doormat just like in the olden days.
Save articles in the browser with a bookmarklet, then click to order the paper version, which will be printed at your demand and delivered to your door. Right now the service is U.K.-only, and invite-only, but it's supposedly expanding to other countries soon. £5
Hardware – it’s all about the software. The bttn is a single button that you hit to get something done. And that "something" depends on which service you hook it up to using the bttn servers. Just like IFTTT, only with a button, the device uses Wi-Fi or a cellular connection to trigger tweets, emails, your house lights or anything that hooks up to it. Yes, including IFTTT. Pre-order for €69.
Titan multi-tool collar stays
I’m not sure if these multi-tool collar stays are Skymall trashy or James Bond awesome. What I do know is that these little titanium sticks will not only keep your collar straight, but also let you MacGyver your way out of a sticky situation. They pack a half-Phillips screwdriver, slotted screwdriver, thread-cutter and bottle opener, plus imperial and metric scales on the sides.
Just keep them out of the washing machine if you value your shirt’s collar. $30.
Waterproof Kindle Paperwhite
One excuse the book-sniffing holdouts give for refusing to get with the 21st century is that you can’t read a Kindle in the bath. Which is crap – you just put it inside a Ziploc bag. But now you don’t even need that: You can buy this modified Waterfi waterproof Kindle Paperwhite and take it wherever you like, down to 120 feet below (where you should no doubt read some Jules Verne).
You can more or less double the price though – the waterproof version will cost you $240.
Yalta Noa backpack
Chrome makes some of the heaviest bags around, and this roll-top Yalta backpack, customized by Japanese artist Noa, is no exception. The hefty 3.4-pound water-shrugging sacks are cut from a canvas made by the artist, so, as the product page says, once they’re gone they’re gone. $140.