(You're reading all posts by Charlie Sorrel) Charlie Sorrel is the Reviews Editor here on Cult of Mac. Follow Charlie on Twitter at @mistercharlie.
About Charlie Sorrel
You know those cheapo gadgets you pick up at the dime store or from the racks by supermarket checkouts? That’s the kind of throwaway gadget you think you’ve got when you pick up the Clamplight MINI from Blackfire. Which is a shame, because it’s actually pretty good.
iOS 8 packs in a bunch of great new photo features, in both the Camera app and the Photos app. You now get a lot more control over your photography at the front end, with manual exposure and even a time-lapse mode, and you can edit and find your photos with a little more precision than before.
iOS 8 is still a few months out, but you don’t have to wait: Use these currently available apps to add all these new functions to your iPhone (or iPad) today.
The Walden is the first of Pad & Quill’s top-notch cases that I would actually use. That’s because it ditches the wooden frame of the company’s usual bookbindery cases, instead offering a minimal slipcover that uses adhesive strips to hold an iPad Air in place.
The result is a case as beautiful and classic as other P & Q cases, but slim and light enough to match the slender Apple tablet it protects.
Apart from letting you quickly edit and share photos (and always sitting, ready to go, in your pocket), the iPhone camera has one other great feature: It geotags every photo and video you shoot with the place you captured the imagery. You might not care about that now, but in the future when you wonder, “Where did I take that naked self-portrait?” or decide to take a look at your old vacation snaps, you’ll love geotagging.
Hell, half the time I use a map to find a photo — I can usually remember where I was better than when I was.
Lack of geotagging is perhaps the main reason I don’t take my regular camera out as often as I’d like, so I decided to do something about that. I’m using a combination of the iOS GeoTagr app on iPhone and iPad, plus a Fujifilm X100S camera and a Garmin EDGE 500 GPS bike computer.
Let’s take a look.
The official musical instrument of the 2014 World Cup is the Caxirola, but it has already been banned from stadiums. Not because it will drive you out of your mind with irritation like the last World Cup’s vuvuzela, but because the Caxirola is considered a security risk (or more likely, a perfect booze and drug-smuggling device.
The Caxirola looks like a cross between a lemon and a set of knuckledusters. Inside the hollow plastic bubble are hundreds of beads that rattle when you shake it and make a “nice, pleasant” sound. But you don’t have to bother with a real plastic lemon: you can buy the app.
As a kid I never really liked football, but I loved Panini football stickers. Now there’s an environmentally friendly way to collect and swap stickers (if you consider making an iPad or iPhone to be less damaging than printing a paper book). The official Panini Online Sticker Album app lets you collect and swap stickers, and stick them into a virtual album. Swapping is done online, and you get three sticker packs with the free download. $free
Authentic World Cup Jersey
I’ll be buying my Spain World Cup shirt down at the local knockoff market, but the real deal has some features that partially justify its $150 price tag. Dri-FIT microfiber, laser-cut mesh and ventilations zones will keep you cooler than if you went topless. And of course you’ll get the shivery chills every time you remember how much you paid for it. $150
Listen to the Radio
Maybe you want to follow the World Cup from the beach, or the park, or just not be stuck indoors. Or maybe you live in a foreign country and you want to listen to an English commentary while you drink Brazilian beer and watch the match in a Brazilian bar.
For this, you need the radio. Either tune a real radio to the BBC, like the World Band Tecsun radio that people like on Amazon, or grab the excellent (free or paid) TuneIn Radio app, which, as its name suggests, tunes in to any radio station that transmits via the internet. I recommend the BBC.
Street View stadium tour
Stuck in rainy Europe? Don’t own a passport to leave the U.S? No problem. Google has visited the World Cup stadiums so you don’t have to – just head over to this page to virtually tour any of Brazils World Cup stadiums via Street View.
Pick them on a map or just browse the list, and you can even take a look at the streets outside.
A big frikkin' TV
Just before the 2010 World Cup, I remember seeing lots of men dragging huge boxes into their apartment buildings. What better excuse for a new TV than a World Cup? Right now, the Wirecutter says that the best TV you can buy is the Samsung F8500, available in 51, 60 and 64-inch models and ready for 3-D should you happen a cross a game broadcast that way (and sport is probably the only reasons to use a 3-D TV). Best of all, the 51-incher is currently $1,800 on Amazon, which is $900 off list price.
The supermarkets are already full of Brazil-related plastic junk, and even folks who only watch football once every four years are getting excited. Why? It’s World Cup time, of course!
Here we have a selection of apps and gadgets, clothes and toys to help you follow along and enjoy the show. The only thing we haven’t included is streaming app, because broadcast rights vary from country to country. Our workaround is to watch on TV or listen on the radio. Or do it like the Brazilians and head to your local bar.
Gadget Watch: June 7, 2014
This week’s Gadget Watch is all about getting outside. Whether you're shopping, taking photos or traveling, we've got you covered (quite literally, in one case).
From drone-based aerial photography to phone-based iPhoneography, from magnetic notebooks to overpriced tote bags, from stealthy tents to absurd iPhone cases, this week we want to get you out in that summer sun: Take a flight on a plane with a built-in iPad holder, and when you get home you can open your front door with an ultralight bike-chain key holder. Just remember the sunscreen.
Photojojo Phantom drone
They used to be called quadcopters, but now anything with a horizontal rotor blade is called a drone. Photojojo’s Phantom 2 is a drone built for photography. It has a GPS autopilot to float safely and combat wind, a three-axis gimballed mount underneath for super-smooth footage, a six-mile range and a 25-minute flight time. The price? $959 with a GoPro mount or $1,299 with a Phantom Vision+ camera included. Buy from Photojojo.
Moschino french fries case
Moschino, the fashion choice for lottery winners and Russian gangsters, will sell you this McDonald’s-a-like french fries case for just $85. Yes, it probably comes from the same Chinese factory as the $5 cases in your local mall, but at least you can repurpose this as a SpongeBob case with a few licks of paint. $85
Notebook too thick? Or too thin? What if you could take that weighty-but-comprehensive paper pad and split it into smaller sections as needed? That’s the Magnote, a set of three paper notebooks that combine – Transformers-style – into one big book using magnets in their spines. What’s more, those notebooks can contain day-planner pages, plain, ruled or gridded paper, and they’re the same size as an iPad mini for perfectly pairing paper and pixels. From $29.
Monarch iPad-holding plane seat
U.K.-based budget airline Monarch has a new plane seat. It doesn’t recline (thank God), and offers more space for passengers. There’s also a bungee-cord pouch instead of those filth-harboring pockets, but the best part is the tablet holder up top, so you can slip in your iPad for in-flight movies on a Retina screen. Monarch
Add a proper shutter button to your iPhone with the snappgrip, a Bluetooth-enabled controller that slots onto an iPhone 5/s and adds not just a shutter release, but a pair of zoom rockers and a mode dial. The USB-charged gadget has it’s own companion app, and lots of third-party apps work with it. $70
Braven Mira speaker
Braven makes some of my favorite Bluetooth speakers, and the Mira looks like another winner – 10-hour battery, built-in speakerphone, proper control buttons for play/pause and volume, and splashproof. But the really neat part is the fold-out hook for hanging it up in kitchens, bathroom, gardens and workshops. The hook also doubles as a kickstand for safer spaces. $99
Hard Graft Cube Tote
Canvas and leather, brought to a carry-anything tote bag. The Cube Tote gets its name from the magnetic closure that gathers its flaps together and tidies them up top, but the bag opens out to carry your groceries, your BBQ gear or — well, or anything: It’s a big, open-topped bag. The best part? Those wide straps that sit comfy on your shoulders. $340
Lightweight, good, inexpensive. Pick two. Wait, no – pick three. The £150 Stealth from Trekkertent is like a luxury tarp. It weighs just 590 grams (20 ounces). Packs to a 30 x 10 cm roll (a foot long, like a fat sub) but includes a flysheet (that can stand alone) with sit-up room plus an inner mesh tent with "bathtub" base. $252
Yes, a keychain made from a bike chain. An actual bike chain. The TIK takes links from a Yaban SLA, a chain with “hollow, chromium carbide-coated steel pins and cro-moly steel plates,” and grafts your keys onto its pins. The result is a set of keys that weighs less than the keys alone.
You select the correct key blanks when you buy a set, and then head down to your local locksmith and have her dupe your own keys onto them. Or you could just grab a Dremel and make your own today. From $35
I just switched from Kindle to Kobo. Why? Amazon. It’s currently extorting publishing house Hachette by delaying orders and refusing to allow pre-orders for certain titles. The exact machinations are secret, but many people agree that Amazon is demanding discounts on ebooks.
I don’t want to see authors forced to get a second job to survive, so I switched. No more Kindle ebooks. I switched to Kobo, which has a great e-ink reader, a deep book catalog, and – most importantly – breakable DRM.
The results are mixed, with ups and downs for both the service and the hardware.
I started German language school a few weeks back, and I was looking forward to testing out the Booqpad. The combination iPad case and paper notepad seemed ideal for using in class. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. Not only is the case oddly tacky – especially weird given the build quality of Booq’s other gear – but it is awkward to use.
Apple finally fixed photography on iOS. Or rather, it’s fixed organizing your photos, wherever they might be. The iPhone is already a great camera. The problem was everything that happened after you tapped the shutter.
Now, in iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, you’ll never have to worry about organizing your photos again — they’ll be everywhere, all the time. And best of all? It looks like you’re never going to need iPhoto again, on the Mac or on your iPad.
When I opened the (huge) shipping box that brought the new Boa Flow to Cult of Mac’s German HQ, I thought I’d hate it (the bag, not the box). But it turned out to be one of my favorite bags for lugging a lot of gear with me.
The Boa Flow is made for “creative professionals.” That is, it’s for anyone who needs to carry computers, cameras, headphones and other accessories, and to this end it had zillions of pockets and storage sections. The best part is that there are many options for every kind of item. You can put your MacBook in the separate slot by your back, for example, or you can slip it into a pocket in the main chamber.