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Withings’ new Activité Pop is a smartwatch you’ll actually want to wear

Withings smart watch. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

The Activité Pop is a smartwatch for people who don’t like smartwatches. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

LAS VEGAS — The problem with the state of smartwatches, beyond the sucky software, is that they’re all ugly. The Apple Watch might very well be the first wearable that not only works, but looks good too, although we won’t know for sure until the finished product is on our wrists this spring.

Cult_of_Mac_CES_2015 There were dozens and dozens of smartwatches displayed on the sprawling show floor at International CES last week, but the only one that looked good enough to adorn my wrist was the new Withings Activité Pop.

It doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles of fancier watches like the Samsung Galaxy Gear, but it’s not your average dumb watch either. And for now, just a smidgen smarter is smart enough.

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How sloppy security exposed Apple’s super-secret product plans

This login screen for a Quanta Computer database led to sensitive documents containing details on upcoming Apple products. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

This login screen for a Quanta Computer database led to sensitive documents containing details on upcoming Apple products. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac


Incredibly sloppy security at one of Apple’s key suppliers exposed some of Cupertino’s most closely guarded secrets to anybody who could conduct a simple Google search.

For months, one of Quanta Computer‘s internal databases could be accessed using usernames and a default password published in a PowerPoint presentation easily found on the Web.

Quanta, based in Taiwan, is the world’s largest notebook manufacturer. In addition to Apple, Quanta assembles laptops and ultrabooks for dozens of companies, including Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Sharp and Sony. The company is also supposedly assembling the upcoming Apple Watch and the long-rumored iPad Pro, though no official announcements have been made.

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Plastc organizes all your cards in one device

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Plastc is a simple device that organizes credit and debit cards. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

LAS VEGAS — Apple Pay is cool, but what if you don’t have the latest iPhone 6? The Plastc Card might be for you.

Cult_of_Mac_CES_2015 Plastc is a chameleon-like electronic card that stores up to 20 cards — debit, credit, gift and even security cards.

It’s the same size and shape as a regular card, but has a sharp and striking e-ink display. You simply swipe through the e-ink screen to choose the card you want, and swipe the mag stripe through the reader.

Instead of carrying 20 cards in your wallet, you carry just one.

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Awesome MacBook dock looks like it was designed by Apple

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

The horizontal docking station from Henge Docks just rocks. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

LAS VEGAS — Laptop docks aren’t usually the sexiest things in the world, but the latest hardware from Henge Docks could be considered somewhat titillating.

Cult_of_Mac_CES_2015 Henge’s upcoming horizontal docking station is a beauty. Its sleek, metallic profile looks like an extension of Apple’s unibody MacBook design. But this thing doesn’t only have good looks; it boasts robust port expansion, helpful cable management and automatic docking.

A small company based in San Francisco, Henge Docks is already known for its vertical MacBook dock and Gravitas dock for iOS devices. Customers clamored for a horizontal MacBook dock that didn’t require a secondary display, and the finalized version is being displayed for the first time at International CES here this week.

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Sexy sci-fi car gets 84 mpg, costs less than a Mac Pro

Elio Motors' three-wheeled, fuel-efficient vehicle is a real eye-grabber. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Elio Motors’ three-wheeler is easy on the eyes — and the wallet. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

LAS VEGAS — It’s hard to say what’s most amazing about Elio Motors’ three-wheeled car: its sexy frame, its extreme fuel efficiency or its jaw-dropping $6,800 price tag.

Cult_of_Mac_CES_2015 That princely sum — a little less than a 12-core Mac Pro costs — gets you a sleek two-seater that looks like something you’d see in a sci-fi flick. It’s got two wheels up front, one in back and a built-in holder for your iPad.

And on the International CES show floor here, Elio’s got a team of breezy boosters who tout its many forward-looking features with the quick-witted humor of the best car salesmen.

“For $6,800, we ought to charge you for the air in the tires,” Elio Motors rep Don Harris told Cult of Mac when we asked if the iPad was included in the purchase price.

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Bringing this iPhone breathalyzer to market was a sobering affair

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Keith Nothacker fought long and hard to bring his BACtrack breathalyzers to boozers everywhere. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

LAS VEGAS — Keith Nothacker is living proof that persistence pays off.

Cult_of_Mac_CES_2015 Nothacker is here at the giant International CES gadget show to introduce a key-size version of his pocket breathalyzer — the first personal, police-grade breathalyzer approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Connected by bluetooth to your iPhone, a quick puff into the $49 BACtrack Vio will tell you instantly if you’re too juiced to drive — or take part in any other activity best done sober.

But 13 years ago, Nothacker was fighting the FDA to bring the device to market.

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7 things Steve Jobs would have hated about Apple today

"You like me, they really like me!" Photo: Ben Stanfield/Flickr CC

Steve Jobs started Apple in his image. But would he like everything about it in 2015? Photo: Ben Stanfield/Flickr CC

A lot has changed at Apple in the years since Steve Jobs died. While much of it is good (record-breaking iPhone sales, work on the new Apple campus, the stock-split leading to new share price highs), it’s unavoidable that one or two (or, indeed, 7) things would slip through the cracks, which Apple’s notoriously perfectionist late CEO would have hated.

The recent publishing of a patent for an iOS stylus — an accessory Jobs was vocal about opposing — got us thinking about other aspects of Apple, circa 2015, that likely would have rubbed the company’s late CEO the wrong way.

Here’s what we came up with.

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Dirty car artist leaves masterpieces in the dust

One person's dirty car window is Scott Wade's canvass. Wade found a museum mashup - Mona Lisa and Starry Night - on this dirty window. Photo courtesy of Scott Wade

One person’s dirty car window is Scott Wade’s canvas. Wade created a museum mashup — The Mona Lisa and Starry Night — on this grimy glass. Photo courtesy Scott Wade

He is an Eagle Scout, a versatile bar-band drummer and a senior GUI designer for a company that creates mobile apps for the health care industry.

But Scott Wade is famous for drawing dirty pictures.

It’s not the content that raises eyebrows but the canvas on which Wade creates. Present him with a dirty car and see why some call him the “da Vinci of Dust.”

Who hasn’t walked by a car coated in dirt and used their finger to scrawl the message, “Wash me”? Wade, inspired by the dirt roads of his home state of Texas, uses a car’s dirty window as an opportunity to create elaborate landscapes, detailed portraiture with subtle shading and re-imagined classic works like The Mona Lisa or Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

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‘Sound, design and simplicity’ guide creation of world’s first Lightning headphones

Philips M2L headphones will be the first to use Apple's Lightning connector. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Philips M2L headphones will be the first to use Apple’s Lightning connector. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

LAS VEGAS — The wait for the world’s first Lightning headphones is almost over.

Cult_of_Mac_CES_2015 Philips’ upcoming Fidelio M2L bypasses the analog headphone jack, instead sending the digital audio signal through the Lightning port used in late-model iOS devices.

“You keep the digital signal as far as possible until you have no choice,” Benoit Borette, a Philips audio engineer, told Cult of Mac.

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UE Megaboom speaker takes a licking and keeps on kicking out the jams

UE Megaboom bluetooth speaker. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

UE Megaboom bluetooth speaker. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

SAN FRANCISCO — It’s easy to see how the UE Megaboom could become your favorite way to listen to music. The new Bluetooth speaker packs great features into a rugged cylindrical package that won’t go tits up if you drop it or leave it out in the rain.

The UE Megaboom is bigger and louder than its predecessor, the similarly shaped UE Boom. It delivers glittering, precise highs and satisfying bass. It’s lightweight and boasts a 20-hour rechargeable battery. All in all, it’s a perfect device for the way we listen to music in the streaming era.

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