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An Apple Geek’s International Travel Gear Guide

Russia trip gear

I’m traveling to Russia to cover the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. It’s going to be a thrilling, crazy experience. You’ll see some of my work here at Cult of Mac, among other places.

Here’s the gear I’ll be taking with me overseas:

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Why Apple’s iBeacon Is Under-Hyped

ibeaconprivacy

Apple products are usually over-hyped. But there’s one that’s radically under-hyped: Apple’s iBeacon positioning system.

So I’m here to turn up the noise on this quiet revolution. You really need to know more about this, because it’s going to change everything.

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Why Apple Hardware Is Redonkulously Over-Powered

macpro

Apple is increasingly shipping hardware products with specific features that are crazy overkill — far more power than is necessary or even usable.

Here’s why I think that when it comes to some technology features, too much is just right.

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Should Kids Get iPhones for Christmas?

iphone5c

Don’t look now, but kids want iPhones for Christmas. Well, a third of them do, anyway.

A survey of 12- to 17-year-olds conducted by Ebates found that an iPhone tops the wishlist. One third — specifically 32% — of those surveyed want an iPhone. (Some 12% want a Samsung Galaxy phone.)

Ho, ho, hold on a second. Is this a good idea? Should children “own” wireless gadgets?

If not, why not? And if so, which one?

Well, I’m going to tell you.

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UE Boom Mini – Tiny Speakers, Huge Sound, Colorful Look [Review]

Mini Boom

Ultimate Ears, owned by Logitech, makes my favorite portable speaker ever: the UE Boom. The cylindrical powerhouse of a speaker is rugged, stylish, and easy to use.

Mini Boom by Ultimate Ears
Category: Portable Bluetooth Speakers
Works With: iOS, Mac, Any sound source
Price: $99.99 per speaker

Imagine my utter joy when I received Ultimate Ears’ latest entry into the portable speaker market, the UE MiniBoom, and found them to be even tinier and equally rugged and easy to use. Oh, and they sound fantastic, too.

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Use The Essential iKlip 2 Any Time You’re On Stage With An iPad [Review]

Stand 6

Time to come clean: I play guitar and sing in a disco band. I know, I know, the backlash against that kind of music has been going on since 1977. Trust me, I know.

But the way people respond to this still-valid, we-use-real-instruments form of music is so much better than the way they used to when I played guitar in modern or classic rock bands. In those days, the most reaction I’d see in an audience was a foot tap, or maybe–if I was lucky–a head bob or two. Happy, gorgeous people dancing their butts off? So much more fun.

iKlip 2 by IK Multimedia
Category: iPad Cases & Accessories
Works With: iPad 2, 3, 4
Price: $39.99

Now, playing in a cover band requires knowing a lot of music, like the chords for the 50 plus songs that we play. As I also take on half the lead singing duties, so I’m required to know the lyrics as well. I don’t do this for a living; I do it for fun and some beer and gear money. I don’t have tons of time to memorize all those songs, let alone the new ones we learn every few months. So I use lyric sheets. I used to use them on paper, but boy is that annoyingly old school and easily lost.

Now I use my iPad (and an amazing app called GigBook) to organize and keep track of my lyric sheets. And I also use the incomparable iKlip 2 iPad holder to attach that iPad to the microphone stand right in front of me.

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First Impressions: NeatConnect Is The Wireless Scanner You’ve Been Waiting For [Review]

NeatConnect_Hi-Res2

NeatConnect by Neat
Category: Scanners
Works With:Anything with Wi-Fi
Price: $500

I’ve been using Neat products for the past couple of years. I’ve got a NeatDesk for Mac and an active NeatCloud account. So when the folks at Neat reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in putting the company’s latest piece of hardware – NeatConnect – through the paces, I jumped at the chance.

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Logitech’s UE Boom Is A Seriously Loud, Rugged Portable Bluetooth Speaker [Review]

Where's the single malt?

When I received the UE Boom in the mail and opened the mailing box, I thought maybe the PR rep had secretly slipped me a bottle of Scotch. Not that I would have minded, of course.

UE Boom by Ultimate Ears/Logitech
Category: Bluetooth Speaker
Works With: Any Bluetooth Audio Source
Price: $199.99

It turns out that this ruggedized little portable Bluetooth speaker by Logitech-owned Ultimate Ears (UE) comes in some slick packaging that I’m loathe to get rid of, it’s that cool. The cylindrical speaker fits snugly in the center portion of the box, and each side has a cute little compartment where the bright yellow power plug and flat premium micro USB cable fit in, each with its respective symbol printed on a little flag. It’s striking packaging, which should go over well with consumers.

Luckily, the actual speaker here, a smallish cylinder made to be set on end vertically as well as on its side horizontally, is a fantastic sounding Bluetooth speaker, with a full, clear tonal spectrum that’s surprising in something so small. The bass response could be a bit punchier, but I don’t find that to be an issue at all, and actually prefer the more balanced tonal approach.

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Outdoor Tech Jumps on the Bluetooth Headphone Bandwagon With The ‘Tuis’

outdoor-tech-tuis-1

By now, the only folks worried they don’t have enough choices when buying a new pair of Bluetooth headphones must be the same folks who worry that this place doesn’t have enough of a beer selection.

The newest newcomer (Bluetooth headphones, not beer) is Outdoor Tech’s spartan-looking Tuis, which we’re assuming means “Bluetooth” in Esperanto.

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It’s Time to Kill the ‘Apple Doesn’t Innovate’ Argument

innovation

There’s an argument in the platform wars, and also on Wall Street, that goes something like this: “Apple doesn’t innovate anymore. It moves too slowly, and is being taken over by more nimble, more innovative rivals.”

Any success Apple has is the result of slick marketing, rather than the newest technology. But now, Apple is a laggard and is being overtaken by more nimble companies.

Apple has an “innovation problem,” according to Forbes.

Samsung is innovating faster than Apple,” according to Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster.

Why Doesn’t Apple Innovate?” asks CEO.com.

For Apple haters, this argument feels good to make. Unfortunately, it fails the test of fact and reason. Here’s why.

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