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‘Albums still matter': 20 records you should savor end-to-end

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

These things are still important. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

When Prince presented the Grammy for best album this week, he made an impassioned case for a musical format that many seem ready to write off as dead.

“Albums, remember those?” he said. “Albums still matter. Albums, like books and black lives, still matter.”

That’s how you present an award, folks.

Albums are collections of musical pieces that work together to create an auditory gestalt larger than the individual songs themselves. With the massive growth in streaming audio these days, many people might be missing out on this incredible old-school experience.

Here’s the cure: a list of amazing albums you should listen to in their entirety, even if you don’t do vinyl. iTunes might have helped kill CDs, but it’s still a great place to buy albums rather than shortchanging yourself with a bunch of singles. There are dozens of other albums you should explore, depending on your musical tastes, but this list should remind us all how awesome albums are as a concept. You can thank us later.

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Put an SSD in your pocket and you’ll sail through Boot Camp

VisionTek's USB Pocket SSD gives you 120GB of super-fast storage. Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

VisionTek’s USB Pocket SSD gives you 120GB of super-fast storage. Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Need bags of speedy storage you can take with you anywhere you go? With VisionTek’s USB Pocket SSD, you get a bus-powered solid-state drive that’s small enough to fit in your palm, and fast enough for almost anything.

I’ve been using one as a Windows drive for my Mac for the past few months; let me tell you why it’s been great.

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JBL’s new Bluetooth speaker brings the features — and the price tag

The JBL Charge 2 is even better than the last one. Photo: JBL

The JBL Charge 2 is even better than the last one. Photo: JBL

When I reviewed the first-generation JBL Charge back in 2013, I called it a “colorful pill of a speaker that looks almost like, as an accessory, it leaped out of a new iPod touch commercial.” I loved it for its clear, crisp sound that was loud enough to shake most rooms: It delivered the sound volume of the Big Jambox in the original Jambox’s form factor.

If it’s not plenty clear, I loved the JBL Charge. It ended up being my go-to kitchen speaker for over a year, until I accidentally knocked it into the sink while doing my dishes. As a sign of its quality, it actually kept working, but never sounded quite the same.

Now I’ve tried out the JBL Charge 2. And I’ve got to say, if the JBL Charge was good, the Charge 2 is even better, fixing some of the first model’s oversights. It’s a solid choice if you’re looking for a portable Bluetooth speaker that can do more than just play music.

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Meet your new favorite calendar app for iOS

The one app to rule them all. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

The one calendar app to rule them all. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Update: This story has been modified to more accurately describe the sync capabilities of Fantastical 2, and we’ll have a how-to up on getting Google and iOS to play nice soon.

Readdle’s calendar app, Calendars 5, brings all the natural-language and sync goodness of other high-end calendar apps, along with support for your Google or iOS calendar, to your iPhone and iPad at the same time in one $3 app. Plus? When you add an event to Calendars 5, it shows up on your Google Calendar (or iOS Calendar if you roll that way).

Two-way sync? Natural-language event creation? iOS Reminders support? Recurring events? Invitations? Apple or Google Maps integration? Works offline or online?

This is gonna be your new favorite calendar app, if it isn’t already.

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Olloclip vs. Moment lenses: Best glass for your iPhone 6 camera

The Olloclip clipped onto an iPhone6 Plus. Photo: Jim Merithew/ Cult of Mac

The Olloclip clipped onto an iPhone 6 Plus. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Like millions of photography fans, the iPhone is my main camera. In fact, ever since my Nikon D600 took a suicidal, lens-first dive off a cliff and into a waterfall, my iPhone has become my only camera.

I’m always trying to eke out a little extra performance from my iPhone’s tiny camera sensor with new apps, tripods and lenses. Over the last three months, Cult of Mac has been testing various lenses for the iPhone 6 in a search for the best aftermarket glass. I’ve narrowed the field down to two top choices: the new Olloclip and Moment’s mountable lens system.

Unfortunately, iPhone 6 users can’t actually use both the Olloclip and Moment lenses at the same time. But if you’ve been considering getting new photo gear for your iPhone 6, we’re ready to break down the pros and cons of these aftermarket accessories.

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Petite and powerful: PicoPro projector puts a movie theater in your pocket

PicoPro projector. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

PicoPro projector. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Like most things that come in small sizes, pico projectors have always been a big disappointment.

Called “pico” because of their portability and battery power, the diminutive projectors in this class have typically been underpowered and underwhelming. Almost by definition, projectors need to be big and bright enough to throw a lot of light at the screen.

So it’s a big surprise that Celluon’s new featherweight pocket-size PicoPro is a heavyweight champ. I was prepared for it to suck — but was surprised and delighted when it turned my living room wall into a 150-inch cinema screen.

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5 cases to keep your iPhone 6 safe and stylish

5 cases to keep your iPhone 6 safe and stylish

iPhones are expensive, and leaving your new, shiny iPhone 6 or 6 Plus without a case on is akin to driving a car without insurance. Why risk it?

In today’s video, I run down my five favorite cases for Apple’s current-generation iPhones, selecting the ones that will keep your phone both safe and stylish at the same time.

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Lust List: Hot gear for the dead of winter

Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell delivers devilish fun and awesome superpowers

Saints Row: Gat out of Hell

This weaponized recliner represents sloth. But not so much sloth that you lack the energy to kill every demon you see. Photo: Deep Silver

Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell is a weird game. And I’m not just saying that because it’s about two members of a street gang going to hell to rescue their boss before he or she is forced to marry Satan’s daughter. Because that’s super-weird, don’t get me wrong.

Other than that, Gat is an expansion to 2013’s Saints Row IV that doesn’t require you to own the main game but doesn’t make a whole lot of sense if you haven’t played it. It has a six- to eight-hour story with an additional dozen or so hours of open-world gameplay. Whether you’re new to the series or not, you’re in for its special brand of relentless fun.

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New outdoor gear preps you for nature’s nastiness

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Outdoor Retailer’s version of the Kodak Photo Spot is a eye-popping orange sleeping bag thingy for two. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

SALT LAKE CITY — Mother Nature’s got a million ways to make your life miserable. Luckily, the outdoor industry is filled with innovators, entrepreneurs and inspired inventors working incessantly to make your adventures more epic and less stressful.

The sheer number of companies hawking advanced snowshoes, crampons and things made of Merino wool proved a little mind-numbing last week at Outdoor Retailer 2015, the industry’s largest convention.

Everything from stitch-free puffy jackets to shoes made with Michelin tire technology were on display in the giant convention center, but we waded past the immense numbers of mannequins and bowls filled with enticing fresh fruit (rather than convention-standard Red Vines) to bring you a few of the more interesting gadgets, clothing items and even a new camera strap for your micro 4:3 camera.

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