I went outside for the first time today. Working at home is an easy way to get a bad case of couchlock, so I like to try and get out for little 15 minute breaks when I can.
Today was a bit different. I downloaded and installed a game some buddies of mine are raving about on Facebook: Ingress.
I launched the app, followed the instructions, and was hooked. What started as a 15 minute walk to try out a new mobile game became a 45-minute obsession as I roamed my neighborhood, looking for portals to hack, collecting XMP particles to power my technological takeover, and finding a little feature of my ‘hood I’d never known about before.
Want to get obsessed about a new game? Want to maybe get in a little better shape? Be sure to download Ingress and see what everyone’s talking about.
The ST2 electric bike from Stromer will put a big smile on your face. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Oh. My. Gosh. The Stromer ST2 electric bike is so much fun, it should not be street legal.
Two weeks ago I had zero interest in electric bikes. I’ve ridden traditional bicycles my entire life and I love them. The very idea of an electric bike was repellent — even in a hilly city like San Francisco. Hills and exercise are the entire point.
Then I test-rode the Stromer ST2.
Three seconds in, I’m laughing like a madman as the ST2 takes off like a rocket. I spend the next 30 minutes flying up and over the hill where I live, laughing like a loon and having the time of my life.
Now I’m a convert. The ST2 is the best electric bike on the market. It performs like a champ, has a ton of high-tech features (including an iOS app), and actually looks cool and not ridiculous.
Each and every month, Lust List rounds up the products that fooled us with their style and ease. This time we've got iPad accessories, international travel aids, bags and sporting gear, turkey jerky that's anything but foul and more.
Twist Plus World Charging Station by ONEADPATR
ONEADPATR's Twist Plus World Charging Station ($44.99) solves a problem I didn’t know I had. On a recent trip to Portugal, I was able to twist myself to a European plug and get all my charging needs out of single power outlet. It turns out that was the perfect country for such a gizmo, as the Portuguese are not overly generous with their power outlets.
You just slide your MacBook power block onto the Twist Plus and push in a handful of USB cables. In a matter of seconds, I was charging my laptop, my phone, my Garmin bicycle computer and my iPad. I won’t travel again without it. — Jim Merithew
This Kickstarter-funded iPad keyboard and case combo will wow you with its delightfully grippy faux wood grain finish. Designed for the iPad Air and the iPad Air 2, the three-piece Libre Keyboard Folio comes with a case that holds your tablet snugly plus two interchangeable covers. One boasts an incredibly thin, backlit Bluetooth keyboard that works exceedingly well. The other is a simple cover for when you don't need do any typing.
CaseStudi’s design for the Libre is pretty fantastic. The part that holds the iPad comes with a cool kickstand, and it's a cinch to switch between the various covers. Some custom covers are available at $11.99 each, including one with a dog dressed like Michael Jackson and another with a cat costumed like Lady Gaga, with more styles on the way. The gray felt cover is my current favorite, bringing a crafty, homey comfort to the high-tech wonder of my iPad.
The magnet that holds the covers in place shut offs and wakes the iPad just like Apple’s Smart Covers do. The magnet is amazingly strong, too: You can hold the cover and dangle the Libre's iPad case with zero separation anxiety.
You can preorder the three-piece Libre Keyboard Folio for $79.99 for delivery in July. — Rob LeFebvre
Battery packs are a dime a dozen these days, but Mophie continually sets itself apart as the gold standard. The new Mophie spacestation ($149.95) comes equipped with a 6,000-mAh battery that promises at least a couple of full charges on the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus.
But wait! There's more! Mophie boosts the spacestation beyond your average battery juicer by including internal flash storage that acts like a portable hard drive for your iOS device. The dedicated Space app is quite nice for adding and managing photos, videos and other media from the spacestation. Knowing you have extra storage on the go, even with the 32GB base model I have (it goes up to 128GB), brings peace of mind.
I’ve used plenty of battery packs and cases in the past (many of which have been from Mophie), and this spacestation is as good as any. It’s shorter than an iPhone 6 and pretty light, which makes it super-easy to throw in a bag and forget. The only downside is that it charges through micro-USB (I was hoping for Lightning). — Alex Heath
WaterField Designs' Bolt briefcase is not for hoarders who want to carry every infernal gadget with them everywhere they go. Like the impossibly thin new MacBook, it's stripped down to the essentials — and the essentials are stylish, sturdy and compelling.
The $249 Bolt will surprise you with its slimness. It comes in two sizes — the small one I tested holds up to a 13-inch MacBook Air (the larger model holds up to a 17-inch laptop). After sliding in an 11-inch Air, an iPad and an envelope full of documents, the Bolt was fairly full; there was barely room to toss in a pair of headphones.
But that's the point of the Bolt. It's designed for carting around your must-have gear in a sleek, pleasing package. The brown waxed canvas bag looked good out of the gate (and even better after a few trips gave it more character). The chocolate leather accents, including a thick bottom that's perfect for keeping grime at bay, seem like they will only look better over time.
The craftsmanship employed by the San Francisco bag maker is evident from the first zip of the Bolt's hefty, waterproof zipper or the first flip of the "snaps" that close the front pockets. (They're not really snaps: They look like snaps, but in reality they're magnets that effectively hold the pockets shut but are 1,000 times easier to work than your typical closure.)
A leather-faced pad on the removable shoulder strap boasts a grippy, rubberized back that keeps the Bolt from sliding around. And speaking of not sliding around, the simple pass-through on the back of the Bolt is perfect for sliding the petite bag over the handle of a piece of carry-on luggage.
If you go from a backpack to a Bolt, you will undoubtedly miss all that extra space for cramming in jackets, water bottles and half-eaten sandwiches. But, like a decluttered house, the Bolt's wonderful minimalism will grow on you. — Lewis Wallace
The Kitsbow clan call themselves "The Obsessives," mostly because they are intensely interested in making some of the best mountain bike attire available. They take some heat for making their price point somewhere north of where most dirt dogs deem necessary, but after laying your hands on a few of their pieces you will understand why they get all the rave reviews.
The new Kitsbow Power Wool Base Layer ($115), designed in conjunction with Polartec, is no exception. Kitsbow calls it a base layer and it certainly could be used as one, but I found it to be versatile as either a jersey by itself or as a cozy shirt on a cool evening. The Polartec Power Wool uses Merino wool on the inside and polyster/nylon on the outside, wicking the moisture away from the body, evaporating the wet to keep you dry. — Jim Merithew
It's hard to believe, but one of the first things I want to do after a particularly hard bicycle ride is take a hot shower and zap myself. Ever since receiving a Marc Pro for review, I’m addicted to the post-ride electro contractions.
The Marc Pro ($649.95) is a little box you hook up to electrodes that you stick on your quads, calves, back or any muscle group in need of some active recovery. Then you dial in the amount of impulse you are comfortable with and, over a 30-to-60-minute period, the little box gets those muscles contracting and relaxing.
The idea is that you will move more oxygen through your wasted muscles during these “non-fatiguing” contractions, thus purging all the gunk you built up in there. The Marc Pro website can give you loads of science behind this but, unlike compression wear, this technology appears to deliver more than just a placebo effect. It makes me feel almost human the day after a big ride. — Jim Merithew
You can turn your iPhone into a killer live music recording rig with this slick little appendage from IK Multimedia. Called the iRig Mic Field, it plugs into the Lightning port on your iPhone and will record any sound source you can throw at it.
Use it with the free iRig Recorder app for your iOS device and record interviews or live demos from your band. Flip your iPhone into landscape mode and use it to record anything your heart desires, from live gigs to student plays. The little light on the front of the Mic Field shines blue if the source is too quiet, red if it’s too loud (so you can turn down the gain) and green/yellow if it’s just right. If you have any audio or video recording to do, the iRig Mic Field is the way to go at $99. — Rob LeFebvre
I like to think I'm a minimalist photography gear guy, but I’m not. I hate to be on a shoot, thinking I never should have left the macro at home or wondering why I didn’t pack this cable or that lens. So even though I have spent my life searching for the perfect stealth camera bag, I almost always reach for the same giant backpack to load my camera into.
Along comes ILE with an offer to test their Ultimate Photographers Bag -- MKIII. It's an enormous photo backpack and I, of course, hesitated. What would I do with all that room, all those options and all those pockets?
How about plan a trip to Portugal where I need to take all my gear? The $380 bag handled both my DSLR cameras, three lenses, my Q flash, batteries, chargers, cables, etc., and I still got to fill the top compartment with all my carry-on needs, my laptop and snacks. The bag swallowed everything I could think of and, although it was quite a handful once loaded, I was still able to adjust it to be almost comfortable on my back. I didn’t take advantage of the tripod pocket, but the little clip-on accessory pocket came in extremely helpful for my wallet and passport.
I know pink and black might not be the first choice for everyone, but I think it looks baller (and you can always order one in the color scheme of your choice). — Jim Merithew
The New Primal's Free Range Turkey Jerky is crack for carnivores. It's got none of the farmyard funk that fouls lesser brands: These thin, chewy strips of meat taste fresh and wonderful, with a delicious, delicate sweetness that had us scanning the ingredients list for sugar.
We were relieved to discover that this premium turkey jerky is made from humanely raised birds that weren't pumped full of hormones or antibiotics before they were plucked from the pasture and turned into nutritious snacks. Marinating the turkey breasts in apple cider vinegar — and flavoring them with pineapple juice, honey, onion, white pepper and ginger — infuses these meaty treats with layers of satisfying flavor.
The only problem is the size: The 2-ounce envelopes, which sell for $26.95 for four, aren't exactly giant. You'll be jonesing for your next packet as soon as you finish the first. — Jim Merithew
With a creative blend of natural fibers (Merino wool) and Space Age fibers (polyester and elastane), super.natural conjures garments that wick moisture away from your body while keeping you toasty-warm.
We didn’t have any real winter here in Northern California this year, so even though I left the $85 super.natural Base 1/4 Zip 175 jersey in my go-bag for months, it never got the call. So I pulled out the garment and stuck it in my suitcase for a recent cycling trip. I used it as my stay-warm-during-the-cool-nights base layer; it performed flawlessly (and also looked damn nice). — Jim Merithew
It has taken me forever to embrace the "bigger is better" theory of putting new kicks on my road bike. I guess I still cling to the old-school notion of super-thin, super-high-pressure tires, even though all the recent research points toward bigger tires, running at lower pressure, being faster in addition to more comfortable.
I've made the move slowly, going from 21s to 23s to 25s. Now I'm finally up to a set of the new Clement Cycling Strada LGG Clincher 120 TPI Tire 28s on my daily whip and I gotta say, from the very first ride, I have been wondering what I have been waiting for.
Clement is well-known in cyclocross circles for making some amazing rubber for the run-and-ride set, and their first foray into road bike tires seems to be a success. I only have a handful of rides on these treads, but with some varied San Francisco spring conditions they seem to roll great and have just enough grip to inspire confidence. — Jim Merithew
Stuck on the side of the road and need a jump? Why call your flaky friend or an expensive tow truck when you can just pull the Cyntur JumperPack mini out of your trunk or glove box? This tiny powerhouse will keep a full car battery’s charge for up to a year, which is all kinds of awesome. It even has a port so you can charge any gadgety device that powers up via USB, making this a clear winner for those of us who like to leave the comfort of our houses and cars for adventures in the woods.
Better yet? It’s completely rechargeable via a wall plug at home. Never leave home again without this sexy battery pack. It’s super-compact and comes with a lovely zippered case where you can store the wall plug, all for $99.99. — Rob LeFebvre
It’s not, you know, pretty pretty, but Bloodborne’s grim Gothic setting does have its charms. Photo: Sony
Bloodborne’s village of Yharnam is a dangerous place. It’s full of werewolves, trolls, giant pigs and a host of other terrible beasts that want to kill you. And they can. And they will. But that’s all part of the fun.
Yharnam is a towering, Gothic, often claustrophobic place with buildings piled on buildings and dead ends everywhere. It isn’t a vacation spot, and it isn’t here to make you happy. It exists to give those who venture within exactly what they deserve, for good or ill. The village rewards those who take their time, study their enemies, and plan their moves carefully. And it punishes those who rush or are otherwise careless.
If you want to survive Bloodborne, you must be careful and learn everything you can about both your own and the monsters’ capabilities. This might take a while, but it’s a game in which progress really feels like progress, and you have nobody to blame for failure but yourself.
Don’t worry — we’ll resolve all this next week. Photo: Capcom
You don’t always have to sit down to an epic, 100-hour slog to get your gaming in. Developers are delivering plenty of great bite-size, episodic games that (usually) release one part at a time.
If you’re looking for something you can play in installments, here are four great places to start. These games are all fully released, so you won’t have to wait for the next episode if you can’t stand the suspense. This is great if you’re like me; I watched all of Breaking Bad in a week once it was all up on Netflix. That’s just how I roll.
Apple Watch is a great early adopter device. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Apple Watch is the most confounding device to come out of Cupertino since Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone. Is is it a watch? Is it a tiny computer on your wrist? It’s both — and it’s so much more.
After four days playing with the Apple Watch, we’ve found it to be far more futuristic — and far more fun — than we could have imagined. (It’s even more impressive if you’ve tried any of the other smartwatches on the market.)
Apple Watch isn’t without its disappointments, though. If you’re still unsure whether to shackle yourself to Jony Ive’s fabulous timepiece, here’s our take on what works — and what doesn’t.
As far as secret identities go, Daredevil’s cover as a blind lawyer is pretty solid. Photo: Netflix
Marvel’s new show about blind superhero Daredevil swoops into your Netflix queue this Friday, and the looming arrival of “the man without fear” got us in the mood to watch some other comic-inspired TV shows and movies. To make it interesting, however, we’re avoiding the obvious Marvel and DC characters and focusing on lesser-known and original characters.
Here are a few more metahuman stories to help you get your fix of “BIFFs!” and “POWs!” Be sure to tell us some of your favorites in the comments.
The Resident Evil franchise has suffered a bit of an identity crisis in recent years, straying from its survival-horror roots toward something considerably more action-based. The latest entry, Resident Evil: Revelations 2, tries to have it both ways by splitting its four-chapter tale between two storylines. One features two frantic survivors struggling for resources, and the other has you playing as a heavily armed man of action.
It seems like mixing these two extremes would end up diluting them both, but somehow developer Capcom managed to take the best of both play styles and create something distinctive, harrowing and still damned scary.