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Pear Sports’ new monitor is the workout coach you always wanted

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Pear Sports’ workout system pairs a heart rate monitor with comfortable earbuds and a mobile app. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

I’ve been a runner for a long time. I trained for (and ran) the 1994 Los Angeles Marathon. I’ve run 5K races, half marathons and relays for full marathons up here in Alaska, too. I find that running gives me the best bang for my buck: All I need is a pair of running shoes, some appropriate clothing (it gets cold up here), and some music to keep me getting out there.

Recently, though, I’ve been playing with a new bit of gear: the Pear Sports heart rate monitor, paired with a set of earbuds engineered to stay in your ears while working out, plus a pretty fantastic mobile app to make sense of the heart rate data.

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Indulge your inner OCD with Brother’s tiny Wi-Fi label printer

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

The Brother P-Touch P750W label printer works like a charm. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

When I was a kid, we used to label everything: toys, boxes, file folders. My parents used one of those manual rotary label dispensers, the kind you had to squeeze hard enough to make each individual letter poke up through the hard plastic label tape. It was a good day when my brother and I got to use the label maker to title our shelves, toys and books (“Rob’s Stuff” was a common theme).

These days, printing labels is a lot easier thanks to computers and label printers like the ones from Dymo and Brother. Typically, you’ve got to connect these to a Mac or PC, and then use special software to send labels to the label printer.

The Brother P-Touch P750W (printer makers really need to work on their model names) is a label printer that can connect to your computer via USB, sure, but also connect either to your existing Wi-Fi network or create its own Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n network to print labels from any device, including iPhones, iPads, Android devices, Windows PCs and Macs.

Yeah, I’ve already labeled some shelves around the house. Old habits, it appears, die hard.

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Man, I frikkin’ love this versatile folding bike by Brompton

Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The Brompton’s not a new bike. It’s not even new to me. But it is the best folding bike around, and it will change how you travel long distances, too. I’ve had mine ever since I recovered enough from a broken leg (busted playing bike polo) to hobble up to the local bike shop and order one. That was a few years ago, and since then the bike has come with me to three different continents, traveling on planes, trains, trams, automobiles and buses.

You can even ride it to the airport and pack it up when you get there.

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Get a fully realized MOBA on your iPad with Fates Forever

Sometimes you'll die.

Sometimes you’ll die.

If you want to delve into the deep end with a massively online battle arena game, you can head on over to Riot Games’ League of Legends or Valve’s own Dota 2 with your computer, download a free copy of each game, and then dive in.

Or, you can grab a copy of Fates Forever, a surprisingly well-tuned and deep version of the popular game genre and eSports phenomenon. It’s been over a year in development by the team led by the founder of proto-Game Center Open Feint and one of the first hit game devs on the iOS platoform (Aurora Feint), Jason Citron.

When we spoke to Citron last summer, he was full of excitement about his promising game-in-development. The wait has been worth it, as Fates Forever puts on an impressive show, squeezing a fully-realized MOBA game complete with distinctive heroes and cunningly designed infrastructure that can encourage and include everyone, from those brand new to the genre to the more veteran MOBA players, all on the iPad.

This is a fantastic game, and you’ll want to check it out right now.

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Storm Caster sets you on path to adventure with a few cards, lots of magic

SCTOP

I’m a bit of a sucker for anything remotely magical, and I love the idea of blasting spells around to save the world. If you’re also excited by that, and love hordes of monsters too, then Storm Casters will be right up your alley.

Packing a library of spells so extensive that even the great Gandalf would be in awe, Storm Casters’ enchanting design aesthetics and whimsical outlook will make you a fan straight off.

Get Set Games (developer of Mega Jump) has a lot to be proud of when it comes to Storm Casters. The company’s latest dive into the world of dungeon-crawling and spell-casting is especially appealing to newcomers as well as fans of the roguelike gaming subgenre.

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Xistera crams every iPhone photo accessory into single awkward package

Xistera crams every iPhone photo accessory into single awkward package

Homely multitool Xistera packs many iPhoneography essentials into one pointy package. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Take the Xistera out of its box and you’ll be disappointed. It’s ugly as hell, like a cheap corkscrew, and it looks like it won’t really do much. But hidden in those graceless curves and eye-gouging corners is what a lazier journalist than me would call a “Swiss Army knife of iPhoneography.”

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Mega-pedal serves up soaring vocal harmonies, impressive guitar effects

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

I’ve been playing music for coming up on 30 years now, and I’ve tried a ton of music gear. These days, I run a fairly bare-bones setup, with a smaller amp for those close venues, a couple of dual-effect pedals (Visual Sounds’ Route 66 and H2O), and a Boss VE-20 vocal harmony box to thicken up the background vocals in my disco band.

I’ve always had a thing for multi-effect boxes, though, running through my share of a few complicated ones that never quite gave me what I needed in terms of both effects sounds and onstage ease-of-use.

When I heard about TC-Helicon’s new VoiceLive 3 mega-stomp box, with a huge range of guitar effects and amplifier modeling, an amazing vocal-harmony processing system and a stage-quality looping feature, well, I had to try it out.

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Now you can slay Monster Hunter’s epic beasts right on your iPhone

So pretty. So many monsters.

So pretty. So many monsters.

Imagine if you were actually a hunter of massive, dangerous creatures. You’d need to gear up, make sure you have all the weaponry and armor you’d need, enough ammo for your ranged weapons, and you’d have to be sure your giant swords are sharp enough to cut through touch monster hide.

You’d need to practice, for sure, and you’d probably get better over time, able to aim your sights at even more deadly monsters, because the bigger the baddie, the better the payoff.

Monster Hunter Freedom Unite is exactly this. While hunting monsters is a ton of stressful fun, full of dodging and attacking and slaying, the rest of the activities in-game — choosing weapons, farming, hiring chefs and companions, crafting and buying better weaponry and armor — are equally as satisfying.

And now? It’s on your iPhone (or iPad), with some really excellent touch controls and better visuals than ever.

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Picturelife 3 should be your new super-awesome online photo library

The iPhone version is one of the best photo apps I've used. Screenshots Picturelife.

The iPhone version of Picturelife is one of the best photo apps I’ve used. Screenshot: Picturelife

Remember Picturelife? It was one of our top picks for online photo storage when Everpix bit it, and now it has been upgraded to version 3.0. The highlights are a new $15 per month unlimited plan, which is really truly unlimited and can be shared with up to three other family members, plus an all-new, redesigned iOS app.

Things in the online photo world are definitely heating up again. iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite will bring exciting new features for photographers and a recent update to Adobe Creative Cloud gives shutterbugs even more options for editing and storage.

But Picturelife has some pretty cool tricks up its sleeve to make it a worthy competitor to the big guns. Here’s why it deserves a shot at becoming your new super-awesome online photo library.

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Beautiful leather folio puts absolutely everything in its place

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

I’m a digital pack rat. I’ve got an iPhone, an iPad mini, a Barnes & Noble nook eReader, a space pen, several USB flash drives, and various earbuds along with a few charging and adapter cables.

I usually just jam all these things into my backpack as I head out the door, hoping they don’t get lost or tangled in the process. They get lost in my bag of choice, and I spend a fair bit of time searching around for stuff I need in any given moment when out and about.

Honestly, though, it hasn’t been much of an issue. I’ve been ok with taking the extra effort to find my headphones, say, and unwrap them from the unholy tangle they’ve become in my bag, for the simple fact that I’m not super organized.

This new leather folio case, however, has me re-thinking all that. What if I could keep track of all the little digital ephemera I carry with me in a more compact, organized way?

Turns out that I can, and look great doing it.

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