The uHandy kit turns an iPhone’s camera app into a mobile microscope. Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac
Humankind is not depending on me to cure some terrible epidemic. That takes the pressure off and lets me have a little fun as I try a device that turns my iPhone into a fairly powerful microscope.
With a clip-on aspheric lens and transmitted light base that weighs only a few ounces, the makers of uHandy Microscope boast of it having a resolution comparable to a traditional microscope that weighs down a lab table in a classroom.
Samples can be magnified and viewed in the field using your smartphone’s camera app to record the image and, of course, an instant ability to share the image with colleagues in other places.
First Twin Peaks, and now this. Fox is bringing back its seminal monster-of-the-week series The X-Files for a six-episode run, complete with original stars Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny.
We don’t know yet what former agents Mulder and Scully have been up to since we left them floating in the middle of the ocean at the end of 2008 film I Want to Believe (they had a raft; don’t worry). But I imagine it will involve aliens, conspiracies and perhaps an alien conspiracy or two.
If you’re excited about these series making their returns, here are five ’90s cult TV shows to take you back to the world of crappy computer effects and even worse pants. And be sure to let us know more of your favorites in the comments.
It’s bigger and shinier than any Nintendo handheld ever made. Photo: Evan Killham/Cult of Mac
Your iPhone and iPad are decent options for gaming on the go, but they can’t do everything. Sometimes touch controls work, and sometimes they don’t.
If you’re a dedicated gamer who wants something that combines the simplicity of touch controls with the precision of actual buttons, I recommend Nintendo’s newest handheld gaming device.
The latest incarnation of the 3DS handheld system is appropriately named the New Nintendo 3DS XL (North America didn’t get the smaller version, but my massive man hands and I are not complaining). It offers a wider viewing angle for its glasses-free stereoscopic 3D graphics, a faster processor and even more buttons than the old one. And if you can swing the $200 price, you’ll be buying a lot of fun. But as commenters love to point out to me, this is Cult of Mac and not Cult of Whatever I’m Writing About, so we’ll skip to the big question:
We’re just weeks away from the Apple Watch’s launch, but maybe you’re not as excited about it as some of us are. It’s understandable; not everyone needs a $550 watch that offers many of the same capabilities your phone already does (albeit more conveniently).
If you’re in the market for a cool new watch and don’t need all the smart features and gadgetiness of Apple’s offering, here are a few less-shiny options you could check out. And they are, in fact, far less shiny than the Apple Watch. Because they’re made of wood.
I do have to hand it to them for that tagline. Solid work, everyone. Photo: Armory Films
I don’t know if you’ve heard of Zombeavers, but it’s out now. And, true to its name, it is about beavers who are also zombies, and they lay siege to a cabin full of hapless, idiot teens on a weekend trip to the woods.
Watch the Zombeavers trailer if you don’t believe me, but this is a thing that is happening to all of us. And I can’t actually speak to its quality without having seen it, but it absolutely looks like something I would watch on Netflix at 2 in the morning. But only then.
What I’m saying is that you can probably wait to see Zombeavers, which will screen in select theaters starting today and is also available to stream on demand. And while you’re doing that, you should check out these other films that blend horror and comedy into something special (and don’t forget to share all the ones I missed in the comments).
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is back from its mid-season break to resolve some cliffhangers — and introduce new ones, because absolute closure has no place in TV shows based on comic books.
If you don’t like waiting a week between episodes and want to fill that time with more stories about secret agencies, government-sanctioned or otherwise, that are charged with sorting out the crazy junk your civilian brain just couldn’t even handle, we have a few suggestions for you. Kick your TV into super-secret-spy mode with these shows and movies that are guaranteed to give you your daily allowance of secrets, acronyms and people in suits with guns.
I finally pitched the cheap plastic desk lamp I’ve had since high school and replaced it with the light I’ve always wanted: the iconic Anglepoise 1227.
If you’re looking for a classic desk lamp that won’t fade into the backdrop next to your sleek iMac, this is the one for you.
Launched in 1934, the design of the 1227 has changed astonishingly little. It still looks functional and modern, which makes perfect sense given Anglepoise started out making hard-wearing lamps for factory workers.
Each month, Cult of Mac's Lust List has a date with the hottest gear in the world. This time around we're talking impressive audio experiences, fantastic bicycling equipment and awesome accessories for iPhone users (which basically means everybody, right?).
Soho Wireless headphones by Harman Kardon
“Hey Jim, what are those?”
“Hey Jim, let me check those out.”
“Hey Jim, are those any good?”
“Hey Jim, I bet those are expensive.”
Never has a pair of headphones brought me such attention. To a person, everyone wanted to know what was up with the wireless Sohos. There is no denying the fact these cans look good. The design is very much in line with Harman Kardon's aesthetic, but in a petite package.
The big question on everyone’s mind is, "Do they sound as good at they look?" And the answer is, "Almost."
The $250 Soho Wireless headphones are comfortable to wear, as long as you aren't overly active. The sound quality is good in the mids and treble, but lacking slightly in bass response. And the Bluetooth is great, when it works. But using numerous devices is mildly frustrating at best and downright annoying at worst. The touch sensors on the side of the cans is a great added feature, but can’t be relied on to work consistently, as I found myself trying to pause my music with a tap over and over and over again.
Oddly, I still find myself recommending these to friends as a pleasant alternative to traveling with earbuds, but with the caveat being you have to be prepared for the limitations of the Bluetooth connection. — Jim Merithew
Looking for a wallet case for your iPhone that will get everyone talking? Take a look at the new BookBook for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus from Twelve South. I've been asked by waiters, bartenders and casual passersby whether I’m carrying a Bible, a dictionary or a tiny leather notebook.
When I flip it open to show the capacious five-card interior and my connected iPhone 6 Plus, the oohs and ahhs increase exponentially. When I show them how the iPhone separates from the BookBook for easy access and sharing, most people are ready to go buy one.
This is one fantastic iPhone case, and I can’t sing its praises loudly enough. The iPhone 6 Plus version has six pockets, including one with clear plastic for my ID. Snapping my iPhone out of the delicious leather portfolio wallet case is a breeze when I want to take the device on a run without carrying my wallet. You can even snap half of the iPhone off the wallet and prop it up for easy movie watching on an airplane. You can’t go wrong with this for any price, but the affordable $60 makes the BookBook, available in black or brown leather, an iPhone case you’ll take everywhere. — Rob LeFebvre
Giro designed the Synthe to be a high-end aero helmet, but it's really a great everyday, all-day road helmet. Sure they claim the Synthe is some percentage more slippery, while going some mph and at varying yaw angles, but what’s really impressive is how all this aero blabbity blah doesn’t stop the helmet from being comfortable, cool and stylish.
And by cool I don’t mean hip: I mean the airflow through this helmet keeps my head temperature regulated nicely. Also, you can thank the Roc Loc Air retention system for keeping the helmet comfortable and secure against your noggin, while eliminating hot spots.
Although the $250 Synthe's looks may not be for everyone, it is clear that only aesthetics should keep you from sporting this helmet, as the fit and finish are impeccable. — Jim Merithew
I love me some saturated tube crunch more than just about anything in the world, but sometimes it is just not possible. That's when I turn to my iRig PRO and my laptop or iPad for jam time.
You can use IK Multimedia's multitude of apps, including the popular AmpliTube, but I still prefer to dick around in GarageBand on my iPhone 6 Plus, iPad and Macbook Pro. The iRig and your Apple device let you lay down a recording pretty easily, including using the microphone input with phantom power, but I mostly find myself plugging in my guitar and jamming through a bunch of preset amplifiers in GarageBand.
Whatever your software choices, the iRig works exactly as advertised, letting you plug in and jam on. And, for those looking for even more sonic possibilities, the little black box even has MIDI in capabilities. — Jim Merithew
iPhone docks have never really been my thing, but the Spool Dock just begs to be appreciated. Quell & Company dock is “crafted in the U.S.A. from sustainable North American white oak, merino wool felt and a weighty metal base,” and it's quite the looker. From a design perspective, it’s also pretty smart.
The biggest issue I have with docks I’ve tried in the past is cord management. They usually make it difficult to plug the iPhone into the Lightning port, resulting in a bunched-up cable that looks messy.
Not the $65 Spool Dock, which comes in white and black metal. Its base swivels, letting you roll out the cable as much as you desire. It also lets you turn your docked device 360 degrees. Setting it up is super-simple, with removable support bars for the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 5, 5s, 5c, iPad mini and 5th-gen iPod touch. Most normal cases will work just fine too, as long as they’re not bulky like an Otterbox. — Alex Heath
I want extra pockets without having to wear goofy cargo pants. So while perusing one of my favorite guy websites, Everyday Carry, I came across a little bag made by Koyono called the bolstr bag.
It's perfect for tooling around Chicago, allowing me to discreetly store a phone, iPad mini, notebook and point-and-shoot camera. Plus, its slim design and asymmetrical shape look way cooler than knee-level flapped pockets on either leg.
The bolstr small carry bag comes in a variety of colors and left- or right-side orientations (as a lefty, I appreciate this design consideration). — David Pierini
With the PowerControl 8, SRM will finally add GPS to its line of outstanding cyclocomputer head units.
This is truly a computer designed by bike nerds for bike nerds. It lets you use from one to four screens, with two to eight fields per screen. You can configure your data in so many ways it will make your head spin as fast as your wheels. The new $850 model, available for preorder now and shipping before summer, also comes with Wi-Fi and is compatible with ANT+ and Bluetooth. — Jim Merithew
If you think the UE Boom is fantastic, you’ll double over with delight at the newer, bigger version of the best portable Bluetooth speaker we’ve ever used. This thing is seriously loud with deep bass, sparkling highs and clear mids that will faithfully reproduce pretty much any music you throw at it.
It’s also seriously rugged, with a strong, rubberized top and bottom and a tough outer mesh cloth shell. Just toss it in a bag and go. Hell, this bad boy is waterproof to the point of still working after a full-on shower or dip in the pool.
The UE Megaboom's battery life is amazing, too, taking just a couple hours for a full charge that seems to last all day long (rated at 20 hours of play). Download the iOS app and you can remotely EQ your sound, set up a booming alarm and turn the speaker on and off. You can even connect two Megabooms for a massive stereo blast in any room. At $300, this thing is worth every penny. — Rob LeFebvre
Freakishly tall bicyclists no longer need resort to modifying a smaller bike or paying the tab for a custom frame. They can just take flight on an off-the-shelf Flite 747 from KHS Bicycles.
The company partnered with the Tower of Power, Leonard Zinn, to create this huge road bike. Zinn, who has been building bicycles for big fellas for somewhere around 30 years, helped design the Flite 747. It comes in 64 cm and 67 cm frames made of Reynolds 520 chromoly, and delivers standard road bike geometry at those massive sizes. (It's so huge i couldn't even get my leg over it.)
All Zinn's trials and tribulations came to bear on this bicycle, which sports impressive 200 mm crankarms. It's allegedly plenty stiff going up and a blast coming down. Priced at $1,899 list, this is the second year the model has been offered (last year they sold like hotcakes). Big fun for big guys like Zinn. — Jim Merithew
There we were, walking down the street, when suddenly I decided to snap a quick selfie of the six of us. We all hunched together, trying to jam ourselves into the frame of the iPhone that I was holding out as far as possible with my arms to make sure we all got in the picture. It was that moment when I realized that I wanted one of the more ridiculous gadgets out there, a selfie stick.
With the MiniSuit Selfie Stick's telescoping pole and Bluetooth shutter button on the handle, I could have taken a much more well-composed shot of all the people in my party, with much less effort and grunting. The included adjustable mount holds smartphones small and large, and the selfie stick has a standard tripod mount so you can even use it with a regular point-and-shoot camera.
My iPhone 6 Plus nestles nicely in the holder and lets me take photos of myself and many other folks from farther away than my own arm can handle. And, at $20, it’s hard to not grab one for a friend, too. — Rob LeFebvre
VX Adventure Race mountain bike pedals by VP Components
Taking a play from their strong platform mountain bike pedal lineup, the team at VP Components has released the Shimano SPD-compatible VX Adventure Race pedals. The clipless pedal adds a giant platform for additional stability. At a reasonable 460 grams and spinning on a roller and double-sealed cartridge bearings, these trail-worthy pedals are rider serviceable and run about $130. — Jim Merithew
If you want to know if your smoke or CO alarm is going off while you’re away from home, the Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight could be your best option. It’s an attractive little $99 night-light that lets you customize its color, but its real trick is letting you monitor your home’s safety alarms remotely.
You use an iPhone app to connect the Leeo to your home Wi-Fi network for set up and monitoring, and if your alarms go off while you’re out and about, the Leeo will notify you right on your iPhone. If you don’t respond, it will even notify other folks that you specify in the settings. If that isn’t enough, the Leeo will monitor your home temperature and humidity and notify you if they change much. — Rob LeFebvre
Now that Frank is president, everything should be smooth sailing. Why are we even doing a third season? Photo: Netflix
Netflix’s super-political drama House of Cards returns for its third season Friday, and if the Muppet version wasn’t enough to hold you over before you watch all the new episodes in one sitting this weekend, we’re here to help.
You should check out these shows if you need a fix of shenanigans and power plays that go all the way to the top.