Flexible stylus has some cool hidden talents [Reviews]

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StylusFlex
The StylusFlex does a bit more than just let you poke at your screen.
Photo: Evan Killham/Cult of Mac

StylusFlex

Most people don’t use a stylus with their iPhones, and late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs wouldn’t want them to. But the StylusFlex might change a few minds because it’s not simply a substitute for the five styli you have at the end of your arm.

You have plenty of reasons to just stick with your fingers when you’re using your iPhone or iPad, and this device seems to realize that. That’s why it does a few extra things that might help it earn its keep.

Why I love both of Amazon’s new Echo smart speakers [Reviews]

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The Amazon Echo Tap is the portable, battery-powered member of the smart speaker family.
The Amazon Echo Tap is the portable, battery-powered member of the smart speaker family.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Lust List: Amazon’s Echo Dot and Echo Tap

Ask Amazon’s Echo smart speaker “How much does the Earth weigh?” and she’ll rattle off the answer in pounds. It takes about a full minute and is genuinely amusing. It’s just one of many surprises up Echo’s sleeve (see this crazy list of Echo Easter Eggs on Reddit). It proves she is by far the best computer you can talk to. Sorry Siri.

And now there are two new members of Amazon’s smart speaker family, both with significant advantages. I love them both, with a couple of caveats.

Tile-based puzzle game sends you sliding into adventure [Reviews]

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Stencilsmith
Stencilsmith combines strategy, farming, mining and battle in a minimalist package.
Photo: Nicolas Sepi, Jr.

If role-playing games take too long, and you don’t think Threes is violent enough, Stencilsmith might be your jam.

It’s an endless puzzle title that has you sliding tiles around to harvest ore, craft weapons, and fight monsters, and it manages to do all of those things with beautifully simple and elegant style. And while everything looks pretty basic and charming, you’ll find after a while that you have way more to keep track of than you thought, and that’s when its ridiculous difficulty will start to gnaw at you like one of those wolves that always shows up on the board when you aren’t quite ready.

But it’s all great fun, and you should definitely check it out.

Otherwise great platformer is virtually unplayable in VR Mode [Reviews]

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Space Box
Space Box is a decent platformer, but its hook doesn't quite work.
Photo: Tom Graczyk

Let me say this up front: Space Box is a fantastic game. It’s challenging, fun, and has some really great mechanics and art. And if you have a set of virtual-reality goggles to plunk your iPhone into, you can even play it hands-free in 3-D using head-tracking controls.

And that’s where it runs into some trouble, but you shouldn’t let it ruin the game for you.

These goggles could change your mind about cheap VR [Reviews]

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Mac users are missing out on VR.
Take your first step into VR with these inexpensive goggles.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple hasn’t shown much enthusiasm for diving into virtual reality in the past, but all signs are pointing to a renewed interest. With Tim Cook mentioning VR in the latest Apple earnings call, I got to thinking more about it — as I’ve never personally given it a go.

Being immersed in a 3-D world that tracks your head movements is becoming a mainstream reality. At the moment, VR is heading full-steam toward gamers in particular — the user is immersed in a virtual world where they can look around without the 16:9 constrictions of a standard TV or monitor.

So in this video I’m looking at a $30 VR headset and seeing how well it works. Or, if it just sucks. Check out the video after the break.