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Amazing guitar and vocal effects boxes will have you sounding like a pro

Play Acoustic has all you need to sound like a pro. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

TC-Helicon’s Play series has all you need to sound like a pro. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

It’s hard enough to sing and play guitar at the same time, let alone manage a floor full of guitar effects pedals. Add to that trying to create vocal effects like most listeners expect and you’ve got a solo musician’s worst nightmare.

The folks at TC-Helicon have come up with a couple of pretty nifty floor-style pedal boxes that have you covered though: You can dial in a fantastic guitar sound for either acoustic or electric guitar, fill a room with amazing vocal effects and backing harmonies, and even loop musical phrases to create a song with multiple parts on the fly. Dubbed Play Acoustic and Play Electric, these simple stomp boxes contain some serious technology in an easy-to-use platform.

Here’s how it plays out.

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Lust List: Apple wrappers and other showstoppers

Review: Smaller iPhone 6 proves bigger isn’t always better

iPhone 6 Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

The iPhone 6 is as good as gold. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

My first impression? My goodness, this is the small one?

The iPhone 6 is a big step up. It makes older iPhones look small. Ridiculously small. Even after a few days, my old iPhone 5s feels positively Lilliputian. The 6 dwarfs the 5s, which felt big and expansive at the time. Now it looks like a little dolls’ phone.

I’ve been really digging the 6. It’s a big bright slab of glass and metal. It feels impossibly thin, almost like an oversize credit card in your hand. But it’s solid and stiff — it’s not going to snap in my back pocket if I sit on it.

The 6 is not a gob-smacker like the 6 Plus, which stops people in the street. But it’s more manageable, especially with one hand.

I’m a big fan. I like it a lot, except for one design flaw that’s been driving me crazy.

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Lumsing’s harmonica-shaped power bank is everything you could want in an external battery

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Lumsing’s harmonica is an inexpensive, powerful charger for your iPhone or iPad.

Battery packs are a necessary evil in our modern lives. Devices that can’t get through a day without a charge surround us, but the thin-and-light profiles we take for granted can’t accommodate swappable batteries. Add battery-intensive tasks like gaming or video to the mix, and the result is that we often don’t feel safe leaving the house without an extra battery in our bags.

If you’re in the market for a necessary evil, I like Lumsing’s Harmonica Style Portable Power Bank. It looks good, feels great in the hand, works great, has tons of battery life and is super-cheap. What more do you want for an accessory that you really don’t want to have to carry around with you at all?

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Review: iPhone 6 Plus slays its giant Android rivals

iPhone 6 Plus Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

iPhone 6 Plus is the best phablet ever made. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

After claiming no one would buy big phones during his iPhone 4 reveal in 2010, Steve Jobs made it pretty clear Apple had no interest in making a substantially larger smartphone anytime soon. But fast-forward to 2014, and the company Jobs founded in his parents’ garage has been forced to do just that.

Having watched customers flock to Android in pursuit of bigger screens, Apple could no longer ignore our demands. It had to build new iPhones that would win back users it lost, and prevent any more from wandering.

And boy has Apple done that in style.

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Minimalist iPhone protectors don’t cut corners — they cover them

So small, you almost can't see them. Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Bumpies are so small, you almost can’t see them. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Bumpies border upon the nonexistent, and that’s why they are better than most other iPhone cases. Not that you could really count Bumpies as a case: They’re little stick-on corners that protect your iPhone’s extremities, and do it almost invisibly.

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HyperX Cloud headset covers the basics at a budget-friendly price

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

I don’t do a whole lot of up-close computer-based gaming, but when I do, I prefer to have a decent set of headphones to keep the sound to myself so that the rest of the household doesn’t need to hear the full complement of explosions and combat sounds that typically accompany gaming on my Mac. There are an array of headsets out there with gaming microphones built in, many of them in the $300 and up range.

Not everyone can afford this sort of luxury, so most brands have less-expensive versions of their headsets to appeal to a more budget-conscious gamer. The HyperX Cloud is just such a set of headphones aiming for the entry-level gamer who may not have much more than $100 to spend on their gaming audio gear.

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Lensbaby for iPhone is frustrating yet awesome

The lensbaby LM-10, shot through a fisheye lens and two mirrors.

The Lensbaby LM-10, shot through a fisheye lens and two mirrors. Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

I like the Lensbaby that I have for my regular camera, but I frikkin’ love the Lensbaby LM–10 for the iPhone. Like most things that make the trip from elsewhere to iOS, the little Lensbaby offers a subset of the original’s features, but they are – dare I say – a more focused set of features.

Let’s just say the iPhone Lensbaby is about the funnest iPhoneography accessory around.

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Pare down your travel kit with this shoulder-saving MacBook Pro sleeve

Holds just enough to stay productive. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Waterfield’s MacBook Outback Solo holds just enough to keep you productive. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

I’ll admit it — I’ve got a thing for these waxed canvas and leather bags from Waterfield. I’ve ended up using the impeccably designed Staad backpack and the classy Nintendo 3DS case long after my reviews of them were published. These bags and cases from the San Francisco design collective are warm, inviting and just get better with age and use.

Let’s face it, though: Sometimes you only want to carry your laptop and a couple of accessories, and that’s it. Waterfield’s latest design, the MacBook Outback Solo, is a minimalist sleeve made of the same strong canvas material and rich, thick, buttery-smooth leather as the other bags in the line. It can be paired with a carrying strap that turns the sleeve into a messenger bag. While our very own Charlie Sorrel called the iPad version of this bag a man-purse, I’m thinking of this more as a shoulder-saving device — the fewer things I end up having to carry, the better.

This little sleeve is perfect for exactly that.

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Evernote Business Notebook will thrill rich kindergartners

It's worth buying this book just for the pattern embossed on the cover. Photos Charlie Sorrel -- Cult of Mac

It’s worth buying this book just for the pattern embossed on the cover. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

What’s the difference between a businessperson and a regular person? According to Evernote, a businessperson has secrets, whereas a regular person is happy to share everything. This somewhat cynical take is a pretty good model of the world, and it is embodied in the Evernote Business Notebook, a “collabo” with Moleskine that lets you snap/scan a photo of your pages into Evernote, and selectively share the result.

Let’s take a look.

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