The Slim Wallet’s a stunner. Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac
I’m really picky when it comes to buying new wallets. I don’t carry many cards and, much like the Queen of England, I rarely carry cash, so I hate anything that unnecessarily puts a big bulge in my back pocket.
With the Slim Wallet from Danny P, I’ve found a beautiful leather billfold that carries up to eight cards and a fistful of notes without ever getting too bulky.
Universal has a lock on monster films, but will the new action-adventure ones be as “classic” as the originals? Photo: Universal Studios
Now that Universal Studios has decided to go the Marvel route and create its own cinematic universe built around its classic monsters like Frankenstein and The Wolf Man, we thought it might be a good time to reach back into the archives and re-watch the originals.
As the new Universal monster movies will likely be more action-adventure-oriented, it’s good to look back to see what made the original features so great, and which of the old oeuvre were just stinky cash-grabs meant to pad the studio’s bottom line.
With that, let’s get into the best and worst of the genre.
Having not worn a watch regularly since my high school days, I recently took the plunge and bought my first “adult” watch, a self-winding automatic Swiss timepiece.
I had several criteria I wanted to meet. Firstly I wanted a self-winding automatic, because I liked the idea of owning a Swiss watch and I wanted one that, at least in theory, has a longer lifespan than a battery-powered quartz timepiece. Secondly, I wanted to keep my purchase sub-$2,000. Thirdly, as a watch novice, I was looking for something that would be as multipurpose as possible.
After some research, I settled on a watch from the Longines Master Collection – buying it in a dedicated brick-and-mortar store rather than online, so that I could try it out in person before buying.
Each month, Cult of Mac's Lust List reveals the products we're reveling in right now.
The Athletic's Elevation sock
Normally, mismatched socks would signal you got dressed in the dark, you need to do laundry or you just don’t give a crap. But in the case of The Athletic’s cycling socks, it is a statement of fashion and a signal that you embrace the love of the sock.
My friend Annie and I (and now her “friend” Matt) are freaks for the sock. We are on a constant hunt for the best in footwear style, comfort and statement. And, as of late, The Athletic does not disappoint. The Elevation is a limited-edition sock made from merino wool. I dig the royal blue, but it is also available in plum. Go get your mismatch on. — Jim Merithew
When I go to unlock my front door, I give it the finger. That is, I touch my finger to Kwikset's Kevo smart lock, and with a blink of lights and an electronic whir, it opens right up. Welcome to the future of door locks, where unlocking your house or office is a one-touch operation.
Kwikset's Kevo is a Bluetooth-enabled deadbolt that senses the presence of my iPhone to lock and unlock the door. As long as I've got my iPhone with me, it opens right up, and I really dig it. I've given “keys” to friends and family via an app, and there's a dinky keyfob (and physical keys) for backup.
Some reviewers have complained of unreliablity and poor security, but I found the Kevo, which costs about $220 on Amazon, easy to install and set up. Sometimes it doesn't detect my iPhone in my back pocket, but it does when I take it out. It's no less secure than the physical deadbolt that it replaced, and I'm looking forward to the day when all locks operate like this.
Note: Kevo is iOS-only and doesn't work with other devices. Also, it doesn't connect to the Internet or any kind of smart-home hub. — Leander Kahney
Nothing beats a giant outdoor smoker when it comes to barbecuing large chunks of meat. But for smaller jobs, the Camerons Mini Indoor Smoker proves surprisingly effective. It's also great for curing that dead-of-winter smoked-meat withdrawal that can hit you if you live somewhere cold.
As a backyard barbecue freak, I'll admit I was skeptical of the little indoor smoker's capabilities. It's a simple stainless steel vessel, which measures 7 inches by 11 inches by 3.5 inches, and it turns your stovetop into a smoker thanks to wood chips (available in multiple "flavors" from Camerons). Slide the metal lid shut, and the burning chips smolder inside the sealed smoker. While it's not a full-on live-fire experience, it's a perfect way to quickly and easily give smaller items a touch of smoky deliciousness. It's ideal for hot-smoking salmon filets, whole trout or vegetables (smoked potatoes are especially delicious — who would've thought?). And cleanup is easy because it's dishwasher-safe. — Lewis Wallace
The iPad Air 2 is a beautiful piece of science fiction made real.
Just a few years ago, it would have been unimaginable that such a capable electronic slab could be built into such an impossibly thin sandwich of metal and glass. Building on the pared-back minimalism of the original iPad Air, the Air 2 takes Jony Ive's drive for thin to the next level. But nothing is sacrificed in the transition.
The Air 2 is super-fast and super-capable. The Retina screen is oh so beautiful. The po-faced critics say it's nothing "new" because it looks identical to previous iPads, but they're confusing adding stuff with innovation. The Air 2 is Apple's innovation of the highest order. They've taken something great and made it greater. It's the best tablet ever made, and I urge you get one.
The iPad Air 2 starts at $499 but get the $599 model with 64GB of memory and Wi-Fi only (you'll never use cellular). Happy tapping! — Leander Kahney
The Zeiss Touit 12mm f2.8 lens mounted on a Fujifilm XT-1 is a super-wide party for your eyes.
I took the lens with me to Italy for a little workish vacation and it was a blast not only as a landscape lens, but also as a street photography weapon. With a lens this wide mounted on my XT-1, most of the people standing right in front of me had no idea they were really my subjects.
The only two knocks on this little lightweight tube of glorious glass are the missing depth of field/distance scale and the fact the aperture ring is loosey-goosey. If you are using one of Fujifilm's terrific tiny black boxes and are looking to go wide you should mount up a Touit and give it a test run. If you can do it in Italy, all the better. But just be aware, 12mm is indeed wide. — Jim Merithew
When the Dakine Gemini 28L emerged from its shipping box, my first thought was: “Ewww, khaki.” Still, the travel backpack’s slim design, black accents and bright orange zipper fobs kept me from sending it back immediately — and boy am I glad, because something almost magical happened on my next trip to the airport. As I rode the BART train from San Francisco to Oakland, the Dakine seemed to change colors like a khaki chameleon: The boring tan shifted to a greenish tint and all the way to an almost military green, depending on what kind of light (florescent, sunlight or a mix of the two) hit the bag.
I’ve honestly never seen anything like it, and I’ve become fascinated by the slippery color (Dakine labels it "taiga," which means "snowforest"). I also appreciate the way the lean Gemini pack snugs up against my back (and I’m sure my fellow travelers do, too, since I’m far less like to bump into them inadvertently like some sort of bumbling turtle-man). The roomy polyester bag’s not overloaded with fussy, unnecessary interior pouches, but it does boast comfortable shoulder straps, sturdy zippers, an iPad pocket and a TSA-compliant laptop compartment that flips out to ease you through airport security. The fleece-lined zipper pocket on top is designed for sunglasses, but it’ll fit an iPhone 6 Plus just fine.
The only negatives: That whacky khaki shows dirt more than a darker bag would, and the Gemini's design requires you to fully zip the main compartment if you’re going to pick it up by the top handle. If it’s not totally closed, the bag will gently splay open. (You’ll learn that lesson after your first couple times inadvertently peeling the bag open like a banana.) — Lewis Wallace
The Adam Elements mDrive is a stealthy way to add storage to your Macbook Air or Pro without having to break into the machine and add a larger solid-state drive. It’s a delightful little adapter that lets you take any micro SD card, slide it into the mDrive, and then slap the whole thing home for up to 128GB of extra storage space on your portable machine.
You can then use any of these micro SD cards as a Time Machine backup or simply as a place to store all those movies you’ve ripped from your Blu-ray disks. The beauty of it all is that once you have this $20 accessory, you now essentially have unlimited storage options: Just buy more micro SD cards to boost your capacity. The mDrive sits flush with your Macbook’s aluminum chassis, providing you with an easy and unnoticeable storage option that you’ll want to use all the time. In fact, the hardest part about using mDrive is figuring out which models you'll need for your particular MacBook. — Rob LeFebvre
I’ve been wearing the Specialized Prevail for almost three seasons and I have a closet full of other helmets of varying pedigrees. But I can’t bring myself to retire this one.
It is comfortable in all conditions, gives me plenty of protection and looks damn fine.
If you are in the market for a top-shelf road bike helmet I recommend stopping in at a Specialized dealer and checking out the new Prevail. Your head will thank you. — Jim Merithew
This handmade iPhone 5 and 5s case from Danny P is quite possibly the finest you can buy. It’s beautifully made of quality Italian leather and designed to outlast the device it will protect, with a natural velour lining that lovely snuggles up to your iPhone to keep it free from scratches and scuffs.
The pouch is protective without being too bulky, and unlike a lot of leather cases, it’s not too tight, so you’ll have no trouble getting your iPhone in and out of it. Priced at $69, it’s available in brown, dark brown and black, each of which is finished with a wax coating. While it will pick up some scrapes as you use it, they only add to its character and make it look even better. — Killian Bell
Designed for marathon gaming sessions, these well-constructed cans are the latest from SteelSeries, a Danish gaming accessories company. They feature an external USB soundcard offering Dolby Pro Logic and simulated surround sound, plus a clever microphone that tucks into the left earpad when not in use. Add a pulsating LED light show in each earpiece, a flat, tangle-free cord, and an adapter for mobile phones, and you've got a killer pair of gaming headphones that do double duty for any occasion, including taking calls. $199. — Leander Kahney
These movies don’t need to speak your language to freak you out. Photo: Lux Film
The world is a big, scary place, and you can learn a lot about a culture from what its people use to scare the crap out of each other for entertainment.
Cult of Mac’s weeklong festival of horror movie recommendations wraps up today with a selection of horrifying international films. (We hope you’ve found a new favorite among our classic, monster, anthology and trope-twisting suggestions.)
Now it’s time to see what gives people in other countries the heebie-jeebies. Halloween is just beginning, after all.
Stay completely still. Clarence Williams III’s vision is based on movement, like a frog’s. Photo: Savoy Pictures
Whether you call them anthologies, omnibuses or portmanteaus, the idea is the same: These are films composed of a series of shorter plots with a “frame” connecting them (usually somebody telling the stories to an incredulous audience). This is one of my all-time favorite subgenres for its variety and wealth of content.
This is the third installment in Cult of Mac’s week-long festival of horror movies for Halloween. If you’ve already seen all of those horror classics from Monday, and Tuesday’s monster movies don’t do much for you, check out some of these anthology flicks. They contain a combined total of 28 stories, including the frames, so odds are you’ll find something to get your teeth chattering with fear.
Gold finish notwithstanding, the iPad mini 3 looks awfully familiar. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
To paraphrase Pontius Pilate, I can find no fault with the iPad mini 3. Having said that, I can wash my hands of a proper review and allow Apple’s new half-pint tablet to be crucified in the budget-conscious court of public opinion.
Nice as it is, the iPad mini 3 truly is a gigantic ripoff when compared to its predecessor. It’s got the same specs, the same basic form factor, the same functionality and battery life.
Taking the Oru Kayak for a ride. Photo: Buster Hein/Cult of Mac
I consider myself to be “the adventurous type” but I’ve never once kayaked, thanks to two big hurdles: I live in the desert, and I drive a tiny Fiat that barely fits four grown humans in its cramped interior.
Water activities in these parts of Arizona require a gas-guzzling truck and a garage big enough to store your boats, putting kayaking out of reach for most urban dwellers. Oru Kayak destroys both those necessities with a foldable boat that’s strong enough to take on a lake or river, while also compacting into a box small enough to fit in your closet.
Before the Oru Kayak glided into my life, my go-to outdoor activity was hiking. Point me to a waterfall 15 miles away in the desert and even if that AZ ‘dry heat’ was boiling the tar on the highway, I was totally there. Now that there’s a boat that fits in my car, everything’s changed.