OWC’s gigantic dock adds more ports to the new MacBook Pro

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OWC's dock adds serious bulk to the MacBook Pro.
OWC's dock adds serious bulk to the MacBook Pro.
Photo: OWC

CES2017 MacBook Pro owners that wish Apple included more ports alongside the Touch Bar can now have the best of both worlds — if they don’t mind slapping a huge dock on their machines.

OWC teased a new accessory called the DEC dock for MacBook Pro at CES, the monstrous gadget show happening in Las Vegas this week. The dock is comically large, but it adds a bevy of new features to the MacBook Pro, including extra storage.

Best iPad accessories of 2016

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These are our favorites!
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

2016 Year in Review Cult of Mac Accessory makers churned out some awesome new gadgets for the iPad in 2016. From cases to Star Wars toys, loads of new gear came along to boost the capabilities of the world’s favorite tablets.

Whether for the Pro line or the less-powerful Air or mini models, these are the best iPad accessories of 2016.

The job of a designer is to be a psychologist [Podcast interview]

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Belkin's design director Oliver Seil says designers are basically psychologists.
Belkin's design director Oliver Seil says designers are basically psychologists.
Photo: Oliver Seil/Belkin

In the last decade or so, lots of companies have gotten design religion. Design has been brought in-house, where it can shape products from the very get-go. There’s an obvious source for this idea — Apple.

This week on the Kahney’s Korner podcast, I talked to Oliver Seil, senior design director of Belkin International’s Innovation Design Group. We discussed Belkin’s products and design process; the surprising complexity of USB cables (and why they cost so much); and why Apple has had such an enormous influence on design and manufacturing.

You can listen to the podcast or read a full transcript of the interview below. (Or dive into the show notes.)

How industrial design is changing the tech industry [Kahney’s Korner Podcast]

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Belkin's design director Oliver Seil says designers are basically psychologists.
Belkin's design director Oliver Seil says designers are basically psychologists.
Photo: Oliver Seil/Belkin

For many ugly years, manufacturers considered industrial design an afterthought. They would outsource the task to a contractor or neglect it altogether, in an effort to get products out quickly and cheaply.

The result: hideous-looking products that didn’t work well or proved difficult to use.

Nowadays, companies like Apple are changing the game when it comes to incorporating industrial design and user experience into product engineering.

On this episode of Kahney’s Korner, I talk with Oliver Seil, senior design director with Belkin International’s Innovation and Design Group. Seil is Belkin’s Jony Ive, the top designer who overseas the company’s diverse array of products.

Belkin specializes in mobile accessories, from power packs and iPhone cases to WeMo home automation products

Apple may be working on keyboard with e-ink display keys

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The next Magic Keyboard may look something like this.
The next Magic Keyboard may look something like this.
Photo: Sonder

Apple is reportedly in talks to acquire an Australian startup called Sonder that specializes in making keyboards with individual e-ink displays on each key.

The Sonder acquisition is supposedly part of Apple’s plan to update its Magic Keyboard in 2018 with a smart keyboard module and color e-ink keys that allow programs to quickly swap characters for shortcuts or change to a different language.

Check out the e-ink keyboard in action:

The Jot 8.5 eWriter brings notepads into the digital age [Reviews]

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boogie-board-jot-8-5 - 4
Still better than a "smart" refrigerator.
Photo: George Tinari/Cult of Mac

Nowadays it seems like we’re ready to replace just about every standalone device with a smartphone app or add a Wi-Fi connection to it, when the reality is that plenty of these devices work perfectly fine already. (I’m looking at you, Wi-Fi-enabled refrigerators.) So it was refreshing to be able to review a product that’s confident in what it is and what it isn’t: the Boogie Board Jot 8.5 eWriter.

The Jot 8.5 is an ultra-thin display that lets you write or draw whatever you want on it, then instantly erase all the contents at the push of a button. Think of it as a practical Etch-A-Sketch that doesn’t suck.

Versatile leather iPhone case lets you stow your earbuds [Reviews]

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This wallet case holds more than just cards and cash.
Photo: George Tinari/Cult of Mac

Touted as “the ultimate iPhone leather case” by its creators, the Guardian Leather case for iPhone 6 and 6s is a new wallet-style accessory with a campaign that just launched on Indiegogo. It’s designed with various functions in mind, but the focus on music takes the cake: You can control the volume from the outside of the case and even store your earbuds along the side of it.

I spent some time with the Guardian Leather to test the various functions it promises to deliver and the overall quality of the case. If you’re a fan, you have plenty of time to back the Indiegogo project — just under one month left.