BlueAnt’s Pump wireless headphones caught my eye at Mobile World Congress. Sports gear that also looks cool? Count me in!
I’ve been giving theses waterproof Bluetooth headphones a workout since they arrived last week, and I love them. That’s not to say they’re perfect – they’re not. But they have a job to do, and they get on and do it.
Whether the weather is wet or dry, we've got you covered this week. Waterproof headphones and speakers, and some nonslip bike pedal covers, will let you carry on in the rain or in the lake. And a flash-booster, replacement keycaps and a big twisty knob will keep you entertained indoors. Don’t forget your umbrella (or sunglasses)!
Got slippery bike pedals? You need Grippine, a silicone sleeve that slips onto any old platform pedal and sticks to your soles. These colorful covers stretch over the pedal and stop it from getting slippery in wet or dry weather. They’re also soft on shoes, but I’d like to test some to see how long they last. €26
Myro:Air AirPlay speaker
AirPlay – who doesn’t love it? It always, always works, never dropping out or requiring that you set the speaker so close to the wireless router that you may as well have just used a cable. And who won’t love the Myro:Air, an AirPlay speaker whose only fault is that colon in the middle of its name? Even that is a totally cool and positive thing, because we all have a colon inside us, right?
The Myro:Air packs optical output, two-way AirPlay control, RCA outputs and even an RS-232 port for connecting up to – well, anything. It’s also pretty reasonably priced, as these things go. Oh, and the thing looks frikkin' awesome. $600
Rogue Safari Pop-Up Flash Booster
The pop-up flash on your DSLR is only good for one thing — triggering bigger, better flashes. But what if you really want to use the weak little unit that Canon or Nikon grafted on there as an afterthought? Then you need the Rogue Safari Pop-Up Flash Booster from ExpoImaging.
It’s a 2-ounce polycarbonate widget that clips into your hotshoe and puts a lens in front of the pop-up flash unit, concentrating the beam for up to 8x more light (you’ll need to use it with a lens of 100mm or longer thanks to the narrow, concentrated beam). $35
A few years and 90 degrees at a time, Apple is slowly moving the iPad’s speakers into a spot where you can hear them. Right now they are located on the bottom edge of the iPads Air and mini, but the SpeakerSlide skips an evolutionary step and points those stereo speakers forward.
The polycarbonate peripheral sticks onto the bottom of the iPad, by shoving a proboscis into the Lightning port, and then reflects the sound forward. If you want to charge the iPad while using the SpeakerSlide, you just pop out its plug and thread the cable through the hole. It’s ingenious, and has an advantage over other options because it works in stereo. $20
MindShift Filter Nest
Protect your camera filters with the new Filter Nest from MindShift, a two-part nylon case that mounts on your belt so you’ll look really cool. Really, really cool. The padded, zippered outer shell protects the removable inner, which has color-coded slots for your filters. The design lets it mount to several of MindShift’s camera bags, but the belt-mounted option is both the easiest and – by far – the coolest-looking option. $45
Double-shot Filco keyset
The best keyboard I’ve ever used is the keyboard I’m typing this post on right now. It’s the Filco Majestouch with Cherry Blue keyswitches, and it clicks and clacks reliably every morning and every afternoon of every day. But apparently – eventually – the letters wear off the keys, and some folks don’t like that. This replacement set of keycaps (the plastic parts you hit with your fingers) is a “double-shot” set, which means the white lettering runs all the way through the plastic, like the letters in a stick of rock.
The caps are also taller, heavier and rounder than the standard caps, and will only fit Filco keyboards. £39
Griffin DJ Connect
It’s a knob! A $100 knob that turns your iPad or iPhone or even your Mac into a lean, mean, dual-output DJing machine. The DJ Connect packs a pair of line-level RCA outputs on the back and a mini headphone jack on the front. Hook it up to your iDevice via Lightning or your Mac via USB and fire up Algoriddim’s djay app, and you can cue up tracks through the headphones and blast them out the back through the line output. That big knob on top lets you control the headphone volume. $100
It used to be that if you saw some ill-kempt man in the street muttering to himself, you could be sure you’d just seen a crazy person. Now, in the age of Bluetooth headsets and in-line microphones, you can never know. So how do you spot a nutter? That’s easy: transistor radios. Next time you see the local nutjob cruise by on his bike with like 50 rear-view mirrors on the bars and his dog in a basket, check to see if he has a battery-powered tranny on his dash.
What he won’t have is a Divoom Voombox-Ongo, which is a Bluetooth speaker for sane people: a water-resistant, shockproof speaker with an eight-hour battery life, two 1.5-inch drivers and an included bike mount. $70
BlueAnt Pump HD
Even if you sweat like Steve Ballmer working himself into a developer-devoted lather, you won’t break the BlueAnt Pump HD headphones. These waterproof Bluetooth buds wrap over your ears and play for up to eight hours in even the wettest conditions, and on-ear controls let you leave the iPhone safe in a pocket. $130
BlueAnt’s new PUMP HD headphones look perfect for sportspersons. I took a look at them at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona a couple weeks back and they look and feel great. They’re a pair of “wireless” Bluetooth earbuds which clips over the ears and shrug off water and sweat.
When I first tested the BlueAnt Q3 headset, paired with my iPhone 5, I was surprised by how poorly it performed. I couldn’t get over how bad the audio quality was, and I was surprised a top-notch company like BlueAnt could release such a dud. Investigating further, I decided to snoop around online to see what others were saying, but it I wasn’t alone, other iOS users we experiencing similar issues.
With that in mind, I had no choice but warn readers, and rate the Q3 poorly.
Q3 Bluetooth Headset by BlueAnt Category: iOS Accessories, Bluetooth Headsets Works With: iPhone, iPad Price: $100
But here, the story begins anew. After filing my review, several readers, and BlueAnt themselves, alerted me that the real problem has to do with the problematic ways Apple implements Bluetooth, and BlueAnt assured me a simple Q3 firmware update would absolve any audio issues I may have had. Fair enough, I thought, after all, this wasn’t the first time I had experienced subpar audio with Bluetooth headsets that, when used with non-Apple devices, seemed to function sublimely.
I’ve now tested a brand new fully-updated Q3, and I’m happy to report that it has indeed solved many of the Q3’s initial audio faux pas. BlueAnt, to their credit, has now earned at least some reprieve, as the Q3 is now bringing both fists to the fight.
So the Consumer Electronics Show is over for another year, and for those who’ve been in Las Vegas covering it for us, it’s back to normality. While we allow the Cult of Mac team to sober up, it’s time to look back at the best gizmos CES had to offer. There were thousands of products on show — far too many to cover in one week — but there were a handful that really stood out.
We’ve put together a list of awesome things that we were blown away by, including smartphones, accessories, gadgets, and more. Check it out and tell us what you’re most looking forward to getting your hands on in 2013.