Life is a blur of cool gear here at the Cult of Mac offices. We put it all through rigorous trials, but it’s like living in a fast-spinning revolving door of flashy accessories, cool bags and high-end accoutrements. Some of it gets dropped like a lying girlfriend as soon as the next sexy thing comes along, but sometimes we develop long-term love affairs with certain bits of kit. The gear featured in our monthly Lust LIst roundups is the equipment that’s made the grade over the long haul: These are the items we couldn’t live without.
Ona’s The Chelsea
There’s something about all the smart compartments in camera bags that works even if you’re not actually toting around a camera. So Ona’s Chelsea ($370) is just the thing: This capacious bowler bag offers protected spaces for a DSLR, up to three lenses, your keys and stuff, plus an iPad or notebook. But I packed it with a 13-inch MacBook Pro, a pear (the lens dividers are perfect for keeping your snacks unbruised), The Economist and all the cords, headphones and chargers carried by a modern-day scribe. One thing: The size and saffiano leather (that’s the grainy type that Prada favors for long-wearing briefcases and the like) can be a little Insta-ma’am if you don’t dress it down. -- Nicole Martinelli
Apple Magic Trackpad
The name is ridiculous -- total Steve Jobs hyperbole. It’s actually embarrassing to say out loud. But the Magic Trackpad ($69) is actually kinda magical. Sitting on your desktop, it works better than any mouse. Tracking on it is intuitive and easy. But the magic is in the gestures. Once you get used to them (there’s a bit of a learning curve), you begin to wonder how you ever surfed the Web without two-finger swipes. -- Leander Kahney
Chrome Industries Excursion Rolltop 37
This giant duffel bag of a backpack grew on me, both literally and figuratively. I have to admit at first I was like, “Meh.” The Chrome Industries Excursion Rolltop 37 ($160) has no bells or whistles: no media pocket, no hidden compartments, no velco closures. It has a laptop sleeve and super-nice loop carrying straps, but it’s about as basic as a bag gets. What the lightweight bag lacks in features, though, it more than makes up for in massive gear-swallowing goodness. I keep tossing more and more stuff into this bag and it just keeps grinning back, always ready for more. -- Jim Merithew
When you have a high-pitched voice like mine that sounds silly and squeaky on any recording, you need all the help you can get. The Rode Podcaster microphone ($369) makes anyone’s voice sound rich and sonorous. OK, I made that up, but the Rode’s audio quality is not to be beat. The entire CultCast team uses Rode Podcasters to produce the best Apple conversation you’ll hear all week long. Since we switched from lesser microphones, soundcheck is a lot less painful. The Rode is a serious piece of pro-level audio equipment at a podcaster’s price. -- Leander Kahney
Mission Workshop’s The Orion
It was pouring buckets, but I didn’t care: I was pedaling with a huge smile on my face, because any time on the bike is way more fun than time spent on the bus or BART. Plus, I was protected. I was wearing Mission Workshop’s The Orion ($415): The hooded waterproof coat is seam-sealed, pit-zipped and cut perfect in the sleeves. No water was getting in and the bone-chilling wind was being held at bay. I don’t really think about getting my upper body wet anymore -- the jacket is just there, doing its job, while I go about grinning like a school boy. Ride on. -- Jim Merithew
Lacie Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt Series
Simple. Elegant. Rugged. What more needs to be said? The Lacie Rugged series is the standard by which all other portable storage drives are judged, and now they’ve got Thunderbolt support ($229 for 1 TB model). If you are on the run and need to back up everything, this is a no-brainer. -- Jim Merithew
Teva Pivot MTB Shoe
Teva doesn’t make the Pivot MTB shoe ($150) anymore. They actually killed their entire bike line late last year. Find a pair. Buy them. Seriously. -- Jim Merithew
Ferrero Pocket Coffee
Smart people usually don’t stash espressos in their coat pockets, what with the stains and the blisters and all. But with the Ferrero Pocket Coffee, caffeine fiends are no longer tethered to the espresso bar. These thumb-size miracles wrap a satisfying liquid dose of inky Italian coffee inside a dark chocolate shell. Pop one and you’ll perk right up. Soon you’ll be buying them by the case ($38 for 60 pieces). -- Lewis Wallace
Kryptonite Fahgettaboudit Chain
If the San Francisco bike thieves steal my whip, at least I’ll know they really wanted it. This will be a small consolation for me: I’ll cry a little less knowing I did everything I could to make those scumbags’ crime a difficult task. How to thwart the thievery? After visiting countless bike shops and online forums I settled on the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit ($175). It’s as close as I could get to a safe, for it is a well-known fact that if the bitches want to steal your steed there is nothing you can actually do to stop them. I am happy I can leave the beefy lock at the office, since I’m not sure I am man enough to haul this behemoth back and forth to work everyday. I still double-lock my bike with a u-lock and take my front wheel with me. Here’s to being safe and trying my best to get them to steal someone else’s chariot. -- Jim Merithew
BookBook for iPhone 5
There are only two things I carry with me every single day -- my phone and my wallet. Best of all, my wallet is also my phone case. The BookBook from Twelve South ($60) looks like an old, leather-bound pocket book. Slots inside hold several credit cards and my ID. My BookBook is totally beaten up -- I keep it in my back jeans pocket -- but it’s lasted really well. It protects my phone better than any case I’ve had and it gets tons of comments. Everyone says they wish they could ditch their wallet too, but they have too much stuff in it. I thought that too, until I jettisoned everything but a couple of cards. I haven’t looked back. -- Leander Kahney
It was only a matter of time, but here it is: TwelveSouth’s BookBook Case for the iPad Air, which makes your fifth-gen Apple tablet look the very model of some ancient, dusty tome, just plucked off of the shelf from the Library of the House of Usher.
Both obfuscating your iPad’s value from thieves and protecting it, the BookBook Case is a perpetual fave here at Cult of Mac.
Like previous models, it allows you to prop up your iPad at a 30 degree angle, both for typing and movie viewing. It comes in black and brown leather varieties — no red yet, sadly — and costs $79.99.
It’s not a folding case like Twelve South’s iconic BookBook, but rather a sleeve that your iPhone slips into that has a large hole in its front for your display, and a little pocket in its back for your credit cards.
It’s an ideal alternative for those who like to keep things simple and don’t want to have to deal with flappy front covers when using their smartphone. It makes everything easy to get to, and it doesn’t cover up any buttons, ports, or speakers.
The Wall St fits both iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s (there’s another version for iPhone 5c, too), and it’s available in a number of pretty colors, including brown, blue, orange, and red. It costs $34.95, so let’s find out whether it’s worth it.
The BookBook from Twelve South has long been the best and most luxurious leather wallet case for iPhone, but it has a new contender from Acase that wants to steal its crown. It’s called the Collatio, and in many ways, it’s very similar to the BookBook.
Collatio by Acase Category: Cases Works With: iPhone 5 Price: $39.90
As well as holding your iPhone 5, the Collatio holds up to three credit cards, and features a larger pocket for bills, receipts, and anything else you’d like to stuff in there. It provides access to all of your iPhone’s buttons and ports — though you will need to open it up to use the volume buttons and mute switch — plus its front- and rear-facing cameras.
The biggest difference between the Collatio and the BookBook, however, is the price. While Twelve South’s offering will cost you $60, the Collatio is just $40. But is it as good?
SAN FRANCISCO, MACWORLD/iWORLD 2013 – I don’t believe in covering my gorgeous iPhone with a case. I want it to be naked. Free. Yes, it might gather some battle scars in the process, but I think those give it character. I also don’t use a case because I just don’t want any extra bulk in my pocket, and most cases add a half inch of thickness to my svelte iPhone 5.
TwelveSouth has heard the complaints of iPhone users like me who hate using cases. They know that some of us don’t want to hide the iPhone’s beautiful design. They know I just want to be able to slip it in and out of my pocket with ease. But they also know I worry that my screen is going to get scratched or shatter, and they think they have the perfect solution.