Shadowy messenger bag will thrill gear-hauling ninjas


What's inside? Only the Shadow knows.
What's inside? Only the Shadow knows.
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

Do you want to be known for carrying a stylish computer bag or would you rather be known for being stylish? The Shadow by booq will let you stand out without calling attention to itself while it works to earn a different label: your everyday bag.

The Shadow blends seamlessly with whatever personal style you front with a simple silhouette sans leather or metal accents. You have to look hard to find the brand name. Thick, water-resistant ballistic nylon conceals the ample padding that protects any laptop up to 15 inches.

The booq bag that keeps your tech gear in a Shadow


The booq Shadow keeps what you're carrying in the dark.
The booq Shadow keeps what you're carrying in the dark.
Photo: booq

A shadow is a form of great substance that keeps its details hidden. Such was the inspiration for the designers at booq with a new messenger bag aptly named for what it does not reveal – your expensive tech gear.

The Shadow, available in gray and black, is elegantly spare in its look, which is part of its m.o. to discreetly carry your computer and other valuables.

Lust List: Go-to gear for life’s little challenges



Lust List: September 2015

Each month, Lust List rounds up the gear that makes it so we can't feel our faces. This time around we're loving hot music machines, cool photo accessories and more.

S1-A Bicycle Jersey by Search and State

Earlier this summer, Search and State released its version of the ugly-ass Hawaiian shirt in the form of a bicycle jersey. I stared at it for weeks wondering if I could pull off the look while riding in the Oakland hills. While I contemplated my fashion boldness, Search and State apparently sold every last one of those jerseys. I decided I need to get my hands on one of the company's tamer garments to see what the Midtown Manhattan manufacturers have going on.

What they are doing is making beautiful bicycle attire in the heart of what was once New York's garment center. The $140 S1-A bicycle jersey is impeccably sewn and has an understated appearance even the most fashion-challenged can deal with. Nice choice on the zipper, too. — Jim Merithew

Buy from: Search and State

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Kinivo 5-port HDMI switch

Apparently, I'm extremely lazy. I know this because I was probably a bit too pumped about this HDMI switch's ability to automatically pick up on which device I'd powered up and change the input automatically.

The Kinivo 5-port HDMI switch also comes with a small remote, so the company clearly knows who its customers are. We have games to play and movies to watch, and we don't have time for this "input" business. At $59.99 list, this hub is also really cheap, so it appeals to my frugal side. Kinivo truly thought of everything. — Evan Killham

Buy from: Amazon

Photo: Evan Killham/Cult of Mac

iRig Mic Studio

No matter how talented you are, crappy recording tools can ruin your music or podcast. Conversely, a good condenser microphone can capture all the nuance and brilliance of any performance, from an acoustic guitar to spoken word.

The iRig Mic Studio by IK Multimedia is an amazing condenser mic that will give you the pro results you're looking for in an affordable, portable package. It boasts a 1-inch back electret condenser capsule with a 24-bit audio converter that samples your sound source at 44.1/48Khz. It's got a built-in preamp for quieter passages and an integrated headphone port to monitor what you're recording without having to mess with software settings on your Mac or iOS device. It connects to your laptop, tablet or smartphone with its included cables, and has two physical knobs (one for gain, the other for headphone sound level).

This $179.99 microphone is equally at home capturing your voice in a soundproof room or recording your band at the local club. It even comes with a tiny tripod and a velour carrying bag to keep everything together. It's the one mic you'll want with you at all times. — Rob LeFebvre

Buy from: IK Multimedia, Amazon

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Foldio 2

Every time I have to take a picture of a product I'm reviewing, it turns into this whole ordeal of lighting, background, filters, and cold sweats. That's why the Foldio 2 was an easy $75 purchase: This self-contained photo studio folds almost completely flat when you're not using it and assembles in seconds, thanks to some cleverly integrated magnets.

You can use your iPhone camera -- or any other camera, really -- but the Foldio's app makes taking your pictures incredibly easy. An onscreen guide helps you get everything centered, and you can adjust your color temperature and preview before you snap the pic. The kit also comes with a green background that works with the app's onboard chroma-key function. Creator Orangemonkie also gives you the exact dimensions of the backdrops so you can stop by the scrapbook or fabric store and pick up any color or texture you want and be sure it will fit.

This is the newer and larger model; the original Foldio sells for about $50. But for a bigger box (15 inches versus the original model's 10), two LED light strips, and a few more background options, it's worth it to spring for the new model.

It's a really handy device, and if you sell items online or want to take really nice pictures of your stuff, it's a solid buy. — Evan Killham

Buy from: Photojojo

Photo: Evan Killham/Cult of Mac

Boa saddle bag by Booq

At first glance, Booq's Boa saddle bag doesn't seem all that remarkable. It's black and made of ballistic nylon, like so many other messenger bags. It's only upon closer inspection that the true quality of the briefcase-style Boa saddle begins to stand out.

High-end rubberized zippers and lightweight aluminum buckles guarantee this bag will keep your things secure for years to come. An indispensable luggage strap lets you slide the saddle atop your carry-on for airplane trips; a Terralinq lost-and-found number can help you get your bag back if you accidentally leave it somewhere.

The inside of this $195 bag is completely amazing, too, with a ton of cloth pockets, zippers and extra compartments for just about anything you can think of, plus a plush-lined section that fits up to a 15-inch Macbook Pro with ease. I was able to get all my usual kit -- MacBook, iPhone, iPad, paperback, notepads, pens, water bottle, external hard drive, power cables and more -- into the Boa saddle with no problem (and some room left over). This is a high-quality, last-forever, fit-all-your-stuff kind of serious-business bag. — Rob LeFebvre

Buy from: Booq

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Fluance Fi50 Bluetooth speaker

The premium components and audiophile-grade wood cabinet of this medium-size Bluetooth speaker are impressive enough, but that's not all the Fluance Fi50 is packing. Pairing my devices to this baby was frictionless, and the USB charging port in back makes 12-hour parties or listening a reality without impacting my iPhone or iPad.

The Fi50 has two 5-inch woofers, ultra-crisp-sounding tweeters, and a strong 40-watt amplifier that can handle anything I send at it. Classical music sounds thrilling and full-bodied, hip-hop gets punchy and bass-o-licious, and power pop beneftis from just the right amount of midrange frequency support without getting muddy. Pointed feet, which minimize resonance on any surface where you plop down the standalone speaker, are just another detail that brings a touch of class to an already fantastic audio device.

For $199, you get this gorgeous, handcrafted speaker that looks gorgeous in any setting and will fill your room with audio that sounds like a surprisingly much bigger and pricier stereo. — Rob LeFebvre

Buy from: Fluance, Amazon

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

CapturePro Camera clip by Peak Designs

The iPhone is my go-to camera, mostly because it's just so much easier to access (in my pocket) than my DSLR (packed away in my bag). Peak Designs has solved that problem with the CapturePro camera clip that allows you to mount your heavy DSLR to your backpack strap or waist belt, so you won't miss the perfect shot while hassling with your gear.

Using a CapturePro lets you bust out your camera quicker than an Old West gunslinger. Just press the red release button, slide your camera out and snap away. Once you're done, slide it back into place and the clip keeps your bulky camera securely in place.

The clip itself is incredibly well-made and feels solid. It also works with tripod mounts, so you don't have to fiddle with extra attachments. I've been using it with a Nikon D610 with a 27-70 mm lens, which is a fairly heavy setup, but the clip handles the weight with no problem, and manages to keep the camera out of my way until I actually need it. At $80 it may seem a bit pricey, but it's worth it when you capture those memorable snappies that you normally would've missed while digging through your camera bag. — ;Buster Hein

Buy from: Amazon

Photo: Peak Designs


Carry your 15-inch MacBook Pro in style with this gorgeous saddle bag

The new Boa saddle bag by Booq is designed to carry the 15-inch MacBook Pro.
The new Boa saddle bag by Booq is designed to carry the 15-inch MacBook Pro.
Photo: Booq

It’s no secret that Booq, the creators of high-end computer bags and backpacks, draws its design inspiration from snakes. Cobra, Python, Viper and Mamba are just some of its product lines and if we get past our terror of snakes, we can respect they are strong, efficient and flexible much like bags constructed by Booq.

Snakes also unhinge their jaws to consume things larger than their bodies and so Booq, considering the 15-inch MacBook Pro plus all the necessary gear a professional carries daily for work, has added the Boa saddle to its line of stylish bags.

Lust List: Heartache is in the (stolen) bag, plus audio gear and more


Lust List: July 2015

Each month, Lust List rounds up the products that made us ride like the wind at double speed. This time we've got all kinds of stuff to make a grown man cry: earphones, wallets and even a (stolen) backpack.

Nyne TT Bluetooth speaker

Designed for the music lover on the go, Nyne's TT Bluetooth Speaker ($150) comes with a neoprene carrying case that lets you sling this music box over your shoulder and take your music on the run.

With a charging station for your phone and a built-in microphone, the TT is designed to be your ultimate musical travel companion. I found it to have excellent battery life, and it paired nicely with my iPhone to give my hotel rooms in Portugal the little slice of audio hominess I like while on the road.— Jim Merithew

Buy from: Amazon

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Bison Rogue Wallet by Rogue Industries

I've heard the questions so many times that I brace myself when I take out my wallet: "What is that?" people ask. Or, "Is that a woman's wallet?"

The aptly named Bison Rogue Wallet has that effect on the beholder. It's a leather wallet made in Maine by some guys who went into the billfold business after they gave up trying to find the perfect front-pocket wallet.

Such things are especially smart for guys living in crowded cities, and this one is designed to follow the shape and cut of the inner pocket. Rogue even protects your debit and credit cards from digital pickpockets with a special liner to prevent RFID skimming.

Mine is made of bison leather, but Rogue also sells front-pocket wallets made from other leathers, ballistic nylon and canvas. — David Pierini

Buy from: Rogue Industries, Amazon

Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

RHA T10i earphones

Handmade in the U.K. from injection-molded stainless steel, the RHA T10i earphones not only sound terrific, but they look great, too. Their fully adjustable over-ear hooks make them comfortable to wear and secure enough to work out with, and their built-in mic and remote lets you take calls and control your music when you use them with your iPhone.

The T10i comes with three sets of tuning filters that allow you to customize the frequency response for more powerful bass or greater treble. But no matter which one you use, the T10i’s dynamic drivers deliver supreme sound, particularly if you like bassy audio.

Vocals sound clear and crisp, and the balance is fantastic. The T10i provide a warm, rich sound that, coupled with their impressive noise-blocking abilities, immerses you in your music.

The T10i also come with a whole bunch of tips in different sizes that are organized neatly in a stainless steel holder, plus a nice carrying case. They take a little bit of getting used to because they’re pretty weighty, and they’re not cheap at $200 — but their outstanding sound and build quality make them well worth every penny. — Killian Bell

Buy from: Amazon

Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Booq Cobra squeeze backpack

Against my better nature, I've become a backpack snob. I want a simple bag to carry my MacBook, a change of clothes (for the gym) and some chargers and accessories.

Not too much to ask, right? And yet I've found it hard to hunt down a bag that has less, not more. All too often, today's backpacks are loaded with too much Velcro, too many pockets, and too many annoying straps and buckles.

Enter Booq’s latest urban-oriented commuter backpack, the Cobra squeeze. With its distinctive teardrop shape, the Cobra squeeze is simple — and it's just the right size for my daily carry. The shoulder straps are comfortable. I really like the leather carry handle. It has 13 compartments, including a pair of roomy side pockets that are good for easy access.

It is well-made and stylish. You'd never guess it's half cotton/half recycled plastic. Priced at $195, it ain't cheap, which is why I was so upset when it recently got stolen (with my MacBook, iPad, etc. still inside).

If it had been lost, I might have got it back. The bag has a unique serial number, tracked by Booq's Terralinq service; once registered, it might have helped me get the bag back. Alas, some scumbag's got it. — Leander Kahney

Buy from: Booq, Amazon

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

PlayStation Gold Wireless Stereo Headset by Sony

A friend got me these awesome headphones, and they've completely changed how I run my TV. I live in an apartment, and sometimes the upstairs neighbors get really loud. Instead of just sitting there and letting the hatred build up inside me, I put on the PlayStation Gold Wireless Stereo Headset and watch a movie. It's great for gaming, too, because Sony built a dedicated app for the PS4 and PS3 that lets you load up preset equalizers for the second channel (the first channel is an all-purpose default mode).

Presets include general things like "Action" and "Horror" settings for movies, but sometimes you can get one specifically made for a particular game. When I'm playing Bloodborne, for example, all of the game world's creepy noises and atmosphere go directly into my head, blocking out everything from the outside thanks to the headset's noise-canceling capabilities.

The PlayStation Gold ($100 list) runs from a USB dongle that you plug into the console, but it also has a standard jack and a cord so you can use it with other devices. It's easily the best set of headphones I've ever owned because you can do pretty much anything with them.

So if I use these and my Flippi at the same time, everyone is safe. — Evan Killham

Buy from: Amazon

Photo: Evan Killham/Cult of Mac

UBi-IND premium jeans

Jeans designer Ulrich Simpson likes to say he makes jeans for everybody. And when he says "everybody," he really means "every body."

The biggest problem with premium jeans is finding a pair that fits. They tend to come in a very narrow range of cuts and sizes. Not so Simpson's UBi-IND jeans, which are available in five styles and sizes from 29- to 48-inch waist.

They'll fit any body type, from skinny skateboarders to Olympic speed skaters with grotesquely overdeveloped quads (see the Athletic cut). In fact, Simpson's customers range from NBA stars to surfers and cowboys. Simpson's jeans are 100 percent made in the USA from premium Cone Mills denim. — Leander Kahney

Buy from: UBi-IND (online and in San Francisco), Union LA (Los Angeles), AB Fits (San Francisco) Standard & Strange (Oakland), Canvas (Malibu)

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Epson Expression XP-420 all-in-one wireless inkjet printer

This “small-in-one” inkjet printer keeps your money in your wallet (thanks to a retail price of $99.99) and also works surprisingly well for a such a tiny unit. It may not have higher-end business features like an automatic document feeder, but you can still use this baby in your home office or dorm room thanks to its tiny footprint and low weight.

You can print in full color wirelessly from your Mac, iPhone or Android device, or via a USB cable you’ll need to supply. There’s even an SD card slot to print directly from your camera’s SD media.

This baby prints super-fast, especially for text pages (up to eight pages a minute), and delivers quality prints on all kinds of paper, from glossy photo to the plain copy stuff. If you need a small, useful printer with great print quality, easy setup and a low price, you can’t go wrong with this one. — Rob LeFebvre

Buy from: Amazon

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac


Gear Pouch by WaterField Designs

I travel a lot to gaming and tech conventions, and I’ve always got to have my various chargers, devices, backup drives and tons of wires along with me. I’ve used minimalist backpacks, voluminous messenger bags and even shaving kits to keep track of all this digital ephemera, all to less-than-satisfying results.

WaterField Designs, however, has found the perfect solution: a travel gadget bag that’s not only rugged and useful, but incredibly good-looking. The Gear Pouch comes in four colors — black, brown, burgundy and navy — and three sizes to match your gadget carrying needs (priced between $40 and $50, depending on size). The medium one I tried out was perfect to fit my Lightning cables, Apple Watch charger, spare battery pack, backup hard drive and even my PlayStation Vita cords, plus a bunch of business cards for giggles.

The Gear Pouch zips right up into a beautiful little zippered pouch (with another zip pocket on the front) and stows quite nicely into my backpack or carry-on luggage. No more digging around the bottom of my bag to find the cable I need. — Rob LeFebvre

Buy from: WaterField Designs

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Flippi v6 Personal Air Circulator by Vornado

My Cult of Mac co-workers knew when the first hot day was this year — it was the day I was even more hostile than usual. Once I finished apologizing, I ventured out into the sun-scorched world to find something that would make things a little more tolerable for me (and everyone else).

After wandering up and down the aisle with all the fans, trying to figure out my needs (How large should it be? How many speeds should it have? Holy shit, should it oscillate???), I saw the Flippi v6 by Vornado just sitting up on a shelf all unassuming. It's a smaller fan, but it has a pretty great vertical range of motion. The entire center section with the fan part in it rotates 180 degrees so it can point straight up, straight down or anywhere in between. Plus, it was like $18, and I get a nice kind of R2-D2 vibe off of it, so that was a quick sale.

It's sitting on my printer right now, blowing much-needed cool air on me. And I'm sure everyone around me is feeling the difference. — Evan Killham

Buy from: Amazon

Photo: Evan Killham/Cult of Mac