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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Bags, bags, bags. Literally – there are three hot bags in this week’s gadget roundup, and if you buy them all, you’ll be out by around a grand. Or you could buy the ultra-expensive Leica M-P, a new camera so minimal it doesn’t even have the trademark red dot on the front, yet still costs $8,000. Or you can go to the other end of the price range and pick up LensBaby’s new iPhone optic for just $70. And that’s just the beginning…
The Attaché leather bag
H.O.T. Those are the three letters that best describe Pad & Quill’s new Attaché bag, a beautiful leather satchel with unbreakable, high-copper-content hardware and parachute-grade stitching on the outside. Inside, you'll find padded MacBook and iPad pockets, plus orange suede pocket linings.
As a bonus, the marketing copy for the Attaché seems to have been written by Hannibal Lecter, containing this line: “Your taste buds and your liver deserve top shelf [and to be] savored in a glass.” (some words added for comedic effect). How much? $420
Dragon device holder
You can’t get much simpler than the Dragon device holder – it’s a pair of aluminum clips that snap onto the cylinder at the back of your Apple wireless keyboard and slide up and down, letting you space them to fit anything from an iPad to an iPod nano. The clips have a tail at the back to provide stability, and a little lip at the front to hook the bottom edge of your gadget. If you use a full-size keyboard with your iPad, this little gadget should be in your bag. $25
Brooks Hampstead holdall
This bag comes from Brooks, the English bike saddle maker. Weighing in at a hefty 1.6 kilos (well over 3 pounds), it has a roll-top enclosure and adjustable clips that can attach the bag to the rear rack of your bike. The body is “water resistant cotton” and the straps are leather. The price? Around $400.
In: 2GB RAM (double that of the Leica M). Sapphire glass cover for the camera's rear LCD.
There’s little to say about KERO’s micro-suction portable battery other than, “What a frikkin’ great idea.” It’s a regular, modest-capacity backup battery (1800mAh, which will get your iPhone back to 75 percent) with a USB port and status-indicator LEDs, but on one side it has a micro-suction layer so you can stick it to the back of your iPhone, over and over. This is so much smarter than having to use a special case to clip the battery on, or just using a case with a built-in battery pack. Or you could do what I do, which is use a regular backup battery and a rubber band. $19
Pyle Smart Bicycling Computer (with Google Maps)
The Pyle PSBCG90 Smart Bicycling Computer tracks your rides with GPS and displays them on Google Maps back at your computer. You can also hook up any ANT+ accessories wirelessly (heart rate and cadence sensors, power meters and so on), and even challenge yourself, Mario Kart-style, using the ghost-route feature. It looks like a decent alternative to something like the Garmin EDGE 500, and it costs only $130.
Lensbaby for iPhone
Lensbaby now makes a sweet-spot lens for the iPhone. It sticks on with magnets (you need to stick the included ring over the iPhone’s lens) and blurs everything in your photos except a sharp sweet spot in the center. It's just like the regular Lensbabys, only less adjustable and made for the iPhone. There’s another neat feature – the front has a metal ring on it, too, so you can attach any other iPhone lenses you have onto the Lensbaby for some really freaky FX. $70
TenOne Magnus Air
The Magnus Air updates the minimalistical Magnus that originally shipped for the iPad 2, way back in the mists of 2012. Typical of TenOne’s design, it is so simple it almost doesn’t exist, sticking to the Air with magnets and adding an almost invisible stand that holds your iPad at 22 degrees from the vertical, and at 22 degrees from the horizontal if you lay it down to type. And that’s it – an aluminum bracket that looks kinda like a taco shell, for $40.
Fact: Cobra Brief is the name I gave to my favorite pair of underwear. And now, it is also the name of a “business laptop” bag from Booq. It has all the compartments and pockets you’d expect, with a space for almost literally everything, plus an outer quick-access pocket for your iPhone and iPad. You can even hook it onto the top of your carry-on trolley, allowing you to be one of those morons who sneaks too many bags into the plane and takes up all the overhead bin space. $295
I started German language school a few weeks back, and I was looking forward to testing out the Booqpad. The combination iPad case and paper notepad seemed ideal for using in class. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. Not only is the case oddly tacky – especially weird given the build quality of Booq’s other gear – but it is awkward to use.
When I opened the (huge) shipping box that brought the new Boa Flow to Cult of Mac’s German HQ, I thought I’d hate it (the bag, not the box). But it turned out to be one of my favorite bags for lugging a lot of gear with me.
The Boa Flow is made for “creative professionals.” That is, it’s for anyone who needs to carry computers, cameras, headphones and other accessories, and to this end it had zillions of pockets and storage sections. The best part is that there are many options for every kind of item. You can put your MacBook in the separate slot by your back, for example, or you can slip it into a pocket in the main chamber.
You’ve probably noticed Booq’s odd penchant for naming their strange, sophisticated baggage after snakes. And if you’ve really been paying attention, you’ll have noticed variations on one species crop up over and over again: The Booq Boa.
The Boa’s DNA has mutated into a variety of different forms, all with the purpose of carrying a MacBook and associated equipment. But the newest iteration, the Boa Flow Graphite, may be the most perfect yet — especially for those of us who lug a MacBook and DSLR on adventures.