Gadget Watch: Cameras, cameras and even more frikkin’ cameras

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Gadget Watch: Aug. 29, 2014

Cameras, cameras, cameras. German photographic trade show Photokina is just around the corner, and the big names are outing their latest models before the news pipes get completely clogged with the tangled hair and soap scum of new releases. So this week we have a bunch of cool new cameras and accessories, including a GoPro harness for your pooch, along with the usual mix of gadgets designed to make you want to part with your cash.

Fujifilm X30

An update to the already-discontinued X20, this compact swaps the old optical viewfinder for a hi-res electronic finder, gets a bigger tilting rear LCD and adds a control wheel around the lens. It keeps the amazing X-Trans II sensor and 28-112mm (equivalent) ƒ2-2.8 zoom, and packs a new Classic Chrome film mode. I want this so hard. $600

Evernote Pfeiffer Collection

Evernote’s Pfeiffer Collection is not – as you might hope – a range of productivity tools designed by 1980s actress and icon Michelle Pfeiffer. It is instead a set of desk tidies, made from various materials including walnut and “bright.” They’re intended to hold old-school detritus like paperclips and pens, plus modern junk like iPhones, SIM cards and even an iPad. $106

Pentax K-S1

The best part of Pentax’s new mid-level K-S1 is the strip of pulsing LEDs on the hand grip. Pentax missed a chance to build the “Knight Rider of cameras” with its choice of green over red LEDs, but still. This pointless addition will flash to count down the self timer, and the light around the shutter release will turn red in video mode. $750

Bluelounge Soba

Bluelounge’s Soba is a cable-routing kit that will wrangle wayward wires, keeping them tidy in a “Vortex” tube and letting them exit where you need them. The kit comes with 10 feet of zip-closed tubing, a y-splitter and mounting caps (brackets). I have one here and ready to test, but it looks like there’s some effort involved in planning it all out, so maybe I’ll just have one more coffee first… $25

GoPro Fetch

Of course GoPro’s dog harness is called the Fetch. Of course. The Fetch straps onto the dog’s back, secured around its shoulders, chest and belly, and the camera can be mounted up top or down below. This is probably my favorite product of the year so far, and the photo above is definitely the best product shot for 2014. If I had a dog I’d be out with one of those playing frisbee right now. $70

Olympus Pen E-PL7

Olympus makes the best Micro Four Thirds bodies right now (and that’s coming from someone who owns a great Panasonic). This one’s even better, with a 180-degree flip-screen that activates “selfie mode” when fully extended (there's a shutter button on the touchscreen), built-in Wi-Fi to share that selfie to your iPhone, a 16MP sensor and a 14-42 mm (equivalent) ƒ3.5-5.6 kit lens. From $700.

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Moleskine Livescribe notebook

Moleskine’s newest notebook has an almost-invisible dot pattern on the pages that makes it work with your Livescribe pen. The pen has a camera in its nose that tracks your every stroke and scribble and sends it all to your iPhone or iPad as editable text, creating a perfect digital copy of your paper notes. Now you can continue your Moleskine habit, but with added digitization. $30

iPhone magnetic lens plates

Love: accessory iPhone lenses. Hate: Those stupid stick-on metal rings the lenses’ magnets stick to.

The answer is the new magnetic plate that now ships with every set of lenses sold by Photojojo. The plates, color-coded to your iPhone, stick over the entire glass strip at the top rear of the iPhone 5/s, so you can use these lenses and still get the iPhone in a case. Bonus – you can slide the lens out of the way when not in use. From $20.

Schiller X1

This Schiller water bike is to the pedalo what a sweet S-Works road racer is to a recumbent bike. It’s slick, speedy and way overpriced. A Gates carbon drive turns a NuVinci transmission, which turns two propellers. You can even use the handlebars to steer the thing, and it’s only $6,500.

Xync’s cable-concealing carabiner could double as a paperweight

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The Xync is handy, but a bit too bulky. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Moshi’s Xync packs a Lightning-to-USB charging cable into a handy, dangly carabiner-clip package, and adds a secret compartment on the side. But is it better than just carrying a regular Lightning cable in your pocket/bag? The short answer? Hmm…

The long version? Read on.

Gadget Watch: New gear for the beach, the bedroom and the kitchen

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Gadget Watch: July 19, 2014

This week's Gadget Watch has a special summer something for everyone. Fixing up the house? Laying around the house? Getting drunk and stumbling about the house? Then these toolboxes, breathalyzers and hands-free, in-bed iPad stands will serve you well.

Flare pans

The Flare pan looks like an oversized aluminum cupcake cup. It has heat-catching fins on the outside, like the opposite of a heat sink, and a regular-shaped inside. The idea is that the heat (not the flame – keep that turned down like you would for a regular pan) from your gas hob will stream up the sides and pump its energy into the pan through the increased surface area of those fins. The best part of all? It was designed by a real rocket scientist. $150

Excell+1 lens adapter

This magical adapter performs the seemingly impossible. Not only does it put Nikon (or Canon) lenses on your Micro Four Thirds camera body, but it also boosts the speed of the lens by one stop. That’s right – it doubles the maximum amount of light your lens can gather. It also reduces the crop factor of your lens by 0.72x. That won’t keep your wide-angle lenses wide, but it will stop them from turning telephoto. I’m in. $160

Tablift

When I saw the Tablift, my first thought was “LOL.” And that was my second thought, too, if I’m honest. But as a person who uses his iPad in bed far more than is healthy, I began to see how the stable stand could help me. What’s better than hands-free viewing in the sack? Angle-adjustable hands-free viewing in the sack, that’s what. Yup, you can even tilt it down to watch while lying in bed. You might scare yourself when you wake up, but you’ll never fall asleep and drop your iPad onto your nose ever again. $60

Forked Lightning

I’m writing about this gadget mostly because of its name – Forked Lightning. It lets you charge two devices off a single USB port, which is certainly handy for those travel situations where you only have access to one power outlet (I’m looking at you, cheapskate hotels). You probably don’t want to plug two iPads 4 into one iPhone charger, but other combinations should fare better. $50

RØDE iXY mic

I don’t even care that RØDE makes great microphones, I just want the new Lightning-compatible iXY to play with. Look at those stereo mics: Don’t you just want to twiddle them? Or try to jam your finger between the barrels? No? Perhaps you’d rather record sound through the two half-inch condenser capsules and onboard analog-to-digital converter. You can totally do that. $200

Trusco toolboxes

These Japanese toolboxes, painted in bright blue enamel, are tough enough to use every day, but pretty enough to live in the house without anybody complaining. They go from a stackable small trunk-style box up to the big cantilever model with a double-hinged top level and movable dividers. From $20

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Vio Smartphone Breathalyzer

Do you know how many drinks you should have if you’re driving? None. That’s how many. What if you had a couple and then you need to drive, for an emergency or whatever? Nope. Get a cab, or you’ll be killing a cyclist or a pedestrian to do whatever thing is so important that you’re happy to risk another person’s life doing it.

If you insist on drinking and driving, breathe into the BACtrack Vio Smartphone Breathalyzer first – if you’re not too far gone to use the keychain device. The Vio will measure your blood-alcohol content, send the result to your iPhone via Bluetooth, and even estimate how long it’ll take you to return to zero. $70

Solio Sun-Powered Charger

Let’s face it – the people you go to the beach with are boring. They either spend the whole time with their nose in a paperback, or they insist on annoying the rest of the folks on the beach by kicking a volleyball around the place, or whatever it is you do with a volleyball. So, you should either pack some weed and just get stoned, or bring along a Solio Sun-Powered Charger to keep your iPhone going in the bright sunlight, so you never have to interact with your “friends.” $70

Jumper Card Packs Lightning, 30-Pin And MicroUSB Into Credit Card-Sized Package

Back in the 1980s, and probably continuing into the 1990s, every neat gadget was shoehorned into a credit-card-shaped form factor. Magnifying glass? Credit-card-sized. Vinyl record de-duster? Credit-card-sized. And so on.

The Jumper Card continues this excellent heritage by putting a Lightning charger, a 30-pin dock connector and a microUSB charger into the same credit-card-sized package, ready to be slipped into your pocket. But not your wallet, because, like all “credit-card-sized” gadgets, this one is way too thick.