Tote-ally awesome: The Franklin Tote can go anywhere. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac
This is Waterfield’s Franklin Tote and I l-l-love it. It’s an open-topped leather bag with hand/shoulder straps and a bunch of pockets inside and out, and it’s just about the most practical daily carry-around I’ve ever used. Does is replace a backpack? Of course not.
Does it do the job of a messenger bag when on the bike? No frikkin’ way. But can I reach into my backpack as I walk to grab sunglasses, or drop in that sweet cantaloupe I just bought from the fruit store on the high street? I think you know the answer to that one.
Party on your bike with an iPhone speaker and a bottle cage for a hip flask, or protect your camera from water and dirt with dust-repellent filters and a great roll-top backpack. Or just forget everything and take your frustrations to the beach, with the SBOD tote bag.
Like to protect your camera’s lens? Hate dust? Of course you hate dust. So you might like Hoya’s new antistatic UV, polarizer and plain old nothing-but-protection filters, the Evo range. The glass of all these filters has an antistatic, dust-repelling coating that “acts like a force field around the filter,” which sounds pretty neat. They’re also scratch resistant and easy to clean. From $28
Allo allo! This little iPhone case mounts up on your handlebars and adds a convenient speaker to your bike’s “cockpit.” The quick-release case coddles the iPhone 5/s inside and hooks up via a good old-fashioned 3.5mm jack. No pairing or Lightning certification required. Slot in a pair of AA batteries, cue up The Archers and you’re off. $45, for pre-order.
GothScreenShots will sell you this amazing Macro Beachball Totebag, featuring everybody’s favorite Finder frustration, the Spinning Beach Ball of Death. Less common in recent years, the SBBOD likes to spin up whenever your Mac chokes on the task at hand. I still see it regularly when using iTunes, but if you were to say, “That’s your own damn fault for using iTunes,” I would have to agree. $60
Nope, it's not a chair for sitting on your desk, but yet another desk stand. This one, though, is clever and versatile. Thanks to the shape of the bent plywood stand, with a lip at either end of the curve, it can be set two ways. This means your iPad can be set at a high or a low angle, and if you use the more-stable low angle, the Desktop Chair v2 will also prop up a MacBook Air. It’s also dead-handsome and fairly cheap at $60.
The Emergency Go Bag contains everything you need to survive not only an apocalypse, but also a far more likely “several days without power or food” scenario, like if your corner bodega shuts down for vacation. And when I say “everything,” I mean everything, from tools to food to medical supplies to a stove to a survival manual, printed on paper. The idea is that you don’t have to worry about getting it all together yourself, which would cost a lot more anyway. The other neat part of this Kickstarter is that you’ll get email reminders whenever anything in the pack is about to expire – food and batteries and that kind of thing. You can even choose to have replacements sent to you automatically. $225
Even the name of Flyn O’Brien’s Lathr shaving set is minimal. The wooden kit comes in two pieces, a brush and a bowl, and the brush fits into a slot in the bowl when you’re not whipping up a soapy lather to slather on your skin. These days I use a variety of electronic and manual devices to maintain my frankly over-elaborate facial hear (think Tom of Finland meets Mad Max and you”ll be in the ballpark), but I long for the skin-scraping days of a safety razor and a bowl of sudsy soap. Not for sale
Every bag should be a roll-top bag. Not only are they waterproof, the roll-top design lets the bag expand, and lets you use it while open without spilling the contents everywhere. ApeCase’s new lineup includes this roll-top backpack with a lower section for camera gear and an upper, expandable, roll-top section for everything else. It even has places to hang a flashlight and a water bottle. $180
Back when I liked drinking a little too much, I’d just fill a mini-size SIG water bottle with Vat 69 and toss it in my bag. It would even fit a standard bottle cage pretty well, which was handy for playing bike polo on those cold winter nights. Seeing as the whole point of a booze-filled hip flask is discretion, I don’t really see the point of the Oliver Flask Cage (which holds a Stanley flask), but as now I don’t see the point of drinking, either, maybe I can’t be trusted to judge. $22
I’m sick of small speakers. I realized it when I visited a friend who has a pair of wooden floor-standers hooked up to a proper amp, and even a record player. I have some great AirPlay speakers, but nothing beats the bang of a big bookshelf boom-box. Enter the Wharfedale DS-1, a Bluetooth speaker pair with a built-in 14-watt amp and a nice big wooden cabinet to let the sound rebound around. Just £150.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
The tiny Tile really is small and light enough to use anywhere. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac
The Tile is a tiny plastic widget that never gets lost. In theory anyway. It talks to your iPhone via low-power Bluetooth and lets you track the Tile itself, and anything the Tile is attached to.
I’ve been using one for the last couple of weeks, and it works just fine. But so far it doesn’t seem to be much more useful than one of those keychain finders that beeps when you whistle. Why? Because to be truly useful, the Tile needs to reach a critical mass of users.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Are you the kind of nostalgic soul who looks back at the Underwood, Remington, and Smith-Corona typewriters of yesteryear and sigh plaintively? Yet are you simultaneously a modern tech nerd, who couldn’t go without the conveniences afforded by an iPad or iMac? Well, then, the Qwerkywriter — an 84-key keyboard that looks just like a vintage typewriter — might be just the thing for you.
Homely multitool Xistera packs many iPhoneography essentials into one pointy package. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac
Take the Xistera out of its box and you’ll be disappointed. It’s ugly as hell, like a cheap corkscrew, and it looks like it won’t really do much. But hidden in those graceless curves and eye-gouging corners is what a lazier journalist than me would call a “Swiss Army knife of iPhoneography.”
Cameras, chargers, cycle helmets and saddles. Yes, it’s another edition of Cult of Mac's Gadget Watch, and again we’re heading outdoors to snap photos and enjoy the sun. Take a look at this week’s death-defying gear.
Nikon’s update to the full-frame D800 is all about image quality. It ditches the anti-aliasing “blur” filter in front of the sensor and adds an option for an electronic first curtain on the shutter, both to increase sharpness. It also adds a new “flat” tone setting that squeezes in the most dynamic range possible. This makes for flat photos, but is perfect for post-processing images later, whether still or video. $3,300
Did you ever fall into a box of drinking straws and marvel at how soft the landing was? Well I have, back when I had a cocktail bar in London, and let me tell you – those suckers are impact-absorbing m*therfuckers. Smith Optics has welded these straws together and fashioned them into an ultralight bike helmet that doesn’t block airflow (straws, remember?). Add in top-line aerodynamics and a slot for keeping your sunglasses safe and you have a sweet racing helmet. $TBA
GoPro’s new Dual HERO packs two lenses instead of one, letting you capture either 3-D footage or simultaneous stills and video. Now when you strap on your squirrel suit, jump out of a plane over Rio de Janeiro and swoop through a gap on top of a skyscraper, your audience will feel the same gut-crushing fear you did. Only they’ll be sitting at a desk eating Cheetos and wearing dorky 3-D glasses instead of, you know, trying to get themselves killed. $200
It’s a towel! It’s a miniature pic-a-nic blanket! It’s a sheet of handy food-photography tips! Yes, it’s the Photo ParTEA Towel from Photojojo, and it puts your food photo tips right where you need them – in the kitchen (or under your picnic). Water-based ink on the flour-sack cotton cloth offers up handy tips like “No flash ever!” (and also dries hands and dishes). The price? $20
Another skid lid for cyclists, although this one almost sounds like a Dickensian stuntman. Made for dorky road cyclists, the Synthe is light, fast and cool. And by “cool” I mean it stops your head from overheating, not that it is in any way stylish. That said, it does feature what Giro calls the Therminator, a special “headform” that keeps you almost as cool as not wearing your helmet. $TBA
One time my dad lent a neighbor his car battery charger and jump cables. I visited the neighbor’s kids and saw that the big dummy had hooked it up all wrong, and was just minutes from inducing a reverse-polarity tragedy of stream-crossing proportions. Thankfully, that’ll never happen with the Jump, an 800mAh battery pack and Lightning cable combined. That’s because a) it can only plug in one way – the right way – and b) my dad no longer lends anything to any of his damn fool neighbors. Especially not his sweet, retro-styled iPhone charger. $50
iPad styluses seem to be making a comeback this summer, just like Birkenstocks and socks with sandals (although when did socks with sandals ever go out of fashion, amirite?). The new Just Mobile AluPen Digital uses power to offer a thinner tip than regular dumb styluses, amplifying your human touch-waves so they still go through its tiny 1.8mm tip. Best of all, this keeps the price down to a reasonable €50.
When you’re camping or bike touring, nothing beats a big backup battery for electronic peace of mind. I should know: I once lost my maps, my camera and my bedtime story because I didn’t charge my iPad properly. The Braven BRV-Bank is a 6,000 mAh battery pack for outdoors. It’s waterproof, comes with a plug-in USB flashlight, charges gadgets with its two USB ports and even has a Bluetooth connection to your phone. This lets you find the Bank when you lose it (and you will, because it’s black) and also connect the iPhone and the battery together as a motion alarm system. $130
The C15 joins Brooks' C17 saddle as a kind of modern update to the fantastic line of leather bike seats. The Cambium saddles look (and apparently feel) like the old B-series, only they’re made from canvas and vulcanized rubber, and constructed in Italy instead of England. The C15 is the sporty version of the comfort-not-speed C17. I’ve checked out (but not ridden) the C17, and I have Brooks leather seats on all my bikes. But I have my eye on this for one good reason: Unlike leather, it’s waterproof, and here in Germany it rains. A lot. $225
The wrist strap is the best part of the Snappgrip. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac
The Snappgrip is a fantastic idea, with not-too-bad hardware to back it up. It’s an accessory grip for your iPhone that adds a Bluetooth shutter release, zoom buttons and control dial to the phone’s camera, as well as a wrist strap and a handy handgrip.
But in practice, you’ll be better off with the iPhone’s own volume switches if you want a hardware shutter release. Which is a shame, as I was super-excited to try the Snappgrip out.
A bamboo bay for your Beats by Dre? A cellphone-charging carabiner? A creepy drone that follows you around? What about an iPhone case that looks like a (tiny) broken skateboard? If you were looking for any of these, you’re in luck.
‘sup dawg? No – literally. What’s up? Dog? This is the AirDog, a drone/RC ‘copter that follows you around. Hang a camera from the mount under the hovering doggy and strap the AirLeash to your wrist. Sensors beam info to the drone and it will follow your exact trajectory, only up in the air. Launch and landing are automatic, and an iPhone app can be used to tweak the flight path for, say, a continuous loop. $1,195
Possibly most notable for introducing the term “DreStation,” this bamboo stand is much more affordable than the headphones it holds. And you don’t even have to use Beats cans – any over-the-ear headphones will hang just as easily from this dumb wooden desk tidy.
It’s not all good though: The lack of a hole on the base means you can’t charge the iPhone or iPod while it stands in there. $40
Who doesn’t love a carabiner? And who doesn’t find themself in need of a Lightning cable from time to time? Nobody, that’s who. And that’s who will buy the Nomad Clip, a carabiner that unfurls to become a charger for you iDevice. Made from steel and polycarbonate, and not suitable for climbing, you can also choose a microUSB version. $39
If you like the look of Adobe’s new Creative Cloud apps Sketch and Line, but don’t fancy buying the $200 official stylus to use with them, you should pick up Adonit's new Jot Touch instead. It has a tiny “Pixelpoint” tip instead of a disk or fat rubbery point, and it works just like Adobe’s Ink stylus, letting you copy and paste to/from the Creative Cloud as well as access files and Kuler color palettes. Best of all, it’s just $120.
What’s a duck head? It’s the little interchangeable block of power plug prongs that slots onto every Apple power adapter from MacBook Pro to iPad. And the Duck Head Saver from DenVog is a widget that sticks onto the side of your AC adapter and adds a prong onto which the unused duck head can slip whenever you use a foreign duck head or the long adapter cable. $35
The cedar used to make the barrel of the Timbrr stylus contains lots of natural resins. Not only will this make it smell as good as a humidor full of Cuban cigars, but that resin also helps conduct the special human waves that are required by a capacitive screen to detect a touch. Otherwise the Timbrr is a regular ol’ stylus, with a rubber tip and a fat, easy-to-hold barrel. $34
How about a nice safe wired keyboard for your iPad? This Lightning-equipped number from Belkin doesn’t need batteries and doesn’t even require that Bluetooth be switched on on your iPad. It’s also thin, Apple-certified and comes with all the usual media keys for controlling your tablet. And with the wired connection, nobody can snoop on the keystrokes you’re sending over the airwaves. $60
Can’t decide what kind of bag to buy? Then buy the Bowerbag, a modular system that takes five (5!) separate sacks and joins them together with a modular system. Each bag, complete with its straps, connects to all the others in a huge compromise of buckles and webbing. Who cares how much it weighs? You have choice!$360
It’s an iPhone case. It’s fashioned from silicone. It looks like somebody snapped a skateboard in half. What’s not to like? Apart from the fact it won’t ever fit your pocket thanks to those wheels sticking out the back? Or the fact that you can’t reach the iPhone’s power button? Nothing, that’s what. Oh, maybe the price tag: $45