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.
All items tagged with "gadgets"
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.”
Gadget Watch: June 28, 2014
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
Smith Optics Overtake
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 Dual HERO
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
The Photo ParTEA Towel
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
Just Mobile AluPen Digital
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 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.
Gadget Watch: June 20, 2014
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
Beats by Dre Station
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.
Duck Head Saver
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
Belkin wired iPad keyboard
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
Bowerbag modular bag
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
Skate Deck iPhone Case
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
I’ve tried a lot of cases for my Mac notebooks over the years, from a dorky aluminum briefcase for my white “icebook” iBook through cheap, zip-up neoprene sleeves and on to bulky, custom-fitted, shock-absorbing monsters. But the elegant, simple and beautiful Castello Davarg York, cut from a single piece of leather, is the only one that makes any sense for my MacBook Air.
Like the MacBook Air inside, you can’t help but finger and fiddle with the York case. It’s cut from 5-ounce, full-grain leather that’s folded and then hand-stitched along two sides before finishing the edges and … well, that’s almost it. The case has no fastening or closure, and lacks a lining or padded interior, but it is shaped perfectly to fit the MacBook Air. (I tested the 13-inch size, but it also comes for the 11-incher.) It even has a little cutout on the top edge that mimics the one found on the lid of the MacBook itself.
Do you like to wander the streets, camera in hand, ready to catch an amazing shot? Have you ever missed that shot thanks to the time taken to fumble your iPhone from your pocket and fire up the camera? Even if the answer to these questions is “No,” you should probably take a look at Shoulderpod’s S1 anyway – it’s not only a great camera grip, but also the best value you’ll get spending $30 on an iPhone accessory.
Take a smartphone stand that clamps onto your iPhone like a pair of jaws. Now add a tripod hole and a wrist strap. Now you've got the Shoulderpod, a device that has nothing to do with your shoulders. It can be used as a stand or as a grip, giving one-handed access to any app by placing your thumb over the on-screen shutter. It also works with a range of optional accessories. $35
This is a firestarter, a camping firestarter. It’s the self-igniting, cooking instigator. A tungsten-carbide striker, a campfire detonator. Rotating wear-avoiding, one-handed operating, works when saturated, makes matches antiquated. $19
Duo valve speaker
Using a valve amp and high-end speaker to amplify your iPhone’s Bluetooth stream might be a little like shaving canned mushrooms onto your homemade “truffle” ravioli, but who cares when “just” $640 can bring you a beautiful wooden box with two glowing valves at its core? The Class A amp can also be hooked up with cables, connected to an external subwoofer and even has an on-board 24-bit DAC. $649
Just Mobile AluCable Flat
The name really says it all. This ribbonlike Lightning cable rolls up into a tidy reel and lays flat when charging. It also has tough, color-coded plugs, and costs the same as Apple’s own white plastic cable. Available in gray, gold or … blue? $20
The new white Airframe from Kenu turns the slats of your car’s ventilation system into a smartphone holder. The expanding jaws clamp your iPhone (or Android phone) in place, and the little prongs on the other side jam between the louvres of any car vent and hold fast. It’s the perfect way to add yet another dangerous distraction to your dashboard. $25
Lezyne iPhone wallet
This neat package gathers your in-ride essentials together into one jersey-pocket-friendly place, and as it comes from Lezyne you know it can be relied on. The seam-welded zip-up wallet has a plastic window so you can use your iPhone while it’s inside, and slots for cash and cards (although no change pocket). Available in gray or black. Weighs 120 grams (4.2 ounces). $20
Lomo Instant Camera
At last, a Lomo that’s as convenient as digital – the Lomo Instant has a built-in printer so it can pop out photos on the spot. The plastic-bodied camera can make multiple exposures on one frame, has a bulb setting for long exposures, a flash and interchangeable lenses. I can’t tell you how much I want one of these. From $79
I love my two-man Hubba Hubba tent from MSR, but if I was in the market for a huge tent that could fit a) me and a bunch of other campers or b) me, in a real bed, as if I were camped in 1920 Egypt to investigate an Agatha Christie-style crime, I’d take the teepee-shaped Meriwether. At 16 feet wide and 9.5 feet high, who cares if it weighs in at 65 pounds (almost 30kg)? That's what servants are for.$1,250
Olloclip for iPad
It’s here! The iPad-friendly Olloclip adds four great lenses to your iPad Air or Mini retina (they’re both equally thin, you know). The new Olloclip slips onto the corner of your iPad to cover the lens with any of four accessory lenses, all on the same mount. You get a fisheye and a wide-angle lens, and if you unscrew them you have 10x and 15x macros. The epoch of looking dorky while you take iPad photos is finally over. $70
Film or digital? Campfire or BBQ? Car or bike? Cable or wireless?
No matter which way you swing, this week’s gadgets have you covered. iPhoneographers can enjoy the Shoulderpod hand grip or slip the new iPad Olloclip onto their Mini or Air, and film nuts can get instant satisfaction with the new Lomo Instant Camera.
Camping? Take it easy in the giant Meriwether tent or go survivalist with the Blastmatch fire-starter. You can even choose how to arrive at the site, with accessories for your car or your bike. Happy traveling!
Get your weekend in gear
The week's best gadget announcements, rolled up into a nougaty gallery.
BioLite BaseCamp stove
The BaseCamp is the family-size version of BioLite’s iPhone-charging camping stove. Like its little brother, the BaseCamp burns any fuel you find (wood is good) and uses the heat to power a USB charger and drive a fan. The fan pumps air into the fire and makes it burn hotter and faster. The BaseCamp version adds a grill on top for those off-the-grid BBQs. $300
Picard’s German-made Latthammer (or carpenter’s roofing hammer) is 600 grams of hot, hot nail-starting action. Slot a nail into the groove up top, whereupon it will be held in place by a magnet. Whack it against your target chunk of wood and the nail is started without ever putting your fleshy fingers in harm’s way. It even comes with a beautiful leather grip. €70
Lifelogger POV camera
The dorkitudinal Lifelogger is an alway-on POV camera that looks like a Bluetooth headset, the large camera unit counterbalanced by a headband that wraps around from ear to ear. The eye-level mount means you always record what you’re looking at, but it also makes you look like you work in a call center. Available December. $249
TYLT Energi Travel Charger 2K
TYLT's Energi Travel Charger 2K is a regular USB wall charger, only it packs a built-in 2,200mAh battery and comes in at the same price as most regular (battery-free) chargers. The fold-out prongs let it sleep safely in your bag until needed, and the colored LED indicators tells you how much is left in the tank. I wonder why all chargers aren't this clever. $30
Range smart thermometer
Supermechanical’s Range thermometer looks as good as the beautiful (universal) app it works with. It’s a food-probe thermometer that comes in two models – one long and rounded, for sticking into cooking pots, and one short and sharp, for jabbing into meat. Both plug into your iPhone’s headphone socket, letting you set temperature alerts, check graphs and look up USDA temperature recommendations. $70
Satechi’s LightMate is what would happen if Jedis carried iPhones. The lightsaber-shaped emergency LED light can work as a lamp or, if you remove the “saber,” as a flashlight. It’s waterproof, is designed to smash car windows (for escape, not for burglary) and the (swappable) lithium-ion battery can be used to juice your iPhone via its USB port. $30
La Sardina Birds of Paradise DIY bundle
Imagine a sardine can made into a camera. Well done – you just imagined La Sardina, a plastic camera based on the classic sardine tin. Lomography's wide-angle shooter is so DIY it comes with a screwdriver to help customize it. The lo-fi Lomo film camera now comes in pretty versions with decorative skins, like this Bird of Paradise “dress.” Get ready for summer. $109
Photojojo’s Power Purse is a place to protect your phone and also provide portable power. It works like a regular clutch purse, only it has a secret 2,600mAh battery inside to recharge your iPhone on the go. We all have a friend who leaves the house with their iPhone at like 15 percent every frickin’ day. If that friend is into pink or polka dots, you should buy him/her this as a gift, if only for your own peace of mind. $49
This Tower of power extends outlets from the floor and puts them up by your desktop. It packs two 2.1A USB ports plus four regular power outlets with circuit breakers, and the base is weighted to stop it from tipping over. There’s even a little plastic mesh pocket to keep your iPad safe while it charges. $99
Cooking, charging, camera-ing and generally staying out-of-doors are the themes this week. But if you are stuck inside out of the sun, don’t worry – we have you covered too.
This week we get cooking with a gadget-charging camping stove and a slick, iPhone-friendly food thermometer. We also do DIY projects (without tenderizing our thumbs) with the German Latthammer, charge our flagging phones with a purse that packs a built-in battery, and record everything using the super-dorky Lifelogger camera. Is the sun shining? Yes it is!
Is it a stills camera? No. Is it a video camera? No. Is it something between the two? Correctamundo! The OTTO is a “Hackable GIF Camera” that uses a Raspberry Pi brain to make animated GIF pictures.