iPhones and iPads have become more than just media-consumption devices in so many ways. From using an iPad as a virtual cookbook to using it as a portable way to develop a website, the iPad and iPhone are extremely useful in everyday life. One of the biggest categories where these devices have made a huge difference is music.
Each and every month, Lust List rounds up the products that fooled us with their style and ease. This time we've got iPad accessories, international travel aids, bags and sporting gear, turkey jerky that's anything but foul and more.
Twist Plus World Charging Station by ONEADPATR
ONEADPATR's Twist Plus World Charging Station ($44.99) solves a problem I didn’t know I had. On a recent trip to Portugal, I was able to twist myself to a European plug and get all my charging needs out of single power outlet. It turns out that was the perfect country for such a gizmo, as the Portuguese are not overly generous with their power outlets.
You just slide your MacBook power block onto the Twist Plus and push in a handful of USB cables. In a matter of seconds, I was charging my laptop, my phone, my Garmin bicycle computer and my iPad. I won’t travel again without it. — Jim Merithew
This Kickstarter-funded iPad keyboard and case combo will wow you with its delightfully grippy faux wood grain finish. Designed for the iPad Air and the iPad Air 2, the three-piece Libre Keyboard Folio comes with a case that holds your tablet snugly plus two interchangeable covers. One boasts an incredibly thin, backlit Bluetooth keyboard that works exceedingly well. The other is a simple cover for when you don't need do any typing.
CaseStudi’s design for the Libre is pretty fantastic. The part that holds the iPad comes with a cool kickstand, and it's a cinch to switch between the various covers. Some custom covers are available at $11.99 each, including one with a dog dressed like Michael Jackson and another with a cat costumed like Lady Gaga, with more styles on the way. The gray felt cover is my current favorite, bringing a crafty, homey comfort to the high-tech wonder of my iPad.
The magnet that holds the covers in place shut offs and wakes the iPad just like Apple’s Smart Covers do. The magnet is amazingly strong, too: You can hold the cover and dangle the Libre's iPad case with zero separation anxiety.
You can preorder the three-piece Libre Keyboard Folio for $79.99 for delivery in July. — Rob LeFebvre
Battery packs are a dime a dozen these days, but Mophie continually sets itself apart as the gold standard. The new Mophie spacestation ($149.95) comes equipped with a 6,000-mAh battery that promises at least a couple of full charges on the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus.
But wait! There's more! Mophie boosts the spacestation beyond your average battery juicer by including internal flash storage that acts like a portable hard drive for your iOS device. The dedicated Space app is quite nice for adding and managing photos, videos and other media from the spacestation. Knowing you have extra storage on the go, even with the 32GB base model I have (it goes up to 128GB), brings peace of mind.
I’ve used plenty of battery packs and cases in the past (many of which have been from Mophie), and this spacestation is as good as any. It’s shorter than an iPhone 6 and pretty light, which makes it super-easy to throw in a bag and forget. The only downside is that it charges through micro-USB (I was hoping for Lightning). — Alex Heath
WaterField Designs' Bolt briefcase is not for hoarders who want to carry every infernal gadget with them everywhere they go. Like the impossibly thin new MacBook, it's stripped down to the essentials — and the essentials are stylish, sturdy and compelling.
The $249 Bolt will surprise you with its slimness. It comes in two sizes — the small one I tested holds up to a 13-inch MacBook Air (the larger model holds up to a 17-inch laptop). After sliding in an 11-inch Air, an iPad and an envelope full of documents, the Bolt was fairly full; there was barely room to toss in a pair of headphones.
But that's the point of the Bolt. It's designed for carting around your must-have gear in a sleek, pleasing package. The brown waxed canvas bag looked good out of the gate (and even better after a few trips gave it more character). The chocolate leather accents, including a thick bottom that's perfect for keeping grime at bay, seem like they will only look better over time.
The craftsmanship employed by the San Francisco bag maker is evident from the first zip of the Bolt's hefty, waterproof zipper or the first flip of the "snaps" that close the front pockets. (They're not really snaps: They look like snaps, but in reality they're magnets that effectively hold the pockets shut but are 1,000 times easier to work than your typical closure.)
A leather-faced pad on the removable shoulder strap boasts a grippy, rubberized back that keeps the Bolt from sliding around. And speaking of not sliding around, the simple pass-through on the back of the Bolt is perfect for sliding the petite bag over the handle of a piece of carry-on luggage.
If you go from a backpack to a Bolt, you will undoubtedly miss all that extra space for cramming in jackets, water bottles and half-eaten sandwiches. But, like a decluttered house, the Bolt's wonderful minimalism will grow on you. — Lewis Wallace
The Kitsbow clan call themselves "The Obsessives," mostly because they are intensely interested in making some of the best mountain bike attire available. They take some heat for making their price point somewhere north of where most dirt dogs deem necessary, but after laying your hands on a few of their pieces you will understand why they get all the rave reviews.
The new Kitsbow Power Wool Base Layer ($115), designed in conjunction with Polartec, is no exception. Kitsbow calls it a base layer and it certainly could be used as one, but I found it to be versatile as either a jersey by itself or as a cozy shirt on a cool evening. The Polartec Power Wool uses Merino wool on the inside and polyster/nylon on the outside, wicking the moisture away from the body, evaporating the wet to keep you dry. — Jim Merithew
It's hard to believe, but one of the first things I want to do after a particularly hard bicycle ride is take a hot shower and zap myself. Ever since receiving a Marc Pro for review, I’m addicted to the post-ride electro contractions.
The Marc Pro ($649.95) is a little box you hook up to electrodes that you stick on your quads, calves, back or any muscle group in need of some active recovery. Then you dial in the amount of impulse you are comfortable with and, over a 30-to-60-minute period, the little box gets those muscles contracting and relaxing.
The idea is that you will move more oxygen through your wasted muscles during these “non-fatiguing” contractions, thus purging all the gunk you built up in there. The Marc Pro website can give you loads of science behind this but, unlike compression wear, this technology appears to deliver more than just a placebo effect. It makes me feel almost human the day after a big ride. — Jim Merithew
You can turn your iPhone into a killer live music recording rig with this slick little appendage from IK Multimedia. Called the iRig Mic Field, it plugs into the Lightning port on your iPhone and will record any sound source you can throw at it.
Use it with the free iRig Recorder app for your iOS device and record interviews or live demos from your band. Flip your iPhone into landscape mode and use it to record anything your heart desires, from live gigs to student plays. The little light on the front of the Mic Field shines blue if the source is too quiet, red if it’s too loud (so you can turn down the gain) and green/yellow if it’s just right. If you have any audio or video recording to do, the iRig Mic Field is the way to go at $99. — Rob LeFebvre
I like to think I'm a minimalist photography gear guy, but I’m not. I hate to be on a shoot, thinking I never should have left the macro at home or wondering why I didn’t pack this cable or that lens. So even though I have spent my life searching for the perfect stealth camera bag, I almost always reach for the same giant backpack to load my camera into.
Along comes ILE with an offer to test their Ultimate Photographers Bag -- MKIII. It's an enormous photo backpack and I, of course, hesitated. What would I do with all that room, all those options and all those pockets?
How about plan a trip to Portugal where I need to take all my gear? The $380 bag handled both my DSLR cameras, three lenses, my Q flash, batteries, chargers, cables, etc., and I still got to fill the top compartment with all my carry-on needs, my laptop and snacks. The bag swallowed everything I could think of and, although it was quite a handful once loaded, I was still able to adjust it to be almost comfortable on my back. I didn’t take advantage of the tripod pocket, but the little clip-on accessory pocket came in extremely helpful for my wallet and passport.
I know pink and black might not be the first choice for everyone, but I think it looks baller (and you can always order one in the color scheme of your choice). — Jim Merithew
The New Primal's Free Range Turkey Jerky is crack for carnivores. It's got none of the farmyard funk that fouls lesser brands: These thin, chewy strips of meat taste fresh and wonderful, with a delicious, delicate sweetness that had us scanning the ingredients list for sugar.
We were relieved to discover that this premium turkey jerky is made from humanely raised birds that weren't pumped full of hormones or antibiotics before they were plucked from the pasture and turned into nutritious snacks. Marinating the turkey breasts in apple cider vinegar — and flavoring them with pineapple juice, honey, onion, white pepper and ginger — infuses these meaty treats with layers of satisfying flavor.
The only problem is the size: The 2-ounce envelopes, which sell for $26.95 for four, aren't exactly giant. You'll be jonesing for your next packet as soon as you finish the first. — Jim Merithew
With a creative blend of natural fibers (Merino wool) and Space Age fibers (polyester and elastane), super.natural conjures garments that wick moisture away from your body while keeping you toasty-warm.
We didn’t have any real winter here in Northern California this year, so even though I left the $85 super.natural Base 1/4 Zip 175 jersey in my go-bag for months, it never got the call. So I pulled out the garment and stuck it in my suitcase for a recent cycling trip. I used it as my stay-warm-during-the-cool-nights base layer; it performed flawlessly (and also looked damn nice). — Jim Merithew
It has taken me forever to embrace the "bigger is better" theory of putting new kicks on my road bike. I guess I still cling to the old-school notion of super-thin, super-high-pressure tires, even though all the recent research points toward bigger tires, running at lower pressure, being faster in addition to more comfortable.
I've made the move slowly, going from 21s to 23s to 25s. Now I'm finally up to a set of the new Clement Cycling Strada LGG Clincher 120 TPI Tire 28s on my daily whip and I gotta say, from the very first ride, I have been wondering what I have been waiting for.
Clement is well-known in cyclocross circles for making some amazing rubber for the run-and-ride set, and their first foray into road bike tires seems to be a success. I only have a handful of rides on these treads, but with some varied San Francisco spring conditions they seem to roll great and have just enough grip to inspire confidence. — Jim Merithew
Stuck on the side of the road and need a jump? Why call your flaky friend or an expensive tow truck when you can just pull the Cyntur JumperPack mini out of your trunk or glove box? This tiny powerhouse will keep a full car battery’s charge for up to a year, which is all kinds of awesome. It even has a port so you can charge any gadgety device that powers up via USB, making this a clear winner for those of us who like to leave the comfort of our houses and cars for adventures in the woods.
Better yet? It’s completely rechargeable via a wall plug at home. Never leave home again without this sexy battery pack. It’s super-compact and comes with a lovely zippered case where you can store the wall plug, all for $99.99. — Rob LeFebvre
Each month, Cult of Mac's Lust List reveals the products we're reveling in right now.
Garmin Forerunner 920xt
Swim, bike and run your way over to your local Garmin dealer — the multisport watch you have been waiting for has finally arrived. Adding all the good stuff from the other new computers in the Garmin lineup, the Forerunner 920xt arrives with activity tracking, a color screen that actually shows colors, cycling VO2 max, a metronome and the ability for devs to create additional apps through Connect IQ. All in a package you could wear all day without feeling like a complete goober.
Unlike its predecessor the 910xt, the new watch can actually be worn and used as a watch. And if you are willing to carry your smartphone on your workouts, Bluetooth pairing can deliver real-time tracking and push notifications from your phone to the watch (although HealthKit compatibility remains limited at this time).
The Garmin Forerunner 920xt ($449.99 list) is packed full of features designed to help you track your data better; with third parties developing apps, at some point we might see heart-rate capability while in the pool. If you unlock half of this watch's capabilities, you might also start to unlock your own. — Jim Merithew
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Philips Sonicare DiamondClean toothbrush
"Oooh, sweet toothbrush." Until recently, I could honestly say I'd never heard those unexpected words before. But that's exactly what my wife exclaimed when she spotted the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean rechargeable toothbrush sitting quietly on our bathroom counter.
It's easy to see why: The black matte finish looks and feels amazing, more like a high-end smartphone than a dental hygiene product. Luckily for our teeth and gums, the luxe brush is just as practical as it is beautiful. After my better half demanded that I hand over the spare brush head, she took the sleek sonic tooth-scrubber for a spin and declared her pearly whites felt cleaner than ever. She's hooked, and she still hasn't seen the cool travel case that holds the DiamondClean and cleverly recharges by USB.
I like the DiamondClean too, although it took a few sessions to get used to its high-pitched howl. Its polished bristles feel exceedingly gentle, and the at-home charging glass is unique (and dishwasher-safe, delivering us from the evil pool of drool that accumulates on pedestrian plastic chargers). All in all, the DiamondClean ($219.99 list) is more delightful than I thought a toothbrush could be. — Lewis Wallace
Strap these bad boys onto your head and use the included Xbox One wireless adapter to connect to your Microsoft gaming console, or just plug the standard 1/8-inch wire into any headphone jack on your iPhone, iPad or PlayStation 4 controller. The Strikers are comfortable, sound great and look pretty rad along the way. At $89.95 list, you won't have to break open your piggy bank to afford them. — Rob LeFebvre
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Iconic Ultimate Edition
The updated edition of Jonathan Zufi's coffee-table book Iconic costs a cool $250 — but it features a cool pulsating light!
The book, originally released to wide acclaim last year, is a photographic tribute to Apple's products that’s elegantly crammed with more than 150,000 glossy photos of every single piece of hardware out of Cupertino. It also includes practically everything else, from prototypes to packaging.
The updated version of Zufi's good-looking book — with 16 new pages — comes in plainer, cheaper editions (the Classic Edition costs $75, while the $99 Classic Plus Edition adds a black slipcase), but you’ll want the Ultimate Edition. That’s the one with the LED embedded in its classy Cromwell Aristo Grain-White clamshell case. When you pick up the book, the LED gently pulses in homage to MacBooks of yore. Now that’s iconic. — Leander Kahney
Photo: Ridgewood Publishing
Omega J8006 Nutrition Center Juicer
With Thanksgiving in the rear-view and Christmas eggnog in the offing, perhaps it's time to consider – just consider, mind you – a little dietary moderation. I've never been a giant fan of fruits and vegetables (especially the really healthy green stuff), and I certainly don't get as many daily servings as I should, but after seeing lard-ass fright flick Fact, Sick and Nearly Dead and taking a realistic look at my waistline, I got nudged in the direction of juicing.
And by "nudged" I mean my wife bought me a fantastic Omega J8006 Nutrition Center Juicer ($240 from Amazon). This chrome-and-black masticating monster uses a single menacing augur to crush and squeeze every last delicious drop out of fruits and vegetables. I especially love what it does with carrots, turning a pile of orange root vegetables into a nutrient-rich thirst-quencher. Toss in a few bits of ginger or a couple handfuls of kale, and you've got a surprisingly delicious drink that's guaranteed to give you a boost.
It's not all about health, either. Fresh fruits like cantaloupe and pineapple make shockingly good additions to fanciful drink recipes. And that ginger juice? Unbelievably potent and awesome for kicking cocktails up a notch. I'm still fat, but I don't feel nearly as sick or dead. — Lewis Wallace
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
iRig Mic HD
If you've ever tried to record your own vocals, you know that the built-in microphone in your Mac or iPad, while competent, isn't something you'd want to use to create a world-class song demo. IK Multimedia knows iOS audio, and their iRig Mic HD ($129.99) is an incredibly good condenser microphone that will let you unleash your inner rock star (or podcaster).
It connects easily to your Mac or iOS device via the included standard USB or Lightning cable. And it's serious business, as the iRig Mic HD has a 24-bit audio-to-digital converter, a 44.1/48 kHz sampling rate and a fantastic pre-amp to reproduce your vocal performances at a rate of stunningly high fidelity. — Rob LeFebvre
Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac
iCarbons MacBook skin
Here's something to be worried about when you buy a used MacBook on eBay. Photo: Alex Heath / Cult of Mac
Nodus Access case for iPad mini
If you are going to cover up your beautifully sleek new iPad mini, it might as well be with Italian leather and microfibers. The Nodus Access case (89.99 pounds) exudes an elegance and simplicity that can’t be overstated. Or is that understated. Either way, it is beautiful.
Using micro-suction technology to hold your iPad firmly in place, the case couldn’t be any simpler. — Jim Merithew
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Bandit Plus ProTrainer dartboard
If you play darts, you know it's all about the doubles and triples. Landing your pointy projectile in those choice slivers of bristle board real estate make all the difference when you are playing to win.
The Bandit Plus ProTrainer ($65 from A-ZDarts.com) can help. On this fiendish and well-constructed training tool, the double and treble beds are just half the size of a regulation steel-tip dartboard. Practicing with this demanding mistress is the darting equivalent of running in ankle weights or sliding a doughnut on your bat while taking a few cuts in the on-deck circle. Spend some quality time with the ProTrainer at home, and those precious moneymaker slots will look gigantic when you step up to the oche during your next pub match. — Lewis Wallace
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
SteelSeries Stratus XL Gaming Controller
Available just in time for the holiday gift-giving season, the SteelSeries Stratus XL is the first full-size wireless controller for iOS. It mimics larger home controllers, with a button layout that will be familiar to most console gamers and a 40-hour window of battery life eked from only two AA batteries.
The build quality is insanely good, making this an ideal choice for anyone who wants the comfort and style of a full-on gaming controller for the hundreds of iOS games that utilize Apple’s new made for iPhone (MFi) controller system. The Stratus XL will be available starting December 9 from the SteelSeries website and other fine retailers. — Rob LeFebvre
There are a whole bunch of ways a guitarist can hook his axe up to his iPhone, from fancy to totally ghetto (a cable from the guitar’s jack to the iPhone’s headphone socket). IK’s new iRig HD is at the fancy end, and it even works with your brand-new iPhone’s Lightning socket.
You know, I used to think custom iPad stands were kind of a dumb idea, especially as the Smart Cover is already a stand. But I watch movies and TV shows in bed with The Lady, using an iPad and JamBox balanced on one of those breakfast tray/table things. And after one too many iPad tumbles, I’m ready for a sturdier stand.
No way would I ever plug in my Gibson SG Les Paul Custom into my iPhone 3G. Just no way. Now that I have the iPhone 4 and its increased processor speed, crystal clear pictures, and hardcore stage presence, I’ll reconsider.
Seriously though, playing an instrument through an iDevice is more of just a hobby or gimmick if you’re going to try and use it for modeling amps and effect pedals. What really convinced me to hook up a quarter inch jack to my phone was the Moog Filtatron App. Synthesizers are most certainly perfect for and acceptable to use in your music even if they’re coming from you Macbook or iPad. If they have the Moog name attatched to it then you’re just that much more legit.
If you have a box full of cables tucked away somewhere, you may have all that you need to construct your very own iRig. Even if you purchased all the cables from The Shack, you’ll probably come away with a cheaper version, and you’ll feel like MacGyver.