Lust List: Gear that will take your adventures over the top

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Lust List: May 2015

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

Buy from: ONEADPATR

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

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Libre Keyboard Folio by CaseStudi

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

Buy from: CaseStudi

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

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Mophie spacestation

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

Buy from: Mophie

Photo: Alex Heath/Cult of Mac

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WaterField Designs Bolt briefcase

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

Buy from: WaterField Designs

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

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Kitsbow Power Wool Base Layer

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

Buy from: Kitsbow

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

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Marc Pro

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

Buy from: Amazon

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

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iRig Mic Field

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

Buy from: Amazon, B&H Photo

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

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Ultimate Photographers Bag -- MKIII

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

Buy from: ILE

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

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Free Range Turkey Jerky from The New Primal

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

Buy from: Amazon

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

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super.natural Base 1/4 Zip 175 long-sleeve jersey

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

Buy from: Amazon, super.natural (their online store is slated to open later this month)

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

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Clement Strada LGG Clincher tire

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

Buy from: Amazon

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

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Cyntur JumperPack mini

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

Buy from: Amazon

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Lust List: This bag’s for the dogs, plus more great stuff for gear hounds

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Lust List: April 2015

Each and every month, Lust List rounds up the products that shook us all night long. This time we've got unique backpacks, iPhone-saving cases, cool music gear, hot chile booze and much more.

Timbuk2 Muttmover dog backpack

My mother's dog is a little fluffy menace. A Pomeranian, he looks like dog treats wouldn't melt in his mouth, but he's a terror. He goes completely bananas when other dogs are around, and gets bitey if you try to move him off the couch. Last time I tried to stop him from eating the cat's food, I had to go get a tetanus shot. The neighbors call him "Little Cujo."

The only time he's manageable is when he's in a bag. He loves a good bag, and it keeps him out of trouble. Everywhere he goes, Mother puts him in a duffel bag that's a bit too big and unwieldy. So I got her Timbuk2's Muttmover dog backpack, which both she and the little DFH (Dog From Hell) love.

It's a medium-size backpack, so it's easy for her to sling over her shoulder. It's more compact and manageable than the duffel, plus there's a carrying handle on top. The front panel zips open completely, making it easy for the devil dog to step inside. The liner is made of a slick tarpaulin material (with a nice paw-print design), which is easy to clean if he has a whoopsie. There's a ton of pockets for muzzles and Band-Aids, plus zippered portholes for him to stick his evil little face out. It includes a folding water dish. Timbuk2 told me the $118 Muttmover is so popular, it often sells out. — Leander Kahney

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Buy from: Timbuk2

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Hydro Flask True Pint

A trail-worthy pint glass that doesn't sweat, keeps my beer cold longer and adds no metallic taste. What's not to like? Unless, of course, your wife discovers it's also perfect for keeping her tea hot (the outside doesn't become hot to the touch, thanks to the 16-ounce Hydro Flask True Pint's double-walled vacuum insulation).

The only thing to do is decide which of the five color choices I like best and order more. Luckily, the $21.99 True Pint was designed to be stackable. — Jim Merithew

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Buy from: Amazon

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Leef iBridge

Portable flash drives aren't sexy, but when you're stuck with a 16GB iPhone, they can be a godsend. Leef's iBridge portable drives are designed to work with iPhones and iPads so you never run out of storage, no matter how many photos and videos you add to your device. Starting at $59.99 for a 16GB stick (with options up to 128 GB), iBridge helps you make the most of your iPhone's storage by providing a physical safe haven for all your favorite content.

The iBridge comes with a slick, minimalist app that helps transfer content from your Mac to your iPhone or vice versa. It's ridiculously easy to use and allows you to shoot photos or videos and save them directly on the drive. You'll have to shell out $199 for the 128GB option, but it's cheaper than splurging on a 128GB iPhone 6. — Buster Hein

Photo: Buster Hein/Cult of Mac

Buy from: Amazon

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Roadie Tuner

Ever wish you had your own guitar tech so you could focus on playing your ax, not tuning it? How about a quick change from the standard tuning to something different, like an open-E tuning? The $99 Roadie Tuner lets you do just that with a sweet little robo-device that will listen to your guitar strings via a Bluetooth-connected iPhone app and then turn those shiny tuning pegs all on its own.

The accompanying free Roadie Tuner iOS app has all sorts of tuning profiles that will help you become the next Joni Mitchell. The system works with acoustic or electric guitars, so you'll always be in perfect tune. Of course, we can't say the same thing for your bass player. — Rob LeFebvre

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Buy from: Amazon, B&H Photo

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BaseLift for MacBook by Twelve South

Sometimes a little angle makes all the difference. That's the premise behind the BaseLift, Twelve South's latest accessory for the MacBook. It's essentially just a stick-on flap that folds to become a mini stand, like a lot of iPad cases.

I've been using a BaseLift on my 15-inch MacBook Pro for the past couple weeks, and I have yet to take it off (it sticks on with adhesive and installation is super-easy). That's saying something, because usually I abandon add-ons like these after testing.

Twelve South claims the elevated angle means you'll type more comfortably, but I'm not sure I buy that. How typing makes you feel depends entirely on how your wrists are positioned relative to your forearms. So if your wrists are bent up at a sharp angle, you're going to cramp. That said, I haven't had any cramping issues while using the BaseLift. And I actually like having my screen elevated just a little. It makes a big difference when you're staring at a screen all day.

The BaseLift is compatible with all MacBooks (11-inch Air to 15-inch Pro), and costs $39.99. — Alex Heath

Photo: Alex Heath/Cult of Mac

Buy from: Amazon, B&H Photo

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Yakima FullTilt 5 bike rack

Of all the bike racks I've had over the years, Yakima's FullTilt 5 is the best so far. I've always had trouble getting a bike rack big enough for the whole family but, like the name says, the Fulltilt 5 accommodates five bikes.

Everything is integrated and easy to use. Other bike racks frustrated me, with their fiddly straps or rubbery fittings that were always getting lost. The FullTilt's cradles are built-in, sliding up and down a rail for adjustment. Bikes are secured with big, chunky zip ties (which are fully removable, but still). It's the easiest attachment system I've encountered so far. Just put the bike on the rack and slide a couple of ties into the cradles on either side. The cradles include anti-sway arms to stop the bikes crashing into each other.

There's also a built-in security cable for locking the bikes to the rack. The cable is easily snipped by a professional bike thief, but it'll stop an opportunist from snagging a bike while you go to the bathroom or get lunch.

The FullTilt is hitch-mounted, with an adjustable AutoPin to accommodate 1.25-inch and 2-inch hitch receivers. There's a big red knob for locking the rack to the car. Conveniently, the same key works for both the hitch and cable locks. The rack folds all the way down for trunk access or folding flat for storage.

It's not the lightest (41 pounds) or the cheapest ($449) but overall, it's well-designed and well-made — a big, beefy rack for biking. — Leander Kahney

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Buy from: Amazon

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Classic Shell iPhone 6 Plus case from Tech21

I keep dropping my iPhone 6 Plus and knocking it off tables. I'm not sure why — is it because it's so big that it's slightly unwieldy? Or because it's so damn indispensable that I carry it everywhere? No matter the reason for my inexcusable clumsiness, it's undeniably true that the bigger-than-big iPhone has taken more hits than any phone I've ever owned. Shockingly, it's still in perfect condition, and for that I thank my Tech21 Classic Shell case.

There's nothing particularly lust-worthy about the case. It's got a clear back, which has yellowed a bit with age, and a colored ring around the iPhone's edge (mine's a slightly obnoxious orange). But there's absolutely nothing appealing about a cracked phone, and that's where Tech21's "Impactology" tech comes into play. The Classic Shell, which retails for $39.99, is made of a patented, shock-absorbing material called D30 that's designed to dissipate the force of impacts.

The end result is a slim case that makes the iPhone 6 Plus easy to slide into and out of my pockets — and a joy to pick up, unbroken, off the hard concrete I've stupidly dropped it onto. — Lewis Wallace

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Buy from: Amazon

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Max LP by ION Audio

With its natural wood finish base, classic lines and built-in speakers, the Max LP from ION Audio is a fantastic basic turntable that spins records at 33 1/3, 45 and even 78 RPM (for those rare classics you might have sitting in an attic somewhere). It's also set up to easily convert your vinyl into digital files for those albums from your youth that aren't available on iTunes or Spotify.

The speakers on the deck are serviceable, sounding a bit better than a smartphone and making things a little more portable, but you can always connect the Max LP, which retails for $99.99, to powered speakers or a component stereo system, using either a 1/8-inch audio jack or a red-and-white RCA cable. Stick a USB cable into the back of the Max LP and attach the other end to your Mac, and you can convert records super-easily with the included software. You can even digitize cassette tapes by connecting a separate tape player through the turntable. — Rob LeFebvre

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Buy from: Amazon, B&H Photo

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Razer Leviathan 5.1 Channel Surround Sound Bar

If you're still using your TV or Mac speakers to watch TV, play games or listen to music, you owe it to yourself to try out Razer's affordable yet powerful Leviathan 5.1 Channel Surround Sound Bar. For $199, you get a solid speaker system that performs at a level challenging even more expensive multi-speaker hardware (it's certified Dolby Digital, Virtual Speaker and Pro Logic II).

This beast is a thin sound bar that looks like a minimalist boom box that you set in front of your TV or gaming monitor. You'll connect it via optical, audio cable or Bluetooth to your sound source. I've ended up making it my turntable and HDTV sound system, as the powerful bass response from the big trapezoidal subwoofer makes for a compelling home theater experience. It's perfect for that smaller living room, home office or dorm room where you want to push some serious air without spending a lot of scratch. — Rob LeFebvre

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Buy from: Amazon, B&H Photo

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Highline Security Leash by Kenu

Next time you're rock climbing or engaging in some other crazy adventure with your iPhone, be sure to take along this sweet leash system from Kenu. The Highline Security Leash starts with a protective, texturized polycarbonate iPhone case that's thin enough to put in your pocket but tough enough to protect from random damage.

The killer feature here, though, is the bungee-cord leash, which solidly locks into your iPhone's Lightning port as well as a notch in the back of the case, making for a secure connection. There's a version for the iPhone 6 ($29.95) and a stronger one for iPhone 6 Plus ($34.95), so you know your lifeline device will always stick nearby, letting you feel secure as you whip it out while skiing down a crazy slope this winter. — Rob LeFebvre

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Buy from: Amazon

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Elgato Avea smart bulb

Elgato smart bulbs are well and great, but we want more.

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

OGIO Ascent backpack

I've always thought OGIO backpacks look too nerdy for any sane person to wear. When it comes to making tech gear, OGIO has always put function ahead of fashion, but with the company's new Ascent packs, style is finally getting the attention it deserves.

Like most OGIO packs, the Ascent comes with more pockets than even most nerds could use. There's a special padded slot big enough for a 15-inch MacBook Pro, another for an iPad Air and a few pouches for knickknacks to go with the two main compartments. They've even thrown in a Tech Vault at the top to store your sunglasses, camera and other easy-to-beat-up stuff.

Basically, if you can't keep your gadgets organized with this pack, you never will. Its style isn't flashy, but it looks more like an active-lifestyle backpack than the company's other laptop bags. And with a $99.99 price tag, it'll get the job done for cheaper than some of the more stylish options out there. — Buster Hein

Photo: Buster Hein/Cult of Mac

Buy from: Amazon

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CM4 Q Card Case for iPhone 6 Plus

I've long had a soft spot for iPhone cases that also carry my cards and cash and allow me to leave my wallet at home. Unfortunately, most of them are big and bulky and unsuitable for already large handsets like the iPhone 6 Plus. But the CM4 Q Card Case is different.

Rather than employing a traditional wallet design with a cover that folds over the front of your iPhone and gets in your way, the Q Card Case is a more traditional soft-touch rubber case with a fabric pocket on its back. The Case holds up to three credit cards as well as some cash pretty comfortably, but it's a little tight when you first get it so you'll need to break it in. There is a small cut-out at the bottom of the credit card pouch that allows you to remove your cards easily. Even with three cards inside it, the Q Card Case isn't too bulky on a 6 Plus. It'll slip fairly easily into and out of your pocket, and it's significantly slimmer than a leather wallet case.

It also has a special feature up its sleeve (if you get the 6 Plus version) that I've found to be super-useful: A long, narrow notch runs alongside the back of the case; if you pull out a credit card and push it into that notch, it will act as a stand so you can prop up your phone for watching videos or typing with an external keyboard.

The Q Card Case offers great protection and it's super-functional. You can get it in five colors — black, gray, red, green and gold — for $39.99 from CM4's online store. It's also available for the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 5s at the same price. — Killian Bell

Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Buy from: Amazon

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Ancho Reyes Ancho Chile Liqueur

Usually when your bartender talks up a hot new drink, he's not referring to actual heat. But that's what you get when you add a half-jigger of Ancho Reyes liqueur to a recipe: restrained heat, plus subtle sweetness and exotic spices that will add an unforgettable dimension to your cocktail.

I got my first taste of this outstanding liqueur made with ancho chiles (the dried version of poblano peppers) during this year's International CES, when my Cult of Mac colleague Jim and I stumbled (probably literally) into The Chandelier, an eye-catching multi-story lounge inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. We ordered a pair of American Gothic cocktails, a spicy concoction that expertly blends Woodford Reserve bourbon with Ancho Reyes, Amaro Meletti, chocolate mole bitters and house-made spiced chai-masala tea syrup. The drink was like a shining beacon of elegance and hope rising above CES's inevitable sea of free booze.

There's a lot going on in that American Gothic recipe, but it was clear Ancho Reyes played a key role. Once back in San Francisco, I had to track some down. It took a while, and cost a little north of $30, but I finally found some. A little goes a long way, but it's a genius way to heat up your next cocktail party. Plus: That old-school bottle looks sweet on your liquor shelf. — Lewis Wallace

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Buy from: WineWise

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Lust List: Killer gear for iPhone lovers, bike riders and ax wielders

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Lust List: March 2015

Each month, Cult of Mac's Lust List has a date with the hottest gear in the world. This time around we're talking impressive audio experiences, fantastic bicycling equipment and awesome accessories for iPhone users (which basically means everybody, right?).

Soho Wireless headphones by Harman Kardon

“Hey Jim, what are those?”

“Hey Jim, let me check those out.”

“Hey Jim, are those any good?”

“Hey Jim, I bet those are expensive.”

Never has a pair of headphones brought me such attention. To a person, everyone wanted to know what was up with the wireless Sohos. There is no denying the fact these cans look good. The design is very much in line with Harman Kardon's aesthetic, but in a petite package.

The big question on everyone’s mind is, "Do they sound as good at they look?" And the answer is, "Almost."

The $250 Soho Wireless headphones are comfortable to wear, as long as you aren't overly active. The sound quality is good in the mids and treble, but lacking slightly in bass response. And the Bluetooth is great, when it works. But using numerous devices is mildly frustrating at best and downright annoying at worst. The touch sensors on the side of the cans is a great added feature, but can’t be relied on to work consistently, as I found myself trying to pause my music with a tap over and over and over again.

Oddly, I still find myself recommending these to friends as a pleasant alternative to traveling with earbuds, but with the caveat being you have to be prepared for the limitations of the Bluetooth connection. — Jim Merithew

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

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BookBook case for iPhone 6/6 Plus by Twelve South

Looking for a wallet case for your iPhone that will get everyone talking? Take a look at the new BookBook for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus from Twelve South. I've been asked by waiters, bartenders and casual passersby whether I’m carrying a Bible, a dictionary or a tiny leather notebook.

When I flip it open to show the capacious five-card interior and my connected iPhone 6 Plus, the oohs and ahhs increase exponentially. When I show them how the iPhone separates from the BookBook for easy access and sharing, most people are ready to go buy one.

This is one fantastic iPhone case, and I can’t sing its praises loudly enough. The iPhone 6 Plus version has six pockets, including one with clear plastic for my ID. Snapping my iPhone out of the delicious leather portfolio wallet case is a breeze when I want to take the device on a run without carrying my wallet. You can even snap half of the iPhone off the wallet and prop it up for easy movie watching on an airplane. You can’t go wrong with this for any price, but the affordable $60 makes the BookBook, available in black or brown leather, an iPhone case you’ll take everywhere. — Rob LeFebvre

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

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Giro Synthe bike helmet

Giro designed the Synthe to be a high-end aero helmet, but it's really a great everyday, all-day road helmet. Sure they claim the Synthe is some percentage more slippery, while going some mph and at varying yaw angles, but what’s really impressive is how all this aero blabbity blah doesn’t stop the helmet from being comfortable, cool and stylish.

And by cool I don’t mean hip: I mean the airflow through this helmet keeps my head temperature regulated nicely. Also, you can thank the Roc Loc Air retention system for keeping the helmet comfortable and secure against your noggin, while eliminating hot spots.

Although the $250 Synthe's looks may not be for everyone, it is clear that only aesthetics should keep you from sporting this helmet, as the fit and finish are impeccable. — Jim Merithew

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

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iRig PRO by IK Multimedia

I love me some saturated tube crunch more than just about anything in the world, but sometimes it is just not possible. That's when I turn to my iRig PRO and my laptop or iPad for jam time.

You can use IK Multimedia's multitude of apps, including the popular AmpliTube, but I still prefer to dick around in GarageBand on my iPhone 6 Plus, iPad and Macbook Pro. The iRig and your Apple device let you lay down a recording pretty easily, including using the microphone input with phantom power, but I mostly find myself plugging in my guitar and jamming through a bunch of preset amplifiers in GarageBand.

Whatever your software choices, the iRig works exactly as advertised, letting you plug in and jam on. And, for those looking for even more sonic possibilities, the little black box even has MIDI in capabilities. — Jim Merithew

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

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Spool Dock by Quell & Company

iPhone docks have never really been my thing, but the Spool Dock just begs to be appreciated. Quell & Company dock is “crafted in the U.S.A. from sustainable North American white oak, merino wool felt and a weighty metal base,” and it's quite the looker. From a design perspective, it’s also pretty smart.

The biggest issue I have with docks I’ve tried in the past is cord management. They usually make it difficult to plug the iPhone into the Lightning port, resulting in a bunched-up cable that looks messy.

Not the $65 Spool Dock, which comes in white and black metal. Its base swivels, letting you roll out the cable as much as you desire. It also lets you turn your docked device 360 degrees. Setting it up is super-simple, with removable support bars for the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 5, 5s, 5c, iPad mini and 5th-gen iPod touch. Most normal cases will work just fine too, as long as they’re not bulky like an Otterbox. — Alex Heath

Photo: Alex Heath/Cult of Mac

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bolstr bag by Koyono

I want extra pockets without having to wear goofy cargo pants. So while perusing one of my favorite guy websites, Everyday Carry, I came across a little bag made by Koyono called the bolstr bag.

It's perfect for tooling around Chicago, allowing me to discreetly store a phone, iPad mini, notebook and point-and-shoot camera. Plus, its slim design and asymmetrical shape look way cooler than knee-level flapped pockets on either leg.

The bolstr small carry bag comes in a variety of colors and left- or right-side orientations (as a lefty, I appreciate this design consideration). — David Pierini

Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

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SRM PowerControl 8

With the PowerControl 8, SRM will finally add GPS to its line of outstanding cyclocomputer head units.

This is truly a computer designed by bike nerds for bike nerds. It lets you use from one to four screens, with two to eight fields per screen. You can configure your data in so many ways it will make your head spin as fast as your wheels. The new $850 model, available for preorder now and shipping before summer, also comes with Wi-Fi and is compatible with ANT+ and Bluetooth. — Jim Merithew

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

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UE Megaboom 2 by Ultimate Ears

If you think the UE Boom is fantastic, you’ll double over with delight at the newer, bigger version of the best portable Bluetooth speaker we’ve ever used. This thing is seriously loud with deep bass, sparkling highs and clear mids that will faithfully reproduce pretty much any music you throw at it.

It’s also seriously rugged, with a strong, rubberized top and bottom and a tough outer mesh cloth shell. Just toss it in a bag and go. Hell, this bad boy is waterproof to the point of still working after a full-on shower or dip in the pool.

The UE Megaboom's battery life is amazing, too, taking just a couple hours for a full charge that seems to last all day long (rated at 20 hours of play). Download the iOS app and you can remotely EQ your sound, set up a booming alarm and turn the speaker on and off. You can even connect two Megabooms for a massive stereo blast in any room. At $300, this thing is worth every penny. — Rob LeFebvre

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

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Flite 747 by KHS Bicycles

Freakishly tall bicyclists no longer need resort to modifying a smaller bike or paying the tab for a custom frame. They can just take flight on an off-the-shelf Flite 747 from KHS Bicycles.

The company partnered with the Tower of Power, Leonard Zinn, to create this huge road bike. Zinn, who has been building bicycles for big fellas for somewhere around 30 years, helped design the Flite 747. It comes in 64 cm and 67 cm frames made of Reynolds 520 chromoly, and delivers standard road bike geometry at those massive sizes. (It's so huge i couldn't even get my leg over it.)

All Zinn's trials and tribulations came to bear on this bicycle, which sports impressive 200 mm crankarms. It's allegedly plenty stiff going up and a blast coming down. Priced at $1,899 list, this is the second year the model has been offered (last year they sold like hotcakes). Big fun for big guys like Zinn. — Jim Merithew

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

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MiniSuit Selfie Stick

There we were, walking down the street, when suddenly I decided to snap a quick selfie of the six of us. We all hunched together, trying to jam ourselves into the frame of the iPhone that I was holding out as far as possible with my arms to make sure we all got in the picture. It was that moment when I realized that I wanted one of the more ridiculous gadgets out there, a selfie stick.

With the MiniSuit Selfie Stick's telescoping pole and Bluetooth shutter button on the handle, I could have taken a much more well-composed shot of all the people in my party, with much less effort and grunting. The included adjustable mount holds smartphones small and large, and the selfie stick has a standard tripod mount so you can even use it with a regular point-and-shoot camera.

My iPhone 6 Plus nestles nicely in the holder and lets me take photos of myself and many other folks from farther away than my own arm can handle. And, at $20, it’s hard to not grab one for a friend, too. — Rob LeFebvre

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

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VX Adventure Race mountain bike pedals by VP Components

Taking a play from their strong platform mountain bike pedal lineup, the team at VP Components has released the Shimano SPD-compatible VX Adventure Race pedals. The clipless pedal adds a giant platform for additional stability. At a reasonable 460 grams and spinning on a roller and double-sealed cartridge bearings, these trail-worthy pedals are rider serviceable and run about $130. — Jim Merithew

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

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Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight

If you want to know if your smoke or CO alarm is going off while you’re away from home, the Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight could be your best option. It’s an attractive little $99 night-light that lets you customize its color, but its real trick is letting you monitor your home’s safety alarms remotely.

You use an iPhone app to connect the Leeo to your home Wi-Fi network for set up and monitoring, and if your alarms go off while you’re out and about, the Leeo will notify you right on your iPhone. If you don’t respond, it will even notify other folks that you specify in the settings. If that isn’t enough, the Leeo will monitor your home temperature and humidity and notify you if they change much. — Rob LeFebvre

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

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Lust List: Hot gear for the dead of winter

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Lust List: February 2015

Each month, Cult of Mac's Lust List busts out the gear we're hot for right now.

Timberland Men's Canvas Cord Case

You know when you see a parked car and the seat belt is stuck in the door? That is what I look like when walking with my computer satchel  with the cord hanging out of the bag. The sloppy look is gone now thanks to a simple, waxed-canvas bag from Timberland.

You can find the Timberland Men's Canvas Cord Case on Amazon for $38 but if you poke around online you can find it for as little as $17. Even that might seem a little steep for a tiny, one-compartment bag, but it was worth creating new space in my bag for this organizer. The large end of my MacBook Pro power cord likes to unravel as I move with the bag. I try to clip my bag shut and when I do, it's sometimes like opening the fake can of peanuts where the snake flies out. The Timberland cord bag is just large enough to loosely coil the thicker end of the cord and still fit the power brick.  I even tuck in my earbuds. — David Pierini

Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

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Naza Carbon helmet by Kali Protectives

Usually I go for something subtle when it comes to motorcycle helmets — a solid-gray full-face or a nondescript black skid lid, depending on the weather. But when the cold rain started drenching San Francisco this fall, I got a wild hair and pulled on a Naza Carbon helmet made by Kali Protectives.

The Naza Carbon comes in several bold designs, all featuring Kali's weirdly ominous, masklike logotype. The one I chose, called Curve, melds eye-grabbing black and white lines with patterned grays and a couple slashes of red. The look is distinctive, but that's not what's really important in a helmet. Luckily, Kali nails the most crucial aspects of helmet design: comfort and safety.

The Naza Carbon is streamlined and extremely lightweight, with good ventilation to blow off some steam on warm days. It comes with a pair of differently sized cheek inserts to give you more of a custom fit. And when it comes to safety, Kali's got you covered: The carbon/Kevlar/fiberglass composite shell wraps layers of cushioning foam in Kali's Composite Fusion Plus construction. Plus, they've got an actual rocket scientist on board — owner Brad Waldron — to make sure Kali delivers cutting-edge noggin protection. — Lewis Wallace

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

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Keys-To-Go keyboard by Logitech

When I want to get serious writing work done on my iPad — or even my iPhone in a pinch — I turn to a keyboard that is rugged, easy to tote around in my favorite minimalist bag, and super-simple to connect to my various Bluetooth devices.

The Logitech Keys-To-Go ($69.99 list) includes all of that awesome, plus it’s almost completely invulnerable to the coffee or beer spills that seem to   go hand-in-hand with my journalist lifestyle. While it’s incredibly thin and light, the keyboard itself is a delight to use, with responsive keys that feel almost as great as the ones on my MacBook Pro. The battery in this thing is supposed to last for three months at a time, a claim I can support as I’ve not charged it once since getting it about a month ago. If you need a keyboard for travel, commuting or just as a backup when you’re on the go, this is the one to grab. — Rob LeFebvre

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

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Mirra 2 chair by Herman Miller

This chair changed my life. Or at least it changed my work life. Before the arrival of the Herman Miller Mirra 2 chair ($649) at Cult of Mac World Headquarters, I was acutely aware of my posterior — all day, every day. The run-of-the-mill rump thrasher I squirmed on previously was your standard-issue, inexpensive office chair like you would find at Ikea and the like.

Setting up the Mirra 2 for the very first time was a pretty daunting task. The chair allows adjustments for seat height, seat depth, lumbar height, arm angle, arm width and the list goes on and on. The best part of having all those adjustments is it made me consider every aspect of my ergonomic situation. And after the initial setup, the chair has disappeared underneath me.

My back thanks me and my ass certainly thanks me. — Jim Merithew

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

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Leather Wallet Case 80° by Mujjo

When I upgraded to the new hotness of an iPhone 6 Plus, I didn't realize I'd be a second-class citizen when it came to quality cases. Sure, I could grab something off the shelf at the local AT&T store, but ever since I spent some time with a Wally wallet case on my iPhone 5, I've been spoiled for anything but the best card-carrying iPhone case around.

I think I've found that in this new offering from Mujjo. The Leather Wallet Case 80° for iPhone 6 Plus ($50.57) slid onto the curves of my iPhone 6 Plus like a lover, and it hasn't let go yet. The thin case made of supple tan leather is protective, adds very little bulk, and has a cleverly canted slot that fits a couple of cards and a tiny bit of cash. It's perfect for that night out or your daily trips to the coffee shop. — Rob LeFebvre

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

CliMate by Adam Elements

While it's pretty easy to pull up the temperature and weather on any mobile device these days, we typically have to settle for the official reports from weather stations that may not be all that close to where we live. Heck, I want to know what the weather is right where I'm standing, even if it's indoors.

Enter the CliMate ($69.99), a personal weather gadget from Adam Elements that measures the humidity, UVI and temperature of wherever you put it, and relays that info back to your iPhone. You can set this in a baby's room, a greenhouse or just wear it around your neck on the provided lanyard, and you'll always know what the real weather is like right where you put it. It's simple to set up and use, and who doesn't want to know what their personal climate is? No one doesn't, that's who. — Rob LeFebvre

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Zvex Fuzz Probe

I love me some stompboxes. In my band, I am responsible for noise. Sometimes that noise is in tune and in time and sometimes it is not. But whether I’m playing really well or really awfully, I don’t want anyone to ever say my tone was horrible. So I rely on myriad stompboxes to help me craft my racket.

When I first discovered Zachary Vex’s line of hand-painted pedals, I thought they would give me a simple way to sound interesting. But the longer I use my small collection of boutique Zvex pedals, the more I practice, the more I realize they favor the talented and thoughtful musician. The Fuzz Probe is basically Zachary’s wild and wooly fuzz pedal with a theremin attached for added tone-sculpting. Twist a few knobs, play with your guitar volume and wave your foot over the copper plate — and let the racket ensue. Just remember, if you find a tone you like you should get a picture of the settings on your iPhone or you will never hear it again. — Jim Merithew

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

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Forsake Hiker hiking boot

Staying fashionable is pretty much the last thing I’m thinking about when pounding up trails in the Superstition Mountains. But for those outdoorsmen who don’t want to sacrifice fashion over function, Forsake has you covered with skate-inspired hiking boots that feel as good on your feet as they look on the street.

The Forsake Hiker hiking boot ($129.99) is designed to take a beating on the trails while looking great by bringing urban styling to the ugly world of hiking boots. The Hiker boasts full-grain leather paired with a Cordura upper and tons of detailed stitching and little touches. They’re waterproof, with a breathable membrane that I found keeps your feet from getting soggy no matter if you’re stomping through street puddles or crossing a stream. And with the fully gusseted tongue and reinforced toe bumper, you’ve got enough support to blast through rocky trails like the Juggernaut while looking 10 times more posh than the typical hiker. — Buster Hein

Photo: Buster Hein/Cult of Mac

Lumu Light Meter

It seems like no one uses light meters anymore. Now that Lumu has come out with a tiny meter that plugs into the iPhone — the world’s No. 1 camera — that could soon change.

The Lumu Light Meter ($149.99) is a small aluminum bulb you can pop into your iPhone audio jack. It measures ambient light to capture the perfect exposure every time you snap a pic. It’s aimed at DLSR users who want to toss their bulky light meters, but the company also has four separate apps that make the Lumu a great tool for iPhone photographers.It’s small as a quarter, requires no batteries and weighs practically nothing. One of its only drawbacks is that it doesn’t offer flash-meter functionality, but when it comes to measuring ambient light, Lumu is deadly accurate. In my experience, it recorded the exact same measurements for ISO, shutter time and aperture as a traditional light meter.

Lumu isn’t going to replace the $500 Sekonic light meter trotted out by pro photographers just yet, but for anyone that wants a reliable and accurate ambient light meter — without the giant price tag of full-featured units  — this little gadget is a snap decision.  — Buster Hein

Photo: Buster Hein/Cult of Mac

PowerStation PSX-2

Trying to find air for your tires in San Francisco can be a nightmare. Half the pumps are broken at any given time and if you do locate one that works, you'll need to feed it a bunch of quarters if you're not buying gas. All of that makes keeping your tires properly inflated a royal pain in the butt — unless you have your own source of pressurized air.

If you don't own or need a regular air compressor, the PowerStation PSX-2 is a great way to keep your tires pumped up. It's not lightweight, but the 20-pound rechargeable tool is still totally portable and will get your rubber ready for the road far more quickly than the typical 12-volt gadgets you plug into your cigarette lighter.

Oh, and did I mention it will also jump-start your car or motorycle when your battery's dead? And provide an emergency worklight and 12-volt DC outlet to charge your gadgets in a pinch? Yeah, it's super-useful in situations that otherwise might stress you out.

Costco members might find a PSX-2 in the automotive aisle for about $75; otherwise, Amazon's got a newer model PowerStation PSX-3 for $129. Buy one now, before you need it, and you (and your thankful neighbors) will find yourself leaning on this automotive lifesaver repeatedly. — Lewis Wallace

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

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Lust List: Heart-pumping, dart-thumping gear (and a blinkin’ Apple book)

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Lust List: December 2014

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

N.B.: The DiamondClean is also available in pink – just please don't tell my wife.

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Striker Zx Xbox One Gaming Headset

These stereo gaming headsets from Polk Audio come in three gaming colors, with Skyline Blue and Black Out Black available through the company's website and the Orange Striker ZX (my favorite) only available at Best Buy.

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

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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

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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

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac