Gadget Watch: Bags, bags and … bags. Plus, some cool new camera gear

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Gadget Watch: Aug. 23, 2014

Bags, bags, bags. Literally – there are three hot bags in this week’s gadget roundup, and if you buy them all, you’ll be out by around a grand. Or you could buy the ultra-expensive Leica M-P, a new camera so minimal it doesn’t even have the trademark red dot on the front, yet still costs $8,000. Or you can go to the other end of the price range and pick up LensBaby’s new iPhone optic for just $70. And that’s just the beginning…

The Attaché leather bag

H.O.T. Those are the three letters that best describe Pad & Quill’s new Attaché bag, a beautiful leather satchel with unbreakable, high-copper-content hardware and parachute-grade stitching on the outside. Inside, you'll find padded MacBook and iPad pockets, plus orange suede pocket linings.

As a bonus, the marketing copy for the Attaché seems to have been written by Hannibal Lecter, containing this line: “Your taste buds and your liver deserve top shelf [and to be] savored in a glass.” (some words added for comedic effect). How much? $420

Dragon device holder

You can’t get much simpler than the Dragon device holder – it’s a pair of aluminum clips that snap onto the cylinder at the back of your Apple wireless keyboard and slide up and down, letting you space them to fit anything from an iPad to an iPod nano. The clips have a tail at the back to provide stability, and a little lip at the front to hook the bottom edge of your gadget. If you use a full-size keyboard with your iPad, this little gadget should be in your bag. $25

Brooks Hampstead holdall

This bag comes from Brooks, the English bike saddle maker. Weighing in at a hefty 1.6 kilos (well over 3 pounds), it has a roll-top enclosure and adjustable clips that can attach the bag to the rear rack of your bike. The body is “water resistant cotton” and the straps are leather. The price? Around $400.

Leica M-P

In: 2GB RAM (double that of the Leica M). Sapphire glass cover for the camera's rear LCD.

Out: The Leica red dot

Price? $8,000

KERO Power Annex

There’s little to say about KERO’s micro-suction portable battery other than, “What a frikkin’ great idea.” It’s a regular, modest-capacity backup battery (1800mAh, which will get your iPhone back to 75 percent) with a USB port and status-indicator LEDs, but on one side it has a micro-suction layer so you can stick it to the back of your iPhone, over and over. This is so much smarter than having to use a special case to clip the battery on, or just using a case with a built-in battery pack. Or you could do what I do, which is use a regular backup battery and a rubber band. $19

Pyle Smart Bicycling Computer (with Google Maps)

The Pyle PSBCG90 Smart Bicycling Computer tracks your rides with GPS and displays them on Google Maps back at your computer. You can also hook up any ANT+ accessories wirelessly (heart rate and cadence sensors, power meters and so on), and even challenge yourself, Mario Kart-style, using the ghost-route feature. It looks like a decent alternative to something like the Garmin EDGE 500, and it costs only $130.

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Lensbaby for iPhone

Lensbaby now makes a sweet-spot lens for the iPhone. It sticks on with magnets (you need to stick the included ring over the iPhone’s lens) and blurs everything in your photos except a sharp sweet spot in the center. It's just like the regular Lensbabys, only less adjustable and made for the iPhone. There’s another neat feature – the front has a metal ring on it, too, so you can attach any other iPhone lenses you have onto the Lensbaby for some really freaky FX. $70

TenOne Magnus Air

The Magnus Air updates the minimalistical Magnus that originally shipped for the iPad 2, way back in the mists of 2012. Typical of TenOne’s design, it is so simple it almost doesn’t exist, sticking to the Air with magnets and adding an almost invisible stand that holds your iPad at 22 degrees from the vertical, and at 22 degrees from the horizontal if you lay it down to type. And that’s it – an aluminum bracket that looks kinda like a taco shell, for $40.

Cobra Brief

Fact: Cobra Brief is the name I gave to my favorite pair of underwear. And now, it is also the name of a “business laptop” bag from Booq. It has all the compartments and pockets you’d expect, with a space for almost literally everything, plus an outer quick-access pocket for your iPhone and iPad. You can even hook it onto the top of your carry-on trolley, allowing you to be one of those morons who sneaks too many bags into the plane and takes up all the overhead bin space. $295

Finally, a leather Pad & Quill case that’s light enough for an iPad Air

Plain and simple. Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac
Pad & Quill's beautiful Walden case keeps things plain and simple. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The Walden is the first of Pad & Quill’s top-notch cases that I would actually use. That’s because it ditches the wooden frame of the company’s usual bookbindery cases, instead offering a minimal slipcover that uses adhesive strips to hold an iPad Air in place.

The result is a case as beautiful and classic as other P & Q cases, but slim and light enough to match the slender Apple tablet it protects.

Gadget Watch Apr 10 2014

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Each week we pull the best Apple-related gadgets from the Cult of Mac and collect them here for your perusing pleasure.

Luxi, The Little Light Meter For the iPhone

The little Luxi turns your iPhone’s front camera into a light meter. A what? A light meter, a device that measures the amount of light falling on a subject so that you can set the exposure correctly on your camera.

But wait, doesn’t you camera already set its own exposure? Doesn’t it have a light meter built in for when i want to kick it old school in manual mode? Yes and yes, but this $30 widget might still be handy.

Buy it $30

COVR Photo Case Lets You Shoot Around Corners

COVR Photo Case Lets You Shoot Around Corners
Ever wanted to take photos of people without them knowing? Perhaps a sneaky shot of a pretty girl to help you “remember” her later, or some equally creepy bit of deceit? Well then, we have good news for you, you pervert: it’s the COVR Photo, an iPhone case which lets you shoot in secret.

The COVR has a little prism stuck on the back, and when want to use it you slide it into place. Now you can hold your iPhone like a TV remote and shoot whatever is in front of you while looking down at your iPhone’s screen.

Buy it $75

The New Das Keyboard Looks So Cool Your Desk Will Feel Ashamed Of Itself

The New Das Keyboard Looks So Cool Your Desk Will Feel Ashamed Of Itself
Here’s the Das Keyboard 4, possibly the most bad-ass clacky keyboard in existence. No keycap markings, USB 3.0, Cherry MX switches and a huge knob. All that plus Das’s trademark feature: it’s as big as a boat. A “Das Boat” if you will.

You know how when you leave a pack of cookies open instead of sealing them in an airtight jar? They still taste the same, but they get all mushy: the satisfying snap has gone out of them. That’s how I feel now when I use even Apple’s excellent keyboards. They’re mushy compared to my clackety Filco keyboard.

Buy it $169
Elgato Thunderbolt Dock Great For Podcasters, Video Pros

Elgato Thunderbolt Dock Great For Podcasters, Video Pros

Elgato’s Thunderbolt Dock has a few unique features that are appropriate for a company that makes video accessories for Apple devices. First, there’s an HDMI port around back, and second, the USB ports put out enough juice to charge your iPad at a decent speed.

Buy it $230

Pad&Quill Traveler Case Looks Like It Feels As Good As It Looks

Pad&Quill Traveler Case Looks Like It Feels As Good As It Looks
Pad&Quill is at it again, this time with a low-profile rear-shell style case for the iPhone 5/S. While calling anything from Brian Holmes’s P&Q “minimal” would be a stretch, the Traveler Case gets pretty close. It is also gorgeous to look at, and would surely be just as lovely for the hands. It looks like the kind of case you couldn’t stop fingering.

Buy it $80

Baron Fig Confidant Is The Best Paper Notebook I’ve Used [Review]

Baron Fig Confidant Is The Best Paper Notebook I’ve Used
The Confidant is a 192-page notebook, packed with blank, ruled or dot-grid paper. It opens flat, has its own cotton bookmarker, is covered in pale gray fabric and has neat, extra-wide pages.

There are also 12 perforated pages at the back of the book so you can tear them out without ruining the binding. My copy doesn’t have these, so maybe I have a beta version.

Buy it $16

Pad&Quill Traveler Case Looks Like It Feels As Good As It Looks

After Facebook snapped up the Oculus Rift, a VR headset maker, we wondered what companies Apple should buy before Mark Zuckerberg or Google got their hands on them. Which of these companies should Apple buy with its mighty cash horde?  Fitbit, Sonos, Telegram.org, Square, Leap Motion, Zstat, Here
After Facebook snapped up the Oculus Rift, a VR headset maker, we wondered what companies Apple should buy before Mark Zuckerberg or Google got their hands on them. Which of these companies should Apple buy with its mighty cash horde? Fitbit, Sonos, Telegram.org, Square, Leap Motion, Zstat, Here

Pad&Quill is at it again, this time with a low-profile rear-shell style case for the iPhone 5/S. While calling anything from Brian Holmes’s P&Q “minimal” would be a stretch, the Traveler Case gets pretty close. It is also gorgeous to look at, and would surely be just as lovely for the hands. It looks like the kind of case you couldn’t stop fingering.