With AirPods, Apple gets back to ‘it just works’ [Review]

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AirPods Microphone
Apple's wireless earphones are easily one of the company's best products of 2016.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple’s EarPods have always been a go-to favorite for me. They’re included with every iPhone, always sound good enough for what I need, and I’ve always found them comfortable. Even going back to the good old iPod days, I’ve always kept a pair close to hand.

But now Apple’s moving on into the “wireless future” with its new AirPods. These completely wireless earphones let you listen to music and podcasts, make phone calls and talk to Siri. But just how do they measure up?

Google Pixel review roundup: iPhone’s toughest Android competitor

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The Pixel comes in beautiful blue.
Google's first phones are a hit.
Photo: Google

Google stepped up its fight against the iPhone with its new Pixel smartphone, but has it found a formula that’s good enough to worry Cupertino?

The Pixel looks pretty at first glance, and it’s the first handset to offer Google’s latest Android 7.1 Nougat software. It also promises a great display, stunning photos, and peak performance. Here’s what the first reviews have to say about it.

Lust List: Udoq charging station keeps everything organized and topped up [Review]

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Udoq's docking station
Udoq's docking station is compatible with just about any mobile device.
Photo: Lyle Kahney

Lust List: Udoq universal charging stand

There’s a constant war in our house for charging bricks and cables. I like to keep chargers in certain places so I know where they are — beside the bed for example. But they constantly disappear, thanks to my light-fingered kids.

It drives me bananas, which is why I like the Udoq, a universal charging stand that neatly organizes and charges between two and eight devices. It can’t be easily half-inched.

Apple Watch Series 2 review: A tick closer to perfection

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apple watch series 2
Apple Watch Series 2 looks great in rose gold.
Photo: Ste Smith/CultofMac

I finally have a reason to stop cheating on my Apple Watch.

For the past 16 months, Apple’s wearable and I have had an on-again, off-again relationship. The Apple Watch looks great. It helps me stay fit. It tells the time really well. But it hasn’t been the complete wrist solution I need.

With the Apple Watch Series 2, a lot of the compromises of Apple’s first-gen smartwatch have finally been fixed. You can get GPS without carrying your iPhone. The new Apple Watch is water-friendly. And it’s built for speed. But with the new, less-expensive Apple Watch Series 1 getting some of the same features, is the Series 2 seriously worth the upgrade?

While working on this Apple Watch Series 2 review, I’ve been wearing the new device everywhere I go ever since it came out Friday. The short answer is, “hell yes.”

Galaxy Note 7 review: The best smartphone money can’t buy

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galaxy-note-7-main
Don't let a few explosions put you off.
Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Forget what you’ve read about the Galaxy Note 7 exploding (and wiping out family cars, hotel rooms and homes). Samsung’s latest phablet delivers an improved design, faster internals, an iris scanner, the same great camera we got with the Galaxy S7 and an even better display.

When this baby goes on sale again, without that dreaded battery fault, it will be the best smartphone available — and the iPhone 7 (probably) won’t change a thing.

Lust List: Zens Power Bank is a great little Apple Watch battery [Review]

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Zens Apple Watch Power Bank
The Apple Watch Power Bank by Zens is a handy little battery pack for your timepiece.
Photo: Lyle Kahney/Cult of Mac

Lust List: Apple Watch Power Bank by Zens

Most external batteries for the Apple Watch are BYOC — Bring Your Own Cable — and have bulky winding systems for tucking the cable away.

Not the compact Apple Watch Power Bank from Zens, perhaps the most portable external battery pack on the market.

Wrap your iPad and iPhone in luxurious leather [Reviews]

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These lovely, leather folios are delightfully classy.
These lovely, leather folios are delightfully classy.
Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

SurfacePad for iPhone and iPad solves a problem I have with most folio-style cases.

These tend to cover up too much of the gorgeous Apple design without giving much in return. There’s always a trade-off between form and function. If you’re going to hide the gleaming Apple devices behind a case, at least make it look as classy and useful as Apple does.

The SurfacePad for folio cases from Twelve South are delightfully minimal, covering the front and rear of your iPad or iPhone in luxurious leather without sacrificing a refined look.

Finally, an adjustable standing desk you’ll actually use [Reviews]

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Work healthier with the Pro Plus 48.
Work healthier with the Pro Plus 48.
Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Spending countless hours sitting in front of a computer every day is bad for your body. Not only do you have to worry about bad posture when sitting for extended periods, but also the fact that you’re probably going to die faster (according to some studies).

A standing desk is a great way to alleviate some of these problems and keep your body active during a long day in the office. And with the Varidesk Pro Plus 48, you can turn almost any standard desk into a height-adjustable standing desk in a snap.

This particular desk is one of the largest models offered by Varidesk, which makes it ideal for multi-monitor setups and those who need plenty of room. It’s also pretty pricey at $495 — but is it worth that price tag?

Ample charge and storage make iPhone battery case a clear winner [Reviews]

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This great battery case has power, style and extra storage.
This great battery case has power, style and extra storage.
Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Lust List: Kuner iPhone battery case by KUKE

Even Apple admits that its powerful iPhones need a little extra battery boost from time to time. But if you’ve taken a look at the $99 devices, you might not be super convinced they’re worth the price, or even all that attractive.

The Kuner iPhone battery case really kicks the Smart Battery case’s butt: it’s thinner, prettier to look at, and even gives you extra storage space for videos, music and documents. Take that, Apple Smart Battery case.