All items tagged with "Reviews"

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.

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Belkin’s meeting room UFO offers some serious juice

The Belkin meeting room power center with 4 AC power outlets and 8 USB ports. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

The Belkin meeting room power center has 4 AC power outlets and 8 USB ports. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Modern day meetings around the conference table may be a rare occurrence in our often-mobile and telecommuting world, but when they happen, the incoming mass of iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks need a lot of electricity.

Instead of making all your employees figure out where the outlets are (under the table? behind them on the wall?), why not provide a big fat power center in the middle of the action? The Belkin Meeting Room Power Center aims to do just that, with a huge, round UFO-looking power hub that sports four actual plugs and a generous eight USB ports.

That’s a lot of power.

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Highly specialized Booqpad is either perfect or pointless

Highly specialized Booqpad is either perfect or pointless

Getting work done. Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

I started German language school a few weeks back, and I was looking forward to testing out the Booqpad. The combination iPad case and paper notepad seemed ideal for using in class. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. Not only is the case oddly tacky – especially weird given the build quality of Booq’s other gear – but it is awkward to use.

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Boa Flow backpack is like having your own personal Sherpa

Boa Flow backpack is like having your own personal Sherpa

Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

When I opened the (huge) shipping box that brought the new Boa Flow to Cult of Mac’s German HQ, I thought I’d hate it (the bag, not the box). But it turned out to be one of my favorite bags for lugging a lot of gear with me.

The Boa Flow is made for “creative professionals.” That is, it’s for anyone who needs to carry computers, cameras, headphones and other accessories, and to this end it had zillions of pockets and storage sections. The best part is that there are many options for every kind of item. You can put your MacBook in the separate slot by your back, for example, or you can slip it into a pocket in the main chamber.

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Moshi’s VersaKeyboard is a fantastic case (and a pretty good keyboard)

This Moshi keyboard is great even without the keyboard. Photos Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

This Moshi keyboard is great even without the keyboard. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

I’m writing this review on a regular, full-size USB keyboard plugged into the Mac. That should be a warning sign right there — after all, this is a review of an iPad keyboard case. But that’s not the whole story. For instance, the case part of the Moshi VersaKeyboard is fantastic — so good that I’ve been using it as my main iPad case since it turned up for testing.

They keyboard is good, too, with keys as responsive as those on Logitech’s Ultrathin keyboard covers. So what’s the problem? Why am I not typing this review on the Moshi? Size.

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Practical, portable, single-minded, beautiful — Opinel is the Apple of knives

This might be the best knife you'll ever own.

These might be the best knives you’ll ever own. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The Opinel No8 is hardly a new gadget, but when something is this good, why change it? I’ve been using the wood-handled French pocket knives for around 12 years since I was given a carbon steel No8 as a gift. That knife is still in daily use, and has since been joined by several others, including one made for children (more on that in a bit). I even have a tiny No3 that I use for sharpening pencils.

Why am I writing about a 120-year-old knife on the Cult of Mac? Because age doesn’t matter when something is this well-designed. Also, I figure if you’re a fan of Apple gear you will appreciate good design wherever you find it.

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Klean Kanteen water bottle goes everywhere with me (and I mean everywhere)

Klean Kanteen water bottle goes everywhere with me (and I mean everywhere)

Klean Kanteen’s Reflect might be the world’s most perfect water bottle. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

If I leave the house for more than a quick trip to the corner store, I take my Klean Kanteen Reflect with me. It sits in my Velo backpack when I walk, it slips into the bottle cage on my bike when I ride, and it passes through airport security — empty and ready to be refilled in the departures lounge — when I fly. It is my single most-used gadget after my iPhone and iPad, but unlike those I don’t feel I have to replace it every year. It doesn’t need an annual upgrade, and every dent, scratch and scar makes it look even cooler.

The Reflect is a water bottle rolled from 18/8 stainless steel and capped with a “stainless unibody bamboo cap.” The cap is sealed with a silicon O-ring and has a carrying loop on top; the body comes in two finishes — brushed or polished.

Apple is also a big fan. On Earth Day last month, the company gave every employee an Apple-branded Klean Kanteen.

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These sandals are so cool, they even look good with socks

These sandals are so cool, they even look good with socks

I have a confession to make: I wear socks with sandals.

That’s not so bad in itself — I live in Germany, where otherwise-rational men wear socks, sandals and fanny packs all at the same time, and women still talk to them.

The kicker is that I started this habit when I lived in Spain. The reason? Keen’s amazing outdoor Clearwater CNX sandals.

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Greed is good in coin-pusher RPG Dragon Coins

dragoncoins2feat

Have you ever experienced that giddy feeling of good fortune when a slot machine starts pouring out quarters, or a winning poker hand lets you put your arms around a big pile of chips and pull them towards your side of the table? Dragon Coins, a combination arcade “coin-pusher” and casual RPG, recreates that feeling every time you play.

Dragon Coins by Sega
Category: iOS Games
Works With: iPhone and iPad
Price: Free

It’s a dangerous precedent. Dragon Coins literally piles on the treasure when you’re on a roll, emulating the psychological appeal of casinos. As long as you are able to put the game down from time to time, or grind out low-level battles to earn extra experience, you probably won’t end up mortgaging your home or draining your kid’s college fund to pay for this game.

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Tiny gadget cures MIDI of its cable addiction

Photo: Jim Merithew, Cult of Mac

Photo: Jim Merithew, Cult of Mac

Getting your MIDI keyboard connected to your iPad or Mac can be a frustrating experience. You’ve got to make sure you’ve got the right wires that connect to your output device of choice, and then you’ve got to make sure you never ever lose them.

PUC by Zivix LLC
Category: Music & MIDI
Works With: iOS, OS X
Price: $129

Hopping onstage for a gig at the local brewpub can be a frightening experience if you’ve lost that one special cord that goes from your keys to your Ableton Live setup on your Mac, and missing out on a recording session because you can’t find that special 30-pin adaptor for your iPad is just a pain in the butt.

The folks behind the excellent JamStick, Zivix, have your answer, then, with a cool-looking little round gadget called a PUC that connects any MIDI keyboard or other capable device to your iPad, your Mac, your iPhone, your PC — you name it, if it’s got Wi-Fi and can run a MIDI app, you can use the PUC to send your MIDI performance to it.

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