This week’s Gadget Watch is all about getting outside. Whether you're shopping, taking photos or traveling, we've got you covered (quite literally, in one case).
From drone-based aerial photography to phone-based iPhoneography, from magnetic notebooks to overpriced tote bags, from stealthy tents to absurd iPhone cases, this week we want to get you out in that summer sun: Take a flight on a plane with a built-in iPad holder, and when you get home you can open your front door with an ultralight bike-chain key holder. Just remember the sunscreen.
Drones and HD cameras are affordable, giving everyone a chance to make beautiful, cinematic video.
Moschino french fries case
Moschino, the fashion choice for lottery winners and Russian gangsters, will sell you this McDonald’s-a-like french fries case for just $85. Yes, it probably comes from the same Chinese factory as the $5 cases in your local mall, but at least you can repurpose this as a SpongeBob case with a few licks of paint. $85
Notebook too thick? Or too thin? What if you could take that weighty-but-comprehensive paper pad and split it into smaller sections as needed? That’s the Magnote, a set of three paper notebooks that combine – Transformers-style – into one big book using magnets in their spines. What’s more, those notebooks can contain day-planner pages, plain, ruled or gridded paper, and they’re the same size as an iPad mini for perfectly pairing paper and pixels. From $29.
Monarch iPad-holding plane seat
U.K.-based budget airline Monarch has a new plane seat. It doesn’t recline (thank God), and offers more space for passengers. There’s also a bungee-cord pouch instead of those filth-harboring pockets, but the best part is the tablet holder up top, so you can slip in your iPad for in-flight movies on a Retina screen. Monarch
Add a proper shutter button to your iPhone with the snappgrip, a Bluetooth-enabled controller that slots onto an iPhone 5/s and adds not just a shutter release, but a pair of zoom rockers and a mode dial. The USB-charged gadget has it’s own companion app, and lots of third-party apps work with it. $70
Braven Mira speaker
Braven makes some of my favorite Bluetooth speakers, and the Mira looks like another winner – 10-hour battery, built-in speakerphone, proper control buttons for play/pause and volume, and splashproof. But the really neat part is the fold-out hook for hanging it up in kitchens, bathroom, gardens and workshops. The hook also doubles as a kickstand for safer spaces. $99
Hard Graft Cube Tote
Canvas and leather, brought to a carry-anything tote bag. The Cube Tote gets its name from the magnetic closure that gathers its flaps together and tidies them up top, but the bag opens out to carry your groceries, your BBQ gear or — well, or anything: It’s a big, open-topped bag. The best part? Those wide straps that sit comfy on your shoulders. $340
Lightweight, good, inexpensive. Pick two. Wait, no – pick three. The £150 Stealth from Trekkertent is like a luxury tarp. It weighs just 590 grams (20 ounces). Packs to a 30 x 10 cm roll (a foot long, like a fat sub) but includes a flysheet (that can stand alone) with sit-up room plus an inner mesh tent with "bathtub" base. $252
Yes, a keychain made from a bike chain. An actual bike chain. The TIK takes links from a Yaban SLA, a chain with “hollow, chromium carbide-coated steel pins and cro-moly steel plates,” and grafts your keys onto its pins. The result is a set of keys that weighs less than the keys alone.
You select the correct key blanks when you buy a set, and then head down to your local locksmith and have her dupe your own keys onto them. Or you could just grab a Dremel and make your own today. From $35
This portable bluetooth speaker uses sustainable bamboo to wrap a pretty great little speaker up in the warm resonance of wood. Kickstarted and made by the folks at Otis & Eleanor, the Bongo portable bluetooth is capable and beautiful at the same time.
There are Bongo designs for everyone, some with dark brown stain, some with black, and some with no stain at all. The speaker grilles come in a variety of ’60s and ’70s-inspired fabric with colors straight out of your mom’s old living room. The unit we got to spend time with comes with brown, copper, gold and red tweed covered speakers and fits in just about any decor we can throw at it around the house. It also looks stunning in a hotel room, what with its classic retro look.
This week we get ready for springtime excursions with three portable speakers that shrug off splashes and are happy to be used in the shower. Which one will you take to the lake, pool or beach? Let’s take a look.
710 byBraven Category: Speakers Works With: Anything with Bluetooth Price: $170
Braven’s 710 Bluetooth candybar speaker has a lot going for it. It’s the same size as my favorite pocket speaker ever, the Braven 650. It’s made of aluminum, it has the same battery-sharing tech as all the other Bravens, and it even fixes some of my complaints about the 650 – it has proper buttons for volume and play pause.
Hell, it’s even waterproof. But there’s one thing that isn’t quite so good. It doesn’t sound as good as the 650. Not by much, but enough that you should still buy the 650 – unless you want to use it in the shower.
Sound Freaq’s Sound Rise is an old-fashioned concept wedded to new-fangled function. It’s a clock radio (remember those?) that plugs into your iPhone and charges it while sucking the sound out of your music library or favorite streaming apps.