Apple product reviews and recommendations | Cult of Mac

Zagg’s rugged iPad keyboard case adds useful trackpad, too [Review] ★★★★

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Zagg Pro Keys with Trackpad review: Very protective iPad keyboard case★★★★
Want to work from a coffeeshop? Your iPad and the Zagg Pro Keys with Trackpad might be just what you need.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

iPad is an outstanding tablet, but add the Zagg Pro Keys with Trackpad and it becomes a powerful notebook computer that’s ready for work or school. Plus, the keyboard case offers a welcome 6.6 feet of drop protection.

There are versions for several Apple tablets, so I wrapped my 12.9-inch iPad Pro in the Pro Keys and went to work using it. There’s a lot to like here.

Loot puts friendships to the test, and shockingly, some will fail [Apple TV+ recap] ★★★☆☆

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Loot recap: This week's episode is all about friends and making hard choices.★★★☆☆
This week's episode of Loot is all about friends and making hard choices.
Photo: Apple TV+

Loot, the Apple TV+ comedy about a woman with everything who learns from people who have nothing, has a play, a zoning board meeting and a summit to prepare for this week.

Howard and Nicholas must patch up their friendship. Sofia and Molly need to work out their differences of opinion and ambition. Molly comes face to face with the bad side of charity work. And in general, the characters needs to make some hard choices about the people they want in their lives.

Surface finds solid ground with straight-up storytelling [Apple TV+ recap] ★★★

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★★★
Will Sophie (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw) get to the bottom of things?
Photo: Apple TV+

Surface, the new Apple TV+ mystery series about a woman who can’t remember her life or lies, keeps up the erotic intrigue this week. The show avoids all of its worst tendencies for a basically good fourth episode.

Amnesiac Sophie and her lover Thomas clandestinely chase leads as they try to solve the mystery of who almost killed her. Sophie’s husband, James, desperately runs around trying to hide his crimes, and Caroline gets pulled back into his orbit once again.

The investigation and the cover-up proceed apace. It’s just a matter of who’s smarter, more thorough and more careful.

Mars is getting monotonous on For All Mankind [Apple TV+ recap] ★★★☆☆

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For All Mankind recap: It's always something.★★★☆☆
Whether on Earth or on Mars, it's always something.
Photo: Apple TV+

For All Mankind holds a few cliffhangers up its sleeve in season 3’s penultimate episode, but first it must deal with its soapy dilemmas.

Ellen and Larry are in the hot seat, Kelly Baldwin’s baby is coming along ahead of schedule, Aleida Rosales is all out of heroes, Karen and Dev might switch jobs — and Danny Stevens’ goose might be cooked!

A decent episode of the Apple TV+ alt-history sci-fi hit focuses on plot nitty-gritty and emotional turmoil, until it gives way to a typically frustrating final reveal.

Physical season finale leaves us praying for cancellation [Apple TV+ recap] ★★☆☆☆

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Physical season 2 finale recap: Please say it's over.★★☆☆☆
Please say it's over.
Photo: Apple TV+

Apple TV+’s second season of Physical draws to a merciful close this week. Though she’s finally gotten John Breem out of her bedroom, Sheila still has to deal with him. He’s still making Danny crazy — and he’s still the only man in town with power enough to satisfy Sheila’s needs.

Wouldn’t it be funny if she had to wind up trapped with him in a business agreement? Well, no, it wouldn’t, and it isn’t, but that’s where we’re headed.

Trying wrings a tiny victory out of pregnancy and a party [Apple TV+ recap] ★★☆☆☆

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Trying recap Apple TV+: At least somebody's laughing.★★☆☆☆
At least somebody's laughing.
Photo: Apple TV+

Trying, the Apple TV+ comedy about middle-class ghouls making the once-a-generation decision to start families, plans a birthday party for special little boy Tyler this week.

Tyler’s party is too overwhelming at first, but with a little help from a lot of people it becomes fun. Elsewhere, Karen is pregnant and nervous, Nikki resents her fertility, Scott has to quit a burgeoning career, and Jason is still on the hook for a dream house.

Black Bird will break your heart with its riveting conclusion [Apple TV+ recap] ★★★★

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Black Bird finale recap: Time's running out for Jimmy Keene (played by Taron Egerton).★★★★
Time's running out for Jimmy Keene (played by Taron Egerton).
Photo: Apple TV+

Apple TV+ murder mystery Black Bird draws to a pulse-pounding close as jailhouse informer Jimmy Keene’s last-ditch efforts to stay alive are being threatened at every turn.

Serial killer Larry Hall is inches from confessing, Jimmy’s about to get shanked — and nobody’s coming to help either of them. Plus, Jimmy’s dad Big Jim is dying in a hurry outside prison walls.

The limited series saves its best mechanics for last as the clock runs out on all of our heroes.  Black Bird concludes on a high note indeed.

Bad Luck for Apple TV+ and Skydance [Apple TV+ review] ★★☆☆☆

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Luck review: Skydance is going to need a lot of Luck to sell unimaginative movies with a problematic CEO.★★☆☆☆
Skydance is going to need a lot of Luck to sell unimaginative movies with a problematic CEO.
Image: Apple TV+

Apple TV+’s newest film is the streamer’s big flagship collaboration with Skydance Animation under the new leadership of disgraced former Pixar chief John Lasseter.

Can the film’s relative charms tip the scales in favor of a new endeavor, instead of back toward the hasty assembly of a company around a man who never really answered for his allegations? Unfortunately, Luck, which premieres Friday on Apple TV+, would have had to have a lot more going for it to get people talking about the movie on pure merit.

Soundcore Motion Boom Plus speaker sports sound as big as all outdoors [Review] ★★★★☆

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Those bits on the end press in and out, as if moved by waves of bass. But they only seemed to move when actually pushed.★★★★☆
Those bits on the end press in and out, as if moved by waves of bass. But they only seemed to move when actually pushed.
Photo: David Snow/Cult of Mac

The Soundcore Motion Boom Plus is a powerful, portable outdoor speaker you might want to nab before summer’s over. The boombox-style Bluetooth speaker brings the brawn — 80 watts of power — along with a bit more heft than some competitors.

When you factor in the excellent sound quality, some sporty features and the relatively low price of $179.99, it’s a worthy choice for outdoor use. Some folks might even use it indoors, but many never would because of its black plastic design. It might look at home in a college dorm, but probably not in most living rooms.

Troubadour’s durable Pioneer Backpack suits the office or the gym [Review] ★★★★

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The Troubadour Pioneer won't look out of place at the gym or in the office.★★★★
The Troubadour Pioneer won't look out of place at the gym or in the office.
Photo: Troubadour Goods

It might be time to get a new backpack. The British company Troubadour Goods makes just just what you need. It recently released four of its sustainable bags in a limited-edition color, a dark khaki.

They sent me the Troubadour Pioneer Backpack to try out. And it’s a stunner, fit for taking to work or outdoor hikes and trips to the gym in between.