Ted Lasso’s heart is too big to bench [Apple TV+ review]

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Jason Sudeikis is the titular Ted Lasso
Jason Sudeikis is the titular Ted Lasso in the mostly winning comedy series.
Photo: Apple TV

Created for a diverting if not particularly funny web short, Jason Sudeikis‘ clueless coach Ted Lasso now has his own Apple TV+ series. The question is: Is there enough meat on the bones of the premise to support a comedy series?

Like the NBC Sports promos that spawned the character, Ted Lasso is about an American coaching football in England — and being sorta kinda unfit for the demands. Fish-out-of-water, culture-clash comedies are as old as film comedy itself. And there’s certainly potential in the idea of an old-fashioned Southern gentleman dropped into tough-as-nails, hyper-masculine soccer culture. But ultimately, the high-concept stuff isn’t what works in Ted Lasso’s favor. You must get past the show’s premise to get to the good part.

Best Apple Pencil alternatives for your iPad

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Adonit Note+ review
Apple Pencil isn’t the only iPad stylus. With Adonit Note+, you can draw Tippy. Or take notes, sign PDFs, and more.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

iPadOS 14 includes Scribble, finally allowing you to hand write text on an iPad with a stylus. If you don’t already have a stylus, there are some great options out there besides the Apple Pencil.

Here are some of the best available, so you can take full advantage of your iPad’s capabilities.

Bomb the boardroom with this badass metal Apple Watch band [Review]

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Casetify-Link-Bracelet-Apple_Watch
Available in black, silver, and gold.
Photo: Adel Neal/Cult of Mac

Enjoy the classic link look on your Apple Watch with the stylish and sophisticated Casetify Link Bracelet. It not only looks great, but it’s robust and comfortable all day long. It also comes in three stylish color options.

Here’s why it’s one of my favorite bands after six months of wear.

Plugable’s very affordable HDMI adapter connects your Mac and TV [Review]

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Plugable USB-C to HDMI Adapter review
Using an external display with a MacBook is a breeze with the Plugable USB-C to HDMI Adapter.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

MacBooks don’t have HDMI ports, but the Plugable USB-C to HDMI Adapter makes it easy to connect your laptop to an external monitor. Even better, this accessory is inexpensive and very portable.

I tested the adapter for work, watching video, and playing games. Here’s how it held up.

SmartDesk 2 lets you sit or stand at a stellar price [Review]

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SmartDesk 2 full setup with monitor and light
The SmartDesk 2 can turn your boring desk into a versatile workspace.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

Until very recently, I never spent a lot of mental energy thinking about the desk I worked at. As long as there was enough space for whatever I was doing, and it wasn’t getting in the way, I was pretty flexible.

As I’ve started spending more time working and taking meetings from home, I have started to notice when certain “desks” don’t work as well. Sitting on the couch, standing at the bar in our kitchen, or working from the dining table are all OK from time to time, but none are particularly comfortable long-term. Some of this comes down to having a desk at the proper height, and some of it is the lack of flexibility I get in those situations.

That why, when the folks at Autonomous asked if I wanted to check out their SmartDesk 2 adjustable standing desk, I saw it as an opportunity to see if the hype about standing desks is all it’s cracked up to be.

Connect Mac and TV over an ultrafast wireless connection with Hyper Mirror [Review]

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LikPok Hyper Mirror review
The tiny Hyper Mirror transmitter sends high-speed video from your Mac to an external display. It can plug into a bulkier USB-C adapter.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The LikPok Hyper Mirror saves you the hassle of stringing wires between your computer and TV. It makes a wireless connection instead, using the extremely fast mmWave technology normally found in 5G networks rather than Wi-Fi.

Read on for the results of my tests with this replacement for HDMI cables.

Apple News Today is an Apple News+ promo disguised as a peppy news podcast [Review]

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Apple News Today review: A daily news podcast with zero partisan rage.
Apple News Today is a news podcast with zero partisan rage.
Photo: Lewis Wallace/Cult of Mac

Apple News Today, the breezy new podcast showcasing the day’s top news stories, sounds perfectly peppy and polished. Maybe too perfectly polished, in fact — you won’t find a single rough edge on this slickly produced daily news report, which Apple unleashed last week with iOS 13.6. You will endure no energized, partisan rants, either. These straight-down-the-middle reports won’t get your blood boiling while you make your morning coffee or tea. If you’re tired of partisanship, this is the antidote.

What you will find in the weekday audio show is steady promotion of the Apple News app, and of Apple News+, the company’s reportedly struggling subscription news service. This upbeat and earnest free daily news briefing basically functions as a Trojan horse for getting in the ears of potential Apple News+ subscribers.

Gorgeous Mujjo Sleeve keeps your MacBook covered and comfortable on the move [Review]

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Mujjo Sleeve for MacBook
Made from high-quality felt and leather.
Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

The delightful Mujjo Sleeve for MacBook is a great way to protect your precious notebook when you’re on the move. It’s beautifully made from quality materials, and it won’t weigh you down like a bulky bag.

The Sleeve ensures your notebook remains free from marks and scratches, no matter how much you carry it around. It also offers space for some accessories, important documents and more.

I’ve been using one to protect my 13-inch MacBook Pro for several months now. Here’s what I think of it.

Pack your Mac and gear in Ekster’s slim laptop sleeve [Review]

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Ekster Laptop Sleeve review
The Ekster Laptop Sleeve can hold your MacBook and a surprising number of accessories too.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Never carry your MacBook or iPad around “naked,” but a bulky case can be just too much. A laptop sleeve is a compromise, like the one recently released by Ekster. This protects your 13-inch computer, and includes room for a few accessories.

I’ve been using this leather-and-canvas folio for a couple of weeks. Here’s how is stands up to daily use.

This suede sport band for Apple Watch looks sharp but is ready for action [Review]

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Mifa's Hybrid Sports Leather Apple Watch Band is an inexpensive but classy strap.
Mifa's Hybrid Sports Leather Apple Watch Band is an inexpensive but classy strap.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Mifa’s Hybrid Sports Leather band for Apple Watch is a steal at $25. Not only is it made from genuine vintage suede, it has a sweatproof silicone backing that makes it as comfortable to wear as the softest sports band.

The layering of materials makes Mifa’s band one of my favorite Apple Watch straps. It’s lightweight, soft and comfortable — and it looks dressy but is designed for action.