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Gadget Watch: Cameras, cameras and even more frikkin’ cameras

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Cameras, cameras, cameras. German photographic trade show Photokina is just around the corner, and the big names are outing their latest models before the news pipes get completely clogged with the tangled hair and soap scum of new releases. So this week we have a bunch of cool new cameras and accessories, including a GoPro harness for your pooch, along with the usual mix of gadgets designed to make you want to part with your cash.

An update to the already-discontinued X20, this compact swaps the old optical viewfinder for a hi-res electronic finder, gets a bigger tilting rear LCD and adds a control wheel around the lens. It keeps the amazing X-Trans II sensor and 28-112mm (equivalent) ƒ2-2.8 zoom, and packs a new Classic Chrome film mode. I want this so hard. $600

Evernote’s Pfeiffer Collection is not – as you might hope – a range of productivity tools designed by 1980s actress and icon Michelle Pfeiffer. It is instead a set of desk tidies, made from various materials including walnut and “bright.” They’re intended to hold old-school detritus like paperclips and pens, plus modern junk like iPhones, SIM cards and even an iPad. $106

The best part of Pentax’s new mid-level K-S1 is the strip of pulsing LEDs on the hand grip. Pentax missed a chance to build the “Knight Rider of cameras” with its choice of green over red LEDs, but still. This pointless addition will flash to count down the self timer, and the light around the shutter release will turn red in video mode. $750

Bluelounge’s Soba is a cable-routing kit that will wrangle wayward wires, keeping them tidy in a “Vortex” tube and letting them exit where you need them. The kit comes with 10 feet of zip-closed tubing, a y-splitter and mounting caps (brackets). I have one here and ready to test, but it looks like there’s some effort involved in planning it all out, so maybe I’ll just have one more coffee first… $25

Of course GoPro’s dog harness is called the Fetch. Of course. The Fetch straps onto the dog’s back, secured around its shoulders, chest and belly, and the camera can be mounted up top or down below. This is probably my favorite product of the year so far, and the photo above is definitely the best product shot for 2014. If I had a dog I’d be out with one of those playing frisbee right now. $70

Olympus makes the best Micro Four Thirds bodies right now (and that’s coming from someone who owns a great Panasonic). This one’s even better, with a 180-degree flip-screen that activates “selfie mode” when fully extended (there's a shutter button on the touchscreen), built-in Wi-Fi to share that selfie to your iPhone, a 16MP sensor and a 14-42 mm (equivalent) ƒ3.5-5.6 kit lens. From $700.

Moleskine’s newest notebook has an almost-invisible dot pattern on the pages that makes it work with your Livescribe pen. The pen has a camera in its nose that tracks your every stroke and scribble and sends it all to your iPhone or iPad as editable text, creating a perfect digital copy of your paper notes. Now you can continue your Moleskine habit, but with added digitization. $30

Love: accessory iPhone lenses. Hate: Those stupid stick-on metal rings the lenses’ magnets stick to.

The answer is the new magnetic plate that now ships with every set of lenses sold by Photojojo. The plates, color-coded to your iPhone, stick over the entire glass strip at the top rear of the iPhone 5/s, so you can use these lenses and still get the iPhone in a case. Bonus – you can slide the lens out of the way when not in use. From $20.

This Schiller water bike is to the pedalo what a sweet S-Works road racer is to a recumbent bike. It’s slick, speedy and way overpriced. A Gates carbon drive turns a NuVinci transmission, which turns two propellers. You can even use the handlebars to steer the thing, and it’s only $6,500.

Evernote Business Notebook will thrill rich kindergartners

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It's worth buying this book just for the pattern embossed on the cover. Photos Charlie Sorrel -- Cult of Mac
It's worth buying this book just for the pattern embossed on the cover. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

What’s the difference between a businessperson and a regular person? According to Evernote, a businessperson has secrets, whereas a regular person is happy to share everything. This somewhat cynical take is a pretty good model of the world, and it is embodied in the Evernote Business Notebook, a “collabo” with Moleskine that lets you snap/scan a photo of your pages into Evernote, and selectively share the result.

Let’s take a look.

Maybe tablets were better than desktops all along

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With Apple’s mobile and desktop platforms growing closer in iOS 8 and Yosemite, I started wondering: Is the laptop inherently better for computing than a tablet, or does it just seem that way because we’re so used to the folding form factor?

Could it be that, if the iPad had launched before the Mac and we’d spent the last 30 years using touchscreens, we would balk at using keyboards, mice and dumb screens to do our computing work? Or, in my time-reversed world, if Apple unveiled the Mac in 2010, would we all cling to our iPads and claim Cupertino was nuts for foisting OS X upon us?

Gadget Watch Apr 10 2014

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Each week we pull the best Apple-related gadgets from the Cult of Mac and collect them here for your perusing pleasure.

Luxi, The Little Light Meter For the iPhone

The little Luxi turns your iPhone’s front camera into a light meter. A what? A light meter, a device that measures the amount of light falling on a subject so that you can set the exposure correctly on your camera.

But wait, doesn’t you camera already set its own exposure? Doesn’t it have a light meter built in for when i want to kick it old school in manual mode? Yes and yes, but this $30 widget might still be handy.

Buy it $30

COVR Photo Case Lets You Shoot Around Corners

COVR Photo Case Lets You Shoot Around Corners
Ever wanted to take photos of people without them knowing? Perhaps a sneaky shot of a pretty girl to help you “remember” her later, or some equally creepy bit of deceit? Well then, we have good news for you, you pervert: it’s the COVR Photo, an iPhone case which lets you shoot in secret.

The COVR has a little prism stuck on the back, and when want to use it you slide it into place. Now you can hold your iPhone like a TV remote and shoot whatever is in front of you while looking down at your iPhone’s screen.

Buy it $75

The New Das Keyboard Looks So Cool Your Desk Will Feel Ashamed Of Itself

The New Das Keyboard Looks So Cool Your Desk Will Feel Ashamed Of Itself
Here’s the Das Keyboard 4, possibly the most bad-ass clacky keyboard in existence. No keycap markings, USB 3.0, Cherry MX switches and a huge knob. All that plus Das’s trademark feature: it’s as big as a boat. A “Das Boat” if you will.

You know how when you leave a pack of cookies open instead of sealing them in an airtight jar? They still taste the same, but they get all mushy: the satisfying snap has gone out of them. That’s how I feel now when I use even Apple’s excellent keyboards. They’re mushy compared to my clackety Filco keyboard.

Buy it $169
Elgato Thunderbolt Dock Great For Podcasters, Video Pros

Elgato Thunderbolt Dock Great For Podcasters, Video Pros

Elgato’s Thunderbolt Dock has a few unique features that are appropriate for a company that makes video accessories for Apple devices. First, there’s an HDMI port around back, and second, the USB ports put out enough juice to charge your iPad at a decent speed.

Buy it $230

Pad&Quill Traveler Case Looks Like It Feels As Good As It Looks

Pad&Quill Traveler Case Looks Like It Feels As Good As It Looks
Pad&Quill is at it again, this time with a low-profile rear-shell style case for the iPhone 5/S. While calling anything from Brian Holmes’s P&Q “minimal” would be a stretch, the Traveler Case gets pretty close. It is also gorgeous to look at, and would surely be just as lovely for the hands. It looks like the kind of case you couldn’t stop fingering.

Buy it $80

Baron Fig Confidant Is The Best Paper Notebook I’ve Used [Review]

Baron Fig Confidant Is The Best Paper Notebook I’ve Used
The Confidant is a 192-page notebook, packed with blank, ruled or dot-grid paper. It opens flat, has its own cotton bookmarker, is covered in pale gray fabric and has neat, extra-wide pages.

There are also 12 perforated pages at the back of the book so you can tear them out without ruining the binding. My copy doesn’t have these, so maybe I have a beta version.

Buy it $16

Baron Fig Confidant Is The Best Paper Notebook I’ve Used [Review]

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Yes, we’re reviewing a paper notebook. The thing is – spoiler – this one is awesome. Forget Moleskine, which is nice marketing wrapped in faux leather wrapped around thin, porous, easy-bleeding pages. The Baron Fig Confidant is what you want.

The Confidant by Baron Fig
Category: Notebooks
Works With: Pen or pencil
Price: $16

It’s packed with clever “features,” and yet you don’t notice the book at all when you’re using it. Does any of that sound familiar to you Apple users?

Mod Notebooks Sync Your Paper Notes With The Cloud

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Do you get creeped out by the fact that Google reads your emails in order to serve you ads (even though every time you search any web-based email it’s doing the exact same thing)? Then you should leave now, because the Mod Notebook is a service that scans your filled-up paper notebook and sends you back the digital version.

Baron Fig’s Amazing Confidant Notebook On Sale At Last, And Worth Every Penny

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The Baron Fig Confidant notebook started out on Kickstarter, and is today available to buy for just $16 – $4 less than the original price. I have one here on the desk, laying open at a fresh two-page spread without anything to weigh the pages down and stop the book from closing (that’s a Baron Fig feature by the way).

This isn’t a review – that’ll come later when I’ve filled the book with words and doodles. I just thought you’d like to know you can buy one, becasue it’s a pretty amazing notebook. In short, Moleskine can go suck it.

Portable Laptop Stand Renders Portable Computers Less Portable

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You know what you need when you go away on a weekend trip? Along with your two suitcases worth of clothing, a laptop, a pair of iPads, a speaker maybe, plus case of shoes (rain or shine… Who knows?), chargers, your own personal pillow and, well, you get the point. Now you can add to that list the Traveler Laptop Stand from Magma. That’s right: a folding, portable stand for your folding, portable computer.

Aluminum Case For Notebooks. *Paper* Notebooks [Kickstarter]

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Oh Lord, the end is clearly, nearly nigh. Why? Because Kickstarter is now hosting a project to make aluminum notebook covers. No, not covers for your notebook computer. Covers for your hardcover paper notebook. The pull quote at the top of the pitch page says it all:

5052 Aluminum-Magnesium Alloy notebook & journal covers to keep your corners and pages straight.

Cult of Mac Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts Under $50 [Updated]

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under50 updated

Believe it or not, Christmas is almost here, and we’ll mark this midwinter festival by getting together with friends and family and continuing to drink and eat far too much.
Meanwhile, we also buy gifts for those same friends and family members, whether they want them or not. Luckily, we’re here to help, and if you follow our festive advice, your gifts just might make it into the “wanted” category.

From now until Christmas, Cult of Mac will be putting together holiday gift guys full of ideas for the special ones in your life, no matter what their interests or your budget. Today, we’re looking at gifts that cost less than $50. Yes, you can appear to be a big spender, but without actually spending that much.