Review: OtterBox’s Resurgence Power Case ruggedizes and doubles the iPhone 6’s battery

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The OtterBox name is synonymous with ruggedized iPhone cases, but not with battery cases — something the company worked to change with the iPhone 4/4S Defender iON Series, and the iPhone 5/5s Resurgence Power Case. iON aimed to thoroughly protect an iPhone while automating the recharge process, while Resurgence reduced the automation and protection to make daily use easier. At CES this month, OtterBox launched a new version called the Resurgence Power Case for iPhone 6 ($100), and it’s been redesigned with a collection of small but welcome tweaks.

Whether you’ll prefer Resurgence to Incipio’s excellent offGRID Express (review) depends on what you’re looking for — ruggedization or raw power for the dollar. Like many companies, OtterBox is promising to double the iPhone 6’s battery, but it also has some currently unique benefits to offer. Read on for what makes OtterBox’s latest battery case special.

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Review: Libratone’s second-generation Loop brings Bluetooth to the AirPlay-only Danish speaker family

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AirPlay isn’t dead as a wireless speaker standard, but it’s not exactly healthy: many models have been discontinued, and new releases have all but stopped. Having previously gone all-in with AirPlay, Danish designer speaker maker Libratone is now rolling out updated versions of its circular Loop, tube-shaped Zipp, and triangular Live systems that augment AirPlay rather than ditching it. The new Libratone Loop ($500) modestly tweaks the prior version to add Bluetooth 4.0 support — a feature that radically increases Loop’s compatibility. Though its high price tag will continue to keep this model out of reach for most consumers, long-awaited and substantial discounts on the prior-generation models (Loop here, Zipp here, Live here) may bolster their appeal.

Having tested the new Loop, my personal feelings are mixed: I applaud Libratone for consistently releasing speakers that look distinctive, working both as design objects and audio systems, but the MSRPs remain somewhat hard to justify given the sonic performance…

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Review: CalDigit’s Mac hub Thunderbolt Station 2 competes on pricing, size, and build quality

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Despite USB 3.0’s growing popularity with consumers, Thunderbolt remains a viable alternative for professional users, particularly video makers willing to pay a premium for guaranteed high speeds. Over the past year, several Thunderbolt 2 hubs have come to market — boxes with one Thunderbolt 2 connection to a computer, one for a Thunderbolt accessory, and multiple ports to connect USB, audio, video, and Ethernet accessories. The idea: keep all of your gear hooked up to the hub, then use a single cable to connect it all to your Mac.

Known for large, heavy, professional-grade Mac accessories, CalDigit has just released Thunderbolt Station 2 ($199), which squeezes the same functionality offered by Belkin’s $300 Thunderbolt 2 Express Dock HD and Elgato’s $230 Thunderbolt 2 Dock (review) into a smaller, denser-feeling enclosure, at a lower MSRP — sort of. In reality, Thunderbolt Station 2 has some very specific benefits and one limitation that place it on par with its competitors, making the choice between them a more personal decision…

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Review: RAVPower’s Savior delivers 9000mAh of Apple-certified Lightning battery power at a great price

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RAVPower has done a great job of changing the traditional price-to-performance equation for Apple device chargers. Its two-, four-, and six-port wall chargers (reviewed here) are the best options I’ve seen at their price points, so it’s no shock that its Savior 9000mAh External Battery Pack (MSRP $100, street price $50) delivers great value, as well.

Equipped with wall blades for easy recharging, Savior combines a high-capacity 9000mAh battery with an Apple-certified Lightning cable, competing with similar accessories such as myCharge’s Hub 9000 — but for half the street price. Read on for why Savior is so easy to recommend, as well as details on the compromises it makes to keep its size and price down.

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Review: uNu’s DX-6 battery case more than doubles the iPhone 6’s power, with Apple certification (Video)

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I’m always up for reconsidering the “best accessory” in a given category when something new arrives, and after every year’s CES, the “best iPhone battery case” tends to change thanks to new arrivals. But even though many new options were shown at CES this month, none impressed us enough to take the crown away from Incipio’s $80 offGRID Express (review).

uNu’s new DX-6 ($80 MSRP, street price $70) is the latest to arrive for testing, and despite the company’s strength with multi-device USB battery packs, its iPhone 6 battery case doesn’t stand out in any way except pricing. The pitch is simple: if you want an inexpensive, Apple-certified 3000mAh battery case, DX-6 is your option. But you’ll give up some frills to get it …

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Review: Truffol Station 5 USB Charger

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We all have a ton of gadgets these days that are charged by USB, from iPhones and iPads to things as diverse as cameras, scanners and GPS units. The challenge can be finding enough USB ports to keep up, which is why I resort to a powered USB hub. It’s plastic and not exactly pretty, hence my interest in a rather beautiful-looking product from Truffol–the company behind the reversible USB cable we looked at last year.

The Truffol Station 5 is not a USB hub: there’s no socket to connect it to a Mac. It’s designed for one purpose only, and that’s to charge up to five USB devices at once. It differs from most other such devices in two ways: form and function …  Read more

Review: LaCie’s Mirror and Seagate’s Seven set new standards for Mac hard drive shininess, thinness

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Until last week, the list of companies making visually stunning external hard drives began and ended with one name: LaCie. Partnered with respected industrial designers including Philippe Starck, LaCie has released more drool-worthy accessories than any other company in the Mac space — and that’s saying something. Numerous design successes led to LaCie’s acquisition by hard drive manufacturer Seagate, and at the 2015 CES, their combination bore fruit: the LaCie brand now has another beautiful hard drive called Mirror ($280), and Seagate debuted a designer hard drive called Seven ($100) — the thinnest 500GB portable drive ever made.

Although they’re cosmetically different and arguably designed to suit different users’ needs, Mirror and Seven have a lot in common, so we’re looking at them together in this review. Read on for photos and our hands-on test results.

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Review: Duet, the app that turns your iPad into a Lightning-connected Mac monitor

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I’m a big-screen fan. It’s the reason my primary Mac is still a 17-inch MacBook Pro, and why I have that hooked up to a 27-inch Apple Thunderbolt Display when I’m in my home office. When travelling, though, I have fewer pixels to play with. Sure, I could get a 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro, but I favor physical screen space over smaller screen elements.

There are existing apps out there, like Air Display, that let you use an iPad as a second monitor for a Mac, but they work via WiFi, which poses two problems. First, they often don’t work on WiFi hotspots, which you’re likely to be using when away from home. Second, even when they do work, there is an annoying amount of lag.

Which is where Duet comes in. Instead of using WiFi, it feeds the video signal from your Mac to iPad using a standard Lightning or 30-pin cable. Built by ex-Apple engineers, I figured it ought to be work well, so put it to the test …  Read more

Review: ZeroChroma’s Folio-Slide and Slide-Lid Keyboard expand iPad Air 2 stand, keyboard case options

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History suggested that iPad Air 2 cases would be far more numerous after January’s annual CES show, but due to unexpected production delays, there still aren’t many choices out there. But thanks to ZeroChroma, there are two largely bright spots on the horizon: a finished case called Folio-Slide for iPad Air 2 ($70), and an upcoming $100 version called Folio-Slide with Slide-Lid Keyboard, both of which I’ve been testing for the past week.

The basic version of Folio-Slide is the iPad Air 2-compatible sequel to the very best case I’ve tested for the original iPad Air – one I highly recommended in an iPad case and stand roundup last year. But this year’s version regrettably took a couple of design shortcuts in order to quickly reach the market, the details of which may or may not matter to you. On the other hand, ZeroChroma’s Slide-Lid Keyboard is a truly interesting new add-on that will really appeal to iPad Air and iPad Air 2 owners. Read on for all the details.

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Review: Incipio’s steel-pinned Trestle case makes iPhone 6 Plus unbendable

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Finding supposedly major flaws in new Apple products has become an expected part of the early review process — it’s now assumed that there will be a new “-gate” every year, legitimate or not. For the iPhone 6 Plus, the issue was “Bendgate,” as early adopters found that the 7.1mm-thin metal phone could be warped if sat upon or flexed in strong hands. Citing only a small number of complaints, Apple deemed Bendgate a non-issue, and sources dismissed claims that Apple had tweaked the design after initial release to strengthen its internal structure. But Apple Stores also replaced bent units without complaint, so long as the damage was determined to be unintentional.

While Bendgate was overblown, there are real-world situations where the iPhone 6 Plus can be subjected to warp-causing stresses — particularly inside pants pockets when sitting down. So Incipio has developed a solution called Trestle ($40) to solve the problem. Sold in all-black, frost and black, or frost and pink versions, Trestle uses twin steel bars to radically reduce flex potential. After a week of testing, I can tell you that it definitely works.

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Review: Escali connected bathroom & kitchen scales make dieting smart and simple

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If there’s one thing almost as certain as death and taxes, it’s the gastronomic over-indulgences during the holidays and the consequent new year diet needed to undo the damage. In my particular case, a temporary drop in my main form of regular exercise–cycling–didn’t help matters.

But if there’s anything that can provide that added incentive to lose the holiday pounds, it’s an excuse to involve some gadgets. Two new connected scales from Escali seemed tailor-made for the job, automatically logging both weight and calorie-intake to an iPhone app, so I decided to put them to the test …  Read more