Review: Just Mobile’s TimeStand is the $40 metal Apple Watch stand we’ve been waiting for

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If you want an Apple Watch stand, you can choose from three major materials: plastic, wood, or metal. The universally affordable plastic options tend to look a bit cheap when paired with the Apple Watch — particularly non-Sport models — while the pricey wood ones are somewhat polarizing, sparking a roughly equal mix of “love” and “hate” responses. From what I’ve gathered from readers, metal is the most popular Apple Watch stand option, with options starting at $20 and climbing sharply; most of the best metal stands are hovering around the $60 mark. For months, I’ve felt that the sweet spot for a nice metal Apple Watch stand was right in the middle of that range, but there hasn’t been a worthy option to test the viability of the $40 price point.

That’s part of the reason Just Mobile’s TimeStand ($40) feels inevitable. It was merely a matter of time until the metal masters at Just Mobile weighed in with their take on an Apple Watch stand, and given their design history, it’s no surprise that the result is an elegant little desktop sculpture. TimeStand is machined from a single piece of aluminum with a weighted, rubber-padded base, distinctly modern and substantial, yet $20 less expensive than options I’ve previously reviewed from Mophie and Nomad. Moreover, TimeStand’s unique shape offers compatibility with all Apple Watch bands, though there are also a couple of caveats you might want to be aware of…

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Review: Akitio’s Thunder2 Dock fits a 7-port Thunderbolt 2 hub in your favorite MacBook bag

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Up until recently, Thunderbolt 2 docks could mostly be described as “seen one, seen them all.” I’ve continued to like the idea of docks that fuse Thunderbolt 2, USB 3.0, and other peripherals together in a single Thunderbolt-to-Mac connection, but the docks I’ve seen from Belkin, Elgato, and Kanex are so similar in looks and features that they’d be hard to tell apart in a lineup. CalDigit’s dock looked very different from the rest, but functioned almost exactly the same. No Thunderbolt 2 dock has been small enough to consider “portable,” and CalDigit’s design is downright bag-defiant in shape.

That’s why it’s great to see Akitio take a different path with the $279 Thunder2 Dock (available through Amazon for $230), a Thunderbolt 2 dock with a smaller form factor and focus. Roughly as thin as a MacBook Pro and made from a nearly-matching aluminum, Thunder2 Dock manages to include seven high-speed data ports even though it’s roughly the size of a portable hard drive. Since it requires wall power, it’s not completely portable, and just like its rivals, you give up certain features to gain others. But it’s definitely the first Thunderbolt dock I’d carry around if I needed multi-device support in the field…

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Hands-on: WatchPlate’s rose gold treatment transforms steel Apple Watch + Classic Buckle & Sport band [Gallery]

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Nope, I haven’t caved to temptation and bought a $10,000 gold Apple Watch (waiting for gen-2…kidding!) … that’s a $549 stainless steel Apple Watch that met WatchPlate’s plating service to create a rose gold version with stunning resemblance to the Apple Watch Edition.

Last month we unboxed the first 42mm Apple Watch “3rd-party gold-plated edition” with Link Bracelet, a yellow gold version that looks like the ones only celebrities like Beyonce have, and today we’re taking a look at WatchPlate’s rose gold plating on a 38mm Apple Watch with Classic Buckle and Sport band. Check out our hands-on photos below: Read more

Review: Apple’s new 15-inch MacBook Pro is a dream for media professionals and creators (Video)

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It would be silly to say that Apple’s latest iteration of the 15-inch 2015 MacBook Pro with Retina Display is the best MacBook yet, because that’s mostly the truth with every new model. Unfortunately, you won’t find a shiny new processor setup this time around, as Apple stuck with the trusty old Haswell configuration, but there are some nice improvements here.

The good news is, there’s a bump in clock speed across the board if that matters to you and we have a new GPU setup thanks to AMD in the high-end model. Even with these modest upgrades, the MacBook Pro I purchased is a beast for content creation…

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Mini review: Home Radio, the Mac app that could plug the gaps in Apple Music radio (free today only)

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While we’re all expecting good things from the radio side of Apple Music, it’s going to be a curated experience, meaning we’ll get the radio stations Apple chooses to offer. If it doesn’t cover all of our favorite stations, we’re going to need another radio app to plug the gap.

For listening on the move, the free SwipeRadio iOS app is a delightfully minimalist way to do it. Developer Dataphase has now taken the same approach on the Mac, with Home Radio. The philosophy is the same: no bells, no whistles, just the radio stations you want to listen to in an extremely lightweight app.

I’ve been trying it out, and if you want to do the same, developer Noam Gordon is kindly making it free for today only (22 June) especially for 9to5Mac readers …  Read more

Review: SchuttenWorks’ Wave uses magnets and wood in a beautiful Apple Watch charging stand

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Wood has historically been a tricky material for Apple accessories: it can be challenging to precision-fit to Apple devices, and isn’t always a good visual match for metal and glass. But wood accessories are beginning to enjoy a renaissance thanks to the Apple Watch. Since nightstands are almost invariably made from wood, and Apple Watches need to be left on nightstands for overnight charging, matching wooden Apple Watch stands can blend in to an extent that plastic or metal stands cannot.

Oregon-based SchuttenWorks’ new Wave Apple Watch Charging Stand ($75) arrives on the heels of well-regarded wood stands from Pad & Quill and DodoCase, and is actually a little less expensive — there are cheaper wood options, but they don’t look great and are getting bad reviews. Thankfully, SchuttenWorks hasn’t skimped on Wave’s design. Available in your choice of seven different woods, the C-shaped holder can hold open- or closed-band Apple Watches, and uses internally hidden magnets to make assembly a snap. Is there one that’s right for your nightstand?…

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Review: House of Marley Liberate XLBT environmentally-friendly over-ear Bluetooth headphones

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Friends have often expressed surprise at the fact that I continue to use wired headphones. My beautifully-portable and much-loved Bowers & Wilkins P5 headphones go with me almost everywhere, while my Master & Dynamic MH40s are my go-to headphones in the living room.

Friends know my aversion to visible cables, and I’m usually an ‘any excuse for a gadget’ type guy, so why, they ask, do I continue to wear wired headphones? There have been a couple of reasons for that. First, the ‘yet another device to charge’ factor – to add to my Macs, iPad, iPhone, bike cam, GPS and now Apple Watch.

Second, the sound quality of Bluetooth headphones hasn’t compared well to wired ones in my experience. I’ve tried a bunch of Bluetooth headphones in the store, but none persuaded me. However, designing with wood and leather is always a good way to catch my attention, so I thought I’d try House of Marley’s Liberate XLBT over-ear headphones …  Read more

Ultimate Ears Roll is a tough, wearable speaker that hangs, swims and sounds great

 

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Over the weekend I got my hands on the new $99 Ultimate Ears Roll Bluetooth speaker — a durable and waterproof frisbee of a device that pumps the beats like the UE Mini Boom cousin it is replacing. The form factor is totally new however.

First up: The UE Roll sounds really good with significant bass emerging from that thin profile. Not quite as good as $200+ portable speakers like the Bose Soundlink Mini or even the full-sized UE MegaBoom but plenty good to fill up a room or for a few people to rock out with some background music on the beach for a volleyball game. If you find yourself in a quiet, still spot the sound really comes through clean even though the device with its bungee cord off the back lends itself to the great outdoors and physical activity.

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The Roll connects to Apple and other Bluetooth devices – even the Apple Watch – through a typical Bluetooth 4 connection, but Logitech offers some very premium features via the iOS or Android app that debuted with the Megaboom. With the app, you can set an alarm, “equalize” the sound, pair two or more speakers for stereo or do Sonos-like arrays in every room, check battery status and more with updates promised for the future… Read more

Review: blueLounge’s Portiko + Pixi bring elegance to Mac / iOS / Apple Watch charging + cable management

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blueLounge isn’t a typical Apple accessory maker. If you look through its 15-year backcatalog of releases, you’ll notice that its products are markedly different from somewhat overlapping alternatives produced by rivals — intensely practical and cleanly-designed, yet sometimes so conceptually minor that they’re hard to review. Take CableDrop and CableDrop Mini, for instance, circular adhesive pads that each do nothing more than hold one cord in a fixed position wherever you want it. I use CableDrop Mini every day with my MacBook Pro’s power cable, but can’t justify a full review of something so utterly basic.

The simultaneous release of two new blueLounge accessories — Portiko ($25) and Pixi ($10) — gives me the rare opportunity to cover one of the company’s minor but practical items alongside one that’s more gadget-like. Portiko (shown above) is a wall- or table-mountable power source attractive enough to put on display between the four devices it can charge at once. It has enough USB and AC power outlets to handle a MacBook, iPad, iPhone, and Apple Watch at the same time, or other combinations of devices. Pixi is blueLounge’s latest cable management solution, a set of elegantly-built elastic and plastic bands that wrap around bunches of cables, tidying up your desk. Read on for more details and pictures…

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Review: Drift Stealth 2 iPhone-controlled action cam

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Action cams are a great way to relive fun experiences, and also provide the reassurance of video evidence should anything untoward happen while cycling. I’ve run a camera on my bikes for a few years now, my current one being the Garmin Virb Elite. The Drift Stealth 2 has a similar form-factor to the Garmin, but is about half the size, so I thought I’d see how well it stacks up.

If I lived in California, I might be able to entertain you with some surfing footage from the morning, skiing from the afternoon. As I live in London, however, the best I can offer is a cycle commute across central London. While lacking the big scenery, there are days when it can feel like an adrenaline sport …  Read more

Review: Pad & Quill Timber Catchall and Luxury Pocket Stand raise the bar on Apple Watch charging stands

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Pad & Quill is precisely the type of company qualified to make accessories for the Apple Watch. The Minneapolis company has been producing fine iPhone, iPad, and Mac accessories for years now, and the first handmade Pad & Quill Apple Watch accessories continue that level of quality. Today we’re checking out two wooden charging stands and two leather travel cases: the Timber Catchall, Luxury Pocket Stand, Roll Up Kit, and Luxury Travel Pouch for Apple Watch. Both charging stands have a distinct and rich look with features that differ from previous charging stands we’ve seen…

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