Reviews ▪ Yesterday

AAPL: 114.64

-3.80%
Stock Chart

tidyingupipad

Like many other people right now, I’m in the midst of watching my house transform as a direct result of Marie Kondo’s best-selling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.” As the title suggests, the book powerfully explains how to properly keep any room tidy, in the process helping you resolve lingering issues in your life. Thanks to positive press, strong word of mouth, and surprisingly tangible results, Tidying Up is rapidly taking minimalism mainstream, bucking an age-old trend towards hoarding untold quantities of stuff and leaving it scattered around one’s living and working spaces.

As a long-time minimalist, it’s refreshing to see decluttering catching on. But Kondo’s KonMari system — keep only those items that “spark joy” and are actually being used, discarding everything else — has created a problem for tech-savvy readers. No matter how necessary they’ve become in our lives, Apple device chargers don’t “spark joy.” In Kondo terminology, their cables are untidy; particularly if you’ve purchased inexpensive third-party options, they’re not particularly nice to look at.

I knew this was a problem when my wife, inspired by Tidying Up, nearly tossed out the multi-iPad charger our family has used for years. Yes, the charger was creating visual clutter, but we needed it — or something better — to keep everyone’s iPads working. My hunt to find minimalist solutions to our daily charging needs inspired this article. Below, I’ll run through a few options that will help you tidy up your iPad, iPhone, iPod, Apple Watch, and Mac spaces, so you (and/or your significant other) can achieve minimalism without giving up your favorite devices…

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Reviews ▪ August 1

AAPL: 121.30

-1.07%
Stock Chart

pixelmator keyboard main

Pixelmator is one of the best Photoshop alternatives available on the Mac App Store. I’ve been using it for quite some time now, but mostly just using a trackpad or mouse to manipulate layers, access tools and edit functions. There are tons of keyboard shortcuts. And if I had the time or patience to learn them all, I would have. Needless to say, I didn’t. So when I got the chance to check out EditorsKeys keyboard specifically designed for Pixelmator, I jumped at it.

To cut it down to the very basics – This is essentially a wired Apple keyboard with numeric keypad. Except it has custom keys to clearly label the Pixelmator keyboard shortcuts, making photo and image editing much quicker and easier. Simply put: If you use Pixelmator on Mac and you don’t already have a grasp of all the shortcuts, you should get this keyboard.

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Reviews ▪ July 30

AAPL: 122.37

-0.62%
Stock Chart

Zipbud-hero

I love music, so most of the time when I’m out and about I have headphones round my neck or in my bag. But there are times when I’m music’d out, and leave them at home – and I can then pretty much guarantee I’ll end up wishing I’d taken them with me.

Whether it’s to have a lengthy phone conversation while walking down the street, or watching the funny video a friend just posted on Facebook on the train (without subjecting everyone else to the audio), headphones aren’t just about music. For that reason, I’ve taken to chucking a few pairs of cheap-ish in-ear headphones in various bags and jacket pockets so that I always have some with me. In-ear ones can be squished into a small space so they take up almost no room.

The problem with that squishing, of course, is that whenever I do dig them out, I spend several minutes untangling them. This is the problem Zipbuds Slide sets out to solve …  expand full story

nomadpod-1

The first round of Apple Watch stands were just that, accessories designed to keep your Apple Watch from rubbing against your nightstand or desk. This month, we officially moved into the second wave — powered Apple Watch docks — with the release of Boostcase’s Bloc and Nomad’s Pod ($60). Boxy, flat, and long, Bloc was a clean design with questionable practicality, but Pod makes a lot more sense: like the Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Cable it holds inside, it’s a partially metal and partially plastic puck you can easily take anywhere and use to charge any Apple Watch. Having previously designed the beautiful Stand for Apple Watch, Nomad promises that the rechargeable 1800mAh battery inside Pod “keeps your watch powered all weekend.”

From my perspective, the Apple Watch’s single biggest issue is its one-day battery life, which has meant risking a dead watch while traveling or otherwise away from a power outlet. Although you could just carry around a device-agnostic USB battery, Pod solves the power problem at a more aggressive price point than Bloc, and in a convenient form factor that will appeal to a lot of people. You can choose from a silver and black version, as shown in the photos here, or a space gray and black version made to match darker Apple Watches. Read on for the details…

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Reviews ▪ July 28

blocksapplewatch-0

Earlier in my reviewing career, I always tried to estimate the likely audience for products I tested: was an accessory likely to be universally appealing, somewhat popular, niche, or poorly received by virtually everyone? Many reviews (and reader comments) later, I learned there was at least a small audience for virtually anything, and conversely, that some people found reasons to dislike even the best-designed and best-reviewed products. I eventually concluded that there is no such thing as “universally appealing” or “universally bad” — just products for different audiences of different sizes.

SwitchEasy’s Blocks ($20) and Colors ($15) are as close to a test of my conclusion as anything I’ve covered so far for Apple’s $350-$17,000 Watches. Blocks lets you build your own Apple Watch dock from 92 plastic pieces that just so happen to be “compatible with Leading Manufacturer building blocks,” code for “works with Legos.” Colors is an inexpensive Apple Watch case designed to match three Apple Watch Sport bands. Toy-like in appearance, the designs are clearly not “universally appealing,” particularly for owners of expensive Apple Watches and Editions. But it’s possible that one or both of them may appeal to you, anyway…
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Reviews ▪ July 27

bloc-1

Most of the accessories I’ve reviewed for 9to5Mac require little explanation — they’re the second, third, or tenth iteration of a concept we’ve seen many times before. Marked with “Carte Blanche” branding, Boostcase’s new Bloc ($60-$100) is something new… and as such, it mightn’t completely make sense at first blush. It’s not just an Apple Watch stand like the many others I’ve covered: it’s actually a standalone charging dock. With its own built-in power source. Made from your choice of wood ($60 preorder/$80 regular), aluminum ($80), steel or gold-colored aluminum (each $80 preorder/$100 regular).

It’s as minimalist of a design as docks can get: a big, solid-feeling box hiding your Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Cable and a 2000mAh battery inside. And it’s available in colors matching nearly every Apple Watch, even including gold and rose gold. You’ll have to decide whether or not it makes sense for your personal needs, but one thing’s for sure — there’s nothing else quite like it on the market, or likely to appear any time soon…

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