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

Review: Olloclip’s Telephoto and Circular Polarizing Lens lets iPhone 6, 6 Plus users shoot 2X-magnified photos through glass

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Professional photographers rarely used iPhone cameras five years ago, but images produced by the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are – under the right circumstances – indistinguishable from dedicated point-and-shoots. The one thing iPhones always lack is adjustable lenses, so Olloclip has been remedying that omission with accessories including the 4-in-1 Lens kits for iPhone 6/6 Plus (review) and iPhone 5/5s. At the 2015 CES, it debuted a second option for the iPhone 6/6 Plus called the Telephoto and Circular Polarizing Lens ($100), which is based upon but also different from the previously impressive version for the iPhone 5/5s.

Just like the 4-in-1 Lens, the Telephoto version offers big steps forward in functionality over the prior 5/5s model. It now features support for the iPhones’ front and rear cameras, uses a new clip-based housing, and includes a separate storage compartment for the polarizer. Read on for our full impressions.

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Review: Mujjo Leather Wallet Case for iPhone 6/Plus

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Apple Pay may mean you need to carry far fewer cards around than before, but it’s not accepted everywhere, so the chances are you’ll still need to carry a physical card or two. But the great thing about dramatically slimming down the cards you carry is that you can also slim down your wallet and iPhone to a single unit using an iPhone wallet case.

Jordan picked the Mujjo Leather Wallet Case as one of his holiday gift recommendations, and I thought I’d put it to the test. Both iPhone 6 and 6 Plus versions are available in black, gray and tan, with a choice of two card-slot designs …  Read more

Review: Ultimate Ears’ larger Megaboom 360-degree Bluetooth speaker goes to 11

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At CES today, Logitech subsidiary Ultimate Ears (UE) announced its Megaboom Bluetooth speaker.  Yes, it is a bigger, louder version of the popular UE Booms. That means it comes with apps that do things like equalize, set alarms and pair to stereo, with new features added all the time. The Megaboom also shares the 100-foot Bluetooth range and ability to pair with up to 8 devices with its smaller sibling.

But the bigger and louder sound of the Megaboom also comes with some nice extras not found in the other models. Megabooms are waterproof like crazy (IPX7). Bring it into the shower. Knock it in the pool (the shallow end, anyway). NBD. The MegaBoom also has a whopping 20-hour battery life but still charges via MicroUSB. Smart.

The cost: $299 is a significant $100 premium over the Booms and $200 premium over the Mini Booms and you’ll lose some portability with the bigger size. These are big and heavy and they don’t fit in a cupholder.

But if you want the banging-est sound you can find from a portable Bluetooth speaker, your search is over. I’ve secretly been reviewing a unit since last year and it is all true. The sound fills up a room, day at the beach, picnic, bikeride or destroys a car. It even works as a nice desk speaker. As I hinted in my Best Bluetooth Speaker o the year list, the Megaboom is as good, if not better than the other best $300 Bluetooth speakers we’ve reviewed: Bose Soundlink 3, Beats Pill XL and Jawbone’s Big Jambox have met their match!

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Review: Incipio’s offGRID Express is the most affordable Apple-authorized iPhone 6 battery case

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If I had to choose one word to describe how Incipio’s past iPhone offGRID battery cases felt, it would probably be “svelte,” as they were all impressively thin and gently curved. Starting today, Incipio is shipping its first offGRID case for the iPhone 6, and it notably trades “svelte” for “edgy” design. Offered only in matte black, it’s called offGRID Express ($80), and Incipio claims it’s the first Apple-certified iPhone 6 battery case that’s actually available for consumers to purchase. This time, the back is somewhat angular, due in part to a larger battery pack than prior models, and the sides are equipped with the fancy metallic button protectors rival Mophie has only offered in its most expensive Juice Packs.

Incipio’s message is clear: by offering 3000mAh of power at an $80 price point, offGRID Express is practically daring Mophie – and any other Apple MFi-licensed manufacturer – to step up and take a swing at its value proposition. Yes, comparatively unknown vendors are selling cheaper options, and Tylt offers a 3200mAh, Apple-licensed alternative called Energi for $100, but offGRID Express actually matches it in recharging performance for a lower price. It’s positioned directly at consumers who care about both quality and cost, not just one or the other. Read more

Review: Belkin’s QODE Ultimate + Ultimate Pro Keyboard Cases add metal keyboards to the iPad Air 2

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The average iPad keyboard case sells for $100 or less, and there are now hundreds of options, mostly from companies based in China. But several developers have been selling deluxe iPad keyboard cases, using upscale metal housings and premium features to command $130-$180 asking prices. To that end, Belkin has debuted very early iPad Air 2 options called the QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad Air 2 ($130, available now) and QODE Ultimate Pro Keyboard Case for iPad Air 2 ($150, currently available for pre-order).

As their “Ultimate” branding suggests, these are supposed to be Belkin’s best iPad keyboard cases, though only the Pro version really succeeds at justifying its price this time out. Below, we’ll explain why.

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Fugoo Bluetooth speaker differentiates with 40hr battery, incredible waterproofing and robust ecosystem

IMG_20141229_133347Note, I originally was going to review this in early 2015, but Amazon is having a pretty insane 1-day deal on it and I love it sooo…

Fugoo is the best Bluetooth speaker you’ve probably never heard of. I got mine after a few readers (and PR folk) rightfully noted its omission from our Best Bluetooth Speaker of 2014 list. I have been listening to it ever since and yep, it should be among the top and for $135, it is a no-brainer… Read more

9to5 Guide: Hello, new iPad owner! Here are the best accessories to buy right away

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It’s Christmas Day, and if you were especially nice this year, you may have just found a new iPad under your tree. Apple’s tablets are able to do incredible things right out of the box, but they’re also easily damaged, and there are accessories that really help to expand their capabilities. If you want to make sure your iPad performs at its full potential, it’s a good idea to protect it and accessorize right away.

That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help new iPad owners choose the best accessories across a variety of different categories. Our top picks range from stands and cases to speakers, keyboards, game controllers, and much more. We also explain what’s near-mandatory, what’s optional, and what you can safely skip. Read on!

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9to5 Guide: Hello, new iPhone / iPod owner! Here are the best accessories to buy right away

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There are few things better than finding a new iPhone or iPod under your tree on Christmas Day. If you received an iPod, you’ll find enough in Apple’s box to start enjoying music, videos, and/or apps right away. iPhone users get all of those great features plus cellular telephone and Internet access. But these devices suffer from the same weaknesses: they’re fragile — the reason roughly 80% of iPhone owners use cases — and they depend upon external accessories for quite a few things. If you want to make the most of your Apple device, you’ll want to accessorize (and app-cessorize) it right away.

Our best iPhone accessory recommendations are similar across all current models. But they vary considerably from small to medium to big iPods. Read on for all of our top picks!

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Review: Griffin’s Reveal, STM’s Dux, Verus’s Damda Slide show value of slimmer iPhone 6 Plus cases

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The first time I picked up Spigen’s overly-bulky Tough Armor case for the iPhone 6 Plus, I knew there was going to be a major new consideration when reviewing iPhone 6 Plus cases: the quantity and shape of case materials added to the already large device’s back and sides. Apple’s designers succeeded in crafting a really big iPhone that somehow still felt thin, smooth and comfortable enough in large hands — when bare — but Tough Armor’s hard edges and chunky frame made the 6 Plus feel awkward in even a large adult male’s hands and pockets.

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Slimmer solutions were needed for the iPhone 6 Plus, and today, we’re looking at three of them: Griffin’s Reveal ($20, available here for $13), STM’s Dux ($30, available for $30), and Verus’s Damda Slide ($40, available here for $24). Reveal and Dux are highly similar to one another, differing mostly in texturing and corner protection, while Damda Slide is like Tough Armor, only more thoughtfully constructed and useful. It’s somewhat rare in that it offers “playthrough” or full-time access to the iPhone’s screen and side controls, while also including a wallet that can store three cards behind the iPhone. Most iPhone wallets require a large front flap that adds thickness and makes instant screen access inconvenient.

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