Review: Misfit’s Bolt LED bulb promises iPhone and wearable control of color-shifting lights

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Two of the hottest product categories at this year’s CES were home automation and wearables, which Apple is now tackling with HomeKit and the Apple Watch. As has historically been the case, the price premiums Apple has set for its products have left plenty of room for more affordable alternatives. Misfit, a company co-founded by former Apple CEO John Sculley, is now competing in both categories: the just-released Bolt Wireless LED Smart Light Bulb ($50) joins a small collection of Bluetooth-controlled lights, while its late 2014 wearable fitness and sleep tracker Flash ($33-$50) is in the process of being upgraded to control Bolt.

Misfit’s pitch for Bolt is interesting. It’s billing the color-shifting bulb as producing “gallery-quality light,” and focusing its new Misfit Home app for iOS on creating “Lightscapes” — lighting scenarios including neutral bright white, warm sunrises and sunsets, candlelight, forest and volcanic tones, amongst other “scenes” where the color is set but the brightness is adjustable. When Bolt works, it’s a wonderful source of light, but as is common these days, some post-release tweaks will be needed to exploit its full potential…

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Review: ChargeTech’s ChargeAll Portable Power Outlet lets any MacBook (or other Apple device) refuel on the road

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The first time I found an AC wall outlet under my seat on an airplane, I realized that I could use my MacBook Pro with its wall charger for hours, even if I’d partially discharged the battery before boarding. Later, when I rode a bus with an AC outlet onboard, the freedom to enjoy my laptop for hours made the long trip feel brief. But I’ve had far more trips without AC outlets than with them, and there have been plenty of times when my MacBook could really have used a recharge mid-trip.

That’s why I’m genuinely excited about ChargeTech’s ChargeAll Portable Power Outlet ($150-$200), which primarily exists to give you access to an AC outlet literally anywhere you might be — something that I can’t believe has taken so long to become available. There are two versions, one with 12,000mAh of power, and the other with 18,000mAh of power, either with enough energy to keep your MacBook going for hours on the road. Both units have the overcharge and short circuit protection you’d expect from a surge board — the difference is that you can toss them into a bag or a car…

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Review: Magzter Gold, the iPad app that’s a (kind of) Netflix for magazines

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I love Netflix. I haven’t even owned a TV for many years, relying on either a MacBook Pro – with or without Apple Thunderbolt Display – and iPad for the limited amount of TV and movie viewing I tend to do.

Magzter Gold essentially aims to be a Netflix for magazines, a single monthly subscription giving you all-you-can-eat access to digital magazines on your iPad. The reality is a little messier, and whether it makes sense for you will depend on how many magazines you read and which ones …  Read more

Review: Is the added protection of the LifeProof Nüüd for iPhone 6 worth the trade-offs?

LifeProof has become a household name in the iPhone accessory world since debuting its first ultra-protective case in 2011. The company has continued improving its waterproof cases with each new version of the iPhone. With the iPhone 5, LifeProof introduced its Nüüd series, which offers protection from water, snow, dirt, and shock while still exposing the display. We took a look at it last summer, noting that its an excellent choice for the adventurous iPhone user, albeit a bit bulky. It’s still available for $48.

With the iPhone 6, Apple presented LifeProof with a new challenge. The large, thin form factor of the iPhone 6 meant that LifeProof would have to work incredibly hard to develop a case that maintained a manageable form factor, while offering the same protection that users of the case have come to expect. We reviewed the LifeProof Fre for the iPhone 6 earlier this year and pointed out that it was a well thought out option, but that the Nüüd model would be very much welcomed. I’ve recently been testing the LifeProof Nüüd case for the iPhone 6. Here’s what you need to know:

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Review: Dyconn’s i6 Power Case packs a 3,200 mAh battery and features wireless charging (Video)

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There are absolutely no shortage of battery case offerings for iPhone 6. Even though we’ve covered the best iPhone battery cases here, it’s sometimes overwhelming sorting through them all. The real winners are the ones with maximum battery capacity and some extra features to spice things up. Recently, I came across Dyconn’s i6 Power Case and was pleasantly surprised to find that it fits most of what I was looking for, but is it enough? Well, not only does this case pack a 3,200 mAh battery inside, it also features wireless charging. It’s not a must-have feature, but I sure do appreciate the convenience…

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Review: Can you actually use the new 12-inch MacBook for work?

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Early reviews of Apple’s MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, Early 2015) have framed it as an expensive prototype from the future — a notebook that will someday be the standard, but one most people aren’t ready for yet. Despite that classification, the new MacBook is extremely tempting if you’re in the market for a new computer: it’s more portable than even the MacBook Air, it’s the first Mac available in gold and space gray finishes, and it has a trackpad with a new feature called Force Touch.

But can you actually do work on the 12-inch MacBook? That’s the $1300 question everyone is asking. I’ll unpack my experience below …

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Review: Aircharge Qi wireless charging case for iPhone 6 (and 5/5s)

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As a founding member of the Wires Are Evil club, I’ve been waiting impatiently for wide-area wireless charging, where any device on a desk or within a certain area of a room is wirelessly charged. That still seems a way off yet.

A good halfway house would be inductive charging powerful enough to work through the thickness of a desk, so your charging pads sit out of sight on the underside of the desk and your devices charge as soon as you put them down on the right place on the desk. Sadly today’s wireless charging standards are too weedy to work through even the thinnest of desks.

If you want wireless charging today, then, you’re going to have to have a visible wire to a charging pad, and place your device on that. Apple has so far limited wireless charging to the Apple Watch, but if you want it for your iPhone, you can buy a wireless charging case that allows you to use any compatible wireless charging pad. We’ve reviewed a number of these over the years, and I thought it was about time to try one for the iPhone 6

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The best Apple Watch headphones and earphones

Up until now, Bluetooth wireless audio was purely optional for Apple’s devices: every iPad, iPhone, and iPod has shipped with a 3.5mm audio port to connect with wired earbuds and headphones. The Apple Watch is different: it’s Apple’s first fully wireless device, with no user-accessible ports to connect accessories, even though it can work as a standalone music player during workouts. The lack of a headphone port is actually a positive, since tethering your wrist to your head with a cable would look silly, and isn’t ergonomically ideal. Thankfully, Bluetooth headphones have come a long way over the past few years, shrinking from gangly and boxy earmuffs into earphones comfortable enough to exercise with.

Since one of the Apple Watch’s major selling points is fitness functionality, this quick guide to the best Apple Watch headphones and earphones focuses mostly on accessories that can work anywhere, rather than options you can’t wear while exercising. But I’ll include some larger options, too, just in case you’re picking a pair for non-athletic use, or to share with your iPad, iPhone, iPod, or Mac…

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Review: Mophie’s Spacestation more than doubles smaller iPads’ storage and power, for a price

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Mophie’s Juice Packs are unqualified success stories. After debuting the first Juice Pack in late 2007, Mophie became synonymous with “iPhone battery cases,” and enjoyed years of popularity despite increasing competition. But the company’s USB battery packs aren’t as well-known. Ranging from minimalist to ruggedized, Mophie’s Powerstations range from 3,000mAh to 12,000mAh in capacity, and carry hefty $80 to $150 MSRPs. Regardless of whether they’re judged by features or battery performance for the dollar, they’re hard to pick over rivals, since you can now get a high-quality 25,600mAh battery for the same price as a 3,000mAh PowerStation.

Based upon last year’s iPhone 5/5s-specific Space Packs, the brand new Spacestation is Mophie’s shot at differentiating its USB batteries from the masses. Offered in 32GB ($150), 64GB ($200) and 128GB ($300) capacities, Spacestation combines an app-managed USB flash drive with a 6,000mAh battery, which promises “3X extra battery” life. Realistically, that’s enough power for a full recharge of the original iPad mini or three recharges of older iPhones. But since 6,000mAh batteries are getting cheaper every week, Spacestation’s appeal is mostly in its ability to at least double the number of videos, music, photos, and documents that can be accessed by your iOS device on the road…

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Review: Aukey’s 12,000mAh PB-N28 is the $25 battery that fully refills any current iPad

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Last month, budget charging accessory maker Aukey released PB-N30, the first external battery with a female Lightning recharging port. For only $15, PB-N30 seemed like a steal given its 3,600mAh capacity — just right for use with any iPhone — but wasn’t capacious enough for power-hungrier iPads. So Aukey has released PB-N28 ($25) as a solution for tablet users, remarkably equipping it with over three times the power for only $10 more.

PB-N30 is an upgraded sequel to the company’s older PB-18, which stuffed a 12,000mAh battery into an iPhone 5-shaped enclosure. While the new model’s capacity is the same, PB-N30’s USB ports jump from 2.1-Amp/1-Amp charging to 2.4-Amp/1-Amp support, and it has a more neutral design that neither sticks out nor knocks off an Apple product. Not surprisingly, it cuts a corner or two to achieve its super-low price…

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Review: Mophie’s Juice Packs for iPhone 6 + 6 Plus are polished battery cases at premium prices

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Unless you pick the matte black versions, which look like most of the other iPhone 6 and 6 Plus battery cases I’ve tested, you’ll quickly be wowed by how premium Mophie’s newest Juice Packs feel in your hand. Glossy white plastic Apple accessories may have become passe years ago, but Mophie somehow got the look and feel just right — better, even, than the “unapologetically plastic” iPhone 5c.

The reason for that luxe feel? Mophie needs it, as the new Juice Pack Plus for iPhone 6 ($120) and Juice Pack for iPhone 6 Plus ($100) are currently the most expensive battery cases currently available for their respective iPhones. Though the company has never been shy about charging more for top quality cases, this year’s Juice Packs are hitting shelves well after numerous solid and aggressively priced competitors.

Below, I’ll discuss how Mophie’s price to performance equations actually play out for these Juice Packs, and whether they’re worth buying in light of other options…

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Review: Brookstone’s Perfect Drink 3 helps you craft cocktails with whatever’s on hand

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Craft cocktails are in the midst of a renaissance, buoyed by rediscovered classic recipes, higher-quality ingredients, and increasingly talented bartenders. Pre-made mixes and artificially-flavored spirits are declining in popularity, as freshly-assembled natural flavors are ascending. But once you’ve had a truly great cocktail at a restaurant or bar, making one by yourself at home may seem challenging. The latest version of Perfect Drink ($40), Brookstone’s (and developer Pure Imagination’s) “app-controlled smart bartending” solution for iOS users, is here to help.

Perfect Drink has been through a few hardware and software revisions, but the latest-generation accessory and just-released version 3.0 app elevate it to greatness. The core of the product is a precise digital scale — recently upgraded from the original hardware — that works in tandem with your iPad or iPhone to eliminate the need for measuring cups. You call up a recipe in the Perfect Drink app and just add liquids until the scale and app tell you to stop, dynamically adjusting the recipe if you overpour. A just-released update enables the app to store a list of all the spirits, fruit, and mixers you have on hand, helping you quickly choose from recipes you’re capable of making…

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