Review: Twelve South’s BookBook is the best iPhone 6 / Plus flip case, while Tech21’s Classic Frame and Shells absorb shocks

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Personal preferences differ enough that there’s no single style of iPhone case that’s “right” for every person. Some people prefer “playthrough” cases that always expose the iPhone’s screen; others like flip-style cases with lids that open like books. Today, we’re looking at two cases of each type for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus: Twelve South’s latest BookBook and Tech21’s Classic Shell with Cover are flip-style designs, while Tech21’s Classic Frame and Classic Shell are playthrough cases.

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One of these is the best case of its type that we’ve ever seen, while the others are all good.

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Review: Mad Catz’ C.T.R.L.i and Micro C.T.R.L.i bring overdue competence, fair pricing to iOS game controllers

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Apple’s iOS game controller design guidelines were clearly inspired by Microsoft’s Xbox controllers, but Mad Catz has taken the concept a step further: its new C.T.R.L.i ($60) and Micro C.T.R.L.i ($50, available for $46) for iOS look so much like Xbox One game controllers that you might struggle to tell them apart in a dark room. While the full-sized C.T.R.L.i is very close to the Xbox One controller in footprint and weight, Micro C.T.R.L.i squeezes all of the same functionality into a smaller but nearly identical shape.

Best of all, since they’re more reasonably priced than earlier iOS controllers, both are good enough to recommend to any iOS gamer… assuming you own or want some iOS games with controller support.

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Review: Drop Scale makes baking foolproof w/ Bluetooth scales & companion iPad app

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As a dedicated fan of kitchen gadgets, a Bluetooth scale linked to a companion iPad app that walks you through recipes step-by-step was too much to resist. Besides, it was a chance to bake some cookies and call it work (though I’m not entirely convinced the taxman is going to allow me to deduct the cost of the ingredients).

The scale is very compact – a little under 6.5 inches across with the front lip, and around 5.5 inches wide. There are no visible controls or display, but the lip contains a button and a hidden LED which lights up briefly when the scale connects to the app. Otherwise, it’s entirely featureless …  Read more

Review: Elgato’s Thunderbolt 2 Dock is a faster, one-cable hub for all your Mac peripherals

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As “really good Mac accessory ideas” go, Thunderbolt docks are high on the list. It’s hard to overstate the sheer convenience of connecting a bunch of peripherals to a central hub, then running one Thunderbolt cable from the hub to your Mac — a huge time-saver if you’re frequently bringing any Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook in and out of an office full of hardware.

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Earlier this year, Elgato’s original Thunderbolt Dock brought that convenience to Macs with first-generation Thunderbolt Ports. For the same $230 price, the just-released Thunderbolt 2 Dock ramps up the speed using twin Thunderbolt 2 connectors, and also boosts the performance of integrated USB 3.0, HDMI video, and analog audio-out ports. The under-the-hood changes make it a solid pick regardless of whether you have a newer Mac with Thunderbolt 2, and even if you’re using an older Mac with Thunderbolt.

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LifeProof Fre case for iPhone 6 — Waterproof, strong, and thinner than ever

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LifeProof pioneered the waterproof, shockproof iPhone case in 2011 when the original LifeProof protected the iPhone 4/s from dropping it on the ground, smothering it in ketchup, mustard, and dirt only to successfully rinse it off in a fish tank. We were had then and watched as the company grew into an iPhone case powerhouse which drew copycats and eventually an acquisition by OtterBox last year.

I’ve had LifeProof’s new Fre iPhone 6 case since it debuted last month and have put it through all kinds of torture tests, most notably my three-year-old who likes to watch Ben and Holly in the bath tub and six-year-old who sees no problem sled riding and skiing with a smartphone (Read: GPS tracking device).

The bottom line?  It continues to protect from everything. Lots of drops, dirt, water, snow. Pretty much anything… Read more

Review: ScreenGuardz Pure protects the iPad Air / 2 with beautiful glass, but is it worth $60?

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If your iPad isn’t inside a case, one accidental drop is enough to shatter its screen or dent its body. That’s why roughly 80% of iPhone users use cases, and one of two good reasons (besides adding a stand) that many iPad users do the same. But the iPad Air 2 is changing things — it’s so thin that even Apple’s own Smart Case feels overly bulky, making more minimalist protective solutions highly appealing. If you could shave millimeters off of your encased iPad’s thickness, would you pay $60 just for a screen protector? That’s the question presented by BodyGuardz’ ScreenGuardz Pure, which invisibly covers the iPad Air or iPad Air 2 screen with a thin but strong layer of glass. Carrying a $60 MSRP through BodyGuardz, it’s currently on sale for only $50 through Amazon. Read more

9to5 Guide: The best iPad, iPhone + MacBook battery cases/packs

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Earlier this week, I walked through a great collection of iPad, iPhone, and Mac products that I’d strongly recommend. Today, I’m here to help you choose an excellent spare battery for any portable Apple device. You can trust me because I’ve been testing Apple batteries for over a decade, conducting hours-long tests to learn how each new Apple device consumes power, and how quickly each battery replenishes a given device. If you want to learn more about why I’m recommending the specific batteries below, I discuss key factors worth considering at the bottom of this guide.

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Review: Seek Thermal Camera for iOS gives your iPhone Predator vision, Seek XR adds manual focus

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Update 3/3/15: We’ve added the new Seek Thermal XR to the bottom of this review.

The evolution of Apple’s iOS cameras has been fairly linear: Apple improved their image quality, added video recording capabilities, and dropped in a small collection of filters, but otherwise hasn’t radically changed their features.

Just in time for the holidays, Seek Thermal Inc.’s new Seek Thermal Camera for iOS ($199) is offering a fundamentally different type of camera for your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Using a Lightning connector, the Seek Thermal Camera adds affordable thermal photography and videography features to any late-2012 or newer iOS device – the heat-sensitive sort of vision best-known from the Predator movies. While it’s not case-compatible, this accessory is otherwise the most practical thermal camera currently available for iOS devices. (An Android version is also available.)

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Jeremy’s holiday gift guide: Mac, iPhone & iPad gear you can trust

Holiday Gift Guide 5My first post for 9to5Mac is on a topic near and dear to my heart: best-of-breed Apple products and accessories. Why should you trust me? I’ve been a professional product reviewer for 23 years and an Apple user for 28 years. Last week, I finished an 11-year stint running the editorial side of iLounge, the leading Apple product review site, where I tested literally thousands of Apple accessories from every major company on the planet. Readers have praised my reviews as accurate and insightful, and I always put my readers’ needs first when testing new products.

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Review: Harman Kardon Esquire Mini is the best iPhone speakerphone you can fit in your pocket

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I reviewed two portable Bluetooth speakerphone options earlier this year: The Philips WeCall ($145) vs. Logitech P710e ($125) . Both are square and have internal batteries and make conference calling easy. But for their ~$150 price tag, I wondered if you could get more portability and style without sacrificing sound quality.

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The answer to those questions is the Harman Kardon Esquire line of portable speakerphones. Below, I take a look at the Esquire Mini which retails for $149.99 and can be found as low as $145 at Amazon or $135 at World Wide StereoRead more

Review: Deliveries for Mac and iOS is the perfect way to track your online orders for the holidays

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With Cyber Monday coming up, a lot of us shop online, as opposed to going out to the store. It would be nice if there was an easy way to track all of your packages. Of course you could set up mail rules to filter any emails that contain the words, “the tracking number,” but all that does is put all of your emails into a folder without notifying you of any changes in the status of your package. After initially receiving the email most forget about it and never track their packages, which happens all the time to me causing me to not pick up my packages for weeks. Or you can be the type of person that can obsessively track your package by constantly pressing the refresh button hoping that there’s an update to no avail. Well there’s an app that can track your tracking numbers and keep you updated about the status of your order. Deliveries is powerful, handy and easily notifies you of your packages.

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Best iPhone 6/Plus wallet cases: Pad and Quill Little Pocket Book and SurfacePad from TwelveSouth

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For all of its greatness, Apple Pay hasn’t nearly killed the need to take your wallet with you wherever you go. But if you are like me, it has lightened your load a little bit. Instead of carrying around 5 credit cards, I now carry around one each of debit and credit. Combine that with some other de-Costanzifications (scan insurance cards and health club cards for instance) I’ve made recently, I can now consolidate my wallet into a few card slots.

What I’m getting at here is that I can follow the lead of my wife and now consolidate my iPhone and my wallet finally. I’ve chosen two amazing iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus cases from my favorite iPhone case manufacturers to get me there: Pad and Quill’s Little Pocket Book ($60 -$10 off for Black Friday) and Twelve South’s $50 SurfacepadRead more