Reviews October 19

AAPL: 111.73

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I’ve been waiting for Apple to update the 2007-vintage Apple Wireless Keyboard and 2010 Magic Trackpad since the first time OS X displayed a “low battery” notification — since then, I’ve had years of near-daily pop-up reminders that either my keyboard or my trackpad (both fueled by Apple’s official Battery Charger, no less) were supposedly running low on power. Although I preferred the minimalism of a wire-free desk, I reluctantly switched back to Apple’s old but still excellent Wired Keyboard to cut “low battery” notices in half, hoping that Apple would leverage 5+ years of Bluetooth and battery improvements to produce better wireless input accessories.

Last week, Apple finally released sequels to its three major input devices: the new Magic Keyboard ($99) replaces the $69 Wireless Keyboard, the Magic Mouse 2 ($79) updates the $59 Magic Mouse, and the Magic Trackpad 2 ($129) vaults over the $69 Magic Trackpad. The signature improvement to each is the replacement of AA batteries with integrated Lithium-Ion rechargeable cells, refueled once per month with an included Lightning cable — previously only used for iPad, iPhone, and iPod accessories. Apple also tweaked each of the accessory designs, one more significantly than the others.

Having given up mice five years ago (and radically improved a carpal tunnel-damaged wrist in the process), I opted not to test the Magic Mouse 2, but my colleague Dom Esposito discusses it and the other Magic accessories in the video below. My review is focused on the Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad 2, neither of which I’d call “must-have” accessories, though each has a couple of worthwhile assets, and at least one surprising Apple device compatibility limitation. Should you buy Apple’s latest accessories, or go with excellent third-party alternatives such as Logitech’s K811 Keyboard and Rechargeable Trackpad for Mac instead?… (Updated November 2015 with new battery testing results.)

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Reviews October 17

AAPL: 111.04

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Twelve South’s original Apple Watch stand, HiRise for Apple Watch, was early to market for a reason: it was derived from the company’s popular HiRise stands for iPhones, tweaked just enough to hold and charge the smaller Watch. It made our list of the Best Apple Watch Stands and Docks because it was a good first stab at the category, but based on Twelve South’s many cool Mac, iPad, and iPhone accessories, I knew that the company could do better.

Five months after HiRise hit stores, Twelve South has released Forté ($60), a considerably classier Apple Watch stand that looks and feels far closer to an Apple design. Replacing HiRise’s sandblasted aluminum with a chrome-plated metal alloy and grain leather, Forté has the good looks and substantial weight of an Apple dock, with only a couple of telltale signs that it’s a third-party product. Read on for the details…

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Reviews October 15

AAPL: 111.86

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I knew Celluon had something special on its hands when I reviewed the $349 pocket-sized video projector PicoPro earlier this year: the Korean company known for laser-projecting keyboards released an iPhone 6 Plus-sized HD projector, capable of simulating a TV using lasers, a speaker, and a rechargeable battery. PicoPro’s projection system was MicroVision-developed and laser-sharp, requiring no manual focus knob — an advantage over rival projectors such as the otherwise more powerful AAXA P700 and ST200, which I subsequently reviewed and liked.

This week, Sony is entering the pico projector market with MP-CL1 ($350), which uses the same MicroVision laser projector found in PicoPro. Sporting the same 1920×720 resolution and putative 32-lumen brightness/80,000:1 contrast ratio as PicoPro, MP-CL1 promises to create a 40-inch TV image at 4-foot distances, an 80-inch image at 8-foot distances, or a (very dim) 120-inch image at 12-foot distances. Sony has pitched it as a “take it anywhere” big screen display for the iPad, iPhone, and PlayStation 4; it’s equally viable for Apple TVs and HDMI-ready Macs. So which is the better value: MP-CL1 or PicoPro?…

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Reviews October 14

AAPL: 110.21

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Today we’re getting into the ultimate camera battle between Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5 and Apple’s iPhone 6s Plus. These are without a doubt packing the best camera sensors in mobile right now, but which one will take the throne as 2015’s best smartphone camera? We’ll be taking a look at pictures and video from both devices to find out…

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Apple was the first company to create a touchscreen keyboard I considered usable. Nothing prior to the iPhone even came close, which is why in those days I stuck to phones with physical keyboards.

Even today, though, I still have a strong preference for the real thing. My iPad is usually accompanied by my Brydge keyboard, but what about those whose iPhone is their primary device when out and about?

Cam reviewed one option – the Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard – and now there’s an even smaller and cheaper option on the way: the Flyshark 2. The company first launched a version of this a year ago, and currently has a Kickstarter campaign running for an improved version. It’s fully-funded, with 10 days to go, and I’ve been testing a prototype version with my iPhone 6s …  expand full story

Reviews October 12

AAPL: 111.60

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