Anker unveils line of 12-inch MacBook compatible cables including USB-C to Lightning

MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, Early 2015)

Popular accessory maker Anker has shown off its upcoming lineup of USB-C cables and adapters including USB-C to USB 2.0, 3.0, and USB-C solutions. Especially interesting for 12-inch MacBook users is Anker’s USB-C to Lightning cable — the first that I’ve seen from a reputable vendor — which will allow users to connect iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches with Lightning ports directly to Apple’s USB Type C-only notebook for charging and syncing. Read more

The best travel accessories for your MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, or Retina MacBook

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Traveling with any MacBook is a lot easier today than it was five or ten years ago. Apple’s latest laptops consume much less space than their predecessors, and last much longer when they’re in active use. Whether it’s on a seat-back tray or resting in your lap, your MacBook can deliver quite a few hours of productive work time, video viewing, or even gameplay without assistance. But it can do even more if you bring the right accessories along.

My goal is to help you choose the best items to carry with you on the road — the type of items I’ve spent years testing. The picks below are highly practical and focused to make good use of space and address real-world concerns that many travelers have. Read on!

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Review: Anker’s Jump Starter Portable Charger brings cars and iPhones back to life in emergencies

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Anker specializes in accessories that deliver uncommon value. Like gigantic batteries that cost as little as small ones. Six-port USB chargers that are less expensive than two Apple one-port chargers. And iPhone battery cases that outperform rivals sold for twice the price. So it’s only natural that the company would leverage its power expertise to go beyond resuscitating little Apple devices and assist with real emergencies. With roughly the same footprint as its Astro E7 — a battery capable of fully recharging any iPad Air twice — the same-priced Jump Starter Portable Charger ($80) goes in a slightly different direction. You still get a pretty big 10,000mAh battery that can charge two Apple devices at once, but instead of E7’s third USB port, Anker includes jumper cables that can bring dead cars back to life.

Like all of the Anker products I’ve covered, Jump Starter is thoughtfully designed, efficiently packaged, and aggressively priced relative to competing products. Moreover, unlike some of the cobbled-together 3-in-1 accessories I’ve tested, its feature set actually addresses a related collection of problems a driver may have. But it’s not as much of an iPad-charging powerhouse as Astro E7; it’s best-suited to iPhone users. So is it the right battery pack for you? Read on…

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Review: Anker’s 60W 6-Port USB Charger is ready for your family’s iPads, iPhones, and Watches

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USB chargers aren’t sexy, but they’re critically important to iOS users — so vital that every iPhone and iPad arrives with a basic one-port charger in the box. Without USB recharging assistance, these devices would literally be dead after one day of active use. And the more Apple devices you (or your family) use every day, the more valuable a multi-device charging hub becomes. When I travel with my wife and kids, I can’t leave the house without a charging solution for everyone’s iPads and iPhones.

Up until two or three years ago, few families had five or six Apple devices. Moreover, early multi-device chargers were expensive: Griffin charged $100 for an early five-port charging station, and Bluelounge charged $100 for a four-port version. But that’s changing. iPads are cheaper than ever, iPhones are more ubiquitous than ever, and Apple Watches are about to add “one more thing” to the list of Apple devices requiring a daily charge. Thankfully, great multi-device chargers have become affordable; RAVPower’s Bolt 6-Port USB Wall Charger impressed me last year for $27, and a slightly less powerful version now sells for $25. Over the past week, I’ve been testing something even better: the most powerful home and travel charging hub I’ve ever seen.

Correctly billed as “family-sized,” Anker’s 60W 6-Port Desktop USB Charger ($36) features an intelligent power management system that lets any of its ports recharge any iPad, iPhone, iPod, or other USB accessory at its top possible speed, sharing 60 watts of power across them. You can recharge six iPad Airs or iPad minis at peak 10W speeds, or five older, power-hungrier third- and fourth-generation iPads at their peak 12W speeds. There’s no need to confirm that you’re using the right type of port for your device, as all of Anker’s ports self-regulate power up to 12W as appropriate. Read on for more details…

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Review: Anker’s Ultra Slim Battery Case for iPhone 6 offers a surprising mix of thinness, power, and low pricing

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I’ve learned over the years that there’s no such thing as an Apple accessory that’s perfect for every user. A design optimized for budget-conscious users will often turn off people who are ready to spend more for something fancier, and vice-versa. The best a company can do is to design, execute, and price products well for a particular segment of the population. Anker specializes in this — it focuses on creating very good to great accessories for value-focused users.

Its new Ultra Slim Battery Case for iPhone 6 ($40-$60 on Amazon) is another example of that formula. Unfancy but more polished than similarly budget-priced rivals such as uNu’s DX-6, it’s not the most powerful or beautiful iPhone 6 battery case I’ve tested, but it does precisely what most users want: it more than doubles the iPhone 6’s power, doesn’t add much bulk to the device, and costs very little relative to most battery cases. Anker’s regular $60 price tag would be competitive for an Apple-certified case on its own, but it frequently sells for only $40, the best overall value I’ve seen for iPhone 6 users, hands-down.

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Review: Anker’s Keyboard Case for iPad Air 2 brings reasonable pricing and smart design to Bluetooth typing folios

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I’ve tested almost every major iPad keyboard case since the first iPad was released five years ago, and still recall when companies charged $100 for greasy vinyl folios with terrible, squishy rubber keys. Thankfully, a lot has changed since then. If you’re willing to spend $100, you can get a much nicer iPad-holding case attached to a nearly great keyboard. Drop $130-$150 (or go nuts for $170), and you can get a metal keyboard that partially resembles a MacBook Air. Personally, $100 is the ceiling I’d ever be willing to pay for an iPad keyboard case, and I’d rather pay less. But unless you count discontinued models for prior-generation iPads, there aren’t many great options.

Anker is changing that. Its new Bluetooth Folio Keyboard Case for iPad Air 2 sells for a stunningly low $40, and just like the 25,600mAh Anker iPad battery pack I previously reviewed, it delivers remarkable value for its price point. As the product of strategic compromises, it winds up giving up only one thing I typically prefer — a complete iPad-holding frame — in order to offer an excellent typing experience for the same cost as a typical iPad case without a keyboard. Read on for the reasons why I’d recommend this over options costing three times the price.

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Review: Anker’s 2nd Gen Astro E7 triples any iPad Air’s run time with an insane 25,600mAh of power

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There are hundreds of external battery packs out there, and most of them are highly similar to one another: cosmetics aside, their capacities, features, and pricing tend to be predictable. Anker’s 2nd Gen Astro E7 ($80) is a complete outlier. It has the highest capacity of any external battery pack I’ve ever tested, yet it’s priced competitively with products that deliver half as much juice.

If you have an iPad or plan to carry your iPhone around without access to wall power, Astro E7 is as close to a must-have battery as I’ve seen. Delivered in efficiently designed, eco-friendly packaging, it quickly earned a place in my personal travel bag, for reasons I’ll explain below.

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The Best iPhone 6 + iPhone 6 Plus Battery Cases

It’s a great time to buy an iPhone 6 battery case. Last year, there were zero Apple-certified options, but today, there are a handful of good to great choices at various price points. They may look similar to each other in the picture above, but the sea of black shells masks some important differences in iPhone protection, battery recharging capabilities, and pricing. We now have two top picks for the iPhone 6, as well as two completely different top picks for the iPhone 6 Plus.

Which iPhone 6 battery case should you buy? The most recent update to this piece on May 19, 2015 added another new option! Read on for all the details…

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Chance’s holiday gift guide: the products I use everyday

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I’ve already broken down the best gifts for students this holiday season, but now it’s time to talk about the best gifts for all the Apple lovers in your life. These are most of the products that I use on a daily basis. Whether I use them on-the-go, while working, or pretty much 24/7, these are some of the best products that have earned a coveted spot in my daily routine.

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Review: Anker IQ 40W 5-port smart USB adapter is the last power source you’ll ever need

As our families grow, so do our device charging needs. Where we just used to need 2 USB ports to charge our iPhones, we now have iPads, cameras, Bluetooth speakers, portable flashlight/batteries and even a few Android devices laying around that constantly need to be chargers. Our excellent 2-port ZaggSparq just couldn’t handle all of the stuff anymore. Time to step up to something more substantial.

Anker-reviewsWe’d heard great things about the new Anker IQ 40W 5V / 8A 5-Port Family-Size USB power supply. In fact, at Amazon where it can be nabbed on sale for $26, it gets almost exclusive 4 and 5 star ratings.

Anker hooked me up with a unit to test out at CES and I’ve relied on it since to keep our house full of devices charged. What’s particularly impressive about this one is that it has 40W of power to distribute through the 5 USB ports (a 25W one is a few bucks less). Anker’s new IQ does one better by recognizing high power requirements in devices like iPads, other tablets and even HPs new Chromebook and giving those devices the full 2-3 Amps of power they need to get charged quickly. Anker explains it thusly:

Not all USB ports are equal. Where past USB ports were hard-wired to exclusively charge iOS OR Android, we’re introducing Smart Port technology to create a truly universal charger. Dynamically adjusting to any device’s unique maximum charging speed, the Smart Port takes the brainwork out of compatibility.Just plug in and it’ll do the rest.

Were the reviews right? Was this the end to my USB charging woes?

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