iPad mini ▪ May 20, 2015

Four years ago, I wondered why Apple sold such seemingly simple plastic docks for $29, so I cut two of them in half to see what was inside. I was impressed: in addition to a larger-than-expected collection of electronic components, they were filled with substantial zinc plates that kept Apple’s devices standing safely upright, no easy feat since the docks kept shrinking every year. The only problem: most (but not all) of Apple’s docks have been model-specific and case-unfriendly, issues that were particularly pronounced in the official iPhone 5s Dock and iPhone 5c Dock. When Twelve South released the handsome multi-device and case-compatible HiRise and HiRise Deluxe, many people — including me — had no need for a more limited, Apple-designed alternative.

Somewhat belatedly, Apple has just released the iPhone Lightning Dock ($39), its first docking solution for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. It’s not clear why Apple took its time releasing this accessory, which uncharacteristically has a 2014 date on the back of its box. But it’s the dock Apple should have released three years ago, delivering case compatibility, multi-device support, and the expected Apple minimalism. It has no back support for your iPhone, instead relying on a stiffened and modestly padded Lightning connector to hold your device on the traditional Apple light recline. And it also includes an audio-out port, which has been absent from all of its third-party rivals. Now that Apple has released the right sort of dock, should you consider buying one?…

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iPad mini ▪ May 4, 2015

iPad mini ▪ April 14, 2015

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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iPad mini ▪ April 9, 2015

Continuing its line of combination battery cases and external storage solutions for iOS devices, Mophie today announced a collection of new accessories in the Space family: Space Pack for iPad mini ($200-$400), Space Pack for iPhone 6 ($150-$300), Space Pack for iPhone 6 Plus ($150-$300), and SpaceStation ($150-$300). The three Space Packs combine iPad or iPhone-recharging battery cases with 32, 64, or 128GB of storage capacity, while SpaceStation offers the same three storage capacity choices with a standalone, device-agnostic USB battery pack. A free Space app lets you access movies, music, photos, and data that have been separately stored in the Space accessories by your computer, using an included USB cable.

Mophie’s batteries differ considerably between the devices. The iPhone 6 Space Pack has a 3,300mAh battery, which is said to provide a 100% recharge of the device, while the iPhone 6 Plus version has a smaller 2,600mAh battery that Mophie says will deliver a 50% recharge. An 8,000mAh battery in the more expensive iPad mini case promises a 100% recharge, and a 6,000mAh battery in SpaceStation is claimed to offer “3X extra battery” for unspecified devices — certainly smaller phones, rather than the iPhones and iPads supported by the other models.

All of the new Space Pack batteries are available for preorder now from Mophie’s web site, and will ship in May. The SpaceStation and lower-priced Space Packs for the iPhone 5/5s (16GB / 32GB / 64GB) are in stock now. expand full story

iPad mini ▪ April 7, 2015

A new batch of photos published by French site NowhereElse may give us an idea of what the next generation of the iPad mini will look like. The images are said to be of the casing for the unannounced tablet upgrade, and seem to feature some design elements inspired by the most recent version of the larger iPad model.

While the third-generation iPad mini was simply a Touch ID-equipped version of the previous model, many Apple fans are hoping to see a redesign much like this with the next refresh.

Aside from the obvious similarities in the shape and materials, the photos and a video of the shell (which can be seen below) reveal a redesigned speaker grille that mirrors the iPad Air 2’s move away from two rows of speaker holes to just one. The new shell also indicates that the iPad mini 4 may be thinner than its predecessor, though it doesn’t seem like a big stretch to predict that.

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iPad mini ▪ April 6, 2015

Apple currently sells more “laptop” than “desktop” Macs, but in reality, most Macs will be used substantially on flat surfaces — desks, tables, and sometimes nightstands. iPads are more lap-friendly, but also tend to get used upright, particularly for watching videos and access in the kitchen. Since I’ve spent a lot of time testing Apple device stands and mounts, I wanted to share what I’ve learned with you, so you can choose the solution that best suits your Mac, iPad, or both at the same time.

Below, I’ve hand-picked options for different types of users, starting with passive MacBook stands such as Twelve South’s BookArc for MacBook Pro ($50). Made from Mac-matching aluminum with gray rubber inserts, BookArc is designed to safely hold a MacBook Pro upright so that its ports and SD card reader are easily accessible. Twelve South also sells a smaller version of BookArc for the MacBook Air, a bigger BookArc for the Mac Pro, and an earthy version called BookArc mod for fans of wood. That’s a rarity, as most Mac and iPad stands are designed to match Apple’s products, as you’ll see inside…

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