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iPhone Life's 2014 Rugged Gear Gift Guide

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In this day and age it's become commonplace for us to do just about everything with our iDevices, which means that we need gear that can keep up with us on any outlandish escapades, as well as on our day to day grind. The items featured here represent some of the best in their respective categories; built tough and designed with integrity and durability to handle the  adventures that lie ahead. Many of the products featured here have impressive MIL-STD or IP ratings, which you can learn more about by clicking HERE.

Here at iPhone Life we love turning people on to great gear that fits their specific purpose and need and we're hoping that these reviews will make your holiday shopping that much easier. Whether as a present for yourself, or as gift idea for family or friends, this list of exceptional products will help you find the perfect accessories.



ABC and Apple Offer More TV Choices

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While pundits continue to look for a new Apple TV box that lets users break with their cable companies, perhaps Apple's approach is to slowly offer cord-cutting features with the existing Apple TV and iOS devices. Each new feature takes a step in the right direction. Instead of cutting the cord with a Samurai sword, we have the equivalent of death by a thousand paper cuts. Case in point, ABC now lets users watch full-length episodes on the Apple TV or iOS device, even if they don't have a cable subscription.



Holiday Gift Guide: Chargers

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We love our iPhones, and use them so much that we often run out of power. What to do? Carry a spare battery pack. These are some of my favorites. TYLT makes some attractive accessories and one that deserves a spot in your gadget bag is the TYLT Energi Travel Charger. It replaces the USB wall charger that comes with your iPad or iPhone, but what sets it apart is it includes a battery. You need to carry a wall charger anyway, so why not carry one that incudes a battery. You can double the life of your iPhone battery while on the go.



Holiday Gift Guide: Docks

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People always ask me what to get the person who has everything. My response? Something to keep it in. Or in the case of an iPhone, iPad or MacBook, something to dock it in. My favorite docks come from HengeDocks. I've used their MacBook docks for years as they make it easy to reconnect keyboard, monitors, and other peripherals on demand. You have to make sure you get the right model for your particular MacBook, but it is one of the first things I look for when I get a new MacBook!



Is the Plinth the Best Tablet Stand?

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The claim was pretty outlandish: "The Best Tablet Stand in the world." Well, I had to try it. And for the most part, that claim was pretty much on target. One exception is the name, "Plinth," which doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. And the fact that it ships from the U.K. making it a little harder to get. But that could be remedied if Plinth ($32) gets a U.S. distributor or retail outlet.



Product Review: Xtorm Power Case for iPhone 6 by A-Solar

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I am a power user for sure. I have my phone with me all of the time and have even been known to fall asleep with it clutched in my hand. Clearly, putting my phone down so it can charge is not something that makes me happy. I loved the power case I had for my old iPhone 5s, but when the 6 came out, I had to replace it. The good people at A-Solar sent me the Xtorm Power Case AM412 (69, about $85.53) to take for a test spin. Here's how it went.



TAG Heuer Answers Apple Watch Wakeup Call

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Many traditional watch makers sat on the sideline while smartwatches from Pebble, Motorola, Samsung, LG, and others were released. But now that Apple is about to release their Apple Watch, with heavy emphasis on fashion and the high-end market, those luxury watch makers no longer have the luxury of waiting. With the Apple Watch starting at $350, and rumored to stretch to $5,000 or more for the gold models, this is a shot across the bow for Rolex and others.



FiiV iPad Case Houses a HotSpot and Battery Pack

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When considering the purchase of an iPad case, things like affordability, design, and protection all factor into the decision. The FiiV iPad case—currently on IndieGogo—adds a few more options for iPad owners. This smart case alleviates two common struggles you may face while you're out and about: Battery life and Wi-Fi. And the case itself is surprisingly slim even with the inclusion of added peripherals.



Holiday Gift Guide: Wireless Speakers

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This is part two of my Holiday Gift Guide. Part one covered headphones and today's topic is Wireless Speakers. For the low-end "Good" selection, I like the Boombotix REX. The sound is good and it comes from a compact yet robust package. It's durable and water resistant, with all ports sealed by rubber flaps. There's a strong belt clip so you can take the Boombotix with you and not worry about the weather.



Holiday Gift Guide: Good, Better, Best

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Every year, around this time, people ask me what they should get as a gift for some tech lover in their life. So I put together a presentation entitled Todd's Holiday Gift Guide: Good/Better/Best. This way, purchasers can decide what their budget is and pick out an appropriate gift! The categories I addressed include Headphones, Wireless Speakers, Stylus, Chargers, Docks, Smart Home Devices, and Smart Watches.



Product Review: Wahoo Fitness TICKR X Heart Rate Monitor/Workout Tracker

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Oh how I love me some fitness gadgets! When Wahoo sent me this heart rate monitor to review, my heart skipped a beat because this thing is cool. The wireless training tools market is growing fast these days. I think everyone is tired of having a bunch of gear that requires a degree in engineering to figure out how to use, so to have something like the Wahoo Fitness TICKR X ($99.99) is pretty great since it works right out of the box.



An Interview with Catalyst on Designing the Perfect Waterproof iPhone Case

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Do you ever stop and wonder how your favorite rugged waterproof iPhone case is designed and produced? I recently had the opportunity to chat with the owners and creative forces behind Catalyst, the manufacturer of my own favorite waterproof case; and from the sound of it, it's no simple matterThe conversation we had really shines a light on just how much energy, attention, and commitment to the highest standards are poured into their exceptional line of extreme duty cases.



An iPhone with Prescription Glass?

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Ever since I started using computer back in 1982, with my first Apple ][ Bell & Howell Edition, I have needed to wear glasses. Staring for hours at tiny screens didn't help matters and I've worn prescription lenses ever since. It's just a necessary evil, with my job requiring so much computer interaction. However, Scientific American tells us about future phones that could do the vision correction on their own, allowing users to view the screen without glasses.



Bose Headed Back to Apple Stores for the Holidays

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Apple and Bose have an interesting relationship, to say the least. Apple bought Beats by Dre this summer for $3 billion, their largest acquisition ever. Bose products, which had been available in Apple stores were recently pulled from shelves. Bose had sued Beats over noise cancellation patents, and Apple inherited that mess, but that matter has been settled.



Review: Life N Soul Bluetooth Speaker

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Life n Soul has a Bluetooth speaker that is like a mullet...business up front, party in the back. That's because the BM211 Bluetooth Speaker ($79.99) has a no-nonsense speakerphone, suitable for conference calls with multidirectional speakers, so the whole office can participate. There's a clever slot that lets you rest a phone or tablet so you can control your VoIP, phone call, Facetime, or, when it's time to party, your music playlist. I could also see using the stand, and speaker, at trade shows.



SMS BioSport Headphones Available Now!

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I got you excited about these new headphones a few months ago, and now they're here! SMS Audio BioSport in-ear headphones, developed in collaboration with Intel, are now available at Dick's Sporting Goods, smsaudio.com and amazon.com for MSRP $149.95. Here are the answers to a few questions you may have about these heart rate measuring headphones:



Make Your DSLR as Portable as Your iPhone

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When asked what's the best camera, professional photographers will often say "the one you have with you." That's why iPhones are increasingly being used, even by pros, for photography. But what if there was a way to make DSLRs more portable, so they were always handy? That's the concept behind Miggo's Strap & Wrap. This novel invention was demonstrated at the New York City CE Week show and, following a successful Kickstarter campaign, I was able to try it with my Canon EOS Rebel.



UZBL makes the iPad mini usable under extreme conditions

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I've been a fan of UZBL since over two years ago, when I wrote about them here. Recently, I attended a conference for educators (NYSCATE) and was pleased to see them in their own booth. They've come a long way, and I got to try their newer Shockwave case, for my newest iPad mini 3. As expected, the three-piece design is quite rugged, thanks to a combination of air cells, thick rubber, and hard plastic. There's also a built-in screen protector.



The TravelCard Charger—No Bigger Than a Couple of Credit Cards

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You can never have enough power, or have a battery pack that's too thin, at least that seems to be the design methodology for the TravelCard Charger ($39), and I appreciate it. It's a simple concept, a battery charger the same size as a couple of credit cards. Many have tried, but to keep the size and weight down they don't include a Lightning cable and often use plastic which feels flimsy, and if it's to be kept in a wallet in the pocket, could break.



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