We hear about them all the time these days, ruggedized products that claim to meet or exceed Military Standards, or that refer to IP levels. But what do these designations really mean, and how can they help us make informed decisions when it comes to buying tech accessories or choosing protective gear for our devices?
Apple didn't introduce an iWatch or fitness band at their Worldwide Developers Conference, but they introduced technology to make it easier for others to do so. HealthKit is a framework for developers and gadget makers that can help them integrate fitness and wearable gear with iOS. And Apple isn't taking a backseat to see what happens. They are actively recruiting hospitals and healthcare firms to make the next generation of health products.
I love it when plans come together. The other day my kids were planning on camping in the backyard and they asked for a wireless speaker to enjoy their tunes. However, the forecast called for rain. While my kids can handle getting a little wet, I wasn't thrilled with the idea of ruining my electronics. That same day, the Boombot REX arrived, from Boombotix.
I'm an avid cyclist. My wife and I ride all over the place and participate in a lot of group riding adventures together. Between the two of us we have accumulated just about every carrying case and piece of bike gear you can imagine over the years (even sassy padded bum pants!) So I've tried carrying my phone with me every which way and I've got to say that after trying out the Cycling Ride Pouch by WaterField Designs and Eleven Vélo ($69) I have found a pretty cool solution.
The Zagg Rugged Folio ($149.99 iPad Air/$139.99 iPad mini) is a practical yet superbly functional folio that protects your iPad with a hard shell and comes with a backlit keyboard.
Piel Frama makes nice, quality leather cases for iPhones and other gadgets. But I didn't think they could make a case as slim as the FramaSlim. There has to be a trick, and indeed there is. Instead of a plastic insert or more leather to enclose the iPhone, they use a micro-suction material to attach the iPhone to the stiff leather case. There is a flap that covers the screen, but still, the case is remarkably thin. That flap closes shut thanks to built-in magnets, which is a nice touch.
Pelican has long been considered a pioneer in the design and manufacture of high quality, rugged gear that's designed to last and withstand significant abuse. Their new ruggedized iPhone 5/5s cases continue in this great tradition. With its minimalistic yet highly protective design, the Pelican Voyager ($50) is the latest heavy-duty iPhone case offering from one of the leaders in reliably protective cases. This well-designed case not only meets the demanding Military Standards of device defense, it actually outshines the competition in one critical area.
It's quite possible that Apple itself doesn't yet know when the iPhone 6 will be announced, since there are so many factors involved in ramping up production for the huge number of devices that Apple sells.
Upon unboxing the FLOTE Orbit ($129.99), my college-age daughter Marielle enthusiastically grabbed it and asked if she could use it at her dormitory. I granted her request on the condition that she participate in reviewing the product. Here is that review.
With school about to be back in session, I've been keeping my eye open for great last-minute gear for the returning student. If you (or someone you know) are the type of student who tends to be rough on things, or a student who just needs something durable and reliable that can stand up to the general abuse and heavy lifting that the school year can bring, then the Pelican S105 might be just what you're looking for.
Holy Toledo, this is one of the coolest dang tech ideas to come round since, well, since cool tech things started coming 'round. But anyway, The Power Company has hit the Indiegogo funding goal for the amazing SMART CARD. (Although if you hurry, you can still grab a Smart Card perk pack for $39. Other pack deals include two Smart Cards and a free "Smartie" Tracker.)
Apple loves rounded rectangles so much, they patented the shape. I was rearranging some of the Apple gear in my living room and it occurred to me to create a "PyraMac"—a pyramid of smaller and smaller rounded rectangles, almost like a Mayan temple (Macan Temple?) of aluminum, black, and white plastic. First, there was a recent Mac mini, then an AirPort Extreme (the size of the original Mac mini), then an Apple SuperDrive. On top of that, I placed the current Apple TV and then the previous generation iPod nano. All of these use the rounded rectangle design Apple has popularized.
Given the announced (and shipping) smartwatch products from Samsung, LG, Motorola, Pebble, and other manufacturers, and the substantial rumors around an iWatch from Apple, the question is when, not if, Apple will introduce a wearable offering. But there are some fresh reports that suggest a new twist.
Inateck is a tech accessory company that offers computer peripherals like wireless adapters, mobile charging solutions, and PCI interface cards. They also have a selection of compact and affordable Bluetooth speakers, and recently sent us charging gear and speaker samples to check out. We gave them a go...
When Apple paid $3 billion for Beats by Dr Dre, a lot of analysts think Apple overpaid. But that doesn't mean you have to. Sure, Beats headphones will set you back $200 and if you want wireless Bluetooth headphones with the Beats logo, expect to pay $300 to $350. But there are alternatives.
These adorable plush animals are a must have for any music-loving kid (or adult). Plug Freddy, Manny, or Patch into your iDevice and they'll sing your favorite song, act as if they're narrating a cartoon, or mimic your video game. A bonus? They're soft and cuddly, apart from the battery area in the bottom. See the Plush Pals in action on their website or right here.
I've backed a few projects on Kickstarter, but they're usually boring things like stands and cables. The other day I saw the MYBELL and had to put my money down. The MYBELL is a bicycle horn for the smartphone age. Obviously it mounts to a bicycle handlebar, though I might try it out on my scooter. What makes the MYBELL unique is that you can customize the sound that it plays, just like a custom ringtone on your smartphone. In fact, it will accept MP3 files via the included (weatherized) USB port.
Buzz Aldrin, who inspired the name of Toy Story's Buzz Lightyear, has an Apple connection. He spoke at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference about three years ago. Now, with the 45th anniversary of his walk on the moon, with fellow astronaut Neil Armstrong, he's back in the news. Most recently, Buzz Aldrin offered up his own "Space Selfie," the first ever, taken back in 1966.
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