If you're a fan of comics and/or superhero movies, you owe a lot to Stan Lee. Lee is the creative genius behind most of the Marvel superheroes like Iron Man, Spider-Man, the Hulk, and the Fantastic Four. All of which have contributed greatly to Hollywood's bottom line lately, and the U.S. Economy for that matter. Marvel may be owned by Disney now, but the nonagenarian (I had to look up what a 91-year-old is called!) isn't slowing down. He just held his annual Stan Lee's Comikaze (put on with Elvira) and I had a front row seat. Still full of energy and enthusiasm, Mr. Lee launched his new blog site and a contest, in partnership with LiveJournal.
The iPhone 6 is beautiful, but you probably want to protect it without adding too much bulk. The Crusta case from Amzer ($45) might be the solution. Thanks to a robust set of color choices, you can have a unique design combination, 42 combinations in all. Plus, you can still show off that gold iPhone 6, thanks to the tempered glass back. They also have a tempered glass screen protector as an option. The effect makes the Crusta look and feel like just a bumper, but it provides all around coverage with six-foot drop protection and dust proof connections.
I need a Lightning cable in my car, as well as a microUSB cable. My iPhone might be in a battery case that uses microUSB to charge, and I also have some Android devices. I keep a cheap no-contract phone in my car, for emergencies, just to dial 911 if needed. So I like to have Lightning and microUSB options.
As I prepare for a week of travel, I'm trying to pack as light as possible. I know I'll need a Lightning cable or two, for my iPhone and iPad, so one of those cables will be the Kero Nomad ($24.99). It's a tiny little thing, at about three inches long. There's a removable cap that can fit on a keyring. I was worried that the cap might come off, and I'd lose the cable, but the cap connection is quite sturdy, so that concern was alleviated. There are other cables that are about as small, but they are usually quite stiff. This makes it hard to connect an iPhone to a wall plug, and you have to prop up the phone to make a good connection. Fortunately, the Kero Nomad is flexible and that concern also goes away.
It's hard to find one case that meets all your needs, but the ibattz mojo REFUEL ARMOR S Removable Battery Case comes close. First off, it is a rugged, splash-resistant case. It accommodates the Touch ID fingerprint reader on the iPhone 5s through a rubberized flap that normally covers the home button but pulls down to reveal the sensor. There's a screen protector built in as well.
I attended Stan Lee's Comikaze convention this weekend, in Los Angeles, and Mr. Lee has already made some news. In partnership with Madefire, Stan Lee's POW! Entertainment will be creating new characters and stories for Madefire's Motion Books interactive multimedia platform. Stan Lee is the co-creator of just about every character in the Marvel Universe, most notably Spider-Man. He's also made appearances in the assortment of Marvel movies made over the past decade and those cameos are one of the things I look forward to with each movie.
I don't like to recommend Kickstarter projects too much, because I've been burned and I hate to let others down. But once in a while a project comes along, like the Pebble watch I backed on Kickstarter, that makes it worth it. That was an example of an existing smartwatch firm, with a good design, and experience, and enough money already raised to make the product a reality (eventually.) There's another project, the Pronto power pack, from a group who has experience in the field, the backing of Shark Tank's Mark Cuban, and way more than the $50,000 they sought already raised. So the signs are good.
While all the attention in the smartwatch arena was on Apple, Microsoft snuck in a wearable that looks more like a fitness band, but offers some smart tricks. Most notably, while the Microsoft Band works (best) with Windows Phone, it also works with Android and iOS. When you're in third place, you have to acknowledge the leaders, and Microsoft made sure their wearable worked with the top two platforms. However, Cortana, Microsoft's answer (and some might say a superior one) to Siri is the only voice command option. This could be a Trojan horse to get people to try the band and then migrate to a Windows Phone to take full advantage. But the Apple Watch should be out soon enough.
I've used the Lowe's Iris home automation system for quite a while and though the technology is decent, the interface is lacking. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to try the Piper from Icontrol for an extended amount of time, and I really like it. It addresses many of the deficiencies in the Iris system. For starters, it's compact and integrated whereas there were a lot of pieces in the Iris system. Instead of a separate motion detector, environmental (temperature, humidity, light, and sound) sensor, hub, and camera, the Piper has that all in one sleek unit.
When Apple preannounced their Apple Watch, some naysayers complained that the watch doesn't work as a standalone device. It requires an iPhone to be fully functional. But those critics should be careful what they wish for. There are competing smartwatches that can accept a SIM card and access the Internet directly via a cellular carrier, but those wearables may require a data contract, and that can cost as much as a phone or tablet would cost.