Ahhh, the trackball. Once the darlings of ergonomics-minded computer users, people often assume they’ve gone the way of those weird kneeling chairs from the 1980s. But like many other relics of the era—Eddie Murphy’s career, spandex, and Bon Jovi come to mind—the trackball is still alive. But trackballs have actually gotten better with time. Logitech’s M570 trackball combines the best aspects of the device you already know, with some new technology to make it even easier to use.
No one needs a stylus, at least according to Apple. But any artist using an iPad as a sketching tool will tell you that a stylus will take your art from finger painting to, well, actual painting. After all, Michelangelo didn’t do many hand turkeys, and he certainly didn’t draw with his finger.
Apple users are used to being on the cutting edge. When the original iMac shipped, it was the first computer to drop old-school ports in favor of USB. Since then, USB has become the de facto standard for everything from printers to cell phone chargers. Two generations later, USB 3.0 devices are emerging, offering data-transfer speeds that crush earlier versions, but Apple has been dragging its feet about bringing that power to the Mac. Of course, this isn’t entirely Apple’s fault. Intel isn’t supporting 3.0 in its chipsets, and NEC—gatekeeper of the USB 3.0 spec—hasn’t released OS X–compatible drivers, leaving Mac-o-philes lusting for that super speed. But if you just can’t wait for USB 3.0 to come natively to the Mac, LaCie has a solution—sort of.
The first time you pick up the Hard Candy Stylus and Pen, you’ll be struck by how it feels in your hand. It’s solid and has great balance—and sure enough, it levels perfectly on your index finger. By the time you put it down, though, you’ll be struck by how smudgy your silver stylus has become. That’s the nature of the chrome beast, we’re afraid, and this one is so great-looking that you may never want to touch it.
USB: it connects our things to other things and sometimes even to our computers. Apple was the first to implement this once next-generation technology, but unfortunately the company fell off the bandwagon when it came time to adopt USB 3.0. Of course, this is not entirely Apple's fault--NEC has not yet released any Mac OS X compatible drivers for the system, leaving Mac-o-philes lusting for that 5GB/s upload rate.
If you were one of the Lost faithful that missed the series finale because of a scheduling faux pas--yes, we’re still mad about that--you’ll be glad to hear that Elgato’s EyeTV One can keep you on track with your favorite shows. This simple digital TV tuner can transform your Mac into a TV, and best of all, the included EyeTV 3 software schedules and records shows for later viewing.
Apple makes excellent pack-in keyboards--unlike the bizarro world of PCs and their cheap-as-possible extras. But even Apple’s standard can be beat, and Matias’ new Tactile Pro 3, a USB 2.0 keyboard with a decidedly old-school feel, does just that. Mechanical springs and switches let you feel the action as you type, subtly improving your accuracy and comfort while you’re in front of your Mac.
Bigfoot may get the majority of the media’s attention, especially after his stint on The Six Million Dollar Man. But the real star in the half-man/half-bear/monkey/gorilla arena is the Yeti. While Bigfoot is out stomping his footprint into mud, the Blue Microphone Yeti (shown left at very close to its actual size) is doing a bang-up job recording your podcasts, band practices, and events. Pretty good for a mythical creature--er, an affordably priced USB mic.
With Nike+ included with the latest iPhones and iPods, it’s hard for an outsider to compete in the gadget-aided exercise race. But Adidas leaps past Nike’s and Apple’s home-court offering in one big way: heart rate tracking. The miCoach requires more hardware--annoying, especially for runners--but heart rate data allows for more specific workout instructions. That level of detail and the comprehensive online training tools win in a sprint, but some visual feedback would help miCoach to go the distance.