While Apple excels at creating best-in-category hardware and software,
every time the company has unleashed a new mouse, well…let’s just say
that their rodentia haven’t lived up to the Apple name. And sometimes
their mice have just plain sucked. But now with the Magic Mouse, which
brings Multi-Touch technology to the desktop, Apple has created an
input device a bit more worthy of its pedigree.
One of the big reasons we didn’t have a gadget-crush on the third-gen
iPod shuffle (3 out of 5 stars, Jun/09) is its reliance on Apple’s
earbuds to control the device. Without any buttons on the shuffle’s
chassis, the inline remote on the included ’buds is the only way to
navigate tracks, play, pause, or make volume adjustments. But now
Scosche’s tapSTICK aims to improve your shuffle experience by adding
back the third-gen shuffle’s missing buttons.
If you’ve become accustomed to the MacBook’s multitouch capabilities,
you’ll find yourself missing them when you use a desktop Mac. Wacom has
an answer, care of its recently refreshed Bamboo line, which adds a new
take on tablet input. We tested the Bamboo Fun, which recognizes the
pen, as well as touch input from your fingers--including some
multitouch gestures. For long-time tablet users who are used to
pen-only control, the addition of touch capabilities is nice,
especially in image editors like Photoshop and iPhoto, where using
two-finger pinches and reverse pinches can zoom in and out of images.
You can also use gestures to rotate images. It’s not a feature that
comes into play all that often, but it’s welcome when you do need it.
There are nine touch gestures in total, but they’re all limited to one-
and two-finger motions--and that’s one to two fingers short of the
three- and four-finger gestures supported by the latest MacBooks.
An iPod speaker is a great investment if you want to rock out with
friends--unless you and your friends prefer to dance around with
headphones on, like those silhouetted party people in Apple’s print
ads. iLuv’s iSP100 is portable, compact, and takes regular AAA
batteries, so there’s no need to tote along an AC adapter or charger.
But the anemic sound it produces might have you reconsidering that
“let’s all just put our headphones on and dance around” idea.
We’ve seen the “just plug it in” pitches on late-night TV, the cheesy
website, and the spotty instructions, none of which exactly inspire
confidence in the magicJack. But still, the allure of nearly free phone
calls all over the country (or to Canada, Puerto Rico, and the U.S.
Virgin Islands) is strong. Plus since it’s VOIP, your number can travel
with you. Believe it or not, magicJack turns out to be pretty magical.
If you actually use your iPhone’s best features--the 3G network,
push notifications, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Location Services, all those
bells and whistles that make it so awesome--you’ve probably noticed your
battery needs recharging every day or two at least. We never leave home
without the cable and AC adapter that came with our iPhone, so we’re in
luck as long as we can find a power outlet or USB port to plug in to.
But wandering beyond walls and away from computers requires some extra
gadgetry to keep our iPhone charged, namely Belkin’s Dual Auto Charger
for the car and the iPWR SuperPack backup battery for everywhere else.
If you were a kid (or had a kid) any time between the mid-1980s and the
turn of the century, chances are you have a bunch of old videotapes
with incriminating footage on them. Chances are also good that your
mother (or someone like her) has probably bothered you on more than one
occasion about converting those aforementioned tapes—because really,
who uses a VCR anymore? Using Elgato’s Video Capture, you can turn any
analog source into 640x480 digital video files, for playback on your
Mac, iPod touch, or iPhone.
There’s nothing quite like the glow of tubes burning hot in a heavy,
smoky tube amplifier for making an electric guitar sing and scream. But
when you want the sweet sound of six-string Nirvana to go, Native
Instruments’ slick new Guitar Rig Mobile offers a cool combination of a
tiny hardware interface and the stripped-down power of their potent
Guitar Rig software studio for just around a hundred bucks--and it’s got
plenty of big audio bang to fuel your rock ’n’ roll dreams.
Maybe Fujitsu’s design team felt nostalgic for their now-dead printer division, because there’s no way around it--the S1500M looks like a printer (or at least a scanner with an identity crisis). That’s not a bad thing, mind you.