Skype is great for communicating with friends and colleagues in other places, but let’s face it: that spacey, hollow sound you get from your Mac’s built-in mic could use some improvement. Blue Mics aims to fix that with Tiki, a USB microphone designed to improve your Skype calls. There’s no software required—Tiki uses onboard electronics to process the sound and enhance call quality.
How Apple could ever think that the four USB 2.0 ports on an iMac or Mac mini would be enough for all of the digital cameras, external hard drives, and iOS devices in our lives is beyond us. MacBook users are even worse off. Two USB ports? Seriously? Fortunately, there’s a cure to the too-few-ports blues: the Satechi 12-Port USB Hub. It’s powered, lightweight, and wicked useful.
BiKN is a simple piece of hardware that tethers your phone to anything you don’t want to lose: your keys, your wallet, your cat, even your kids. BiKN comes with an iPhone 4/4S case and two tags (additional tags are $49.99 a pair), which you can attach to just about anything. A free iPhone app lets you communicate with the tags in Leash, Page, or Find mode. In Leash mode, the tag “pings” audibly when it gets far enough away from the iPhone. Page makes the tag beep wherever it is, so you can locate it by sound. Find mode tells you how far away from your tag you are, and which direction it’s in. And if you misplace your phone but have a tag handy, you can press a button to page your phone.
For the tens of millions of us patiently waiting for Apple to flip the switch on new iPhone preorders, Reuters has weighed in on a persistent rumor that the proprietary 30-pin connector that's been used since the third generation of the iPod is finally meeting its maker, presumably to make room for an underside headphone jack.
For those arguing that Apple wouldn't render a decade of third-party plugs and accessories incompatible, we beg to differ. Even if you want to ignore all of the leaked prototypes and case mock-ups that deliberately point to a narrow connector, remember that this is Apple. Millimeters mean everything, and the old-school connector takes up a bunch of them, so if we want a thinner phone, something has to give.
The iTwin ($99, www.itwin.com) is a handy way to securely share files with no worries about logins or fiddling with settings. Using a familiar drag-and-drop model that anyone who’s used a USB thumb drive can understand, the iTwin just works. And you can get one if you win our August contest.
Moving files: You have a lot of choices, and they all have drawbacks. Emailing files gets unwieldy when you make a lot of changes, and some people worry about the security of cloud services like Dropbox. You can set up file sharing in System Preferences > Sharing, but it can be a confusing process for beginning users, especially using it cross-platform. iTwin combines the ease of using a USB thumb drive with the seemingly magical convenience of file sharing—the company wants you to think of it “like a transfer cable without the cable,” and that’s pretty much how it works.
“The new iPad” has arrived, and thanks to months of mostly accurate rumors, the only real surprise wound up being the name (so much for iPad 3 or iPad HD!). But that doesn’t mean this year’s iPad is perfect -- we’re the sort of users who are always left wanting more.
It’s tough being an early adopter, such as those of us who jumped on board the Thunderbolt train earlier this year with a new Mac, only to discover there was so very little to plug into that I/O port. Among the many promises of Thunderbolt is a docking station, and Belkin appears poised to please on that front.
More than six months after its introduction, we’re still waiting for the explosion of cool peripherals to plug into our shiny new Thunderbolt I/O port which now comes standard with all Macs (save for the lone holdout, the Mac Pro). Sure, we’ve seen some awesome, lightning-fast RAID storage and some hints of other greatness to come, but what about other potential uses for the technology? Here are a dozen things we’d like to see that port used for -- so let’s get cracking, engineers!