Tag Archives: Macbook

Griffin BreakSafe Magnetic USB C Power Cable



Griffin LogoMagnetic power couplings are a godsend for the clumsy and accident prone, snapping away under stress and preventing physical damage to cables, connector and laptops. Owners of new USB C devices, such as the latest Apple MacBrook or Google Pixel, have had limited choice up to now but at CES, accessories outfit Griffin announced a new BreakSafe magnetic USB C power cable. Available from April for US$39.99, it’s pricey compared with a standard USB C cable, but think of the magnetic coupling as an investment in protection for your expensive laptop.

Daniel J. Lewis is the host of the award-winning podcast about podcasting, The Audacity to Podcast. Daniel helps others launch and improve their own podcasts for sharing their passions and finding success.

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Griffin iMic for USB C



Griffin LogoGriffin’s iMic has been a long term favourite with those who need 3.5 mm audio jacks on USB-only PCs and laptops. With a USB A plug on one end, and two audio sockets on the other, it does the job of converting audio brilliantly.

But with new MacBooks now only sporting USB C sockets, it was inevitable that Griffin would bring out a new version of the iMic with a USB C connector and here it is. Available in Q2 2016 for US$44.99, Daniel chats with Jackie from Griffin to find out more about the latest iteration of this great gadget.

Daniel J. Lewis is the host of the award-winning podcast about podcasting, The Audacity to Podcast. Daniel helps others launch and improve their own podcasts for sharing their passions and finding success.

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Booq Cobra Laptop Briefcase Review



booq LogoOn review here is the Booq Cobra Laptop Briefcase, a lightweight and high-spec laptop bag. Unlike some of the other Booq bags that I’ve reviewed here for GNC, it’s in the more traditional style for those circumstances where a rucksack looks a little bit too casual. Designed for laptops with screens up to 16″, it’s made with ballistic nylon complimented by lower leather trim, meaning it looks good but is durable too. As you’ll see from the pictures, the YKK zips are mostly on show in bright steel, though the main laptop compartment has a covered waterproof zip.

Booq Cobra Side

Booq Cobra with Laptop

Opening it up, the Cobra has plenty of room inside, with five main compartments for gear. Starting from one side…

  1. Booq Cobra InnerZipped pocket with Booq’s corporate copper-coloured inner, suitable for an A5 size notepad or tablet.
  2. Open pocket with soft jersey inner. Additional easy access pockets within suitable for purse, wallet, mobile phone, MP3 player or tablet. Useful when on the go but gear may fall out.
  3. Big zipped pocket with copper inner. Further internal pockets for A4 notepad and bigger devices, perhaps external hard drive, PSU or even lunchboxes. Couple of pen pockets and a keyring too. Handily, the zip on this goes at least three quarters of the way down the side of the Cobra, so it opens wide. Not sure you’d quite get a change of clothes in here but it’s close.
  4. Big hidden waterproof zipped pocket, with soft padded lining. The is obviously intended for the main device and it comfortably took a big Toshiba Satellite Pro.
  5. Simple open pocket with copper inner, big enough for a magazine or A4 notepad.

There’s padding and protection between the compartments, so gear is going to be looked after wherever it is.

Booq’s copper-coloured inner may not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s much easier to find stuff in the depths of the pockets. To some extent the pictures don’t do the colour justice – it’s better in real life, as they say.

Booq Cobra CarryFor carriage, the Cobra’s well covered. To start with, there’s the two handles which are comfortable without being overly broad, and attach to the bag with seatbelt-style webbing. The handles fold back into the bag when not needed, keeping the bag neat. Then there’s an over-the-shoulder strap, made from similar webbing with a large shoulder pad and metal clasps at each end. And finally there’s a webbing loop that can be passed over the handle of a trolley suitcase to sit the Cobra on top.

Even better, the Cobra has a flat bottom, so the bag stays upright when put down (mostly!).

As with all Booq bags, the Cobra is tagged with a Terralinq serial number, which is Booq’s “lost and found” service, giving a much greater chance of being reunited with lost gear. Let’s hope you never need to use it.

At US$295, GB£210 or 295€, the Booq Cobra isn’t an impulse purchase so I imagine the briefcase will be protecting some high-end gear. The Cobra seems a quality product – well finished, no lose threads, metal fixtures – and it’s perfect for cossetting a MacBook Pro or gaming laptop while travelling. Available on-line (US, UK, Europe) and other good retailers.

Thanks to Booq for the review Cobra.


Lenmar shows off the Chug Plug for your MacBook



lexmar

Jenny Simpson of Lenmar stopped by TPN in Las Vegas recently to talk about the company’s new battery pack for your MacBook computer.

The new Chug Plug can provide up to four hours of additional batter life and connects via the computers existing cable. It is Apple specific, so don’t expect to get one for your Windows PC. It has built-in smart technology that can detect how much power your Macbook needs and push extra if necessary. The Chug Plug will be available for $159 starting in March. You can check it out over at Lenmar.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network and Chris Davis of Health Tech Weekly

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Virgin Mobile’s YouTube Wants to “Blinkwash” You



Virgin Mobile
Virgin Mobile

Virgin Mobile is running a new video on Youtube. It’s called “Blinkwashing”. You will need a webcam connected to your computer, which the YouTube page will calibrate your face and blinking. This will act as a remote control to switch the video up.

Every time you blink, the video changes. It doesn’t lose place in the video; it just moves to another video with the exact same script. Blink your eyes and you see two girls talking on the phone about Virgin mobile. Blink again and you see an aerial view of police cars and the script sounding like its coming from the CB. Blink again and two bikers are arm wrestling.

It doesn’t matter how many times you blink, the channel will change. If you don’t blink at all, the video will continue on. There is everything from a clown to a karaoke channel talking about Virgin Mobile.

virgin-blinkwash[1]When I tried this on my Macbook Pro, it worked like a charm. However, on my desktop sits an older Logitech 9000 webcam which brought problems. You won’t be able to do this on mobile devices.

Could this be the start of something new? There is a possibility. Other head movement instructions could turn Youtube videos into a “Choose your own adventure” video. Want to walk through a door on the left – turn your head to the left.

In the meantime, I think I’m going to switch over to Virgin Mobile now…

 


G-Technology G-Drive Mobile Review



On review today is the G-Technology G-Drive Mobile, a 1 TB mobile external hard drive. Aimed squarely at the Apple MacBook crowd, the brushed aluminium finish and white LED compliments the host machine, and the combination of both USB3 and FireWire 800 show its Mac heritage. Of course the drive can be formatted for Windows or Linux use but the G-Drive is pre-formatted for HFS+ and is TimeMachine-compatible. As expected, the G-Drive is bus powered so there’s no power adaptor.

G-Drive Mobile

 

G-Drive Mobile Ports

The G-Drive Mobile has a couple of touches that set it apart from the other mobile drive offerings. To start with, it comes with all the cables that might be needed, so in the box there’s a USB3 cable, a FireWire 800 cable and a FireWire 400 to 800 cable. There’s no getting the box home only to find the cable need for your setup is missing.

G Drive Mobile Cables

Second, the packaging presents the G-Drive to best effect and the “Getting Started” instructions are printed on the inside  lid of the box. Again, it comes back to appealing to the Apple crowd who expect good design.

G-Drive Package

But enough of how it looks. How does it go? Pretty well actually. Connected up to USB 3, the G-Drive Mobile recorded the following data rates:

– hdparm gave 107 MB/s for buffered disk reads.
– dd gave write speeds around 105 MB/s.
 bonnie++ gave 104 MB/s for writes and 141 MB/s for reads.

I’m fairly sure that those figures make G-Drive Mobile the fastest USB3 unit tested, beating the previous holder by a considerable margin. Under FireWire 400, the figures were obviously slower, but are provided here for comparison.

– hdparm gave 36 MB/s for buffered disk reads.
– dd gave write speeds around 22 MB/s.
– bonnie++ gave 22 MB/s for writes and 55 MB/s for reads.

Price-wise, the model here costs £129.95 but if you want USB3 only, there’s a much sleeker and cheaper version at £109.95 in the Apple store. However, if you need FireWire with USB3, the model viewed above is hard to beat, giving historical compatibility with older gear while also offering fast data transfers on newer kit.

Thanks to G-Technology for providing the G-Drive Mobile to review.


Upgrading An Old MacBook To An SSD



One of the machines I have is a 6 year old 13” white plastic Intel MacBook. In recent years I’ve used it as a backup machine just in case I needed it. It has a 2 gigahertz Core 2 Duo processor and is maxed out at 2 gigabytes of RAM.

Solid State Drive prices have been dropping lately, so I figured making the swap to a solid state drive and the performance boost it would bring would be worth it. I ended up buying a Crucial 128 gigabyte SSD for around $104 dollars with Amazon Prime picking up the shipping cost.

This evening I made the installation. I started out by installing the new SSD in an external Firewire enclosure and installing OS/X onto it first. After a very smooth, painless installation process, OS/X asked me what I wanted to transfer from the old drive to the new one, and though I left out most of the documents and other clutter, I did tell it to move the applications over, which to my surprise it did a stellar job of copying over to the new SSD drive.

After rebooting into the new drive while it was still connected via Firewire, I copied over a few miscellaneous files I needed and then shut everything down. Next, I swapped the new drive into the MacBook.

The results are nothing short of amazing. The old 7,200 RPM hard drive made the machine seem sluggish and non-responsive. With the SSD in the same machine, things seem to happen almost instantly. The conclusion I take away is that conventional hard drive performance has been a bigger performance bottleneck than we realized.

The days of the conventional spinning hard drive are numbered. The conventional hard drive will one day be going the way of the cathode ray tube monitor and floppy discs.

If you are tempted to shell out big bucks for a new machine just to get a performance boost, if you have an older machine that has otherwise good hardware, consider upgrading to an SSD for an incredible performance boost at a fraction of the price of a new machine.


Octa Whale Tail Vacuum Dock



Octa Vacuum dock with Whale Tail
Octa Vacuum dock with Whale Tail

If you are looking for a way to hold your iPad, maybe your hand hurts after a while, then this dock might be something you want to look at. Octa has an iPad Vaccum dock that puts your hand in the middle of the iPad. Best part – you can use this for your iPad, Macbook Air, Kindle, Nook, or any other device 3 1/2 inches in circumference.

The Octa is a half-ball with a suction cup affixed to the flat end. Affix the suction cup to the device, and press the button. The suction technology affixes the Octa to the iPad. You can even attach to an iPad case, if the surface is flat and non-porous.

Place the cup on the back side of the tablet, then push the button 5 times. That will create a suction to the device. To remove, you lift the rubber tabs to let air into the surface area (make sure you have a good hold on the tablet).

Octa Whale Tail

Octa on Wall
Affix the Octa on a non-porous wall to hang your iPad

The Octa Whale Tail is an adapter you can connect to the Vacuum Dock. It looks exactly like a Whale tail. This allows your iPad to sit upright. It also lets you set your iPad at a better angle when you are sitting in a reclined or feet up position. You can also reverse the Vacuum dock and use the tail as an iPad holder. Attach the dock to a non-porous wall (or the back side of an airplane tray in its upright position), then bend the tail so it holds the tablet.

I’ve been using the Octa Whale Tail for a couple days now, and I am really impressed. By putting my hand in the middle of the iPad, my hand doesn’t get tired. The tail can also mold around your hand for an ergonomic feel. This would be perfect for someone that has to hold a tablet all day – maybe a poll taker, a wait staff (if they have an iPad POS), a teacher, a speaker and more.

The Octa Vacuum with Whale Tail is $49.95, and available now.

 


Sticker Munch Make Logos Fun at The Gadget Show



Geek booksNovelty sticker company Sticker Munch launched at last week’s The Gadget Show Live and I was able to grab an interview with MD and founder, Sufian Hassan. Sticker Munch offer a range of novelty stickers that put the fun back into technology by incorporating the logo as part of the design or by trading on the geekiness of it all.

The stickers themselves are high quality vinyl decals and can be stuck to almost anything, from laptops to books, skateboards to vehicles. Some of the decals will be for particular models or devices, e.g. iPad, especially when the logo is integral to the design, but others can be stuck anywhere!

Prices range from an astonishingly low 50p up to £10.

 


KB Covers Keyboard Overlays



KB Covers offer specialised keyboard covers for Apple Macs and MacBooks. Rather than dust covers, these are keyboard overlays which re-label for foreign languages or show keyboard shortcuts.

KB Cover Keyboard Overlay

A good example for the former is a foreign language student who wishes to use a keyboard with the studied country’s layout and alphabet. Imagine the convenience for students of Arabic or Cyrillic languages. For software packages, the overlays highlight keyboard shortcuts to enhance productivity – it’s much faster to press “alt-f” than it is to use the mouse to select an item from a pull-down menu. All major software is covered – Photoshop, Final Cut, Media Composer, Sibelius, etc.

The overlays are a ultra-thin and made from high quality silicone. There’s a big selection of overlays for different countries and software packages. Prices are in the range $20-$40 and I think they’re great value.

Interview by Andy McCaskey and Courtney Wallin of SDR News and RV News Net.

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