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Author Archive for Janet Cloninger

Equalizer case for iPhone 5/5s

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Although the lights on the back of this iPhone 5/5s case look like an equalizer display, they don’t actually react to specific frequencies and the max levels are pre-set.  They will react to any music or ambient sound, and they look cool and add interest to what would normally be a plain, black cover over the back of your phone.  The lights in the Equalizer Case for iPhone 5 use their own battery, so they won’t drain the phone.  The case covers the back and sides and has tabs that roll over onto the front to keep the screen off the tabletop should you lay it facedown.  The polycarbonate case adds 1/4″ thickness and 1″ height and 1.8 ounces to your phone.  The little boom box apparently holds the two CR2032 batteries that power the lights (a test set is supplied with the case), and a power button on the top of the case turns off the lights when you aren’t ready to party.  The Equalizer Case For iPhone 5 is available from ThinkGeek for $14.99.

 

The Bolstr is smaller than a gear bag but bigger than a holster

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Men seem to like to carry lots of stuff in their pockets, and sometimes they have too much stuff and need a bag.  But many men have aversions to bags that are much smaller than a laptop bag or to bags that don’t look like they can be carried into war.  Sometimes neither of those styles are appropriate – laptop bags can be too big to just run around town for errands and tactical bags don’t look appropriate for work.  Bolstr, a current Kickstarter project, wants to be just right – not too big nor small, and not too much like a purse.  Bolstr has an asymmetrical design, which the designer says “eludes the man purse stigma”.  It has a slim design that can expand to hold extra items when needed.  There’s a sunglasses pocket and one for a phone, and it’s big enough to hold a small tablet like the iPad mini or phablets.  It’s made of polyurethane-coated 1050D ballistic nylon and has waterproof zippers to keep your gear dry, and it’s available in a right- or left-handed model.  It will be made in the USA.  The funding period ends Sat, August 30, 2014 at 1:16 AM EDT, and funding has already far exceeded the $10,000 goal.  A minimum pledge of $45 gets you one Bolster.  Shipment is expected to begin in September, 2014.

This Belkin Powerhouse XL dock is designed for Android tablets and eReaders

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This PowerHouse Micro-USB Dock XL is designed for Android tablets and phones, eReaders, and similar devices charged by microUSB.  It has a dock to adjust the microUSB plug so you can dock many of your devices while they are still in a case.  You can rapidly charge your device while photos, music, apps, and other data transfers.  This PowerHouse Dock has a painted aluminum finish and a 6′ cable.  It will look and work great on your desk or on a bedside tablet.  The PowerHouse Micro-USB Dock XL is $39.99 at Belkin.

This new watch from Tokyoflash Japan is Radioactive

tokyoflash-kisai-radioactive-watch-1 The face of the new Kisai Radioactive watch from Tokyoflash Japan looks like it could be the monitor display on a nuclear reactor.  The lights flash to display the time, and an animation mode will look like a constantly changing status display (can be turned off).  The case and band are made of brushed stainless steel, and the watch has a mineral crystal lens.  It has a PL301517 rechargeable watch battery, and it is water-resistant to 3ATM.  The Kisai Radioactive is available from Tokyoflash Japan at the special release price of $139 until Thursday, August 21st at 11am Japan time.

The TANDA zap promises to zap your acne away in just one day

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Eight years ago, The Gadgeteer reviewed the Zeno Acne Treatment device, and that review is still being read today.  Acne is a horrible thing that sits right there on your face, for everyone to see.  It can sap your confidence in your appearance, it can physically hurt, and it can leave scars.  People try all kinds of potions and gadgets to try to clear up their skin, and there’s a lot of old-wives tales and home remedies that may harm more than help.  The TANDA zap is an FDA-cleared and dermatologist-recommended home treatment device.  TANDA says the zap starts clearing the breakout immediately, and it’s gentle enough for all skin types and tones without causing redness, dryness, or irritation.  Treatment uses:

  • Blue Light: 414nm blue light works by producing oxygen singlets which attach to the P.acnes bacteria (acne-causing bacteria). These singlets have a phototoxic effect on key porphorins, causing the P.acnes bacteria to self-destruct
  • Sonic vibration: Increases microcirculation to reduce swelling and inflammation while agitating the skin to expose more of the bacteria to the light
  • Gentle warming: Produced by the light energy, opens pores and allows the light to reach more bacteria

The zap is available for $49 in white, pink, or zebra from TANDA.  It can also be found at retail and online merchants.  TANDA also offers other models that are designed for people with larger breakout areas.

Two new 3-in-1 cables from Bloobury lighten your daily carry kit

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Last year, we told you about a 2.5′ retractable 3-in-1 cable from Bloobury that combined an Apple 30-pin connector, an Apple Lightning connector, and a microUSB connector in one cable.  That cable could easily replace three cables in your gear bag, but what if you’re not a fan of the retractable cable format?  This year Bloobury is adding two new 3-in-1 cables to their lineup.  These cables still have the 30-pin connector, Lightning connector, and microUSB connectors, but they aren’t retractable.  The BlooGlow 3-in-1 EL Electroluminescent Lighted iPhone Sync & Charge Cable is 3′ long, and it has embedded electroluminescent lights embedded in the cable that indicate when the device is charging.  The lights seem to run toward the device as it charges, and they slow down as the charge completes.  It’s available with blue or pink lights for $29.95.  The BlooBraid 3-in-1 iPhone Sync + Charge Extra Long Cable is 5′ long.  It’s wrapped in a cotton braided fabric for extra strength.  Both the BlooGlow and the BlooBraid cables are compatible with all Android devices, all iPads, and all iPhones.  Go to the Bloobury site to learn more and to find links to purchase the cables.

The Solar Strap lets you wear your solar charger

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There are a lot of solar chargers on the market, and most of them seem to require you to set them up and leave them in direct sunlight.  Those types are more useful if you have set up camp and will stay around the same place for a long while, but they aren’t so useful if you’ll be hiking, golfing, or at a festival and constantly on the move.  The Sun Strap, a Kickstarter project that’s currently seeking funding, is designed to be worn on a bag strap or even on your bike frame.  It measures 3” x 15” and weighs about 6 ounces.  It has a 5,600 mAh lithium-ion battery that outputs 5V/1A power to recharge most USB-chargeable devices, like your phone, GoPro camera, or even a small tablet like an iPad mini.  The Solar Strap can also be charged using a USB charger, so you’ll leave home with a full charge.  The funding period continues until Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 10:15 PM EDT.  A minimum pledge of $55 gets you a Solar Strap.  If funding is met, the Solar Strap should begin shipping in December 2014.

These SmartPlanet lunch containers expand to hold your lunch and flatten for the trip home

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SmartPlanet has a line of lunch containers that flatten up for compact carrying home after the lunch is eaten.  More importantly for people with not much storage in the kitchen, they don’t take up a lot of storage space, either.  The Collapsible Eco Meal Kits have BPA-free silicone bases that open to hold your food, then collapse flat to half the size.  The bottom part of the container is dishwasher- and microwave-safe, but the tops aren’t safe for either.  There are a variety of sizes and styles, so you can choose just what you need for the type of lunch you prefer.  There are salad bowls with a toppings tray and a dressing container, a soup mug, a pizza slice container that can hold two slices, a travel bowl that fits in a car drink holder, and three sizes of meal kits with one, two, or three compartments and a condiment container built into the lid.  All containers come with a double-ended spoon and fork utensil, and all containers are available in blue, orange, green, or pink.  Prices vary from $8 for the bowl that fits in the drink holder to $18 for the 3-compartment meal container.  You can order the Meal Kits directly from SmartPlanet, but I found the 3-compartment meal container at my local Bed Bath & Beyond store for $10.

Arctic Home Charger 4500 Four Port 4500mA Fast Charger review

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Owners of multiple mobile devices realize that their gear bag or their power strip at home can quickly become a jumble of power adapters.  Sometimes you can share a single charger between multiple devices, but then you’re limited to charging only one of your devices at a time.  With the ARCTIC Home Charger 4500 Four Port 4500mA Fast Charger, you can charge up to four devices at once.  Best of all, this charger is very reasonably priced.  Let’s give it a look. Read More →

VIZIO introduces a sound bar for rooms without a lot of table space

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Today’s big screen TVs have great images, but they often have wimpy sound because their cabinets don’t leave much room for speakers.  You can add on a sound bar, but those usually require quite a bit of table space to stretch out on.  We have a VIZIO TV in our bedroom, and it could use a little help in the sound department because our bedroom is 18.5 feet long, and the TV and the bed are on opposite walls.  There’s no room on the dresser to add a sound bar – but there’s room for the new VIZIO 2.1 Sound Stand.  The 2.1 Sound Stand is only 3″ tall, but it’s designed to hold a TV up to 60 pounds (55″ screen).  VIZIO says: “Equipped with a powerful 5.25″ subwoofer, VIZIO’s 2.1 Sound Stand pumps out smooth, thunderous bass with low frequency responses that reach as low as 55 Hz.  In addition, the VIZIO 2.1 Sound Stand produces bass levels of +5 dB (at 63 Hz) and +15 dB (at 40 Hz) above competitive products, providing consumers with superior audio performance when stacked up against the competition.  Combine that with up to 101 dB volume with less than 1% total harmonic distortion, and consumers now have access to rich, cinematic sound regardless of room size.”

The Sound Stand is equipped with the latest in sound technology: Dolby Digital, DTS TruSurround, DTS TruVolume, and DTS Studio Sound.  It comes with the cables you need to connect to your TV, and it’s equipped with Bluetooth so you can stream music to the speakers from your mobile device or computer.  The 2.1 Sound Stand is available at online retailers and brick-and-mortar stores, or you can order it for $249.99 directly from VIZIO.

No more crawling under the desk to plug things in with the Wall Mounted Outlet Extender

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I just put an Elfa shelving unit in my tiny kitchen with no counter space.  I now have a place to work while preparing food, but plugging in my little KitchenAid chopper requires me to crawl under the unit and reach behind the water cooler to plug it in.  I was thinking about getting a power strip that I could leave laying along the back of the shelf that I work on, but the Wall Mounted Outlet Extender would work better.  You just plug the power cable into your existing 120V grounded outlet, then you can attach the outlet extender to the wall up to six feet away with the included hardware.  As you can see in the picture, it has two AC ports and two 2.4A USB ports on the side, so it would make a great addition in my bedroom, too.  I’d be able to have a wall outlet that has a USB charging station for my phone and iPad that I could easily reach without having to move the nightstand.  The Wall Mounted Outlet Extender is $39.95.  Hammacher Schlemmer is taking orders now, with shipment expected on 8/14/2014.

KitchenAid brings a whole new look to the SodaStream Sparkling Beverage Maker

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Julie reviewed the SodaStream a few years ago and determined it was an economical way to make your own sodas at home.  It gives you the option to make regular, diet, and caffeine-free sodas and flavored waters, but it did look a bit utilitarian.  Big deal, you might say, but there are some people out there (like me) who like a coordinated look in the kitchen.  If you do, and you are a fan of those gorgeous KitchenAid stand mixers, these new SodaStream machines are for you.  The new KitchenAid Sparkling Beverage Maker Powered by SodaStream has an all-metal design, just like their stand mixers.  It measures 13.7″ D x 12.6″ W x 21.4″ H and weighs 20 pounds, so it won’t get tipped over by accident.  It uses SodaStream’s technology, canisters, and syrups to make sodas, and it comes with a 60L CO2 tank, 1L BPA-free reusable bottle, and a SodaStream 3-flavor starter pack.  Its built-in CO2 pressure gauge ensures precise beverage carbonation; it uses 3 AAA batteries, and your first set is included.  It’s available in a range of colors to match your KitchenAid appliances:  Onyx Black, Green Apple, Tangerine, Aqua Sky, Empire Red, White, Contour Silver, and Cobalt Blue.  The KitchenAid Sparkling Beverage Maker Powered by SodaStream is $199.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond.

This new LEGO set puts girls in their places – working as scientists in the Research Institute

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LEGO worked with  Ellen Kooijman, a geoscientist, to create this new play kit that shows female minifigs as scientists working in the Research Institute.  Then LEGO Ideas members selected this kit that contains everything these three scientists need to “explore the world below, around and above us.”  The chemist figure has a lab with glassware and other equipment, the paleontologist studies details of her T-Rex fossil with a magnifying glass, and the astronomer studies the sky with her star map and telescope.  The set has 165 pieces, and it includes building instructions and a booklet with information about the creator and the professions featured in the set.  The Research Institute set is only $19.99 from LEGO.  It’s sold out at the moment, but you should keep an eye on the LEGO site to see when it comes back in stock.  It’s the perfect gift for all the little girls on your holiday gift list to pique or encourage their interest in math and the sciences, and it’s a great gift for women who already are blazing a trail for the younger generation.  (Like me – I have a BS in chemistry and would love to have these little scientists sitting on my desk!)

The SIMPLcase iPhone case holds up to three SIM cards for your travels around the world

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The SIMPLcase World Travelers iPhone Case is a slimline, snap-on back cover for the iPhone 5/5s.  Inside, between the case and the back of the iPhone is a storage column that stores up to three nano or micro-sized SIM cards – sized to fit the iPhone 5/5s, iPhone 4/4s, or iPad, so you can keep up with all your SIMs.  There’s also a SIM eject tool that stores in there.  The back of the SIMPLcase World Travelers case has slots that will fit a standard credit or membership card; the card becomes the easel that turns the case into a landscape or portrait stand.  The case is available for the iPhone 5 or 5s in Vapor (white) with turquoise, Graphite (black) with blue, or Admiral Blue with yellow for $30.00 from Fancy.

iRig Mic HD is the first handheld digital microphone priced for everyone

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IK Multimedia has introduced the iRig Mic HD, which they say is the first first affordable high-quality handheld digital condenser microphone for singers, podcasters, and home studio enthusiasts – “anyone who needs to record high-definition digital audio on the go”.  The iRig Mic HD comes with two cables, one with a Lightning connector to plug directly into an iPhone or iPad, and another with a USB connector to plug directly into your Mac or PC.  (There’s an optional 30-pin Apple cable available as an optional purchase, if you need it.)

  • High-quality 24-bit, audiophile-grade A/D converter
  • 44.1 – 48 kHz sampling rate
  • Gain control with multicolor LED indicator
  • Handheld design – also compatible with standard mic stands
  • App/software bundle (Rig Recorder, VocaLive, and iOS & Mac/PC versions of AmpliTube), mic clip, and carry bag included
  • Rig Recorder, VocaLive and AmpliTube (iOS & Mac/PC versions) included
  • Available in black or in an exclusive silver version (only available at the Apple Store)

You can order the black iRig Mic HD directly from IK Multimedia for $129.99.  The silver version is available only at Apple.

Control your Philips Hue lights without a smart device

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I have a set of Philips Hue lights that I got for Christmas last year that can light up my living room and foyer with white light or with colored lights – whatever I choose.  I can define light “recipes” where I can make each Hue bulb whatever color I want so set the mood for relaxation, reading, or energizing myself.  I can control the lights over the internet to turn on/off at my command, use geofencing to turn them on when I come home at night, or control them with timers.  My daughter doesn’t have the app on her iPhone, so she can’t control the lights at all (because she doesn’t want to add the app…).  Visitors also can’t turn the lights on or off, either.  Philips has introduced the Hue Tap, which they say is the world’s first wireless smart switch.  The Tap has four buttons that are used to control the Hue system by turning on a light recipe or selecting a favorite color scene or simply turning off some of the lights.  You can mount the Tap on the wall by a door, leave it on the coffee table, or carry it with you throughout the house.  Philips says the Tap is powered by kinetic energy from your touch, so you don’t need batteries for it.  Philips has a list of vendors on their Hue site, or you can pick up the Hue Tap at Apple for $59.95.

The Android app for Belkin’s WeMo line of home automation products is now available

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I reviewed the Belkin WeMo Smart Home Automation Switch about a year ago, and at the time, you really needed an iOS device to control the products.  There was an Android app, but it was in beta, but Belkin announced late last month that the Android app is ready.  Just like with the iOS app that I use, the Android app will be able to control all WeMo devices, including the WeMo Insight Switch (or the old, now discontinued Smart Home Automation Switch that I still use), the WeMo Light Switch, and even the Crock-Pot Slow Cooker with WeMo.  You’ll be able to control your lights and other appliances from anywhere over WiFi and 3G/4G networks.  “The app also integrates with IFTTT, an online service that creates triggers using different Internet-based services such as email, weather and social media. For example, you can use IFTTT to create a rule that will send a text to your phone whenever a WeMo Switch + Motion senses motion or trigger a WeMo Light Switch to turn on your lights when the sun sets.”  This Belkin WeMo app requires Android 4.0 or higher and is free on the Google Play store.

Now you can see what your cat has dragged behind the stove, without having to move the stove

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If you’ve ever seen those big, gooseneck inspection cameras that plumbers use to inspect pipes, you may have wished you had access to one when you drop a ring up under the bed or the cat has dragged off your socks behind the fridge.  DinosaurLifeStyle (alas, Andrew Baker, it still suffers from a dearth of dinosaurs…) has a small version that’s sized and priced right for home use.  The WiFi Battery Inspection Camera for iPhone and Android Phones has a 3-foot viewing tube (9mm diameter) and a 640 x 480 PAL CMOS viewing sensor.  It connects, via a free app, to your iPhone or Android device and transmits 30 frame/second video to your mobile device.  You can use the app to take still shots or video of what the camera probe is exploring.  The camera has an IP67 dust and waterproof rating, works in 14-122 degrees F temperatures and 20-85% relative humidity, a 48-degree viewing angle, and it comes with a set of hooking tools for various inspection conditions.  It requires four AAA batteries.  The WiFi Battery Inspection Camera for iPhone and Android Phones is $96 for the camera alone or $102 for the camera and storage box from DinosaurLifeStyle.

Your refreshments will be assimilated by the Borg

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This cute little Borg Cube can keep your food or beverages at the proper temperature.  It has a temperature switch, so you can refrigerate or warm the contents.  It measures 11.5″ in each dimension on the outside, and the storage area inside is 6″ x 7.5″ x 8.25″.  It’s more like a desk-top fridge than a dorm fridge, but it is big enough to hold nine 12oz beverage cans.  It has green glowing lights on the exterior, and a green light inside, too.  It runs on either standard 120V AC power from a wall outlet or on 12V DC power from the power outlets in your car.  It has rubber feet to protect the surface it sits on, and the door locks to prevent accidental spillage while you’re carrying it or using it in a moving vehicle.   The Star Trek Borg Cube Fridge is $149.99;  it’s exclusive to ThinkGeek.

 

Microwave your lunch in your lunch bag and eat directly from it, too

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We’ve mentioned a couple of different Unikia products for carrying your lunch in the past.  One was a Compleat Robust lunch box, one was a Compleat FoodSkin that cradled your sandwich to keep it together as you assembled it (see related posts at the end of this article).  Today’s product is the Compleat FoodBag.  Like the FoodSkin, the FoodBag is made of 100% food-grade, 100% BPA-free silicone.  It looks like a paper lunch bag, but it has a strap with snap to close it.  It measures 5.9″ L x 3.35″ W x 7″ H open; the height is 5.7″ when rolled closed.  Because it’s silicone, you can put your food directly into the bag without using other containers.  You can eat directly from the open bag, and you can even microwave in it (when opened).  It’s dishwasher safe, and it rolls up into a 1.6″ diameter cylinder for easy storage.  The Compleat FoodBag is available for €9.95 from Unikia in Norway (ships globally), or you can order it for $12.95 from The Grommet in the USA.  It’s available in blue, gray, green, lavender, or red from either source.

Leave your reminders and to-do lists on your door, so you’ll never forget them again!

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When I need to remind myself to do something that’s not part of my normal routine, I leave a note on the front door.  I don’t like taping things to the freshly painted door, and tiny little sticky notes can be overlooked or fall off during the night.  I usually write my reminder or to-do list on a piece of printer paper, tear a hole in the paper, and slide the paper over the deadbolt button.  I can’t get out of the house without seeing it.  The Hook It Post-It Door Hangers are a neater, less wasteful way of leaving myself notes.  They have plenty of room to write on, then I can just hook them over the doorknob or even on the deadbolt button.  You can get a pad of the Hook It Post-It Door Hangers in pink, yellow, or blue for $10 from Fancy.

This is a stylish way to add a charging cable to your keychain

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If you need a microUSB cable to charge your phone or tablet, you have two choices from Native Union.  The Power Link Knot has the microUSB and the USB plugs hidden inside the leather pouch, and the corded knot hanging below the pouch is the cable.  Native Union also offers a microUSB-to-USB option in the Power Link Tassel Micro-USB.  Again, the cable plugs hide in the leather pouch when not in use, and the leather tassel hangs from the charging cord.  If you have Apple devices, the Power Link Tassel is available with a Lightning connector.

All versions of the Power Link are made of top-grain cowhide with handcrafted edge finishing, and they all have a metal lobster-claw clasp to clip them on to your keyring or bag.  The Power Link Knot is available in Gold Tan or Marine Blue for $39.99.  The microUSB version of the Power Link Tassel is $49.99, while the Lightning version is $59.99; both Tassel versions are available Coral Red or Marine Blue, and the Lightning version is also available in Gold Tan.  The Power Link cables are available directly from Native Union.

Nomad is selling what they call a “battery upgrade for your Apple charger”

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When you get an iPhone, you get a little cube-shaped wall charger.  Wouldn’t it be nice if that wall charger also served as a backup battery for your phone?  Well, the NomadPlus doesn’t exactly make the iPhone’s charger into a backup battery, but it adds one to the charger.  The NomadPlus fits around Apple charger and plugs into its USB port.  It adds some extra size and a couple extra ounces of weight to the Apple charger, but it also adds a battery that holds an extra 70% charge for your iPhone.  You plug the NomadPlus into the wall outlet, then plug the iPhone’s charge cable into the USB outlet; the phone charges first, then the battery will charge.  Although it requires an iPhone charger, the battery itself can charge other USB-chargeable devices.  Nomad is currently taking pre-orders for the NomadPlus.  It’s $39 and will ship November 30.

This simple doodad can make using a ceiling fan easier

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There’s nothing world-changing about the Harbor Breeze Brushed Nickel and White Pull Chain set, but it will make it plainly obvious to everyone in your family and to visitors which chain turns on the light attached to the ceiling fan and which adjusts the fan speed.  The brushed nickel chain pulls look like a tiny light bulb and a set of tiny fan blades.  Just connect the beaded chains to the appropriate pull chains on the fan, and you’re set.  The Harbor Breeze Brushed Nickel and White Pull Chain set is $6.98 at Lowes.

Belkin Qode Thin Type Keyboard Case for iPad Air review

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I’ve reviewed a lot of keyboard cases for iPads and iPad minis in my day, but I’m always game to try another.  I find that some are pretty uncomfortable to type on and some do very well for an undersized keyboard.  Then there’s the Belkin Qode Thin Type Keyboard Case for iPad Air, which is a surprisingly wonderful keyboard.  What makes it so great?  Well, almost everything! Read More →