Pascal Leggert has posted amazing concept art for a next generation Mac Pro you’ll wish was real. It builds on the stunning industrial art in Apple’s three and a half year-old absurdly ancient “Trash Can” Mac Pro, but makes it useful. It would offer 22 teraflops of computing power, more ports than you can shake a stick at, user-replaceable storage (four of them!) and user-replaceable GPUs, and a handle, for goodness’s sake. I’ve included a couple of his pics, but click through to see several more. This is the kind of drool-worthy hardware we’re craving from Apple right now.
You’ve heard of Duranium, Tritanium and Gold-pressed Latinum, right? These are fictional metals from Star Trek lore. But did you know a Periodic Table of all the elements and alloys mentioned across all fiction has been compiled? It includes all the magical substances from TV, the movies, comics, games, mythology and more. Of course, there’s no chemistry in this table. Instead, it’s a beautifully presented and organized database. Just click on any item to see its origin. For example, click on Dur to discover that “Duranium makes up the outer hull of Starfleet’s NX-class starships.” This table is just amazing to behold.
We’ve been impatiently waiting decades for new Twin Peaks episodes, and were ready to dance with Laura Palmer when we heard the Showtime was reviving the series. Now we have an official premiere date: May 21, 2017. The series kicks off with a special 2-hour episode followed by 16 1-hour shows. They’re all directed by David Lynch who wrote them with series co-creator Mark Frost. Most of the original cast is returning, too. We don’t know much about what’s in store because production has been so secretive, but we do know there will be plenty of surprises.
I have two names for you: Neil Patrick Harris and James Cordon. I have two words for you: Broadway Riff-off. Actually, does a hyphenated word count as one or two? Never mind, that’s not the point. Both Neil and James are Tony-winning actors and they squared off on The Late Late Show to see who has the best Broadway musical chops. It’s 10 minutes of musical fun, so crank up your speakers, sit back, and enjoy.
There’s a project on Kickstarter that I thought was pretty neat called Moonlite. It uses your iPhone flashlight to project stories onto the wall or ceiling. The projections come in the form of a ViewMaster-like reel of images. The words from the story appear on your screen, and each time you click the reel, the app turns the page with new words. It’s a clever marriage of the physical to an app, and I definitely applaud anything that helps parents tell bedtime stories to kids. A lot of folks seem to agree as the project has already raised $294,842, more than 14 times the original goal of $20,000. There’re 53 hours to go in the campaign as of this writing. The video below tells more about the project, and you can read more on the Kickstarter page, too. Funding options that get you a Moonlite start at $35.
Smile’s TextExpander got a nice update on Monday, assuming you’re a Touch Bar MacBook Pro user. The 6.1.3 update adds Touch Bar support so you can add, organize or delete snippets with a tap, filter snippets, and check your snippet statistics, too. The update also includes better VoiceOver access and fixes a few bugs because everyone else deserves a little something in the download. TextExpander 6.1.3 is a free download and works with Smile’s TextExpander subscription service.
Robert Scoble said Monday that Apple is working with lens powerhouse Carl Zeiss AG on “mixed reality optics.” That’s one of the many terms used for augmented reality, for those keeping score at home. His evidence is circumstantial, at best, but I approve of his reasoning. While at the the Zeiss booth at CES, he learned the company was, “NOT showing off its mixed reality optics.” He then added, “I said ‘Tim Cook didn’t let you,’ and the employees around me smiled nervously.” Again, that’s circumstantial, but Mr. Scoble’s instincts have a good track record. To add further circumstantial speculation, Zeiss is the sort of company Apple might work with on any kind of lens-related product or technology. And we already knew that Apple has at least a thousand people working on augmented reality. So…I buy it.
LAS VEGAS – One of the more unusual devices I saw at CES was Reliefband Technologies‘ self-titled product. This device uses current to modulate the median nerve on the underside of the wrist to control nausea and motion sickness. This is the same spot you can rub for nausea, and it’s the spot targeted by acupuncturists. At this year’s show, the company introduced a new—and infinitely better looking—version called Reliefband Neurowave. While the original Reliefband was functional, it looked like it was designed by engineers in 1989 (you can see it on the company’s site). The new version shown below looks like a modern smartwatch. It adds a display and separates the electronic plates from that display, which means you wear it as a watch. The old version had to be worn so that the ugly interface was underneath your wrist like engineers and pilots sometimes wear watches. I don’t suffer from nausea or motion sickness, but Jeff Gamet is going to test it out for us. The new version is priced at $150 and will ship in the second quarter of 2017. The firm hasn’t yet added the new product to its website.
LAS VEGAS – Lattis unveiled the Ellipse Smart Bike Lock at CES last week. In addition to being app-controlled and having a programmable combination lock, this bike lock is solar powered. That makes batteries a non-issue as long as the device sees at least one hour of sunlight per week of usage. It has a built-in accelerometer which the app harnesses for crash alerts with HPS coordinates it can send out to a designated contact. The accelerometer is also used for theft detection alerts. Another nifty feature is the ability to give a friend access through a one-time code you can send out from the app. The shackle is made from chromoly steel, and the lock is substantial. I liked the fit and finish, and the “smart” functions seem to be smart, rather than an attempt to merely bolt an app onto a lock. The device is priced at US$199, and it’s available now.
LAS VEGAS – myCharge is well known for their portable batteries for recharging our smartphones and more, and now they’re making sure even the USB-C MacBook and MacBook Pro are covered, too. The company’s RazorPlatinum can juice up your laptop, iPhone, or iPad for US$99.99. The RazorUltra is coming soon and handles your smartphone and tablet for about $60, plus both have USB-A ports for everything else you need to power up. It’s great seeing USB-C batteries hitting the market because we’re going to see the connector showing up even more places—something that’s very clear at this year’s CES.
LAS VEGAS – More than anything else, the question I’m most asked regarding not-yet-existent technology is, “when are we going to get wireless charging?” The answer, thanks to Energous, is “likely this year.” Energous has developed a technology that supports three ranges of wireless charging: near-field contactless, two-to-four feet, and ten-to-fifteen feet. We’ve all seen contactless charging with (some) cell phones and the Apple Watch, but anything beyond that seems like magic. In this video, that’s exactly what you’ll see. I also got to experience the same remote control charging from ten feet away. That’s because devices with Energous’ WattUp receivers can be charged by transmitters of any of the three distances. Contactless is available for manufacturers to use now, and Energous is working to have the remaining distances approved and available within the next year. Power is only sent to the device when a charge is needed and Bluetooth is used to allow the transmitter and receiver to negotiate the connection. The future appears to be right around the corner.
LAS VEGAS – Play-Doh is all about mixing learning with fun, and that’s just what you get with Touch Shape. Jason Beene shows Jeff Gamet how to use an iPad to put the Play-Doh characters you make into the Touch Shape world at CES 2017.
LAS VEGAS – Garmin wants to keep you looking fashionable when you’re exploring outdoors or just around town with its fenix 5 watches. Cesar Palacios shows Jeff Gamet what you can do with Garmin’s latest smartwatches at CES 2017.
There’s no shortage of charging stands for Apple Watch, but the W3 Stand from Elago certainly has a unique appeal. Available in white or black, the W3 mimics the design of the original Apple Macintosh, first released back in 1984. It’s just non-functional plastic, of course, but it can give longtime Apple fans a jolt of nostalgia each morning. The Elago W3 is available now from Amazon for about $17 including shipping. Thanks to Apple Insider for the heads up.
We like backlit keyboards. We also like wireless keyboards. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many options that feature both, especially when it comes to Mac-specific models. But accessory firm Matias is looking to change that with the CES announcement of the Wireless Aluminum Keyboard with Backlight. It’s a sleek Apple-style Bluetooth keyboard with support for up to four devices and, here’s the kicker, separate batteries for the keyboard and the backlight. That means when your energy-hogging backlight goes out, you can keep on typing without skipping a beat. The keyboard ships in June in Silver and Space Gray color options, but you can pre-order now for $139.
I’ve been a fan of JBL’s portable Pulse bluetooth speakers since the first one was released three years ago. The reason? Cool lighting effects, full sound and, of course, Bluetooth wireless portability. With the Pulse 3, though, the game steps up to a whole new level. Whereas its predecessors were covered by a mesh with a low-resolution display of lights, the Pulse 3 sports a clear, plastic enclosure and hi-res LEDs that really (finally?) give it that true Lava Lamp-of-the-future look. You can customize the light effects with your iOS or Android device, giving you full control over both your audio and visual experience. Additionally, the Pulse 3 is now IPX7 waterproof, has a 12-hour battery, and supports JBL’s new Connect+ allowing you to sync your audio with up to 100 devices simultaneously. Wanna truly light up your pool party or just enjoy the visuals while listening to your favorite tunes? The JBL Pulse 3 will be released this spring, MSRP of $199.95
LAS VEGAS – Blue Microphones announced two new high-end headphones at CES, Sadie and Ella. Sadie is essentially the next iteration of the company’s Mo-Fi headphones that I like so much. Sadie dumps the tension controls in the top band to make them lighter, and the company lightened and tightened other physical elements of the design, too. The company told me the sound profile has been tweaked, too, but until I can test them out, I won’t offer any judgement. Sadie is priced at $399.99. Ella features planar magnetic speakers, but Blue says they’ve been tuned to deliver both the detail inherent to planar magnetic speakers and the kind of impact you get from dynamic drivers. Ella also features the swing arm and hinged band that makes the Mo-Fi (and Sadie) headphones such a pleasure to wear. Ella is priced at $699.99. I’ll be covering these headphones in more detail when I review them. In the photo below, Ella is in the foreground, while Sadie is in the background.
LAS VEGAS – Speck announced a new case for MacBook Pro (13-inch) that features 4-feet drop protection. Considering the lack of a MagSafe connector for charging on Apple’s new MacBook Pro models, drop protection may be on the minds of lots of folks. Speck said the case is made from its Impactium Clear material originally used for iPhone cases. As the name suggests, Presidio CLEAR is see-through, and it has a “no-slip grip” feel to it. It ships in later in the first quarter of 2017 and is priced at US$99.95—it hasn’t yet been added to the Speck website. I’ve never been a fan of cases on MacBooks, but drop protection? Come on, that’s cool.