TIME Accessories

Logitech Case+ Review: Brilliant iPhone Case Concept, Flawed Execution

Jared Newman for TIME

Logitech's magnetic iPhone case is a wallet, kickstand, car mount and backup battery all in one.

Logitech is onto something with the Case+, a modular iPhone case with a set of magnetic attachments.

The magnetic backing on the Case+ allows for three separate attachments, all of which are included in the $199 package. There’s a folding kickstand that doubles as an earbud wrap, a battery case with 2300 mAh of power and a minimalist wallet with two slots for cards and cash. The Case+ also includes a magnetic car mount, so you can place the phone on your dashboard with no clamps or connectors.

On their own, the attachments work as expected. The kickstand and the wallet make a strong magnetic connection with the main case, and you can even stack these two attachments on top of one another. The battery case doesn’t attach with magnets, but instead clasps around the main case, with a plastic arm on top and a U-shaped Lightning plug on the bottom. The car mount attaches to car windshields with a suction cup, and includes an extra plastic suctioning surface for sticking onto a dashboard.

It’s only when you try to use these attachments in conjunction with one another that the cracks in Logitech’s system start to show.

Jared Newman for TIME

For instance, I liked the idea of carrying the kickstand and wallet together, at least in theory. When going to lunch, I carried them both as a single unit, paid for my food, stuck the wallet piece in my pocket and used the kickstand to prop up my phone while eating.

It was fun the first time, but having to swap back and forth quickly became tiresome. And because the wallet doesn’t have any outward-facing magnets, you can’t keep it attached while using the car mount. While being able to slim down from a traditional wallet seemed appealing, juggling Logitech’s wallet as a modular accessory was more trouble than it was worth. It’s the weakest link in the package, not just from a practical standpoint, but from an aesthetic one; if you’re don’t care for the wallet’s woven grey fabric design, you’re simply out of luck.

Jared Newman for TIME

The battery case’s lack of magnets is also an issue, as it prevents you from using the kickstand or wallet in tandem. And if you want to use the battery case with the car mount, you must attach another small magnetic plate, which sticks to the case with adhesive. It’s an inelegant solution, and only underscores how Logitech should have made the battery case play nice with the other attachments from the start.

All gripes aside, I love the underlying concept of Case+, and this is coming from someone who usually loathes smartphone cases. I’ve never accidentally caused major damage to a phone, so the extra protection has never been necessary for me. A case that allows me to use the phone in new ways would be much more valuable.

Jared Newman for TIME

In addition to improving the existing pieces, there’s clearly room for Logitech to expand the Case+ line with more attachments. This could be the start of a new accessory platform, where you choose the handful of tools that you find the most useful. (Keyboard cases, camera lenses and beefier speakers come to mind.)

But right now, Case+ seems more like a proof of concept than an actual product, and $200 is a lot to ask for a case system that doesn’t work as well as it could. If Logitech were to flesh out the line and let users choose from a wider range of attachments, Case+ could be more than just a great idea. It’d be a killer product that even case haters like myself might consider.

TIME Accessories

Review: Zagg Auto-Fit Is a Clever Fix for Android’s Tablet Keyboard Problem

Jared Newman for TIME

Let’s say you bought an Android tablet, and now you’re looking for a Bluetooth keyboard to go with it.

You could get one that’s made specifically for your tablet, but that might be hard to find if you bought some generic tablet that doesn’t have much support from accessory makers. Even if you can get a good keyboard, it may not fit your next Android tablet if you upgrade a few years down the road.

That’s why Zagg has come up with a one-size-fits-all keyboard case for Android tablets, called the Auto-Fit. By using a spring-loaded stand to hold the tablet in place, the Auto-Fit supports multiple Android tablets in a given range of screen sizes. And unlike flimsier all-purpose keyboard stands, the Auto-Fit is a full-blown folio case, effectively turning an Android tablet into a small touchscreen laptop, which you can fold shut for travel.

The model I tested costs $80 and works with any 7-inch Android tablet that measures between 6.3 inches and 7.87 inches long, between 4.37 inches and 4.84 inches wide and up to 0.41 inches thick. It’ll work with the Nexus 7 (2012 and 2013 models) and Samsung’s 7-inch Galaxy Tabs, but tablets with extra-wide side bezels, such as Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX, won’t fit. (Zagg also plans to sell versions of the Auto-Fit for 8- and 10-inch tablets in the future.)

Jared Newman for TIME

To get the tablet into the stand, you slide it in bottom-side first, and push down on the spring-loaded edge until the top of the tablet fits under the top lip. The spring mechanism strikes a good balance in terms of firmness, holding the tablet securely in place without making it too difficult to load or unload.

The keyboard hinge is fully adjustable, and bends back to about a 135-degree angle. The base of the cover also helps lift the back of the keyboard, so you have a gently inclined surface to type on.

Zagg also includes a small stand that folds out behind the screen, keeping the whole thing from tipping backwards from the weight of the tablet. It’s a nice addition, but it’s also one area where the Auto-Fit could be better. While the stand will always keep the tablet from falling over entirely, it’s not rigid enough to support any weight unless it’s fully extended. That makes it hard to keep the tablet from tipping back slightly at certain angles.

I also wish the Auto-Fit allowed you to use the tablet like an actual tablet, either through a 360-degree hinge or a way to fold the screen flat against the keyboard, facing up. With the current design, you’ll probably want to remove the tablet for non-typing uses, such as reading and playing games.

One more word of caution about the 7-inch keyboard: It’s as cramped as you’d expect, so if you try to type quickly, you’ll probably start making mistakes. (The “1” and apostrophe keys are especially tiny in proportion to their importance.) This problem is inherent to the size of the device, so just keep your expectations in check.

Small frustrations aside, Zagg has come up with an interesting keyboard solution for the wide array of Android tablets on the market. If you’re looking to do some serious typing on your tablet, and are committed to a single screen size, the Auto-Fit is one way to stay future-proof.

TIME Gadgets

Night Golf, Anyone? Motion-Activated LED Golf Ball Lights Up on Impact

Night Sports USA

If you sneak onto a world-class golf course in the middle of the night, leave it a better place than you found it.

This is the Light-up Golf Ball from Night Sports. It’s an LED-infused golf ball that lights up in one of four colors when you hit it, and stays lit for eight minutes while you go find it for your next shot. Each ball has a 40-hour battery, too. There’s no cool laser trail like in the above photo, unfortunately, but we can all agree that the laser trail time-lapse effect makes the above photo look too cool to pass up.

I’m not saying you should use these balls to sneak onto a world-class golf course in the middle of the night when there’s nobody around, but I guess you could argue that I’m not not saying it. Whatever you decide to do with your life is your business, but if you sneak onto a world-class golf course in the middle of the night, leave it a better place than you found it. Same goes for the daytime, too. Replace your divots, is what I’m actually saying.

Also, maybe don’t use these things on water holes or if you have a tough time keeping your shots in the fairway, because a four-pack costs $30. That’s $30. For four golf balls. That’s $7.50 each time you shank one. You can also buy a three-pack for $25 ($8.33 every time you shank one). They’re expensive, in other words, but stuffing LED lighting into golf balls can’t be cheap.

No word on whether these balls play like regular balls, though the company behind them (unsurprisingly) says, “Night Sports Light-up Golf Ball provides the high performance aerodynamics, control, accuracy, feel and distance you expect from a professional quality ball.” The three reviews on Amazon are all five stars, but they each look suspiciously similar in tone and length.

Here’s a video of what the balls look like when they’re hit:

Light-up Golf Ball [Night Sports USA via OhGizmo!]

TIME Gadgets

Will Buy: App-Sensor Combo Tells You When Your Grill’s Tank Needs Refueling

Quirky

Hank Hill would be proud.

Originally introduced in early December, Quirky’s “Refuel” app-connected propane tank sensor is now entering production. Quirky estimates the product will cost around $18.

For that, you get a ring-shaped apparatus that sits under your grill’s propane tank and is connected to a gauge that adheres to your grill with a magnet. Take a peek at the gauge when you’re near the grill, or instead fire up the smartphone app that connects to Refuel to see how much gas you have left before you need to drag the tank back to Strickland Propane for a refill.

It’s a smart solution to a lazy man’s problem, but Hank Hill would be proud.

Refuel [Quirky.com via Uncrate]

TIME Gadgets

Business Card Plays Tetris, Might Be for Sale Soon

TAKE MY MONEY!

The above video showcases a credit card-sized whatsit with a built-in screen, control pad and two buttons. It plays Tetris! If you’re not convinced by now that we’re either at or very near the pinnacle of human ingenuity, I’m not sure I’d ever be able to convince you otherwise and I’m not sure it’s worth your time to keep reading this. We should amicably go our separate ways.

For the rest of you, this project is called Arduboy. It’s about a millimeter and a half thick and apparently packs north of nine hours of battery life. Its creator, Kevin Bates, created the proof-of-concept you see in the above video and has plans to roll out a Kickstarter campaign to sell these things, complete with a website where people can share other types of software and games they create for Arduboy.

Bates writes on his site that he wants to use Kickstarter to raise $820 to cover licensing costs. I write here that he’ll probably be able to raise that amount faster than he can clear the first level of Tetris. He’ll also probably have to sell the cards without a game loaded onto them to avoid legal issues, though.

No word on how much a final version would cost, but you can visit Bates’ website to read more about how the project came together, complete with photos of the Qdoba and REI gift cards he used to test some of the early builds.

My business card plays Tetris [YouTube via The Next Web]

TIME Gadgets

6 Gadgets That Help You Save Energy (and Money)

Getting a handle on your household energy consumption can save money and the environment. Your heating and cooling usage is an obvious target, but did you know it’s also important to monitor your gadgets and electronics gear?

The average US household spends $100 per year powering products that are turned off or in standby mode, according the the EPA. And, nationwide we spend $10 billion a year in energy costs.

Below you’ll find devices that help determine where you’re losing your money and ensure you keep spending under control.

Saving money on heating & cooling

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Black & Decker

Black & Decker TLD100 Thermal Leak Detector

You’ll see big savings on your monthly energy bill when you stop heat and air conditioning from leaking out of your house. A thermal leak detector, like the Black& Decker TLD100 can show you where your home’s leaks are. Once the device has read the ambient temperature, you can start checking around windows, door frames and other places air could be escaping. The light will change to red for warmer spots and blue for cooler spots. You can set the temperature tolerances to one, five or 10 degrees.

Price: $35.10 on Amazon.com

nest-2-300px
Nest

Nest Learning Thermostat

The Nest Thermostat (2nd Generation) is smart enough to know when you’re away. So if you forget, it can lower the temperature about two hours after you’ve left. It’s continually monitoring your habits, so it can automatically adjust the temperature based on your needs. And, Nest lets you know when you’re saving energy, rewarding you with a green leaf icon. Even small changes to your thermostat settings can impact your monthly energy bill. For instance, each degree above 68° F can add three percent to the amount of energy needed for heating, according to the Edison Electric Institute.

Price: $249 on Amazon.com

Reducing energy use

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Belkin

Belkin Conserve Insight Energy-Use Monitor

Want to find out which electronics items are the biggest energy hogs in your home? Plug suspects like your networked printer, TV or even a whole powerstrip into the Belkin Conserve Insight Energy-Use Monitor to find out. It tracks and displays the annual cost (based on the pre-loaded U.S.-average rate or your own rate), CO2 emissions and power consumption. And if the outlet is hard to reach, the display’s six-foot cord make it easy to put it in a place that’s convenient to read.

Price: $26.99 on Amazon.com

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Belkin

Belkin WeMo Insight Switch

Curling irons, space heaters, coffee makers: they’re all easy to accidentally leave on when you’re rushing out the door. So to ensure they’re turned off, you can plug them into a Belkin WeMo Insight Switch. Remotely check in on an appliance or electronic device and turn it off (or on), set a schedule and monitor and control energy usage. If your device is on a switch, like your lights, try the WeMo Light Switch. It works with your existing wall plates.

Price: Belkin WeMo Insight Switch: $59.99 on Amazon.com, Belkin WeMo Light Switch: $49.99 on Amazon.com

monster-mp-ht-800g-powercenter-300px
Monster

Monster MP HT 800G Home Theater PowerCenter

When you’re TV is off, you don’t need your DVD player, surround receiver or game system turned on. With The Monster MP HT 800 G Home Theater PowerCenter with Monster GreenPower, you plug your TV into the green master plug on the lower right, and the outlets on the same row to the left, the GreenPower outlets, shut down automatically when the TV is turned off. The three outlets on the top row stay on, so you can continue to record programs on your DVR. In case of a power surge, you’ll get 2160 Joules of protection and an alarm will sound. If your powerstrip is buried at the back of your entertainment center, try the Belkin Conserve Switch Energy-Saving Surge Protector. It comes with a wireless remote for turning off power.

Price: Monster MP HT 800G: $56.56 on Amazon.com, Belkin Conserve Switch Energy-Saving Surge Protector: $25.98 on Amazon.com.

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Lutron

Lutron Maestro Dimmer with Occupancy Sensor

Have a light someone’s always forgetting to turn off? Install a motion-sensing light switch that will automatically shut off when the room is empty, like the Lutron Maestro Dimmer with Occupancy Sensor. It has a 150 degree motion detector with an angle up to 30 feet. You can set the sensitivity and the time or operate it manually. The light will go back on at whatever dimming level you set it at last. For use with incandescent and dimmable compact fluorescent bulbs.

Price: $31.76 on Amazon.com

This article was written by Suzanne Kantra and originally appeared on Techlicious.

More from Techlicious:

TIME Gadgets

Moov Claims to Be a Fitness Tracker with Smarts

All the subtle contempt of a personal trainer without the humiliation.

Moov is yet another fitness tracker that you wear on your wrist. But unlike all the others, it’ll actually let you know if you punch like a wimp or run like an idiot.

Instead of just counting steps or movement in a general way, Moov claims to analyze your posture and movements using its built-in accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer. It then feeds the data over Bluetooth to a companion iOS app, which can give you instructions as you’re working out. Or, if you’re not into taking your iPhone into the gym, Moov will store workout data on the watch, and give you a summary on your phone when you get back.

At launch, Moov will support running, cardio boxing, weight training, swimming and cycling, and the company plans to sell more workouts over time, including yoga and martial arts. Engadget gave the device a try and said it worked pretty well, and that the cardio boxing routine had an almost video-game like feel. (A video on Moov’s website gives the same impression.)

Moov’s FAQ recommends wearing a couple bands, especially for boxing, but you could get by with one on each wrist or ankle for the other activities. The device supposedly lasts up to two weeks on a charge if you work out an hour per day, four days per week.

At a glance, Moov looks like an interesting take on the wearable fitness band, but needing to have a phone or tablet nearby for the best experience isn’t ideal. The built-in personal trainer concept might work better on a full-blown smartwatch with its own display and speaker, but I’m not aware of any current watch that can deeply analyze your workout routine.

Eventually, Moov will cost $120, but right now you can pre-order one for $60, or a pair for $100, with estimated shipping in July. Beware, though: If you order, Moov will charge your card immediately, as the company is essentially using the pre-orders to fund its initial batch of devices. Should the company delay the product — as is often the case with crowdfunded hardware startups — your money will still be tied up.

TIME Accessories & Peripherals

Don’t Faint, but the Xbox One Finally Has Its Own Media Remote

Xbox One gets it own remote.
Xbox One gets it own remote. Microsoft

The remote every Xbox One owner's been waiting for.

Incredible. Stupendous. Mind-altering. Life-changing. All terms you wouldn’t use to describe Microsoft’s revelation this morning of a stylish official remote control for the Xbox One. But “A step up from the Xbox 360 remote’s button zoo”? Looks like it.

Larry Hryb did the honors, announcing the Xbox One Media Remote this morning on his blog. Two s-words that describe it: sleek, and — compared to the longish Xbox 360 wand, anyway — stubby. It’s out in March, and it looks like it’ll go for a few dollars more than the Xbox 360’s ($20) at $25.

Here’s the info-blurb:

Releasing across Xbox One markets worldwide in early March, the Xbox One Media Remote lets you control video playback for Blu-ray movies and streaming video on Xbox One. Additionally, there are dedicated Back and OneGuide buttons. The OneGuide button provides one-touch, quick access to your favorite TV shows and movies through the Xbox program guide. This remote is designed to help you listen, watch and switch among experiences instantly – allowing you to rule your entertainment. The Media Remote can also control TV/Receiver power and volume through Kinect, which uses IR blasting to send signals to your TV and/or receiver.

It’s a little strange that the Xbox One — a console Microsoft’s pitched from the start as a be-all, end-all media control hub — didn’t ship in November with this new remote. It’s even stranger, given the more than three month interim between the console’s launch and the remote’s debut next month, that the Xbox 360’s media remote doesn’t work with the new console.

Perhaps it’s all part of Microsoft’s “you’re still the controller” angle, but I’d wager most would agree Kinect’s dependability metrics, in particular when you want to zip around the interface without asking for stuff to happen twice, is imperfect enough that Microsoft’s going to sell a whole bunch of these things.

The Xbox One Media Remote [MajorNelson.com]

MORE: The History of Video Game Consoles – Full

TIME History

Steve Jobs’ Mouse Dug Up Inside 30-Year-Old Time Capsule

Steve Jobs poses with the Lisa computer during a 1983 press preview.
Steve Jobs poses with the Lisa computer during a 1983 press preview. Ted Thai—Time & Life Pictures / Getty Images

Still far more comfortable to use than Apple's hockey puck mouse.

As legend has it, Steve Jobs gave a talk at a conference in Aspen back in 1983 and, as part of the conference, donated the Apple Lisa mouse he used during the presentation to a giant time capsule that was later buried nearby.

CNET’s Daniel Terdiman reports that the time capsule was to be dug up in 2000, but the location of the capsule got all discombobulated due “in part to a major landscaping project in the area.”

However, a National Geographic show called “Diggers” found and unearthed the capsule last fall. The episode spotlighting the unearthing will air February 25, but here’s CNET’s exclusive clip of the event.

These guys are excited, no? Like, over-the-top TV excited.

[CNET]

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