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Great gear you may have missed

Dan Frakes | Jan. 20, 2014
As the editor who coordinates most of Macworld's iOS- and Mac-accessory coverage, I'm inundated with miscellaneous cables, connectors, chargers, and other "minor" products that don't necessarily warrant a full review or article. But, as I wrote back in late 2012, that doesn't mean they should all go unnoticed. Some of these products are interesting or useful enough that they're worth talking about; or they're things that, though they may not have impressed me at first, have since earned a spot on my desk or in my bag.

Heckler Design Headphone Stand At the other end of the headphone-storage spectrum from The Nest, Heckler's $25 Headphone Stand is designed to give your full-size headphones a place to rest when your ears are taking a break. Available in black, white, red, grey white, yellow, or (for $20 more) polished stainless steel, the stand is laser cut from solid steel and hand welded, is heavy enough that it won't move when you lift your headphones off, and can even be bolted to a desk or countertop for permanent (and secure) placement. But my favorite thing about the Headphone Stand is that it's made from leftover scraps of steel from production of the company's Windfall stands. The Headphone Stand won't work with every full-size or on-ear headphone — those with a bulky cable connection at the bottom of one or both earpieces won't be as stable — but if it works with yours, it's a nice (and useful) desk accessory.

iLuv iEA15 iPod Remote with 3rd-Party Headphone Adapter for VoiceOver: These days, a healthy proportion of headphones include an inline three-button remote/microphone module for controlling media playback, taking and making phone calls, and using Siri. But if your favorite cans came sans remote, the $10 iEA15 gives them at least the remote-control features — though not an inline microphone. Just insert the plug end into the headphone jack on your iPhone, iPad, iPod, or Mac, and connect your headphones to the 1/8-inch (3.5mm) headphone jack on the other end. The adapter adds about 12 inches of length to your headphone cable in the process.

StarTech MUHSMF1M 1m 3.5mm 4 Position TRRS Headset Extension Cable: Speaking of extra cable length, what if you've already got a great set of headphones with an inline three-button remote/microphone module, but the headphone cable is too short for you? There are plenty of inexpensive extension cables for headphones, but most don't have the proper circuitry for the remote and microphone — they extend the reach of your headphones at the expense of remote/mic features. StarTech's $8 MUHSMF1M gives you an extra 1m of length while preserving the remote/microphone functions of your headphones. (The cable works only with headphones that use a 3.5mm miniplug, not the larger 1/4-inch plug of some full-size headphones.)

From waterproof bags to luxury-leather charging pads, these products are hard to categorize, but they're all useful.

Loksak aLoksak: Don't tell anyone, but I use my iPhone, iPad, and Kindle in a lot of places I shouldn't: at the beach on vacation, in the kitchen while cooking, even while relaxing in the tub. Between sand, water, and other environmental hazards, it seems like a miracle that all my devices are still working perfectly. But it's not a miracle — I just take precautions and protect them. Not in a pricey, custom-fit, waterproof and dust-proof iPhone or iPad case, but rather in Loksak's simple, relatively inexpensive plastic bags. Each reusable aLoksak seals like a Ziplock bag, but unlike a Ziplock, the aLoksak is made of puncture-resistant material and offers a hermetic seal that, together, are waterproof to 60 meters — so the bag shouldn't have any problems with a splash from the pool, messy hands from cooking, or an accidental drop into the tub. (The material is thin enough that you can still use your device's touchscreen.) The company sells 15 different sizes, from 5 by 4 inches and 3 by 6 inches ($8 for three) at the small end to 32 by 16 inches ($19 for two) for extra-large devices.


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