Wednesday, 10 July 2013

A Gaggle of Gizmos

In this post I'll be taking a look at a few of the "life enhancing" gadgets recently installed at Apple Harvest HQ; some big, some small (in both size and price) but all valuable additions to the business.

Apple Harvest HQ - Main Office

Mobee Magic Feet

In my last post I mentioned the Mobee Magic Feet gizmo which had just been delivered. There's a plethora of Magic Mice, Magic Trackpads and Apple Keyboards at Apple Harvest HQ, which potentially could mean splashing out a lot of cash each year on batteries or having the inconvenience of constantly having spare batteries on charge, so I've long been a fan of the Mobee induction chargers for Apple input devices (see post - Two New Toys from Feb 2011).

The Magic Feet charger is the latest in the family and allows you to charge up to three devices at once. It also adds an extra 4 USB 2.0 ports to your system which, in my view, is never a bad thing. The charger comes in emaculate packaging like all Mobee products, and looks like it was developed in the Apple packaging lab in Cupertino.

At Apple Harvest HQ there was a void in the main office. A solitary Magic Mouse charger was in place but the Magic Trackpad was still battery operated as was the spare Magic Mouse. (The main office is the only place where you won't find an Apple keyboard. Instead there's a Logitech solar powered K750-Mac keyboard which has similar 'green' credentials, and is an absolute joy to use!) The Magic Feet device has filled the void perfectly and the main office is now battery free.

Mobee Magic Feet

There's not really much to say about the Magic Feet - it just works. In the earlier post I mentioned an issue about never seeing a mouse charge above 80% of capacity, and it does indeed seem that Apple's original calculations didn't take into account the battery packs used by outfits like Mobee. This is no longer the case and keyboards, trackpads and mice alike, now show batteries at full capacity after an appropriate amount of charge time. Currently the best place to go is Apple who sell it for £120. This is pricey (especially if you already have Mobee systems in place), but it was cost effective in my case since I got an extra mouse and a trackpad charging unit which would have cost over £50 on their own. Mobee still claim the unit will pay for itself within 6 months of office use or 12 months of home use. For me the blessing of no more batteries is priceless!

PNY ThinkSafe Portable Laptop Locking System

Given that the MacBook Air is a very expensive and desireable piece of kit, I find it a little bit surprising that Apple elected not to provide any way of physically protecting the laptop from theft. Software protection mechanisms have been around for a while, but systems like "Find My Mac" only take effect after a theft (or loss) and a physical cable lock like those available for use on most laptops go a long way to deter a casual thief in the first place. I have finally found a solution for the MacBook Air and while it is not perfect, it does the job.

The PNY ThinkSafe Portable Laptop Locking System (doesn't realy roll off the tongue does it?!)) consists of a slotted metal plate that you insert through the hinge of the MBA and a combination lock/steel cable which you loop around a sturdy object and attach to the plate through a small slot at the back of the laptop.

Initially it's a bit scary sliding metal objects through the MBA hinge, but once you get the knack it's easy to insert and remove and I've yet to see any damage to the MBA case (despite comments from others to the contrary).

The PNY ThinkSafe plate slips through the MBA hinge

The system comes with plates for a range of different laptops and you are provided with a 4 digit combination - you don't select your own - which you need to register on-line in case you forget it (as I realised I had when I started writing this, although luckily I remembered enough to get it open in the end!).

Make sure you remember your combination - this isn't mine!
The ThinkSafe system won't stop someone with enough time, tools and intent, but it will stop the casual opportunist thief from stealing your laptop off your table in Starbucks. And to be honest, £16 is not a huge sum to pay for peace of mind.

Go Gadgets USB Fan

It can sometimes get rather warm in the Apple Harvest HQ main office (although, thankfully, the Lenovo has now gone which has helped lower the temperature considerably). I saw this Go Gadgets USB Retro Fan on Amazon and was surprised at how positive the reviews were (4.3/5 from 73 reviewers) and decided to risk the £10 asking price. When it arrived I was even more surprised at the quality of the build, the lack of noise and the power of the fan. It even has its own on/off switch on the back and creates enough air movement to be pleasant without blowing your brains out. Highly recommended, especially now summer has finally arrived in the UK!

Go Gadgets Retro USB Fan

GMYLE Tablet Arm

Last but not least in this round up of gadets is the GMYLE Black Adjustable Swing Arm Tablet Holder Mount. As you can see from the picture space is becoming more valuable in the main office than in downtown Kowloon so anything that can alleviate the problem can and will be brought into action.

The GMYLE is a sturdy and flexible arm that clamps to the desk and allows you to put most common tablets in its adjustable grasp and swing it in or out of the way as you need. Both the iPad and iPad mini fit (in their cases) and a holder for a smartphone is also supplied should you wish to hang your phone out of the way.

To be honest, there is too much give in the arm to be able to use it to do much work on, but if you're just tapping it occasionally to access an app or run a query it's perfect.

At £32 from Amazon, it's a mid-price option, and good enough for what I needed. And the box makes for some wonderful reading!

So that concludes this round up of glorious gadgets. For some folk, some of these may strike you as somewhat extravagant. That may well be true, but don't forget I spend a lot of time in the office so for me, each of these has its well and truly justified place at Apple Harvest HQ.

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