When it comes to choosing the right laptop, everyone seeks three necessities: a sleek profile, high performance, and most importantly, portability. A weighty — or worse, bulky — portable computer can take a heavy toll on the body and make daily commuting a pain in the ass; yet everyone from business buffs to college grads wants a machine powerful enough to meet computing needs. We’re fortunate to bask in a beautiful balance of both virtues thanks to the latest leaps in laptop engineering. From convertibles to high-end subnotebooks, we sifted through the market to find the best laptops weighing in at under four pounds. Just remember, they’ll probably make you look fat in comparison.
Call it the “Goldilocks of Bags” if you like, though sometimes it seems like more of a “Unicorn of Bags”: the perfectly sized and properly priced duffel can be elusive (hell, brands can’t even decide one way to spell it). When the occasion calls for light packing in something that’ll easily fit in the back seat or sling comfortably over your shoulder there are myriad options, but how many of them can be considered worth a buy? What follows are 30 of the best duffel bags to fit every budget. These represent a vast array of materials, styles, colors and purposes, but suffice it to say each of these duffels is just right.
Keep your tablet tickin'
The iPad’s extreme portability is simultaneously glaringly obvious and overlooked in favor of its flashier tech wonders. The take-it-anywhere-ness of the iPad is also perhaps its biggest downside: we tend to treat it like the things it replaced, the books and magazines that we could toss without a care. That usually doesn’t work out well. Here are 30 great options — leather, wool, propped, or otherwise — that should keep your tablet ticking and looking good.
The Life Aquatic
If you’re like us, you have a long list of gear you’d love to own. But reality (almost) always steps in, along with bank accounts and eagle-eyed spouses, and your gadget desires remain unfulfilled. “Want This, Get This” presents a lust-worthy piece of gear along with a more affordable alternative that scratches the same itch. Today we examine the Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 and the Magrette Moana Pacific Professional.
Around the country, where people can’t easily access a natural body of water, they’ll flock to fake ones for some relaxation, fun, and relief from the heat. This is the seasonal blessing and curse of the fortunate few who own — or have access to — a pool. If you fall into this category and are already bemoaning your hosting duties to come, may we remind you of the wise words of
“Uncle” Ben Parker Voltaire, “with great power comes great responsibility”. Think that bowl of corn chips (“but they’re restaurant style!”) and playing some Jimmy Buffet from your puny laptop speakers answers the call? You are woefully mistaken.
It’s time to take your waterside shindigs to another plane. What we’re talking about is the kind of event that’ll haunt Charlie Sheen’s dreams and leave the neighborhood gabbing for decades. We’ve got your shopping list right here.
Confirm your searing desires
Summer is bearing down fast, and no man passes up the opportunity to get outside and burn some meat (ok, and perhaps a vegetable or two). It is, simply, an integral summer experience, whether enjoyed in the backyard, at a tailgate, in the campsite or on your tiny urban front step.
My dad had a saying: “When it’s burning, it’s cooking. When it’s black it’s done.” This might explain the lack of repeat visitors, but maybe it was the limited tools he had to work with that contributed to his cynical approach to backyard grilling. With any of the 10 excellent grills here, you’ll not only find the right one to suit your particular needs — everything from searing steaks, to cooking a pair of burgers, to smoking an entire pig — you’ll guarantee a line around the block for your ‘cue, and a long list of friends who won’t stop asking when you’re having them over again.
Speakers that speak for themselves
Pursue perfection. Some people — people at the top of their games — consider it a personal mantra. That theory holds for the design world, too, and it’s why industrial designer Joey Roth recently released a third version of his celebrated speaker system. Apparently, he just wasn’t satisfied yet.
Shine A Light
Since their early days, Victorinox (a company better known for its versatile pocketknives) has produced watches that, while standing up to the “Swiss Made” on their dials, haven’t been afraid to get dirty. The Night Vision watch ($695) is the latest handsome, sturdy and exceedingly useful piece of kit from the revered brand. And its most innovative feature has nothing to do with telling time.
Get to Work
A man’s desk is his life. It’s where he does his work, pays his bills, keeps his keepsakes, composes his words and his thoughts. It might be the most intimate piece of furniture in the house — it’s where one is most fully alone, and where, tethered to an often unassuming 50 square feet, a man can finally get down to business. That’s why finding the right desk is so important. Fortunately, plenty of bespoke furniture makers sell gorgeous, modern workspace options. We’ve narrowed down the field with this list of great contemporary desks at a variety of sizes, styles and prices.
California Dreaming, By Way of Switzerland
The XETUM Kendrick ($995), introduced this week, is the third watch collection to be released by relative horological newcomer Jeffrey Kuo since he founded XETUM several years ago. Kuo designs his collections around a singular California-modern vision of a vintage performance aesthetic; his previous models, the Tyndall and the Stinton, were inspired by pilot watches and instruments of times gone by. While the Kendrick continues the vintage theme, it takes inspiration from classic automotive instrumentation.
The Right Boards For Any Mountain
It seems that you can’t walk through a ski resort parking lot without seeing a few new brands of skis and boards being toted around. Some of these new styles are grounded in real testing and evaluation, while others miss the mark in favor of design flashiness, but how to tell? Our intrepid ski testers put quite a few sticks to the test this season to make sure you’ve got the best ski out there. Whether you’re searching for a burly, rockered pow slasher for your upcoming Alaska trip, or you’re on the prowl for the perfect park-rat set up to impress the ladies with your mute-540s in the half-pipe, the end of the season is often the best time for great deals. We’ve got the skis you should be after right here.
Integral travel companion
I have terrible luck checking luggage, and the list of destinations where I’ve arrived with only the clothes on my back spans the globe: Iceland, Sri Lanka, Portugal, Germany. The problem is, most carry-on bags are unwieldy, anonymous “roll-aboards” or lumpy backpacks that are better suited for campus or the trail. The TUMI Tegra-Lite ($595) bucks those trends and has quickly become my second favorite travel companion, behind my wife.
Don't Call Them Point-and-Shoots
The point-and-shoot market may have hit a smartphone camera iceberg, but the ship hasn’t sunk yet. In fact, bitter competition has sped up the photography arms race, producing a wide field of top-tier compact cameras with big sensors — at a better price. Boasting image quality more than good enough to be deemed professional, these cameras can be a useful tool for the prosumer and feverish enthusiast alike, providing an infinitely more portable, all-in-one option rather than bulky DSLRs while sharing many of the same features and image quality.
That said, it’s up to you sharpen the focus on what you really need. We don’t mind walking a few steps to get the right shot — so our choices hone in on the best compact cameras that sport big sensors, fixed lenses and fast focusing. There’s a big field of small shooters; we’re here to slim it all down to the cream of the crop.
While every man hankers for a tractor to motor around the yard, not every lawn is of a size to justify a riding mower. For the middle ground between a farm and a weed-whackable urban postage stamp, the Husqvarna AWD Push Lawn Mower ($500) is a great choice. I took the bright orange cutter — just released this month — for spin and found “push” mower to be a poor descriptor.
Skis for the Snowbound Connoisseur
When picking out a new pair of skis, most of us don’t think to ask about core materials, side cut or vibration dampening — in fact, even knowledgeable ski bums probably don’t have more than a general understanding of these topics. Fortunately for you, the designers at Park City, UT-based RAMP Sports live and breathe ski engineering and manufacturing. It doesn’t take long after stepping on to their small manufacturing floor to see that building handmade skis is both a passion and a way of life for this small collective of diehards.
You should unwind -- but your favorite timepiece shouldn't
A self-winding mechanical watch only lives up to its name if it’s kept moving. On your wrist, there’s no problem — the motion of your arm keeps the rotor spinning, which winds the mainspring. But leave it on your bedside table for a couple of days and you’ll need to crank it by hand and set the time and date. While that’s no great hardship with one or two watches, once your collection grows to more than that, you’re going to want a watch winder.
So which one to get? The one in the SkyMall catalog should be fine for your $40,000 Patek Philippe, right? Wrong. We’ve rounded up five of the best winders, from $40 to $7,000, to help you choose the right one for your budget and your quiver of timepieces.
The American dream in the post Gangham-style age has changed significantly from the days when success was defined by a white picket fence, a Suburban in the driveway and a front porch swing (at least in some parts of the country). Mississippi-based designer and craftsman Andy Hilton decided to re-invent the traditional porch staple as a modern and versatile fixture for the next generation of homeowners.
The time to stow your wool blazers is getting closer everyday — but that doesn’t mean a life of cutoffs awaits. The Arc’teryx Veilance Blazer LT ($500) is sleek and versatile piece of outerwear for Spring 2013 that wears like a fitted shirt, complete with articulated elbows and gusseted underarms, but is fully equipped to handle the rains to come. A rainproof stretch woven fabric that beads water away from the surface, taped seams and Schoeller reinforced laminated cuffs and hem round out this piece’s resume on the durability front, while internal wallet and passport pockets keep valuables safe and secure. If the chic vegas Pit Boss look of the burgundy version above isn’t your thing, the black and grey options should do the trick.
Enlightened java drinkers disdain the typical automatic coffee machine on the shelves of your local big box retailer for one simple reason: it lacks control. It turns out that getting the best possible results from those beans — yea, those ones, which some jittery seed worshiper pressed into your hand while swiping your Amex with the other — requires a lot of precision. Heating water to the proper range, between 195 to 205°F, is the first step in releasing the flavorful oil from the beans, but the average electric drip machine only hovers around 180°F. Carefully regulating the distribution and timing of hot water over the beans is equally important.
Hitting this narrow target has led demanding drinkers to sacrifice convenience for the exacting rituals offered by various pour-over methods — or to blow junior’s tuition on barrista-made alternatives. But thanks to a new breed of re-engineered automatic machines, that trade off is no longer necessary. Learn all about these best-of-both-world-brewers after the break.
We Don't See Nothin' Wrong With a Little Bump and Grind
You like the line at your favorite coffee shop? Ok, besides the cute barista, you can do better: start by grinding your own beans, then check back with Gear Patrol for other suggestions for stepping up to the big leagues. The journey from coffee hack to ambrosia connoisseur begins with freshly ground java in your French press, drip, or espresso machine. A quick primer first, and then on to our top 10 picks.
Who needs a bike to look cool?
Aether shook up the outerwear market by blending the technical chops of today’s most advanced outerwear with the clean lines and styles of the city. The newly revealed Aether Skyline Motorcycle Jacket ($650) looks poised to do the same thing for a niche most fashion brands ignore.
Free your TV
Ever since Sonos entered the streaming audio biz, couch potatoes with money to blow have wondered when they’d get some wireless TLC of their own. The Sonos Playbar ($699) is their long-awaited answer, boasting nine total drivers (six mid woofers and three tweeters), each powered by their own Class D amplifier.
Protect your hide
We’re always huge advocates of motorcycle riding safety, and you can’t scrimp when it comes to protection on the mean streets or on the tarmac. The Alpinestars Atem Leather Jacket ($700) boasts the kind of materials and design that make it one of the most complete riding jackets available today.
Down With It
Depending on your activities of preference, winter is either your joyous playground or whitewashed personal hell. No matter what, staying warm is critical. Down jackets have been a preferred winter option for many years, and for good reason — they’re super warm (when dry), wick moisture away from your body, are packable down to small sizes for travel and have yet to be matched by any synthetic fibers. Here are our five favorite goose-based options to beat the winter freeze.
Turn on the tube(s)
Looking more like a miniature robot monolith than audio componentry, the WOO Audio WA7 Fireflies ($999) is a convenient (ideal) solution to poor desktop sound. As both a high-grade vacuum tube headphone/speaker amplifier and a state-of-the-art USB digital to analog converter, the Fireflies puts everything serious audiophiles crave in a 5-inch cube.
Originally designed to play music on only their own products, Apple’s AirPlay technology now allows users to stream multimedia from iPhones, iPads and computers to any enabled HDTV or speaker system via wi-fi. Because Apple now allows third parties to use their tech, myriad standalone speaker systems designed specifically for AirPlay are on the market: some are better than others, and they all span the price and design spectra. Here are our 10 picks for some of the best AirPlay speakers available.
Skinny, not mini
The 1 pound, 6.9mm-thick Sony Xperia Tablet Z pushes gadget bulimia to new lows as the thinnest 10-inch fingerprint magnet on the market. But while the fat’s been trimmed, all the muscle’s still there — including a Qualcomm 1.5GHz processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, an 8.1MP Exmor R rear camera, 2MP front camera, NFC, LET, a microSD slot, “S-Force” virtual surround sound and a 10.1-inch full HD screen.
The shortest of stacks
Leave it to those face-melting Brits over at Marshall to create something like the Hanwell ($800). Styled after the famed amps that have stuffed arenas with sound for half a century, the company’s first foray into home audio packs 200 watts of pure rock into one 25-pound body. Made of the same wooden construction and…
Magnify your photo skills
Fujifilm continues to stand out as a small player making gargantuan strides (look no further than the massive improvements to the beloved X100). Their new flagship FinePix HS50EXR superzoom point and shoot is a useful, affordable tool for the mid-range photog. Even though the HS50EXR has a DSLR-style exterior, make no mistake: it isn’t one….