Tech

A Thorough Guide to Listening the Right Way

Guide to Life: Upgrade Your Music Library

Our obsession with hardware is here to stay -- don't expect an apology for it anytime soon. We'll be the first to admit, though, that even the right headphones, speakers and amps are only as good as the source material you play through them. Garbage in, garbage out. The solution? Get more out of the tunes you love by upgrading your music library.

Five Oceans, Five Cameras

Buying Guide: Underwater Imaging

Nowadays, there are many options for underwater photography and videography available to the avid diver and occasional vacation snorkeler alike. These five underwater imaging options -- everything from custom-machined metal housings to cameras that don’t need a housing at all -- will serve you well on your next dive trip. What you shoot is up to you.

No excuses, just good shots

Kit: Essentials for the Budding Movie Maker

Today's affordable tools, cameras, classes and copious creative outlets have brought making a film (one of the best story-telling devices) nearly to the everyman. Still, all those advances can't change a basic fact: sometimes making a movie means going to where the story is rather than waiting for it to come to you. But paying to check 10 Pelican cases of equipment will essentially eat your entire production budget, not to mention it's tough to sneak into a location if you have a fleet of boxes and bags. This kit can be carried by one or two people in traditional suitcases -- which means you get your shots, no matter where those shots may be.

Nip your audio in the bud

Cheap Beats: The Best Budget Earbuds

Earbuds, rather than full-size headphones, are essential to many a man mostly because they are so very compact. If you're a commuter or jogger or some other type of person who can't balance one-pound earmuffs on your head all day, and you don't want to spend a pretty penny on something that you're likely to lose or break, these are for you. They're the best budget earbuds we've heard of, so listen up.

Streaming Consciousness

Net Flicks: Cut the Cord With These Great Set-Top Boxes

Nowadays media streaming devices offer dramatically improved user experiences, access to a wide range of content at 1080p, and price tags easily within anyone’s budget, making it easier than ever to cut the cable company's iron umbilical cord. We’ve selected the top five that should satiate any media user, aficionado to amateur.

Stuttgart Speeds Into the 21st Century

The 127-Year-Old Startup: Visiting Mercedes-Benz’s New Silicon Valley R&D Facility

From the Archives: Mercedes has been innovating in Silicon Valley for over two decades, but they've decided to bolster their cutting-edge technological efforts with their new Mercedes Benz Research & Development North America (MBRDNA) headquarters in Sunnyvale, California. We were on hand to explore the new facilities, check out their in-car technology and gawk at the beautiful, newly unveiled AMG Vision Gran Turismo.

If you fake it, you won't make it

Avoid Counterfeit Camera Accessories

Canon is on the front line of the assault against counterfeit parts, taking the proverbial (cannon) shot across counterfeiters’ bows. Counterfeit products, be they purses or batteries, boast cheap price tags because they’re cheaply made. Fake Canon batteries, battery grips and chargers aren’t manufactured under the stringent quality standards and regulations that true Canon products are, and as such they can be at best a nuisance -- lower performance, voided warranties -- and at worst cause hazards like overheating, device damage and fires.

Three Amateur Gamers Play for 14 Hours Straight

Testing the Xbox One

From the Archives: Three GP staffers, all casual gamers, tested the Xbox One for over 14 hours straight and came away with a severe lack of sleep and plenty of strong first impressions. Addicted? Clearly. Here's what they remember.

Foremost Eyes

UltimEyes and the Pursuit of Perfect Vision

Ever wish you could hit a 95 mph fastball? Us too. In lieu of that pipe dream we'll happily take the ability to see a 95 mph fastball better while whiffing. Aaron Seitz -- a neuroscientist at The University of California Riverside (UCR) -- seems to have an answer with a new eye training app. His creation may have more far-reaching consequences than an increase in homers.

The pick of the little

The Best iPad Mini & Mini Retina Cases

Does your iPad Mini Retina need some love? We've updated our best iPad Mini & Mini Retina cases at a variety of price points to help get your new Cupertino buddy from birthday suit to warm and cozy. Whether you prioritize looks, function or insurance for your butterfingers, each of these iPad Mini cases has a forte -- and a price.

Sound Matters

Tested: foxL DASH 7 Bluetooth Speaker

Anyone who followed CES this year saw the amount of new wireless Bluetooth speakers -- an avalanche eclipsed only by the utter horde of new fitness trackers. Still, it's clear when a winner emerges from the pack. While the fight for the best portable Bluetooth speaker continues, one high-end contender threatens to end the competition: the foxL DASH 7 ($219), produced by Soundmatters, the same company that originally provided components for the best-selling Jambox.

To Russia We Fly

Kit: Capturing the Olympics

Packing for a trip to Russia for the Sochi Olympics is no small feat. There's weather, international travel, technology and a desire to stay light on our feet to consider. Gear needs to be tough, functional, lightweight and understated. Here's a sampling of what we're packing to use on a normal day in Sochi.

Less is more, you photo whore

Guide to Life: Snap a Decent Instagram

As it turns out, most of Instagram’s 100 million users aren’t jet setting to exotic locations, climbing mountains or doing other exceptionally picturesque stuff (see #dentist for further evidence). That being said, you don't have to summit Everest to post interesting Instagrams. By following a few (relatively) straightforward guidelines you’ll soon be ‘gramming like Ansel Adams.

There once was a...

Storehouse and the Rise of Storytelling Apps

Storehouse brings illustrative storytelling to the everyman (and everywoman) through an iPad app with a very basic formula: add photos from dropbox, your photo library, Flickr or Instagram, then swipe, pinch, and pull to structure them in a wide variety of formats, with or without text, which can likewise be added and edited. More importantly, it brings better alternative storytelling abilities to those outside of major publications.

The best gets better

Tested: Audioengine A2+ Powered Speakers

Audioengine's original A2 speakers launched in 2008 and were immediately showered with praise. They were sized to feel right at home on a desk but also boasted smart design decisions and spectacular sound quality, both of which were more in line with traditional bookshelf speakers or studio monitors. The newly updated Audioengine A2+ ($249) retains its predecessor's baseline of quality but builds upon that wide range of usefulness with notable improvements for a variety of audio setups.

Integrated Tech, Around the Clock

Why You Need a Qualcomm Toq: Everyday Wear

The smart watch has been a future fiction muse for decades. Dick Tracy used his to keep in touch with The Chief; George Jetson undoubtedly strapped one on before heading to work and leaving Rosie to take care of the kids and his shopping-obsessed fashionable wife. But here’s what all the clever creators behind those characters were missing: wrist-based tech that wasn’t just for business. Whether it’s tucked under the cuff of a sport coat or a sweatshirt, the Qualcomm Toq excels at conveniently (and discretely) connecting users to their digital livelihoods.

Bigger is Better

New Year’s Resolutions: Five 4K Displays You Can Actually Afford

Now that the content is beginning to arrive and prices are right, it’s time for consumers and video professionals to use 4K monitors. A whole crop of 4K displays have been announced by all the big names in electronics (save for one...we're waiting on you, Cupertino), and the variety combined with esoteric naming conventions can lead any well-minded consumer to bouts of madness. We’re here to help. Here are our five favorites that you can actually afford.

Empty Canvases, Waiting to be Filled

Shoot Anywhere With These Five All-Weather Canvas Camera Bags

We know you love leather bags, and so do we. But there are times, say, when you’re toting your photography gear, that you need a more all-weather, utilitarian alternative. In fact, we'll say it now -- leave the leather for trips and commutes. We've rounded up our favorites and put them through their paces to come up with our list of the five best canvas camera bags for the discerning photographer.

What Happens in Vegas Goes on the Internet

Today in Gear, CES 2014 Edition: January 10, 2014

Have you (geeks) heard? CES 2014 is on, and we’ve got two men on the floor, app-ing and connectivity-ing and syncing with a vengeance. We’ll be updating you all week with the coolest thing’s we’ve found so far. Here’s the second batch, replete with Steam's new controller, a Garmin dashcam, a digital servant and more.

Get more time on the clock

Why You Need a Qualcomm Toq: The Businessman

Greed is good, says Gordon Gecko. A strong businessman, to put it lightly, though we won't get into his ethics. Not everyone agrees with his motto on the money front, but certainly every one of us is greedy as hell about two other things: time and convenience. With that in mind, the Qualcomm Toq, a smart watch that is in many ways the most clever offering on the market, aims to make you more efficient through a plethora of useful apps and a build, design and aesthetic you can count on.

What Happens in Vegas Goes on the Internet

Today in Gear, CES 2014 Edition: January 9, 2014

Have you (geeks) heard? CES 2014 is on, and we’ve got two men on the floor, app-ing and connectivity-ing and syncing with a vengeance. We’ll be updating you all week with the coolest thing’s we’ve found so far. Here’s the second batch, replete with a smart bed, a new flagship 3D printer and exciting news on the PS4 front.

How It's Made

Making the All-New Mac Pro

Apple's Mac Pro, released in the fall of last year, is the kind of provocative machine that makes even luddites turn their heads. Its design is reminiscent, in some ways, of Da Vinci's plans for a flying machine: an impressive idea, a maelstrom of creativity, a game-changer that inspires curiosity and awe. It's not anywhere near as ground-breaking as Leonardo's plans -- but then again, Apple is able to execute. Apple's short film captures that execution.

Get Above the Action

Rotary Club: Take to the Skies with These 3 Drones for the GoPro

Drones with GoPro capability have exploded in popularity over the past two or three years and are finally beginning to arrive at price points that might make the budget-minded filmmaker's ears perk up. With that in mind, we sought to find the best drones for aerial filmmaking; after some worthwhile learning experiences (don't try and learn to fly one in a New York City office), we've arrived at our three favorites.

What Happens in Vegas Goes on the Internet

Today in Gear, CES 2014 Edition: January 8, 2014

Have you (geeks) heard? CES 2014 is on, and we’ve got two men on the floor, app-ing and connectivity-ing and syncing with a vengeance. We’ll be updating you all week with the coolest thing’s we’ve found so far. Here’s the second batch, with an ultra-portable gaming computer, a 3D printer for the kitchen, TVs that'll make your eyes weep with joy and much more.

What happens in Vegas goes on the internet

Today in Gear, CES 2014 Edition: January 7, 2014

Have you (geeks) heard? CES is on, and we’ve got two men on the floor, app-ing and connectivity-ing and syncing with a vengeance. We’ll be updating you all week with the coolest thing’s we’ve found so far. Here’s the first batch. LET’S GET TECHNICAL Best of Gear Patrol 2013: Tech | Tested: Xbox One |...

The Start of a Smarter Home

Life With Iris: Installation

Much of what simplifies our lives has become effortless. Typing with our thumbs in swipes and stabs while our car parks itself in front of the restaurant that serves those Instagram-worthy dishes can be learned and perfected before the next status update hits our social media feeds. It truly is a brave new world -- and it doesn’t have to begin outside your doorstep. The same levels of remote control can now just as easily be had for your home thanks to the Iris Home Management System ($179+) from Lowe's.

Great Techpectations

The Best of 2013: Tech

Technology is constantly reshaping the world, to both our benefit and frustration. From a macro standpoint, the changes wrought during 2013 weren’t surprising at all. Computing increased; pixels were packed closer; connectivity expanded -- just like the analysts said they would. We yawned with indifference while promptly pre-ordering, then tossed the pinnacles of 2012's innovation on Craigslist. Still, a few trends did stand out amid the churning tech landscape. The actions and unique characteristics of our bodies have officially joined the digital party, providing new forms of interactions, security concerns and data points. Novel careers in the gaming industry button-mashed ever closer to the mainstream while the consoles wars reset for the decade to come. Personal devices like smartphones finally became personalizable and, in some cases, made in America. True to our heritage, we also devoted plenty of man-hours to simplifying your acquisition quests by researching, testing and sharing the best devices available in countless critical tech categories. Just in case you missed any of it, here you’ll find a retrospective on some of our favorite forays into the world of technology during 2013. Enjoy them now in the pre-obsolescence stages of their lives, and make sure you check back soon. Next year will bring plenty of innovation again, and we’ll be here to cover it like only GP can.

It's all in the wrist

Qualcomm Toq: Your Personal Command Center

Checking our phones has become an awkward social tic, one that the Smart Watch segment addresses with sleek wrist-mounted media mediators. Digital communications magnate Qualcomm seems like the company that would provide smartphone horologists-cum-futurists with the groundbreaking technology to outdo competitors. Instead, Qualcomm has gotten into the ring with their own Toq, which leverages the company's innovations to create the most clever smart watch on the market.

SOS for Less

Want This, Get This: Breitling Emergency or SPOT Messenger Gen3

If you’re like us, you have a long list of watches you’d love to own. But reality (almost) always steps in, and your desires remain unfulfilled. Gear Patrol’s series Want This, Get This presents a lust-worthy timepiece along with a more affordable alternative that scratches the same itch. This week, we offer two very different ways to save your skin.

No Phone Booth Needed

Microsoft Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2: Work Hard, Play Hard

They say it makes Jack a dull boy, the whole single-sided approach to life. We’ll go one further, though, and say that even being able to switch from fun to serious or from any identity to another, for that matter, isn’t all that impressive. Sure, Batman saves lives, fights crime and delivers justice, and sure,...

Stuttgart Speeds Into the 21st Century

The 127-Year-Old Startup: Visiting Mercedes-Benz’s New Silicon Valley R&D Facility

Mercedes has been innovating in Silicon Valley for over two decades, but they've decided to bolster their cutting-edge technological efforts with their new Mercedes Benz Research & Development North America (MBRDNA) headquarters in Sunnyvale, California. We were on hand to explore the new facilities, check out their in-car technology and gawk at the beautiful, newly unveiled AMG Vision Gran Turismo.

What Your Air Should Wear

On Air: 35 Great iPad Air Cases

Just because the word "air" is in your latest iPad's name doesn't mean it's going to float on the ether if (when) you drop it. There isn't going to be some magical, fluffy cloud protection when you slip it in your work bag or duffel; there is neither a keyboard nor some sort of built-in kickstand. So, clumsy, what're you supposed to do? How do you keep your pristine investment and advanced piece of technology looking new? How do you keep it accessible and functional in every imaginable way and every imaginable place, from the airplane to the board room to the living room? For starters, you could do worse than picking up one of the best iPad Air cases on the market. We've rounded up 35 of the grandest grippers, gewgaw-laden sleeves, shells, keyboards and folios and parsed them by price.

Alien Chess

Red Bull Battle Grounds and the Rise of eSports

We visit Red Bull Battle Grounds, a two-day tournament in which eight of the world’s best Starcraft II players send angry virtual military units across a digital landscape to destroy their enemy’s virtual bases. Does this event (and the many others like it) signal a shift in gaming's social legitimacy? Read on for an exploration and a photo essay of the event.

Digital Hoarders

Super Storage: Best External Desktop Hard Drives

The best desktop hard drives have, to steal a phrase from our favorite genie, "phenomenal saving power; itty bitty stylish case[s]". Should you need a little extra room (actually, a lot of room) to move large files from one place to another, or or if you’re storing files temporarily for some other reason, look no further than these, the best external desktop hard drives around.

Resurfacing

Meet the Microsoft Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2

As a tech-minded individual, you appreciate a solid hands-on experience with any device before you purchase it. You storm your local electronics haunt and play with display models for hours on end before making a decision. But you’re still here reading because you want the deets up front from a reliable (thank you) source. With this in mind, we must first explain that no matter how many of the glorious specifications, design and interface highlights and general accolades we spout over the next page, we simply won’t be able to scratch the surface (huzzah!) of the technological nerdery that makes up Microsoft’s Surface 2 ($449) and Surface Pro 2 ($899) tablets. But are we ever gonna try.

A Basketball coach, literally

Tested: 94Fifty Basketball

This year, the basketball gets a new update in the form of the 94Fifty ($295), a Bluetooth-enabled basketball that pairs with your mobile device to track shot speed, dribble force, control, spin, and acceleration. Posted to Kickstarter on March 5th, it crushed its $100,000 goal in a little over a month. We took it for a test run.

4Dads

Photo Essay: 4Moms Headquarters

Robotics engineers and industrial designers, rapid prototyping and 3D printing, adroit methodology and open workflow -- sounds like a Silicon Valley tech startup, right? But things aren't always as they seem. In the case of Pittsburgh-based company 4Moms, this business model is being applied to baby products that leave the status quo in the dust. We went to their headquarters to get a behind-the-scenes look at a few products poised to change things up in the baby world once again.

Three Amateur Gamers Play for 14 Hours Straight

Tested: Xbox One

The Xbox One ($500), which comes out Friday, promises to be more entertaining, more immersive and more addictive than its predecessors. But how much more entertaining? Will all aspects of the game-rendering, movie-playing, internet-surfing, friend-connecting, shopping-enabling entertainment system pull their weight? Will the games serve as playable works of art? How much more immersive could they be? Will the Kinect 2.0 build upon the groundbreaking recognition technology of its predecessor? Will the machine seamlessly integrate all our disparate media and create a monster -- an addictive one? Perhaps the last question is the most important, but really, at its current MSRP of $500, they all are. Three GP staffers, all casual gamers, had the chance to test the Xbox One this weekend, and, in general, it lived up to expectations. We played it for over 14 hours straight; we came away with a severe lack of sleep and plenty of strong first impressions. Addicted? Clearly. Here's what we remember.

Jolly Good

KEF M500

Premier audiophile brands owe Doctors Amar Bose and Dre a begrudging thanks for opening the eyes of the public to the value of investing in a set of headphones. Thanks to their savvy marketing and branding, the luxury hi-fi headphone market is exploding as an entire generation of consumers look to replace their bass-blasting, noise-canceling sets with something more refined. Perhaps the most ready to profit is KEF, the British hi-fi manufacturer best known for selling six-figure sound systems. Their flagship M500 headphones ($300) capture the luxury bent of potential buyers and hold up their end of the elite audio bargain, all at a price well below the company's mortgage-your-house standard fare.

Inline Magic

Meridian Explorer

The Meridian Audio Explorer ($299) is a portable USB DAC designed for the Jony Ive age that transforms traditional computer listening into a hi-fi experience with minimal fuss. It's small, incredibly easy to set up, and designed to blend seamlessly with other high-end electronics you already own. It also retails for a reasonable $299, despite being made in England using the same exacting standards Meridian applies to gear with price points that make car dealers blush.

Abbey Road, to Go

Zoom H6

It's 2013. Zoom has held an iron grip on the portable recording industry for seven years and needs to improve on an excellent product. What do they do? They release the H6 ($400), a new recorder that takes everything that mobile maestros loved about the previous H4 and H4n models and adds versatility and power.

Look Ma, No Mirrors!

Nikon AW1

The underwater digital camera is certainly not a new concept; you probably picked one up before your honeymoon to take pictures while scuba diving. How’d that work out for you? Not too great, we bet, because while the underwater digital camera is clever in theory, there aren’t many companies who have made it worth our time and money. The lenses are cheap, the images are underwhelming, and face it: the cameras are homely as hell. Luckily, Nikon has decided to get serious about underwater photography -- and photography in all sorts of rough conditions -- with the new AW1 ($800), the first mirrorless digital camera that's completely waterproof and has interchangeable, waterproof lenses.

Boom Buds

Sennheiser IE800

It used to be that if you wanted superb audio, you'd have to shell out top dollar for a pair of clunky over-ear headphones. That's all well and good when you're sitting at home on Sunday night, quietly enjoying a glass of Scotch and listening to Schwarzkopf and Ackermann's 1953 recording of Strauss's "Vier letzte Lieder", but what happens when you're on the go? After all, if you're going to pay $1,000 or more for something, shouldn't you be able to show it off? Sennheiser's IE 800 ($1,000) in-ear headphones have been heralded by many audiophiles as the best combination of sound and portability on the market.