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Today in Gear: September 6, 2013

Sony Video Unlimited 4K Download Service If you’ve already got Sony’s 4K Ultra HD Media Player it’s time to start downloading some big guns. The new service went live over the weekend and allows users to download 4K television shows and movies. There are currently 70 films available for rent or purchase, with many more…

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Today in Gear: September 5, 2013

Audi Sport Quattro Concept It’s been 30 years since Audi introduced the Sport Quattro homologation special to qualify for Group B rallying, and the world has been missing the hell out of it. A plug-in hybrid system combines with a twin turbo V8 to churn out a shocking 700 horsepower — over twice that of…

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Today in Gear: August 8, 2013

American Harvest Vodka Usually when we think of vodka we think of a certain debonair chap from overseas, or, of course, Russia. But what if the man who created a famous French vodka decided to create a new vodka right here in the U S of A? Wonder no more: American Harvest small batch vodka…

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They'll never believe you otherwise

Motion Captured: The 5 Best Action Cameras

Thanks to the introduction of action cameras, pretty much anyone with a thing for the outdoors — novice mountain climbers, intermediate cyclists, veteran X-Games athletes and the lot — is utilizing these point-of-view shooters for hi-def footage of mesmerizing scenery and insane stunts. Fortunately for you, we’ve managed to narrow down the top offerings based on performance, suitability, features and price. Take a break from planning that next base-jumping adventure and get a closer at the five best action cameras available now.

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Hot For Teacher...'s Assistant

Kit: Graduate School

So you’ve decided four years of college just wasn’t enough to quench that thirsty brain of yours. You’ve trudged through essays, taken the tests and traded countless lattes for advisor recommendation letters. The wait, worry and work were entirely worth it, though, because you just opened that letter admitting you into the graduate school you’ve been gunning for. The parents are proud, the student loans are shrieking and your name train is ready for a few extra letters. It’s time to get schooled all over again, and we’ve prepped your shopping list. You’re getting smarter — so should your gear.

sandisk-logo-200x35This post brought to you by SanDisk. Trust life's memories to SanDisk.
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They're calling

Dialed In: 10 Best Smartphones Available Now

There was a time when shopping for a cell phone was ridiculously simple. You’d waltz into the nearest Radio Shack, browse through a handful of demo devices anchored onto the wall, and spend a good four to five Benjamins on a BlackBerry 8700 or RAZR V3 (or the Nokia with the changeable covers, which was awesome). What hasn’t changed: we’re enslaved to our mobile devices. What has: the field of competitors.

Over the past few months, we’ve seen new entries from every major smartphone manufacturer spread across all four mobile platforms: Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and believe it or not, BlackBerry. The result for you: choosing the right smartphone can be an overwhelming decision at the moment. Well, we took the liberty of breaking down the top handsets on the market to help simplify the process. Here are the 10 smartphones worthy of your upgrade.

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Brace for Betas

High Scorers: 5 Video Games Worth Waiting For

Walk into any amazon.com these days and you’ll be confronted with an incredibly massive library of video games; a new field of consoles (see sidebar below) just adds to the melee. How do you sort the Grand Theft Autos from the ExtremePaintbrawls*? We took a look at the crop of upcoming games for both current-gen and next-gen consoles and found the games you should be looking forward to.

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Berger's Blend

Staff Favorites: Jeremy Berger

The tenth installment of our Staff Favorites series features Mr. Jeremy Berger. As far as life experiences go, Jeremy’s raced so far ahead of the pack that he’s threatening to lap us. Last summer he trained for and completed an Ironman in Louisville. He lived abroad in Germany after graduating as a Fulbright Scholar; he drank whiskey with good ole boys while working as a line cook in Mississippi; he’s a natural (and trained) culinary whiz; recently, he adventured through a certain embargoed Caribbean island. His favorite gear is many-faceted, fun and useful, the signature of an aggressive and full approach to life.

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Today in Gear: June 28, 2013

Sony Xperia Z Ultra The new Xperia is much improved, but also bigger — with a 6.4-inch screen it’s verging on tablet territory (Moses would have loved this thing). The new phone is also waterproof (but don’t use it in a pool) and very slim; its large battery promises long life; its Snapdragon processor and…

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Today in Gear: June 27, 2013

Killspencer Black Leather Hardshell Briefcase Sir, step away from the messenger bag. This case has room for everything you’ll need for a day at the office — pockets that’ll fit a 15-inch MacBook Pro, A 1.5-inch binder, an 11-inch MacBook Air, an iPad mini, and all your various work accoutrement. Get it monogrammed; don’t use…

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Today in Gear: June 26, 2013

Saker S-1 Personal Jet It’s a pain to always have to fly on a commercial airliner — the things are so damn slow, and you have to put your toiletries in plastic baggies. Ugh. If you’ve got a two-seater military-style jet, however, you can lunch in New York and take an afternoon meeting in LA,…

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Today in Gear: June 19, 2013

Sony VAIO Pro 13 Ultrabook Sony’s answer to the MacBook Air is loud and clear: a high-powered Intel processor and an 512-gig SSD have been slipped inside an oh-so slim carbon fiber shell, and the 13.3-inch monitor is a full HD touchscreen that’s viewable from most any angle. The whole package weighs in at 2.34…

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The complete package either way

Walkaround Guys: 5 Best Everyday Kit Lenses

Kit lenses have a bad reputation for being the cheap training wheels of the photography world, built solely to make the DSLR buying process more approachable for thrifty consumers in search of a one-stop upgrade. These knocks against the category aren’t completely unfounded, but you shouldn’t let the general snobbery of experienced photographers steer you away from a good deal or convenience. There are a variety of kit lenses that are still a tremendous value and a great starting point for building a glass collection, whether they’re purchased with a camera or on their own. Here, you’ll find a few of our favorites across a variety of major brands and setups.

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Today in Gear: June 11, 2013

Microsoft Xbox One Microsoft just announced pricing for its new flagship gaming system, the Xbox One, due for a November launch. To the chagrin of everyone, espeically teenage boys subsisting entirely on allowance and lawn-mowing money, at $499 it’s priced a bit higher than anticipated. $499 PlayStation 4 The PlayStation 4 will be released in…

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The Road is Life

Kit: Road Trip

With age comes the ability to do a long highway cruise better than we ever could as a youngster. Summer’s right around the corner, so we’ve compiled above all the gear you’ll need to make new memories on the road. Get what you need and hit the road, Jack. Grab the wheel and point it west, take a buddy and leave the rest.

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Today in Gear: May 20, 2013

Spot Global Phone Made for the rugged outdoorsman, this satellite phone handles text messaging, voice calling, voicemail and emergency calls the world over. An available data kit allows a computer to jump aboard the uplink, and up to four hours of talk time means you’ll never miss a call. $499 2(X)IST No-Show Sock Collection Say…

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Ferris Bueller's (Summer) Day Off

Kit: Summer Fridays

Summer Fridays are a thing to be put on a pedestal, the ultimate luxury for 9-to-5, Monday to Friday working stiffs. They’re a chance to bug out as soon as possible, to hit the road or jump a train to the beach, a cabin in the woods or some other resplendent getaway. In any case, we can’t just go into a summer Friday unprepared, men. We cannot go silently into that good mini vacation. What we need is a kit — the perfect gear for the perfect summer Friday getaway.

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Today in Gear: May 9, 2013

Mod Mobili X-Base Table If you’re tired of using your ironing board as a workstation but don’t want to stray from the general principle, the X-Table is wildly more practical and almost definitely better-looking. Rather than relying on electricity (is that a thing for desks now?), the Scandinavian-designed beauty can be adjusted manually. $1,250 Adobe…

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What's that, now?

Sweet Sound of Silence: 10 Best Noise-Canceling Headphones

A respite from noise might seem thin on paper, but spend a few hours on an inescapable airplane with crying babies, heaving green-faced passengers or even a chatty cathy neighbor and get back to us on what you’re willing to pay for a little peace and music. What’s more, NC options have some of the best sound profiles available, making them true gems for audiophiles and the easily distracted alike. Considering the vastly small market for noise-canceling headsets available at the moment, the problem isn’t necessarily narrowing down the field — it’s choosing the best one for your audio needs. From pioneering audio staples to buzzing newcomers, these are the noise cancelers worth turning your ears to.

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Today in Gear: May 1, 2013

Chefday Choose one of the gourmet chef-designed recipes on Chefday’s website and every last organic, almost entirely locally sourced ingredient — from salt to tenderloins — will be hand-delivered to your door, pre-measured and pre-washed. All you have to do is follow the step-by-step video instructions and set the table. It’s an ultra easy way…

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Today in Gear: April 30, 2013

Breitling Emergency II The built-in personal locator beacon in the Emergency II uses a dual frequency transmitter to communicate with satellites, making your watch (and everything attached to it) easy to track down in case of an emergency. A rechargeable battery means you can explore corners of the Earth unfettered by Radio Shacks and without…

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Trusty Steeds

Fully Loaded: 5 Best All-In-One Desktops

It wasn’t so long ago that 10-key calculators and instant messenger were the most exciting things happening to technology. But nowadays, tech moves fast — new computer segments are born and buried quicker with each passing year. Don’t let that scare you away from the good ole desktop, though. All-in-ones have more to offer than ever: effective touchscreens with the UI to back them up (Windows 8), high-def displays that can easily double as TV screens (thanks to HDMI and built-in TV tuners), and slimmer profiles for fitting just about anywhere.

Sure, it’s tough explaining to grandma where to put the floppy disc, but we’ll leave that to you. Before choosing which one is right for you, though, figure out just what it is you need. Whether that means sexy looks, entertainment nirvana or a gamer’s sweaty-palmed fantasy, our five picks for the best all-in-one desktops are awaiting below to help out.

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Battleship Island via Sony Action Cam

We want to hate this Sony Action cam mounted on an RC multi-copter. It’s a drone. Those are the scary things that the government uses to spy on you as you go about your vital covert actions (picking your toenails, or watching Bravo channel). But this Sony creation — it’s kind of… cute. And also freaking awesome, mind you. This little bugger zooms around Battleship Island (you know it from Skyfall).

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Today in Gear: April 8, 2013

Hermes Keychain The spendaholic’s mantra: If you can’t afford luxury, downsize it. $280 (★) Dream Car Any child or adult with a good imagination can release their inner auto designer with these modular toy cars made of walnut, beech and poplar, and coated with chalkboard paint. $65+ A Map of the World: The World According…

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Don't Call Them Point-and-Shoots

Tiny Titans: 5 Best Enthusiast Compact Cameras

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.

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Above its Station

Sony PlayStation 4: It’s Out There, Now What?

There’s no doubt about it: Sony’s Fourth Generation PlayStation has a hell of a lot to live up to. Sony’s video game rock star has absolutely shaped the gaming world, and the tech world in general, leading the way through three iterations of gaming domination, DVDs, Blu-rays and a massive library of titles. But today’s gaming market is a whole different beast. At an introduction event Wednesday, Sony revealed some of what’s to come in the new console, though quite a bit was (maddeningly) kept under wraps.

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Air superiority

The Best AirPlay Speakers

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.

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Skinny, not mini

Sony Xperia Tablet Z

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.

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Aquaman's Walkman

Sony Sports W Series Waterproof MP3

It’s widely known that swimmers and rainy weather joggers (and really all audiophiles hindered by humidity) are more than a little jealous of the ease with which their fellow athletes can take in tunes while exercising. Sony’s whipped up the next in their line of wet-weather answers: the Sports W Series Waterproof MP3 Player, a…

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Built for thrills and spills

Sony Xperia Z & ZL

Sony’s finally taken the gloves off in the smartphone ring with its Xperia Z and Zl flagship Android handsets. Externally, the perfectly rectangular 0.31 inch thick Z is a classic example of Sony design and definitely different, — but it’ll likely take some getting used to in the hand. Its hardware rap sheet also stands toe-to-toe with premium devices like the Droid DNA, Optimus G and Nexus 4 thanks to a 5-inch 1080p “Reality Display”, Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core processor, NFC, LTE, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage and a MicroSD slot.