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iLounge’s 2018 Holiday Gift Guide, Part 1

It’s that time of year again — the Christmas season is upon us, which means that you’ve probably been racking your brain to find the perfect gift for at least one person you know. Well, we’re here to help you out with the first instalment in our 2018 Holiday Gift Guide, in which we’ll be rounding up some of the best products we’ve reviewed over the past couple of years, and highlighting those that we think make especially good gifts for the iPhone owners in your life. Today we’re start out with a broader overview of a variety of smaller categories; we’ll be dedicated Part 2, due early next week, to the large collection of speakers, headphones, and other audio accessories that make up the bulk of our review coverage. We hope you’ll find something here to inspire you.…

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Review: Ultimate Ears Boom 3

It’s been a few years since we’ve looked at Ultimate Ears’ Boom speaker lineup — the company’s 2015 Boom 2 and Megaboom were both solid performers that have held their own for the past three years, so it’s debatable whether they’re even in need of an update, but Ultimate Ears certainly seems to think it’s time, and after a nice foray into the Wi-Fi and Alexa speaker market earlier this year with its even bigger Megablast, UE has returned to its roots with a new [Boom 3] and Megaboom 3, successors to the Boom 2 and Megaboom, respectively (there was never a “Megaboom 2”). Today we’re taking a look at the smaller, classic model.

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Mac: Satechi Type-C Aluminum Monitor Stand Hub for iMac

In the world of Mac accessories, Satechi is probably best known for its varied lineup of stylish aluminum USB-C hubs and adapters that beautifully match the Mac aesthetic. While most of the company’s hubs have been targeted toward MacBook users, the company has also previously offered an iMac hub that simply clamped onto the bottom of an iMac, providing a collection of easily accessible USB ports. Now Satechi is taking that concept to the next level with its Type-C Aluminum Monitor Stand Hub for iMac, a sleek stand that will elevate your iMac in more ways than one.

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Review: Fiio BTR1K Bluetooth Headphone Adapter

Just over a year ago, we reviewed Fiio’s BTR1, a $50 Bluetooth adapter for wired headphones. At the time, the idea of a competent Bluetooth adapter felt fresh — many were still reeling from the removal of the iPhone’s headphone jack, and wired Lightning adapter options were few and underwhelming. The BTR1 was Fiio’s first entry into this market; we liked it very much, but lamented its lack of AAC and somewhat awkward volume step configuration. In the past year, Fiio has been hard at work expanding this line in both directions — the basic μBTR and premium BTR3. This week, we’re looking at a refresh of the original BTR1 — Fiio’s new BTR1K. It’s got updates in all the right places.

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Catalyst launches new Special Edition Waterproof Case for AirPods

Catalyst has just announced is new Special Edition Waterproof Case for AirPods, a design evolution of its award-winning waterproof AirPods case. The new Special Edition cases, available in three exclusive colors, have been created, developed and packaged with high quality and durable materials, and feature an IP67 waterproof rating to protect your AirPods at depths of up to 3.3 feet, as well as offering drop protection to four feet. The case is made from soft and durable silicone and also includes a premium lightweight carabiner in a matte finish to allow it to be easily hooked onto just about anything from belt loops to backpacks. A bottom seal over the Lightning port allows the AirPods to be charged without removing them from the case. The new Special Edition cases sell for $29.95 and are available exclusively from Apple, both online and at select retail stores, as well as from Catalyst’s own website.

Daily Deal: CoinKeeper Platinum Subscriptions

In our iLounge Deal for today, you can get a lifetime subscription to CoinKeeper Platinum for only $39.99 — that’s 85% off the regular price. Personal finance doesn’t come to us all naturally; but thankfully there’s CoinKeeper, the streamlined tool that helps you plan and manage your finances on the go. Using an intuitive coin-themed interface, you can quickly manage your income and expenses while you create monthly budgets, set reminders for recurring payments, and use detailed reports to see where your money goes. Plus, for a limited time, iLounge readers can get an extra 15% off by using the promo code MERRY15.

Get a lifetime subscription to CoinKeeper Platinum now for only $39.99

Review: Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Stand

Belkin is still one of the two main contenders when it comes to Apple-endorsed wireless chargers. While of course any Qi-certified charger will work fine with Apple’s recent slate of iPhones, there are of course always those brands that have a tighter relationship with Apple, and this is especially true in Belkin’s case, where we’ve seen several “Special Edition” products exclusively available from Apple’s own online and retail stores. While Belkin’s new Boost Up # Wireless Charging Stand doesn’t fit into this category, it’s still clearly part of the company’s Boost Up family of wireless charging devices.

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Review: Marshall Minor II Bluetooth In-Ear Headphones

The Marshall brand has been on a roll lately with its speaker and headphone lineup, with its new Stanmore II Bluetooth Speaker and Kilburn II Portable Speaker, and the introduction of active noise cancellation in its on-ear headphones with this year’s Mid ANC Bluetooth. While we’ve spent more time with Marshall’s on-ear and over-ear models, the company also has a small lineup of in-ear headphones as well, and the company recently updated the flagship model, the 2011 era Minor, with the [Minor II Bluetooth] ($130), a fairly major new iteration that resembles the original more in name and class than anything else.

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Gear: Anki Create with Cozmo Book

It’s no secret by now that we’re big fans of Anki’s Cozmo, the adorable little robot that’s rolled his way into our hearts, and when it comes to interactive educational toys, Cozmo still has a wheel up on its younger sibling, Vector, with a more accessible set of tools that provide a great way for kids to learn the basics of coding. Now, Anki is taking this a step further with a new printed, hardcover book, Create with Cozmo, that will help younger kids get a start on learning to code projects for their robotic sidekick.

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Review: Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT

The Jeep Wrangler started as a true utility vehicle — its simple body panels and spartan interior reflected that it was designed for people that valued off-road capability over on-road luxury. Over the years, however, the truck changed — it’s now available with modern appointments like power windows, heated seats, and touchscreen navigation. What was once a purpose-built tool has evolved to meet the demand of a wider consumer base. Audio-Technica’s most popular studio monitor headphones have gone through a similar evolution — once a dedicated studio monitoring tool, the new ATH-M50xBT adds features that today’s headphone users demand without losing the spirit of the original.

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