Withings Move Review: a Hybrid Smartwatch That’s Less Than the Sum of Its Parts

Hybrid smartwatches are an appealing segment, combining the health tracking benefits of a standard activity tracker with the unobtrusive, fashionable appearance of a traditional watch. Withings is one of the few participants in the field.

That makes the company’s most budget-friendly model, the Withings Move, all the more disappointing. Its low price point is matched by few features, relying on a connected phone for most of its actual benefit, and the materials and finish of the watch itself aren’t up to the standard set by the Withings Steel and its stablemates.

If you’re in the market for both a very cheap activity tracker and a very cheap watch, you could combine both purchases into the Withings Move. But if the appeal of a hybrid watch is in its resemblance to a fashionable accessory, and the appeal of an activity tracker is in its accuracy and utility, then the Move falls flat on both of those points.

You Get Watch You Pay For

From a functional standpoint, the Move is very similar to the Withings Steel, the original hybrid watch design that the company inherited from its days as a Nokia subsidiary. Like the Steel, the Move tracks steps and sleep with on-board hardware, with its only feedback coming from a sub-dial that shows progress towards your daily step goal. The watch can vibrate, but offers no other interactive functions.

The Coral color option would probably look better on someone less hairy than me.
The Coral color option would probably look better on someone less hairy than me. Michael Crider

Unlike the Nokia/Withings Steel, the Move looks…well, cheap. It uses a plastic case and window, something that would be tacky on even an inexpensive conventional watch. The silicone band is more forgivable, and I appreciate that it can be changed quickly thanks to quick-release pins. But if you want a nice band that’s an extra $20-30, which seems like an odd extravagance on such a cheap device.

The Move's plastic case window is a low point in its budget-friendly design.
The Move’s plastic case window is a low point in its budget-friendly design. Michael Crider

The plastic case would be alright, if Withings had used the savings for a mineral crystal window. Something like tempered Gorilla Glass or synthetic sapphire is too much to hope for on a sub-$100 device, but the plastic window is going to scratch easily and repeatedly, even if you’re not using the Move in frequent high-intensity workouts.

The Move is compatible with standard watch bands, and the included band has quick-release pins.
The Move is compatible with standard watch bands, and the included band has quick-release pins. Michael Crider

That cheapness is presumably a feature and not a bug. At just $70, the Move is indeed one of the cheapest activity trackers around from a reputable supplier, hybrid watch design notwithstanding. It’s a bit more than half the price of the original Steel, for the same features…and in order to move up to something with heart rate tracking, you’d need to shell out $180 for the Steel HR. That’s well beyond impulse buy range for most users.

A Splash of Color

Withings is pushing the customization angle with the Move and its more expensive cousin the Move ECG. It’s being offered with a variety of color combinations for the band, face, and “tracker” hand, with a full web-based color customizer tool being offered sometime later this year.

Withings will offer multiple points of color and pattern customization on the Move...but not yet.
Withings will offer multiple points of color and pattern customization on the Move…but not yet. Withings

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The Best Ways to Organize Cables Under Your Desk

Organizing your desk is a big chore, but these tools can make it easier.
Shutterstock/FotoBob

If you’re anything like us, the cables behind your desk look more like a rat’s nest than anything else. But with a little time and some tools, you can get those cables organized and out of the way.

There are a few different ways to approach this problem: people tend to either lift their surge protector off the floor and hang it underneath the desk, or leave it where it is and put it in a handy box to make it easier to hide and/or clean. We have both options covered, along with some of the other tools you’ll need to get your desk cables organized.

The Best Surge Protector Organizer Box: Quirky Plug Hub ($26)

The Quirky Plug Hub is an elecgant way to store both a power strip and excess cord lengths.
The Quirky Plug Hub is an elegant way to store both a power strip and excess cord lengths. Quirky

Surge protectors and power strips are one of the hardest part of your desk to keep tidy, but this combination tray and able spool will keep everything straight. The Quirky Plug Hub has an advantage over some of the box designs below by keeping the plugs themselves accessible while also coiling excess lengths of multiple power cords.

The open bottom accommodates surge protectors of any length, and three internal spools and matching escapements keep the power cables from getting tangled. The box can stand on the floor or be mounted directly to the underside of the desk.

The Best Oversized Organizer Box: U-Miss Cable Management Boxes ($25)

This low-cost set of organizer boxes can accommodate a variety of power strips.
This low-cost set of organizer boxes can accommodate a variety of power strips. U-Miss

If you need something to handle a large surge protector and don’t need to access it constantly, this matched set should handle your needs. The largest in the three-pack is 16 inches long, which is big enough to handle the largest surge protector around, with cable escapements on either side. The smaller boxes are a bonus.

While it doesn’t have the internal spooling of our top pick, the U-Miss set is enough to handle smaller desks or entertainment centers without more elaborate mounting needs.

The Best Under-Desk Organizer Tray: Stand Up Desk Store Raceway ($49)

This metal tray can handle large surge protectors and huge amounts of cables.
This metal tray can handle large surge protectors and huge amounts of cables. Stand Up Desk Store

Those who want to stick their surge protector and all assorted cables directly underneath their desktop will be best served by this raceway design. It offers over nine inches of vertical space for even the chunkiest of power strips, with either 39 or 41 inches of length.

The metal tray screws into the underside of the desktop and runs along the back, with a long space in the top of the tray for running power and data cables to any point in the desk.

The Best Cable Sleeve: JOTO Cord Management System ($12)

This neoprene cable sleeve tidies up any power or data cable bundle.
This neoprene cable sleeve tidies up any power or data cable bundle. JOTO

Cables tend to tangle between the power strip and your PC, and the surface of your desk. These zip-up sleeves keep everything tight, and they’re easy to apply and remove. The neoprene material (the same stuff in diving suits) is considerably tougher than the cotton or mesh often seen in other sleeves. Standard scissors can cut holes in the sides of the sleeves to allow cables to exit from any point.

Other Cable Organization Tools

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The Best Exercise Balls of All Sizes

New Africa/Shutterstock

Balls are huge in exercising. Big balls, small balls, light balls, heavy balls. Balls are everywhere. If you’re looking for the best balls, we’ve got them right here.

Alright, getting serious: yoga balls, medicine balls, and balance balls do have a lot of practical exercise applications for calisthenics, stretching, free weights, and other improving fitness techniques. We’ve picked out the best yoga balls for large and size applications, the best weighted medicine ball, the best flat-base balance ball, and the best ball if you’d like to replace your home office chair. Check ’em out below.

The Best Large Yoga Ball: Trideer Exercise Ball ($15-31)

The Trideer exercise ball is burst-resistant and can support more than 2000 pounds.
The Trideer exercise ball is burst-resistant and can support more than 2000 pounds. Trideer

There are more full-sized yoga balls than you can shake an ab roll at, but reviewers consistently rate Trideer’s offerings above the rest. Its plastic has an extra-grippy texture that’s less likely to slip under you or on a hardwood floor, and its extra-thick walls can handle up to 2200 pounds of force before bursting. Balls are offered in multiple colors and sizes, from 45 centimeters to 85 centimeters in diameter. Each one comes with a pump to help get you started.

The Best Small Yoga Ball: URBNFit Mini Pilates Ball ($13)

URBNFit's pilates ball allows for ab, leg, and arm exercises that aren't possible with a larger ball.
URBNFit’s pilates ball allows for ab, leg, and arm exercises that aren’t possible with a larger ball. URBNFit

For some routines, a smaller ball is required for exercising abdominal, back, and leg muscles. This nine-inch ball from URBNFit is perfect for targeting muscle groups, and it’s much easier to fit in your home gym than a full-sized ball. The PVC material is considerably tougher, too, so it’ll last quite a while before needing to be re-inflated.

The Best Medicine Ball: TRX Training Slam Ball ($22-75)

The TRX Slam Ball can handle some serious abuse and comes in various weights.
The TRX Slam Ball can handle some serious abuse and comes in various weights. TRX

Medicine balls, weighted, easy-to-grip balls that are many times heavier than the similar pilates ball above, are a very old method of combining coordination, calisthenics, and freeweight training. This TRX design is a great modern interpretation, with an extra-tough rubberized exterior that won’t slip out of your hands and can handle more intense “slam” exercise sessions. The ball is available in weights that can be incorporated into exercises at any fitness level, from six pounds all the way up to fifty.

The Best Flat-Bottom Balance Ball: DEVOBOR Half Ball Balance Trainer ($90)

This flat-bottom ball can be used for a variety of exercises, and is easy to store.
This flat-bottom ball can be used for a variety of exercises and is easy to store. DEVOBOR

An inflatable flat-bottom ball combines a lot of the exercises you can do with a full-sized yoga ball and a pilates ball, all in a size that’s easy to put away and store. The DEVOBOR version comes with a tough inflatable shell and built-in resistance bands, allowing for a variety of arm and leg repetitions. Both the top and the bottom have anti-slip coating for frustration-free workouts.

The Best Yoga Ball Chair Replacement: LuxFit Ball Chair ($60)

Many people have opted to replace a conventional office chair with a yoga ball, making for an easy, low-intensity workout for your core. The LuxFit Ball Chair offers this workout with a bit of back support and conventional chair rollers, making it fit into a standard home office in a much easier way. The smaller ball and retention cross-beam stay inside the chair at all times, eliminating the annoying rolling that sometimes happens with a standard ball.

Casemade Leather iPad Case Review: Real Leather at a Really Nice Price

Casemade offers a solid genuine leather case with a good value.
Casemade

There are plenty of leather cases available for your iPad, but actually tracking down a decent one is a bit of a tightrope walk. Genuine leather cases are expensive, and sometimes hard to tell from the hordes of imitators.

Casemade, a UK company that boasts of genuine Italian leather on its iPad and iPhone accessories, hopes to walk that line. The company sent us its standard leather case for the latest iPad, available for $60 or £40. It’s a pretty nice option for protecting your tablet, covering all the basic features in a beautiful and functional exterior.

You won’t find much in the way of fancy features, but as a simple means of keeping an iPad safe and looking good, it’s more than adequate. The Casemade design is pretty straightforward, and should be familiar to anyone who’s used an iPad in the last few years.

The exterior is full Italian leather with suede interior, with soft-touch plastic for the tablet tray.
The exterior is full Italian leather with suede interior, with soft-touch plastic for the tablet tray. Michael Crider

It goes with the standard folio layout: a hard plastic shell surrounded by a stiff leather exterior. Our review unit is in standard tan with matching stitches, though black with red trim is also available.

Genuine Leather Looks Fantastic

The exterior is smooth and unadorned, save for a small embossed logo in the bottom right corner. A book style-seam runs vertically on the front and back, allowing the cover to fold back on itself and slip into a thin tab, displaying the tablet in a horizontal position with about a seventy-degree angle. Aside from the cutouts at the rear for the iPad’s camera and a microphone, that’s it.

The single corner logo is the only branding on the case.
The single corner logo is the only branding on the case. Michael Crider

Closed and protecting its cargo, the case is approximately three-quarters of an inch thick—pretty chunky for a svelte tablet, but about average for this kind of folio design. The plastic inner case is open at the tablet’s top, bottom, and volume cluster, though it wraps around the corners snugly enough that the iPad isn’t going anywhere. The interior is lined with suede leather, pleasantly soft to the touch and easy on the iPad’s glass screen.

The case is an excellent value considering the materials.
The case is an excellent value considering the materials. Michael Crider

The case looks excellent and feels even better. The grain of the leather on the exterior has just enough give to let you know it’s real while staying thin enough to slip easily into a bag. With the case closed all portions of the iPad are protected by extruding leather and plastic, though it should be noted that the top and bottom are susceptible to impacts on irregular surfaces.

The Stand Function is Pretty Basic 

The case comes without an exterior clasp, relying instead on hidden magnets to secure closed. These pull double duty, automatically turning on the screen when the main flap is opened, as most iPad cases will do these days.

The stand function is lacking in flexibility.
The stand function is lacking in flexibility. Michael Crider

Aside from easy access to the charging port, headphone jack, and buttons, the only other practical feature of the case is that fold-back stand. This could have been implemented better: the leather-only fixture tab is stiff and not altogether sturdy. Even when the tab is correctly used, the curve of the flap makes the iPad “rock” back if you’re actually trying to use it.

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Hexgears Impulse Review: a Mid-Range Mechanical Keyboard That Hits All the Right Buttons

The Gexgears Impulse splash-resistant keyboard gets our recommendation.
Hexgears

After an impressive debut with the low-profile X-1, I was eager to check out some of the other designs from rookie keyboard maker Hexgears. The Impulse, a mid-range model with Kailh’s Box switches, doesn’t disappoint.

This design is missing some of the more whiz-bang features of more expensive options, notably any kind of programming function. It makes up for it with a combination of utilitarian features and excellent build quality.While a less than perfect, the Impulse offers a light show that should appeal to gamers and a selection of switches that will make your fingers jump for joy. For under $100, it’s an easy mechanical keyboard to recommend for both beginners and connoisseurs.

BOX Switches Highlight the Hardware

Hexgears sent us the Impulse equipped with Kailh BOX White switches and “pudding” caps. The first point first: this is one of the only pre-built keyboards available with the BOX switch designs.

Hexgears offers smooth, splash-resistant BOX switches.
Hexgears offers smooth, splash-resistant BOX switches. Michael Crider

Broadly similar to the familiar Cherry key switch and its innumerable clones, Kailh’s BOX switches add a plastic square around the stem. This keeps the keys compatible with standard keycaps, while also making the travel much more stable and smooth. Hexgears is offering the keyboard with BOX Brown (middle stiffness and tactile, a noticeable bump with no click), BOX White (middle stiffness and clicky) or “Hako Clear,” a more niche and much stiffer tactile switch.

The Kono store sells the Impulse in only one size, but with combinations of single-color white and RGB LEDs and the “pudding” two-tone keycaps featured in this review, with prices ranging from $80-100 depending on those options. The keyboard is marketed as “spill proof,” but that’s more a function of the key switches themselves than anything else. With those stems extending all the way around the entrance of the switch and keycaps firmly in place, it’s very difficult for water (or Coke, or coffee, or beer, et cetera) to get to any of the delicate mechanisms inside. Hexgears says the keyboard is IP56 water-resistant, good for anything short of a full dunk into liquid.

The Impulse is offered in a full size format, with RGB or white-only LEDs.
The Impulse is offered in a full size format, with RGB or white-only LEDs. Michael Crider

Other charms of this design include per-key LED lighting and a full ring on LEDs around the plastic casing, PBT (read: fancy) plastic keycaps with shine-through legends, and a six-foot braided cord.

All the Lights and Sounds

In a word, this keyboard is solid. While you don’t get the full metal body, detachable USB cord, or modular switches of more premium designs, its excellent build quality surpasses most of the better-known keyboard builders in this price range.

Optional "pudding" PBT keycaps show off the key lighting.
Optional “pudding” PBT keycaps show off the key lighting. Michael Crider

Kailh’s BOX switches make for a smooth, even travel on the keys, and the two-tone pudding keycaps make for dramatic lighting even at lower intensities. While not explicitly a “gamer” board—the lack of linear options will surely bum some out—the independently-controlled light show for the keys and the LED ring will surely delight users who like to make their desk into a miniature rave. The key stems and standard layout are compatible with all ANSI-formatted keycap sets, so the Impulse is a good board if you’re looking to customize it after purchase.

The BOX switches and plastic case can repel spills and splashes.
The BOX switches and plastic case can repel spills and splashes. Michael Crider

Underneath you get the usual fold-out riser feet, though the keyboard is thick enough that I doubt many users will want an even taller profile. A gently curving deck, with a rather large printed logo on the top edge, is the only other adornment. If you need to open the plastic case (see the water resistant testing below) it’s easy to remove the screws and expose the circuit board.

Programming Could Be Easier

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