SenseAge Universal Ultra Lite Flat Stand: A Nearly Perfect Tablet Kickstand

The SenseAge stick-on kickstand is exactly the tablet accessory I've been looking for.
The SenseAge stick-on kickstand is exactly the tablet accessory I’ve been looking for. Michael Crider

Kickstands are awesome. This is a universal truth that, despite its undeniable nature, seems to go unacknowledged by the majority of the technology press. I’m going to do my part to alleviate that, with the help of the SenseAge Universal Flat Stand.

To be clear, this isn’t some glitzy new product on the cusp of a press blitz. It isn’t a kickstarted idea banged out in a garage, or even anything particularly notable. It’s just something I saw on Amazon and decided to buy to use my Chromebook tablet more easily with a keyboard. But it seems to be singular: there are a few variations on universal kickstands for phones (see PopSockets and the like), but I’ve never seen a tablet kickstand that so seamlessly integrates into any large format design.

And in a word, it’s great. In two words, the SenseAge design is freakin’ fantastic. It allows me to add a semi-permanent kickstand to any 10-inch or larger tablet, in any case, while adding almost zero bulk or weight to my mobile setup. All this for under twenty bucks? I love it.

Kick It Up

The kickstand folds out and props up even the largest tablets for ideal viewing.
The kickstand folds out and props up even the largest tablets for ideal viewing. Michael Crider

In a purely physical sense, there’s not much to this thing. It’s a few folds of stiff plastic, some 3M glue to stick to the back of your tablet or case, and a couple of magnets to keep the material in place in its folded or unfolded state. That’s it.

If you’re looking for a comparison, the “origami” tablet cases sold for some Asus designs and the pricier Amazon Kindle are similar. Pull the outer fold out, and it locks into place, allowing you to prop up your tablet at a fixed angle in either landscape or portrait mode.

The advantage here is that it’s universal, and can be applied to almost any slate-shaped gadget. It excels for desktop-class tablets running Windows or Chrome, which don’t come with their own Surface-style kickstands or can’t be propped up in lieu of a dedicated keyboard.

When folded down, the kickstand adds almost no bulk. It's easy to slip into my bag.
When folded down, the kickstand adds almost no bulk. It’s easy to slip into my bag. Michael Crider

The simplicity in the design is remarkable. With just three folds this thing can prop up a tablet in two modes, while adding almost no weight and only about an eighth of an inch in thickness. The exterior fold uses a matte plastic finish, while the inside is lined with microfiber, muting the mild “snap” sound of the stand opening or closing. It’s such a simple idea and execution that I’m amazed I haven’t seen anything like it before, and the design appears to be available only from this vendor.

Measure Twice, Stick Once

There isn’t much to complain about with this kickstand thingy. It’s quite versatile: with folded dimensions of 8.5 by 6 inches, it should work on almost any tablet ten inches or larger. The design only allows one fold-out angle—call it two if you’re counting both landscape and portrait mode. Some clever engineer might be able to think of a way to fold something like this into multiple positions, but for a $17 accessory, it’s more than forgivable.

The stand is applied to the tablet with 3M adhesive, and stays closed or open with thing magnets.
The stand is applied to the tablet with 3M adhesive, and stays closed or open with thing magnets. Michael Crider

There is one drawback to the universal, manufacturer-agnostic design of the stick-on kickstand: you’ll want to be fairly careful when you do stick it to your tablet or case. The 3M tape on the back doesn’t leave any noticeable residue, but it does stick very firmly, and if you need to remove it you’ll have to be careful not to bend the plastic as you peel it off.

Care needs to be taken to apply the stand to the best place for standing up larger tablets.
Care needs to be taken to apply the stand to the best place for standing up larger tablets. Michael Crider

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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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