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Kool Tools

Volume Number: 21 (2005)
Issue Number: 2
Column Tag: Reviews

Kool Tools

iBoom from Digital Lifestyle Outfitters

One of the most remarkable things about last month's MacWorld Expo in San Francisco was the amazing collection of iPod-related accessories. As Michael Harvey mentioned in his January MacTech review of the show, the iPod was everywhere. There were FM transmitters, skins, headphones, bags and cases, everything you would expect for the iPod.

But one product really caught my attention. The iBoom, from Digital Lifestyle Outfitters, is a boom box specifically designed around the iPod and iPod mini. Around a foot across, eight inches tall and six inches deep, the iBoom features a pair of speakers, surrounding an FM tuner and a slot specifically designed to hold a later-generation iPod. The iPod slides into the slot, then seats into the connector at the bottom of the slot, just as if it were sliding into a cradle. For iPod minis, the iBoom ships with an adapter that fits snugly inside the iPod slot.

So what's so cool about this device? Lots! Power on your iPod, hit the power switch on the iBoom, and the sound comes directly out of the iBoom speakers with no extra connections. The sound is very reasonable for such a small unit. And the iBoom will charge your iPod as well. Very cool! Last but not least, the iBoom features an FM tuner, for those times when you long for the nostalgia of commercial-laden music.

The iBoom, Digital Lifestyle Outfitters,, $149.99.

by Dave Mark

AXIO Swift Hardpack

For years, I rode my motorcycle carrying my PowerBook in a shoulder bag. After about 30 minutes of riding, the shoulder bag would cut in to my neck and start causing me pain. Not only were these shoulder bags uncomfortable, they moved around during riding, and offered no protection for my PowerBook. I dreamed of a computer bag that offered comfort for long rides, and protection for my PowerBook. The Axio Swift Hardpack is my dream come true.

The Swift Hardpack is gorgeous on the outside. The carbon fiber shell looks sporty, and provides the protection you need for your PowerBook. The shoulder straps are curved to afford you range of motion and comfort while riding. A chest strap ensures the shoulder straps are out of the way.

I was surprised how easy it was for me to put my bag on over my riding jacket. My jacket is a little bulky, and I'm no small dude. After the bag was on, I put my helmet and gloves on and went riding. The Swift Hardpack was great. I didn't even know I had it on. It never moved in the twisties, and didn't flop around at high speed (100+ mph for the curious).

After taking the long way to the office, I walked in with all my gear on, thinking I was the coolest guy there since I was riding a motorcycle, and had this brand new bag. After I took off my helmet, my co-workers said my hard shell backpack made me look like a turtle. Go figure. Well, at least my ride was comfortable, my PowerBook was protected, and I thought I looked cool.

Taking the bag off was even easier than putting it on because each shoulder has a quick release buckle. Unbuckle the strap, and the bag just comes off. I unpacked the computer, took all my riding gear off, and got to work.

My 17" PowerBook had no trouble fitting in the bag. I had plenty of room for my cables and accessories. There are also many little compartments for anything you need going mobile. There is even a keychain holder for people like me who hate putting keys in their pocket.

There are loop ring connectors all over the backpack for you add any accessories you need to. You can even use the loop connectors to tie down the bag on your bike. Additionally, Axio includes a very nice weatherproof cover for those days we have to ride in the rain.

The Axio Swift Hardpack is simply the best computer bag I've ever used. It combines function and beauty, as any Mac user expects. This bag is a must for any motorcycle riding, PowerBook user. $160.

by Brian Shin


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