Stabilizing a flying camera isn’t easy. DJI’s been doing it for awhile on their drones, and they’ve transposed this know-how into handheld gimbals as well. And the DJI Ronin 2 Gimbal is by far the most capable of the latter so far. Equipped with an enlarged camera cage and high torque motors, this gimbal can handle a variety of rigs — including some by RED and Black Magic — up to 30 pounds in weight, stabilizing them in high winds and even at speeds of up to 75 mph such as when mounted to a car. Ease of use is crucial so an integrated touchscreen accelerates setup and controls, while the intuitive Gimbal Assistant app lets you plan out timelapses and panorama shots easier than ever. The Ronin 2 also has dual hot-swappable batteries (that also run in temperatures as low as -4°F) for uninterrupted shooting, a carbon fiber build for low weight and high strength, and integrated GPS that’s necessary for maintaining the camera’s positioning and angle while moving at high speeds. Good thing, too, considering it’s highly mountable, attaching to cable cams, Steadicams, drones, vehicles, and cranes, amongst others.
All we’re missing is the price. Learn more at DJI – $TBA
Native Union makes plenty of fancy charging accessories, notably the ten foot long weighted Night Cable that we use daily. The Native Union Cosmos Cable Collection isn’t just a re-skin of their existing cables, though it’s certainly that, too, with a dark, Terrazzo-inspired color pattern made of interwoven tones of grey and white. Perhaps more importantly though the cables boast DuPont Kevlar fiber underneath the tough nylon braided exterior as well as an O-Flex strain-relieving design at the connector joint, all-in-all making them several-fold more durable than traditional charge cables that tend to eventually fray with heavy use. Models include a Cosmos Night Cable (shown, right), a keychain-sized Key Cable (center), a portable Belt Cable (left) with a small leather belt to keep it tidy in your bag, and a Belt Cable XL which wraps up like the smaller one but is ten feet long.
Learn more at Native Union – $25 to $40 each
Perhaps your relationship with your phone is getting out of hand. Or maybe it’s the daily recharges and pocket dedicated entirely to your phablet-sized device. Regardless, the Light Phone solves these issues perhaps a little too well. With the profile of a credit card and a weight of just over an ounce, this is a phone that you’ll end up using as little as possible, primarily because it can’t really do much other than make and receive calls — so it’s best set up as a secondary phone with call forwarding from your primary when you want to cut the cord at a total cost of $5 per month for the extra SIM card. Touch-sensitive buttons, which number twelve total, include the ten numbers necessary to dial, as well as one for calling and one for deleting, though it’s also got a power button up top and a lock slider on the left. So forget about texting. You can either start memorizing numbers or load up to 9 as speed dial using your computer, each dialled by a long press of the corresponding number. It’s also small enough to fit in normal wallets so it’ll slip both out of sight and out of mind.
Learn more at The Light Phone – $150
First Alexa had ears. Then she had eyes. Now Amazon’s latest personal assistant, the Amazon Echo Show, also has a medium with which to show you things: a 7-inch touchscreen. As with previous devices the Echo Show’s looks are understated but are backed with serious technological wizardry including far-field voice recognition, noise cancellation, and eight microphones to hear you from any direction even while it’s playing your music, so you can ask Alexa various things completely hands-free. The screen further expands its capabilities to let you make video calls using the 5-megapixel front-facing camera, watch movies or video clips, see who’s at the door (provided a smart doorbell or security camera), pull up a recipe, and much more. All in a package, to reiterate, that looks particularly pedestrian, which contrasts significantly with what it can do (and perhaps convinces us to let these things into our homes).
Learn more at Amazon – $230
Your MacBook or MacBook Pro has nothing but USB-C ports. Too bad the rest of your accessories are slow to follow suit. The PowerUp USB-C Power Adapter & Hub should cover you until the USB-C standard is more mainstream. It’s not much bigger than the power adapter that came with your computer nor does it cost more, though it still outputs 60W AC — enough even for smaller MacBook Pros, and bigger, 15-inch Pros that aren’t being pushed to full capacity (worst case if they are temporarily they’ll just drain their batteries a bit). It also doubles as a hub to sync and charge three USB-A-reliant devices, or in which to plug a standard thumb drive, making it a better choice for carrying around instead of a standard adapter and a bag-full of dongles.
Find it at Indiegogo – $80
Apple would have you believe that an iPad is a suitable laptop replacement. We think it really depends what you’re doing, but for taking notes, writing, and surfing or reading, it’ll probably do just fine when given a physical keyboard. The Logitech Slim Folio is the case, keyboard, and stand your tablet needs to contend with more seriously productive devices (i.e. laptops), with mechanical scissor keys that travel a more-than-adequate 1.5 mm to give tactile feedback while typing. The top row of shortcut keys also puts a variety of functions at the tip of your fingers, like adjusting volume, activating dictation, skipping tracks, and changing language, and the stand works as well on your lap as it does on a desk or table. Closing the screen cover powers off both your tablet and the keyboard, holding shut thanks to a magnetic clasp. Otherwise it connects to your iPad using Bluetooth and lasts for an impressive four years on a set of coin cell batteries, at least assuming you use it for around two hours a day.
Learn more at Logitech – $100
It’s been one of the best selling amp lines in Fender’s history, and now the Fender Mustang GT Guitar Amplifier is going high tech. On top of enhanced signal processing for better fidelity, the new line features both Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, and though while you’ll still need to plug your guitar in with a cable the amp links to your smartphone running Fender’s Tone app to give you real-time control over tones and effects without having to physically spin knobs on the amp. You can also browse a list of presets created by renowned artists and guitarists and save your own for quickly pulling them up later. An optional 4-button footswitch rounds out its feature set for hands-free controls of effects and the looper. Available in three sizes from the home-appropriate Mustang GT 40 to the big stage-ready GT 200.
Check out the full lineup at Fender – $250+
In this day and age where gaming is a literal profession for some, nearly as much attention is given to video game systems of old as it is to newer games. Case in point: the sold-out Nintendo NES Classic Edition, the Analogue NT, and now STOA’s Replay Arcade Cabinets. These retro gaming cabinets are premium and bespoke, above all else, and feature seamless designs, high quality paint jobs, and a laser-cut LED-backlit logo. It’ll look at home in any self-respecting man cave and boasts the same big colorful buttons and precise joysticks that you used to abuse in the arcade back in the day, though it ditches the cathode ray tube monitors for modern LCD monitors with a scanline generator to fill every other line on the monitor with a black line, so it looks just like it should.
Learn more at STOA – $5,000+