vQuiet Over-Ear Noise-Canceling Headphones by Velodyne
Category: active noise-canceling, over-the-ear headphones
Works With: most heads
Price: $299

The renaissance of the over-the-ear headphone is at full tilt, and big, flashy cans are everywhere — a phenomenon you can, at least in part, thank Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine for. Thank, because it’s a good thing. Because interwoven among the vast army of styles and sounds arrayed for perusal are headphones that specialize: sets that may travel well, or perhaps sate an appetite for tech frills, or even quiet the noisy world.

Velodyne’s vQuiets specialize in all three of the roles mentioned above. As the name probably suggests, they’re the company’s active noise-canceling set, a task it accomplishes, if not excels at; they’re small and fold well, making them a great traveller’s companion; and the set sports a few tech frills. They even sound pretty good. Despite all that — or maybe because of it — the set feels more like a compromise between traits than a shining star.


Need military-grade protection for your new Galaxy S5? That’s exactly what you get with the CandyShell Grip from Speck.

CandyShell Grip by Speck
Category: Cases
Works With: Galaxy S5
Price: $34.95

Its dual-layer design combines a hard, impact-resistant exterior with a shock-absorbent lining that doesn’t just protect your beloved smartphone from scuffs and scratches, but from those occasional screen-shattering falls as well. It also has textured ridges on its back that provide even the sweatiest of palms with plenty of grip.

The CandyShell Grip is available in a range of pretty colors — including “Shocking Pink” and Caribbean green — priced at $34.95, and it’s worth every penny.


The Flote m2 floor stand for tablets.


M2 Floor Stand by Flote
Category: tablet stand
Works With: full-size or small tablet
Price: $300

Tablets are fantastic little things, right? They entertain us, help us work, make life easier. But if distilled down to its purest essence, a tablet is simply a personal computer neatly tucked away behind an exceptionally portable screen. And if that’s true — that what makes the tablet so amazing is an amazingly portable screen (that, unlike a phone’s screen, is big enough to actually use for things like work, and movies) — then the fully-articulated Flote m2 tablet stand must be the most fantastic accessory you can buy for your tablet. Why? Because it delivers on the promise of being able to position a tablet screen anywhere and any damn way you please. With a few caveats, of course. And if you can afford it.


When you buy a smartphone wallet case, the chances are you’re going to have to make some cutbacks — because the vast majority of them only carry a small number of cards. But that’s not the case with the Finn wallet from WaterField Designs, which has plenty of space for your phone and all the cards and cash you can carry.

Finn by WaterField Designs
Category: Wallet Cases
Works With: Everything
Price: $39+

Finn’s available in four different sizes: the size 25 model is designed to be a wallet only, but the other three — size 27, size 42, and size 69 — are designed to carry your smartphone as well. Of course, the larger the Finn, the bigger the smartphone you can stash into it (and the more it’ll cost you).

I’ve been reviewing the size 25 and the size 69, which measures 5.5 inches by 3.3 inches, and is designed to carry an HTC One or a Galaxy S4, according to WaterField’s website — but it’s compatible with a whole bunch of other smartphones, too. I’ve mostly been using mine with a Nexus 5, but I’ve used HTC, Samsung, and BlackBerry handsets with it, too.

WaterField calls Finn “the best wallet ever,” so let’s see if it lives up to those claims.

kanto-yu2 003

YU2 by Kanto
Category: media speakers
Price: $229

Kanto’s YU2s seem to come from a time when speakers were solid, simple structures; proud temples to sound that said of their owners, Hey, I’m serious about music, and I know what I’m doing. Aesthetics were important, of course, but unquestioningly took a backseat to sound. Sound was king.

If you haven’t heard of Kanto before, that’s OK — the Canadian outfit just sprouted up in the Vancouver suburbs around five years ago. The YU2s are Kanto’s latest speakers, the smallest of their lineup of a half-dozen or so, and they’re designed to fit unobtrusively on a bookshelf or desk and play music from your computer or mobile device.

The YU2’s performance during our review, however, was nothing short of astonishing — and they could very capably substitute for larger speakers in a variety of roles.

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