Gadling Gear Review: SYSTM iPhone Cases

SYSTM Vise iPhone CaseThe iPhone is beyond a doubt a beautiful piece of technology. Over the past few years, Apple’s iconic device has set the standard by which all other smartphones are compared. But that beauty comes with a price, as anyone who has ever dropped their iPhone onto a hard surface can attest. A good case can alleviate that heartbreak, however, providing extra protection when you need it most.

Some of the best cases available today are designed and built by a company called SYSTM. They are durable, rugged and provide more protection than just about any other case I’ve found. Better yet, they’re attractive, thin and don’t detract from the look of the iPhone in any way. Here are two unique options that will ensconce your iPhone 4/4S or 5 in a protective shell that will keep it safe from just about any kind of danger.

SYSTM Vise ($49.95)
If you’re looking for the ultimate in iPhone protection then the SYSTM Vise is the case for you. It provides three distinct layers of padding by first wrapping the phone in a soft rubber sheath, which is then covered in two pieces of outer armor that lock tightly into place around the device. This hard external shell is smooth, yet easy to grip, and features access points for the volume buttons and mute switch without obstructing the camera lens in anyway.

The Vise provides a fantastic level of shock absorption, which protects both the front and back of the iPhone, keeping it safe and secure when accidentally dropped, even from a substantial height. The corner and side pads are also reinforced to keep the fragile edge of the smartphone from suffering damage as well. Those areas can be especially susceptible to damage.Considering the level of protection the Vise delivers, the case is actually smaller and lighter than you would expect. It does, however, add a measure of thickness and weight to the iPhone that is undeniable. Still, frequent travelers will probably be willing to give up a bit of size and weight in order to keep their device secure while on the road. This is the kind of case that is equally useful in an urban environment as it is on a backpacking trip into the wilderness, and unlike a lot of other cases, it is easy to remove when you don’t feel it is needed.

It should be noted that the Vise comes with a detachable belt clip, which I’m sure some people will appreciate. While it does do a good job of holding the phone in place, I found it to be a bit larger than I would have liked and didn’t use it much after initial testing.

SYSTM Hammer iPhone CaseSYSTM Hammer ($29.95)
There is no denying that the Vise provides unprecedented levels of protection for our favorite smartphone, but not everyone is willing to sacrifice weight and thickness for that level of security. SYSTM has those users covered too however as they offer a thinner, lighter case in the form of the Hammer.

This case consists of a form-fitting, soft rubber sleeve that closely resembles the inner lining that comes with the Vise. Unlike that case however, the Hammer consists of just this single layer of protection and doesn’t include the hard outer shell that makes the Vise so unique. The Hammer does have reinforced corners and is made of shock absorbing materials, which combine to provide an overall excellent level of protection without adding any undue bulk.

Much like the Vise, the Hammer is incredibly easy to add or remove from the iPhone as needed. But unlike its bulkier counterpart, you probably won’t feel the need to take the Hammer off your phone quite so often. Since it is so much thinner, and does an excellent job of enhancing our grip while protecting the device, you’ll probably just want to leave it in place at all times. After a day or two, you’ll come to appreciate the qualities that it delivers and will likely forget that you even have it on the phone anyway.

Both the Vise and Hammer are great products and would make excellent holiday gifts. The Vise provides a high level of protection for those who take their tech toys to demanding environments or are just simply hard on their phones. The Hammer, on the other hand, isn’t quite so rugged and durable, but it still provides plenty of protection in a thinner and lighter package. Either one will keep your smartphone safe from harm and just as beautiful as it was the day it came out of the box.

Cellphone Accessories For Our Mobile Overlords

iPhone Case from G-FormThere’s no device I love to hate as much as I hate to love my iPhone. (You read that right.) Your mileage may vary; you may not feel like both a chump and a devotee while caressing your mobile whatever. Until I attain your Zen-like state, I feel annoyed whenever I find myself buying presents for my phone, even if they are practical and make using my phone a better experience. Here’s the drill on three extras I’ve been using lately.

G-Form Extreme Grid iPhone Case
: Drop your phone one time ONLY on the bus and you’ll wish you’d shelled out for a case. It’s like Apple is intentionally propping up the case market by using that slippery exterior. I used an Otter Box on my iPhone 3, but I’ve come to prefer the weird grippy exterior of the G-Form on my iPhone 4. People keep making fun of the almost tire tread like bumpy black box I wrap my phone in, but the fact is, it stays put in my hand and has enough padding and bounce that my phone didn’t shatter into tiny expensive bits when I dropped it on the 54. There was an audible gasp from the people around me, but I just picked up my phone and went back to listening to vintage sci-fi radio theater and posting pictures to Instagram.

The case comes in black or black and yellow. I kind of wish I’d got the yellow just because it would make the phone easier to find when it’s lost in my backpack. Cost: about $40. That might seem expensive, but it’s going to cost you more than that to buy a new phone.

Mophie Juice Pack PlusMophie Juice Pack Plus: With great addiction comes the endless search for outlets and places to recharge the phone, right? You can buy yourself a lot more time with a spare battery. Mophie builds theirs into an attractive case that allows you to double the use time of your phone. I think this case/battery combo is pretty freaking great. It serves to protect your phone, and gives you all that extra use time, and it comes in a bunch of happy colors. I dropped my phone in this case, too, because apparently, that’s how I roll. The case is a little scratched up, but it still works just fine and my phone is still totally intact. It’s charged via a mini-USB cable. You leave it off until you need the extra juice, then it charges your phone while you use it. It’s great for long-haul flights, especially if, like me, you spend your airtime with audio entertainment.

The Juice Pack is pricey – it’s about $100. Here’s the truth: I like this thing and bring it everywhere.

Able Planet Clear Harmony Sound Isolation EarphonesAble Planet Clear Harmony Sound Isolation Earphones: I’ve gone through half a dozen pairs of iPhone compatible earbuds. On my last trip I lost my isolation Sennheisers. The sound was top notch, but I was on my third pair because they kept breaking (while still under warranty, thankfully). I replaced them with a really cheap pair of JVC iPhone compatible headphones, and they broke too.

I like the isolation earbuds because they don’t take up the space of headphones, but I’ve yet to find a pair that reduces external noise the way active cancelling headphones do. I like the Able Planet brand just fine; they’re far superior to the standard Apple earbuds and they stay put, but I’m not totally sold. They sound great, don’t get me wrong, and they do help with noise reduction on the plane or the bus, but that crying baby still found his way into my head while I was trying to doze on the plane. Even with the white noise app I use, ambient sound leaked in through everywhere. Able Planet makes active noise cancelling headsets too, I own a pair, and I wish I’d packed them instead. I await perfect, affordable, noise blocking earbuds.

Able Planet Earbuds run about $170. They’re fine for daily use, but if you’re really looking for noise reduction and you’re going to spend that kind of money, go with active noise cancelling instead.

Gadling Gear Review: Mobius Solar iPhone Battery/Charger

I kind of hate how much I love my iPhone. It’s not right and yes, I’m addicted to it and shut up, don’t you have something else to give me a hard time about? Like my social media addiction, which also, you could leave me alone about because it’s a critical part of how I make a living, so back off already.

Plus, it was super cool when, thanks to the wonders of my phone, a roaming data plan, and the fact that Tanzania is dotted with cell phone towers even though there seemed to be a scarcity of power outlet, I could shoot video of the landscape in the Serengeti or the road to Arusha and then, whoa, upload it so my pals on Twitter could see it, like, right away. That’s just freaking magical.

The thing is, that social media/cell phone addiction keeps me tethered to a power source and that can be kind of limiting. Hey, even when you’re in a highly developed place, sometimes the rental car doesn’t have an outlet and you forgot your car charger and you’ve burned up your battery trying to find directions to the B&B. What I’m saying is this: It’s easy to chew through the juice you’ve got on your phone and not always easy to re-juice it.

I actively disliked the last solar charger I tried, it didn’t work well as a case and it took too long to grab what limited power we get from the sun in the winter at home. I was keen to try out something new, that’s how I ended up with the solar iPhone charger/case/battery from Mobius. I like this one considerably better, but it’s still got some flaws.

First, the good stuff. It works well as a case. It’s got a fairly efficient solar panel compared to the other model I tried. It charges over a standard mini to USB connector so you can use your laptop or that little USB plug thingy that comes with your iPhone to charge it. It’s a little bulky, but because you can use it to hold your phone, it’s not just some random extra gadget kicking around. It doubles the usage you get out of your phone — nice if you’re shooting video, uploading fat files, playing lots of music and podcasts, the “beyond phone calls” stuff that keeps junkies like me handcuffed to our cell phone overlords.Now, the stuff I didn’t love. I keep wanting these things to be smaller — it’s a little bulky. I realize I may be just waiting for the future, I’m aware of that. The phone gets confused if I connect the charger cable while the case is in it and tells me that “charging isn’t supported.” This means if I want to charge the batter via an outlet, I have to remove the phone. I wish it used the connector that Apple uses because man, I am tired of dragging hundreds of yards of connector cables around the planet.

All that said, I think the Mobius charger is a great improvement over my last test run on a similar gadget. And I love that fact that it helps free me from the dearth of outlets that’s a scourge on my power and media addicted soul. If I’ve got the case out in daylight, it’s doing its bit to recharge and keep me connected. I like that. Whether that’s a good thing or not is another issue entirely, but as far as enabling my addiction goes, this device is doing its job.

Shop around. If you buy it directly from the folks that make it, it’s about 80 dollars, but I’ve seen it for 60 in other online markets.

SkyMall Monday: Portabra Travel Bra Case

We cover a tremendous amount of SkyMall products here at SkyMall Monday HQ, but our heart will always belong to the gear that solves the problems of women. We love women. They have nice hair. They smell good. They make our pants feel tight. That’s why we’re thrilled to address a particularly pressing lady problem this week: bra damage. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “But, Mike, you’re an alpha male. A bro’s bro. What do you know about bras?” I know that I can unhook them with one hand in under three seconds. But that’s beside the point. I respect and admire all of you female travelers out there. While I’m shoving a few shirts and boxer briefs into my pack, you’re worrying out your dainty unmentionables and hoping they don’t get damaged (or stolen by pervy TSA agents). Thankfully, you no longer have to fear that your brassieres will be squished, smushed, manhandled or sniffed. Now you can sequester your knickers in a bedazzled pencil case and protect your panties from poachers. Ladies and, well, ladies, I give you the Portabra Travel Bra Case.Whether your breasts are big, small, lopsided, real, fake, pert, saggy, supple or hairy, you undoubtedly have spent more money than you’d care to discuss on some boulder holders bras. The last thing you want to find when you arrive at your destination is bent underwire and crushed can containers bra cups. You need your bras to bring their A-game to that wedding/conference/funeral/vacation so that you can look and feel sexy, sassy and sensual. Plus, where else will you keep your tissues?

Think that you can just pack your bras in a suitcase or let your Siamese twins wear them while telling the flight attendants that they’re yarmulkas? You probably also also use your panties as coffee filters. Well, sicko, maybe you should let SkyMall do your thinking for you. Just look at the product description for the Portabra.

Bringing your beloved bras with you on a trip doesn’t have to be a hassle anymore! Portabra is the new bra case designed to easily pack and protect your bras when traveling so that they don’t get crushed and ruined in your suitcase. So, say ‘so long’ to those wrinkled cups and keep looking your best throughout your travels. In addition, Portabra keeps your bras discreetly packed so they won’t be displayed to strangers’ eyes when the dreaded words, “bag check” are shouted.

With the embarrassment of wrinkled cups eliminated, you can go back to focusing all of your energy on hiding your explosive flatulence. And lord knows the TSA won’t open a tiny box sitting in your suitcase. They’re far too respectful of private property. So, problem solved!

Your bras are the backbone of your outfit. You need them to lift, separate, conceal, reveal, enhance and corral your bazooms breasts. So, don’t make them ride in the coach class of your luggage. Upgrade them to the first class cabin of the Portabra to ensure “your bras a safe and bon voyage!”

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

SkyMall Monday: Wrist Cell Phone Carrier

The older we get, the more forgetful we become. How many times have you misplaced your car keys? How often do you walk into a room and have no idea why you did so? If you had a nickle for every time you put your infant daughter on the roof of your car while you unlocked the door and then drove away with her still stashed up there, how rich would you be?

We all forget things from time to time. Whether it’s which pills to take, your own name or your alibi, it’s always embarrassing when your memory fails you. There is perhaps nothing more frustrating than losing your cellphone. You could try calling it but it’s often your only phone. You can have a friend call it, but you won’t hear it because you probably also forgot your hearing aid. Eventually, you just have to curl up in a ball and wait for the cold hand of death to reach you.

Well, not anymore! Now, SkyMall has decided that lost cellphones are a problem that can no longer be tolerated. This scourge must be thwarted. Rather than rummaging through your purse, checking your couch cushions and using a jeweler’s eye to inspect your dog’s anal cavity, you’ll always know exactly where your cellphone is. It’s strapped to your wrist in the Wrist Cell Phone Carrier.Who knew that your wrist could prove so useful? Sure, you could place your cellphone in your pocket, purse or, if you’re a middle-aged white man, on your belt, but that would only be moderately convenient. You’re a person on the go and need your phone constantly at the ready. Pockets are linty. Purses are filled with tampons and crumpled up tissues that look used but that your mother insists are clean. And those holsters just make you look like a douchebag. Clearly, the wrist is the only place to store your cellphone safely and with class.

Think that wrists are only for watches and masturbating? Well, does SkyMall have news for you. Take a look at the product description:

This innovative accessory uses sturdy Velcro to insure the safety of your phone and has been extensively tested by active joggers, cyclists, skate boarders, fishermen, hunters and business people.

Is there anything more innovative than Velcro? Plus, apparently it provides insurance, which is something that even the President and Congress are having difficulty doing. I only wish we knew how race walkers felt about it.

What a relief that we’ll never have to worry about losing our cellphones again. Now we can focus all our energy on remembering, um, to, er, what was I going to say? Shoot. Cellphones…memory…then I wanted to tell you to…uh…pick up milk…take the blue pill…dang it. Whatever. Just get the Wrist Cell Phone Carrier and you can call your spouse. Lord knows that they’ll remind you of everything you forgot.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.