Apple releases iBooks 1.3 update

Apple released an update to its iBooks iOS app today. Version 1.3 of iBooks adds a couple of new features, including a read-aloud feature for some children's books that isn't working yet.

The read-aloud function is currently limited to a handful of children's books. When you open a compatible book, a new speaker icon appears in the top navigation menu. Tap the speaker to bring up a volume slider, choose whether you want the book to turn pages automatically or manually, and hit the Start Reading button. A few titles will even highlight the words as they are read aloud.

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Swiftpoint Limited Swiftpoint Mouse

Editor's note: An earlier review of ths Swiftpoint Mouse was posted in error. That review and the previous mouse rating has been withdrawn. This is our offical review of the Swiftpoint Mouse.

One look at Swiftpoint Limited’s minuscule Swiftpoint Mouse (just over two inches long, about 1.5 inches across at the widest point, and weighing less than an ounce), and you might think the company has simply tried to make the smallest mouse on the market. But this tiny size serves a purpose: The Swiftpoint aims to be the ultimate travel mouse by letting you use it in settings—say, while your MacBook is on your lap, or when working on a plane—when the only flat surface is your laptop’s own palmrest. That’s right: The Swiftpoint Mouse is small enough and precise enough (1,000 dpi) that you can stick it on your MacBook Air’s palmrest and mouse about when there’s no other flat surface in sight.

(Yes, Apple’s portables all feature large, multi-touch trackpads. But some people—and I count myself among them—still prefer to use a mouse when possible.)

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Verizon Wireless Fivespot

When we first heard about a dual-mode CDMA/GSM-capable mobile hotspot, we imagined a device that would play nice with foreign GSM networks on trips overseas. And this is true—if those networks are Verizon-contracted roaming networks. And if you are willing to pay a premium price to use them.

The age of hotspots

A mobile Wi-Fi hotspot is one of the easiest ways to bring mobile Internet service to a variety of portable devices. Since Wi-Fi is a universal standard built into almost every laptop, netbook, portable game player, tablet, and smartphone being manufactured today, a mobile hotspot makes the mobile Internet available just about everywhere to all of these devices, almost everywhere.

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Booq offers Apple-exclusive bag with iPad, MacBook storage

Booq, maker of premium bags for Apple notebooks and other gadgets, announced on Thursday an Apple-exclusive bag for commuters who want MacBook and iPad flexibility.

The new Mamba Shift M in denim is designed for the 13-15-inch MacBook and MacBook Pro. But unlike Booq’s other Mamba bags, this model features thin pockets outside the main notebook compartment that fit the iPad and Apple’s Wireless Keyboard.

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Mobilis Netcase

The Netcase from Mobilis is a sleek compact laptop case that doesn't disappoint when it comes to solid protection. Built around four high-density foam protectors that help cushion the top and bottom of your laptop, the Netcase feels like it could take a fair pounding, never mind withstand the rigors of daily travel.

The bag features two stretchy expandable external pockets that can accommodate your MacBook's power supply, but little else. A rubberized carry handle also does a respectable job, while a supplied shoulder strap should help lighten the load.

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Mobilis Skin

The Mobilis Skin protective cover (for laptops up to 17-inch) is a good compromise between protecting your investment and saving on weight and bulk. Slim and weighing in at just 1.21 pounds, the Skin uses a rigid screen protection system that promises to shield your laptop on your travels. In reality, the neoprene structure feels solid but lacks the additional security (and bulk and weight) offered by a more traditional laptop case.

The Slim is designed so you can use your laptop while still in the case; a modest use of Velcro and elasticated straps helping to keep everything in place. Four additionally padded areas on the base offer extra support on your desktop or your lap. Unzipped, the open design easily accommodates any power cord and peripherals. The compact, slim design means the Skin can be easily carried and stored in another bag and hidden away for safe keeping.

On our travels, the Slim proved a comfortable well-balanced carry, although the handles could use a little padding. The Skin is more functional than fashionable and includes a rather odd transparent window, which at least means you can flash your Apple logo on your laptop. For businesses, Mobilis provides a customizing service to add your own logo.

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Isis Dei Riviera Bleu

Laptop sleeves provide a reasonable amount of protection for those who like to travel light and without the bulk of a dedicated laptop bag or case. That said, they are a compromise, offering a limited amount of protection and little room for extras. Isis Dei at least takes advantage of memory foam developed by NASA in the 1990s, which gives the Riviera Bleu sleeve a tactile quality. You can make an indentation with your finger and see the sleeve regain its shape within a second or two. The same applies when you bang the cover on any surface, although this will hopefully be a rare occurrence.

The shock-absorbent, polyurethane memory foam comes wrapped in a slightly bling yet subtle navy blue and gold pattern design from Malaysian designer Jimmy Tan. The use of eco friendly hemp fabric is emphasised in both the promotional material and sleeve itself as part of a large logo in the cream coloured interior.

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