Trending December 2023 # Review: Burkley Hardshell Leather Macbook Air Case, Premium Leather At A Premium Price # Suggested January 2024 # Top 12 Popular

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I’m not normally one for hiding Apple’s gorgeous designs away inside cases, but my 11-inch MacBook Air is used almost exclusively when I’m out and about, so it does normally live in a TwelveSouth BookBook case to keep it safe on its travels. I adore that case, so persuading me to set it aside for an alternative would not be an easy task.

But I was very taken with the leather iPhone and iPad cases I recently reviewed from NY-based Burkley, so I decided to give one of the company’s snap-on leather MacBook Air covers a try. It currently offers these for the MacBook Air only (both 11- and 13-inch) – though it does also have a non-snap-on variation for the 12-inch MacBook.

Burkley likes to mix up its leather offerings for each product, with the Antique Camel Leather I liked last time not available for the MacBook, so I tried the Special Burned Tan Leather. This is a fairly standard tan color in the center, with darker burned-in edges …

The case itself is a hardshell plastic coated in leather. The two separate pieces snap into place around the base and lid.

Fitting it is straightforward, though you do have to work your way around with your thumb ensuring that each part of it has fully snapped into place. Once fitted, it is totally solid. Removal is a little fiddly, but not too difficult.

When using the MacBook, you simply see the thin black surround of the plastic shell. But from every other angle, all you really see is the leather.

There are cutouts on both sides for the ports. Oddly, on the left side, one of the two microphone sockets has a cut-out hole while the other is uncovered. Burkley tells me they originally wanted to leave both mics uncovered, but they needed a longer side piece to ensure a solid fit.

On the other side, the low-profile USB key I leave permanently plugged-in for mobile backups sits quite happily in place.

The case adds very little bulk to the MacBook. At the front, there are tabs that hold the case in place, and these can be seen as slight protrusions and cutouts, but the visual impact is minimal.

The rear is open, likely to avoid the risk of overheating, though the overlapping edge of the case does still offer some degree of protection.

The bottom of the case also has some cutouts for cooling.

And to complete the picture, the top view.

The leather has a luxurious feel, and that lovely leather smell. It looks and feels like a premium product well suited to a MacBook.

I learned one lesson about leather at a young age, when I laid out rather a lot of cash on a matching leather luggage set. The main bag got used a lot more than the secondary bags, and the color darkened a lot faster than it did on the ones that spent most of their life in the closet. That matched set didn’t stay matched for long.

I’ve seen the same thing with Burkley’s iPhone case. As someone who works from a home office, my phone spends most of the day out on my desk rather than tucked inside a pocket. The antique camel leather has darkened very quickly indeed in the month I’ve owned it. Here it is when about a week old:

And here it is now, pictured with the MacBook case and a brand new passport wallet from Burkley’s wallet range. Both are the same leather, but are now very different colors.

So despite the wide range of leathers the company offers, I wouldn’t spend too much time sweating the detail of the exact shade you want – because it’s going to change. But part of the beauty of leather to me is that it continues to look great as it ages – wrinkles, scratches, color changes and all.

One of the reasons I do use a case for the MacBook Air is that it spends a lot of time in my bike bag. London’s streets are not the smoothest of surfaces, so I’d worry about the MacBook moving around inside the bag and getting scratched as I cycle around the place. The final test, then, was to see whether the Burkley case itself got scuffed when cycling.

The answer is yes. In these before-and-after photos, you can see several scuffs from its first cycling journey (ignore the color difference and deeper shadow on the logo – that’s simply because the after photo was taken in early morning sunlight).

So again, the moral here is not to expect the look to remain unchanged with time and usage. The MacBook Air itself remained pristine beneath the case.

Here, by way of comparison, is my BookBook case after three years of use:

I would say the pristine nature of the Burkley case when brand new makes the comparison look more dramatic, but the end result is going to be the same: leather shows battle-scars.

Pricing and conclusions

Ok, you may want to ensure you’re sitting down for this part, because there’s no getting away from the fact that the Burkley case is very expensive. The 11-inch model costs $176.80, while the 13-inch one is even pricier at $208.80. That’s a lot of money for a case. Depending on the exact model of MacBook Air you own, that could be 20% of the price of the machine itself. (Burkley does also offer a much cheaper slip-on cover for $90, but I wasn’t taken with the much more obtrusive look of that, especially the retaining straps at the top.)

Compare this with the official BookBook RRP of $99.99, and the $79.99 you can pay to buy direct from TwelveSouth’s own Amazon store (availability varies), and Burkley’s pricing does definitely cause a sharp intake of breath.

The question, then, is whether it can possibly justify that kind of pricing – and the answer to that will always be very personal.

If you simply want to protect your machine from damage, you can buy low-cost cases that do the same job from as little as thirteen bucks. If you want something beautiful as well as protective, the BookBook option is a very obvious answer. Quality-wise, I would say there’s nothing to choose between that and the Burkley.

Only you can decide whether those benefits justify the price-tag, but for me, I’ve made the switch. Sorry, trusty BookBook case: we’ve travelled many miles together, but the Burkley case is my MacBook Air’s new home.

The Burkley Hardshell Leather MacBook Air Cover is available direct from the company’s own website for $176.80 (11-inch) or $208.80 (13-inch). BookBook cases are available from TwelveSouth’s own Amazon store from $79.99.

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The Premium Leather Nodus Iphone Case Collection

The smell is what first grabs you. After receiving several Nodus items since their inception in 2013, it is the smell, every time, that first catches my senses. Maybe, it is the long trip across the pond from the UK that lets the leather scent build up in the box. Cracking open the package on any Nodus Collection item springs forth the best premium leather smell you will find on an iPhone case.

Certainly, there are many other things that make the Nodus line exceptional, but you can tell the attention to detail by smelling the quality of leather. It is something that should not be overlooked, when investing in a nice case.

Having attended CES for the last three years and milling over case after case, this is truly something incredible. It is leaps and bounds above Apple’s similar leather cases. Step inside for your next iPhone case purchase and a great Black Friday special discount.

Nodus Shell Case

If you are a regular iDB reader, you will know that I recently fell off the review wagon. It has been many months since I willingly took a product to analyze, but when Nodus reached out, there was no question I would come out of my short retirement to consider their product.

The Nodus Shell Case is the newest addition to the line up. At its basic level, the Nodus Shell Case is a standard clip-on shell that you can find anywhere. You can find a shell case on Amazon for mere dollars. With six-sided protection, you can even lay the device face down and the front side rails will prevent any screen contact with the surface, just like most cases. And that’s where the comparison ends.

It is in the details, where the Nodus shell completely separates itself from the competition. The smell I so affectionately appreciate, comes thanks to imported full grain vegetable tanned Italian leather and microfiber interior. With premium quality leather, the case is soft, yet sturdy. I wouldn’t call their leather supple, but is a pleasure to hold and will break-in during continued usage.

Boasting a polycarbonate core, which is hand wrapped in the Italian leather exterior, it more than covers the protruding iPhone 6 camera and then some, leading me to believe it could absorb a fall. However, it does make the mute switch a bit difficult to operate. The volume and power buttons are covered, but easy to feel and operate thanks to debossed outlines around the hardware button locations. Bottom ports are easily accessible and open, but if you have a thick 3.5mm headphone plug, you may have a little struggle.

One of the biggest line updates is the Nodus Micro Dock, which is a square CNC milled magnetic puck, which is only 20 x 20 x 6mm. It is small and not unattractive with an anodized and high polish finish. The Micro Dock is included and compatible with the Nodus Shell and Access cases. Using a 3M adhesive pad, it can be located on most any surface. Importantly, it makes a very strong connection with both cases and offers more versatility.

The only complaint about the case, is dust collection in the camera port opening. Importantly, this is an issue with every case on the market. If there is an edge that will collect lent and you toss it in your pants pocket, you are sure to find dust collecting in the openings.

This is the first case I placed on my new iPhone 6s. I don’t particularly enjoy using cases because they can take away from the high quality feeling of an Apple device. However, the Nodus Shell Case has not left my device since I received it. It feels great and I highly recommend it.

Nodus Access

I was first exposed to the Nodus Access line last year, when I reviewed the iPhone and iPad version of the case. I encourage you to read my full review, but the short version: I was extremely impressed. This continues with the popular line update.

The Nodus Access case is another Italian leather design for iPhone and iPad. A fold over portfolio style case that includes a single inside slip for money or a couple credit cards. The phone does not sit in a harness. Instead a very strong micro-suction pad clings to the iPhone back. Consequently, you can set and remove your device at will. I highly prefer this style because it gets rid of bulky clip in alternatives, but does not use a semi-permanent adhesive. If, say, a 3M strip was used, the iPhone could not be removed and replaced as wanted.

Like the new Shell Case, Access now includes the same magnetic docking option. The case comes with a single Micro Dock, to place as desired, around the home, office, or vehicle. This simply gives the already excellent case a bit more versatility in your daily routine. If you are looking for a premium leather case, that covers your screen with a quick pocket for small items, this is your case.

The Access Case does not intend or try to be a full wallet case. It is minimalist in design, form, and function. If you are looking for a catch-all case for every card in your wallet, plus cash, and a picture of the kids, there are plenty of less impressive solutions waiting for you on Amazon.


In conclusion, I really love both of these cases for different reasons. I prefer the Shell Case for its simplicity. I prefer the Access Case because of its elegance, professional look, and a quick place to stash my cards. Yes, this entire article is a gushing review of the Nodus Collection. However, I would remind readers, this is not a sponsored post. With little free time, I only take reviews for products I am predetermined to love and this is a great example.

Black Friday Special

Nodus is offering both a Black Friday and Cyber Monday deal and they are good from Friday through Monday! Using code “BLACK25” or “CYBER25” at checkout, will award you a 25% discount on list prices.

Nodus Shell Case comes in Chestnut Brown, Ebony Black or Yellow for iPhone 6/Plus for £49.99 retail ($75).

Nodus Access Case portfolio comes in with Chestnut Brown, Ebony Black or Yellow for iPhone 5 or 6/Plus for £34.99 retail ($52). It is also available for iPad Air £99.99 ($150) or Mini £89.99 ($135) retail, in the same colors.

Review: Apple’s $149 Leather Sleeve For 12″ Macbook

Launched under the radar during the iPhone X pre-order spree, the leather sleeve for MacBook is the first case Apple has released for one of its portable computers.

Available in Saddle Brown or Midnight Blue, this genuine leather sleeve will easily protect your 12″ MacBook on the go. Apple has been on a roll this year with their releases of new leather goods.

They have the new leather folio for the iPhone X, a leather sleeve for the Apple Pencil, and even one for the iPad Pros.

The latest leather product is this sleeve for the 12″ MacBook. It uses the same leather we’ve seen in their other products, and looks just as good.

Per usual, here is my video where I check out the form factor, build quality, and use of Apple’s newest accessory.

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So how does Apple’s take on the sleeve compare to the others we’ve looked at?

Lets find out.

Build quality

As usual with Apple’s products, the build quality is exceptional. It has a very precise stitch around the exterior, with reinforced edges.

The leather is very soft, but does not have the appearance of other leathers that are soft, yet scuff at every touch.

There is also a soft, microfiber lining that helps to protect your laptop while it is in the sleeve.

The bottom of the sleeve has four dimples that are precisely the same size, shape, and location as the feet on the MacBook. They help the sleeve fit more snuggly without the feet pushing it away.

In use

There are two types of use for a sleeve like this. There is the protective aspect, such as when you are carrying your laptop around. Then there is desktop use, where you can use the laptop while it is still in its sleeve.

The primary purpose of a sleeve is protection, and with three of the four sides protected, it is sufficient. I don’t see the uppermost opening as an issue. If it is in a bag, it should already be somewhat protected, If you are carrying it in your hand, the exposed side will more than likely be facing up, and would. be unlikely to hit the ground in a fall.

The opening on the top offers another purpose too, the ability to use the laptop while in clamshell mode inside the case. I’ve seen one other case that did something similar, which is the Active sleeve from Picaso Lab.

The idea is you can leave your laptop in place, and connect a USB-C monitor. The monitor can provide power to your laptop, as well as act as a display.

The slits on the top of the sleeve is cut down just enough to provide access to the USB-C port, as well as folding back to make it easy to grip and remove your laptop.

Wrapping it up

Apple’s accessories are never cheap. Let alone their leather products. The MacBook sleeve is no different. Made from genuine, high quality, European tanned leather, the sleeve goes good ways towards justifying its price.

My biggest problem with it, is it is only for the 12″ MacBook. I’m rocking a 15″ Pro, and I’m only left with third-party options. To be fair, there are some great third party options. My personal preference has been the Action Sleeve from Picaso Lab as it looks great, and offers similar functionality.

Apple says the reason they don’t offer sleeves for the Pros is the fact that they can’t work inside a sleeve while closed. The ventilation intake ports are along the side, and that makes it difficult to use in clamshell mode inside a sleeve.

If you do happen to have a 12-inch MacBook and can overlook the price tag, the leather sleeve from Apple is definitely worth checking out. You can get it exclusively through Apple for $149.

Asus Rog Strix Xg27Uq Review: An Excellent 4K Gaming Monitor At A Premium Price


4K resolution with 144Hz

Impressive gaming performance

Good ergonomic adjustment options

Comfortable configuration


High power consumption

Premium price

Our Verdict

The Asus ROG Strix XG27UQ is a more-than-suitable display for everyone passionate about gaming who wants to enjoy the latest AAA titles at high resolutions with nonexistent input lag. In our tests, we found that, thanks to high frame rates and a fast IPS panel, the 4K monitor can master demanding, responsive games flawlessly and effortlessly.

Best Prices Today: Asus ROG Strix XG27UQ



The 27-inch display impresses with its ergonomic adjustment options and simple configuration, including numerous gaming functions. However, this quality has its price; the Asus ROG Strix XG27UQ retails for around $699. That’s a lot of money for a 27-inch display that hopes to compete in an already crowded market. But given the specs, it’s not entirely an unfair price for a monitor with 4K and 144Hz. It seems that Asus has aimed this model at gamers who want to enjoy 4K resolution with three-digit refresh rates but who are not willing to shell out for a four-digit purchase price.

Note: This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best gaming monitors. Go there to learn more about competing products, what to look for in a gaming monitor, and buying recommendations.

Asus ROG Strix XG27UQ: The specs

The Asus ROG Strix XG27UQ supports both of the important synchronization methods, G-Sync and FreeSync, which require either an Nvidia or AMD graphics processor, respectively. The IPS panel has a resolution of 3840×2160 pixels and absolutely shines with a response time of a mere 1 millisecond and supports up to 90 percent of the DCI-P3 color range. 

Display size 27-inchNative resolution3840×2160Panel typeIPS / 16:9Refresh rate144HzAdaptive SyncCompatible with Nvidia’s G-Sync and AMD FreeSyncPorts2 DisplayPort, 2 HDMI, 2 USB, 1 analog audio jackStand adjustmentHeight, tilt, swivel, pivotVESA mountYes, 100x100mmSpeakersNoHDRYes, HDR 10Price$950

Asus ROG Strix XG27UQ: Image quality

With its 144Hz frame rate, the Asus ROG Strix XG27UQ handles responsive, fast games confidently and without image errors, such as tearing and motion blur. However, with its 4K resolution, the main focus remains on aesthetic graphics-oriented games, which the 27-inch unit displays admirably with a focus on stunning detail. 

Asus ROG Strix XG27UQ: 4K gaming monitor (2160p) with impressive gaming performance

PC Welt

Asus ROG Strix XG27UQ: Ports

The Asus ROG Strix XG27UQ has two HDMI and two DisplayPort interfaces, two USB 3.0 outputs, and a headphone jack. On another positive note, the Asus monitor includes all cables—HDMI, DisplayPort, and USB 3.0—so there are no additional costs no matter which connection option you choose.

Asus ROG Strix XG27UQ: There is an LED light bar on the back, which can be controlled via Asus’ own Aura light management system


PC Welt

Asus ROG Strix XG27UQ: Features and menu

The screen menu is clearly structured and offers extensive setting options. There are lots of useful features for gamers, such as FPS, crosshairs, various presets for different game genres, and two large buttons that allow direct access to the predefined game settings. These are on the right rear of the case below a five-way joystick, allowing for convenient overall control of the OSD.

Ergonomic adjustment options—turning, tilting, and 5 inches of height adjustment—ensure optimal adjustment depending on your respective location to help fight fatigue during those marathon gaming sessions.

Asus ROG Strix XG27UQ: The clear on-screen menu offers ample setting options for gaming


PC Welt

One last thing to note is that the monitor does not come with any internal speakers. While not a game breaker, for a display this expensive it would be nice to have.

Asus ROG Strix XG27UQ: Power consumption

At maximum brightness, the gaming monitor consumes just over 50 watts in operation, which is quite high, but relatively standard for 4K monitors on the whole. In standby mode, the energy requirement drops to a low 0.3 watts.

Final thoughts

The Asus ROG Strix XG27UQ monitor delivers excellent performance, especially if you’re looking to play everything at maxed out settings and have the computer to do so. Sure, you’ll need external speakers and top-market hardware, but you’ll love watching the most demanding games play out flawlessly on the display. It is a monitor with a lot going for it, and it is more than capable of handling everything a high-end system (or game) might throw at it. Though it’s not exactly inexpensive, what it will give you is enough to justify the high price.

This review originally appeared on PC-Welt, PCWorld’s German sister site.

Arlo Ultra 4K Review: Premium Home Security Camera With A Premium Cost

Arlo Technologies recently re-launched its Arlo Ultra 4K wireless security camera after experiencing issues during its initial availability. The widely reported issues, which caused the company to pull back on the launch, involved bugs and connectivity issues.

With several firmware updates under its belt that addressed the reported problems, Arlo feels that their 4K security camera is now ready for prime time. How does it stack up to the Arlo Pro 2? Should you consider upgrading? Watch our hands-on video impressions for the details.

As a recent adopter of a 6-camera Arlo Pro 2 system, I was keenly interested to see how Arlo’s latest offering compared to the setup I already had installed. What makes Arlo cameras so good is that they are truly wireless, running off rechargeable batteries. With this in mind, by default they only record when motion is detected in order to save battery. You can connect to a permanent power source if you choose to, but easy anywhere-installation is what makes these camera so compelling.

The Arlo Ultra boasts several notable improvements over its predecessors, including:

4K video capture with HDR

Wider 180 degree field of view

Integrated security spotlight

Enhanced 2-way audio

As expected, the enhanced camera is the highlight of the Arlo Ultra, as the higher resolution, and super-wide viewing angle are features that previous Arlo cameras lack. The integrated spotlight and more capable 2-way radio are additional enhancements that set the Arlo Ultra apart from its predecessors.

Arlo Ultra 4K wireless security camera hands-on impressions

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New Smart Hub

One of the first things you’ll notice about the Arlo Ultra 4K is that it comes with an updated Smart Hub. The new Smart Hub is a simpler take on the previous hub that shipped with the Arlo Pro 2. Missing is the built in siren, which is now directly integrated within Arlo Ultra cameras.

Having the siren built right into the product that triggers the alarm makes sense, but I found that the siren lacked the loudness necessary to be an audible deterrent. It doesn’t outright hurt your ears like the siren integrated inside the Arlo Pro 2 Smart Hub does.

The USB ports on the Arlo Pro 2 Smart Hub allowed users to connect external drives to save camera footage locally. The new Smart Hub omits the USB ports in favor of a micro SD card slot hidden away on the bottom of the unit.

Initially I was concerned that the new hub would only work with new Arlo Ultra cameras, but my fears were allayed when I was able to pair my already existing Arlo cameras with the new Smart Hub.

Arlo Ultra 4K

The Arlo Ultra 4K looks similar to the Arlo Pro 2, but it features a bigger unibody design that’s slightly heavier. Of course, the camera technology is much improved, with a new 4K capable sensor, HDR, and a 180 degree super-wide viewing angle.

Unfortunately the batteries used on the Arlo Pro 2 are not interchangeable with the batteries found in the Arlo Ultra. You’ll also find a new magnetic charging interface instead of the micro USB ports used to facilitate charging in the Arlo Pro 2.

The magnetic charging interface on the Arlo Ultra is easier to use, but the included cable is much shorter than the micro USB interface found on its predecessor. Users who want to provide their cameras with constant power will need to purchase an 8- or 25-foot magnetic charging cable, or opt to install a solar panel charger.

Another big difference between the two cameras involves the magnetic mounts. Sadly, the mount used by the Arlo Pro 2 is not interchangeable with the Arlo Ultra mount. It means you can’t simply swap out an Arlo Pro 2 camera for an Arlo Ultra camera, as you’ll need to install the new multi-axis magnetic mount first.

Arlo Ultra 4K mounting

Arlo packs mounting hardware inside the box, which includes the multi-axis magnetic mount, screw, anchor (if needed), and mounting bracket. I decided to mount the Arlo Ultra inside my garage next to my existing Arlo Pro 2, to make it easier to compare the two cameras.

Mounting was as simple as drilling a small hole into a wooden beam inside my garage, and screwing in the included screw with the mounting bracket. The magnetic mount then slips over the mounting bracket, fastening securely into place.

From there it’s just a matter of sticking the Arlo Ultra to the mount via the strong multi-axis magnetic mount connection. Users have the option of positioning the camera pointing up or down, and adjusting the camera to various degrees left or right.

Arlo Smart Premier subscription

Arlo Ultra kits come with a complimentary 1-year subscription to Arlo Smart Premier, which includes support for up to 10 cameras, 30-days of cloud recordings, up to 10GB of cloud storage, along with person, vehicle, animal, and package detection, as well as unlimited support.

The Arlo Smart Premier plan normally costs $9.99/month, which is what you should expect to pay after the first year. You don’t need a subscription to use features like push notifications, local recording to SD Card, and two-way audio, but as a security camera, it’s much less useful without cloud recording.

For Arlo Ultra customers, there is an extra $1.99/month (per camera!) optional add-on for enabling cloud storage for 4K videos. Without this add-on users have access to live 4K video playback when on the same network, and can save 4K videos to local storage, but all videos stored in the cloud will be stored in 1080p resolution.

If you’re an Arlo Ultra customer, I think it makes sense to consider forking over the additional two dollars to gain cloud access to all of your videos in a much higher, better-looking resolution. Otherwise, it kind of defeats the purpose of having the better camera.

Arlo Ultra 4K exclusive features

Setting up the Arlo Ultra is a simple affair that’s accomplished by launching the Arlo app and stepping through the guided pairing process. Once the camera is paired, you can configure it to your liking via the Arlo app’s preferences.

Lots of new Arlo Ultra-exclusive features

Arlo Pro 2 users will notice a wealth of new features that are exclusively available to Arlo Ultra cameras. Venturing into the video settings will reveal new additions like Auto HDR, Local 4K Live Streaming, Auto Zoom & Tracking, as well as a new Low Light settings panel for configuring the spotlight and various related behaviors.

Does 4K matter?

Arlo Pro 2 1080p footage

Don’t expect the kind of high quality 4K video you’d normally see while watching an Ultra HD movie, but you’ll definitely notice improved visual fidelity when compared to the video coming from the Arlo Pro 2.

Arlo Ultra 4K footage

Arlo uses HEVC to encode its 4K content — the same codec used by the iPhone — which places an emphasis on keeping file sizes low while maintaining visual fidelity. It therefore keeps the camera from having to transfer large amounts of data typically associated with 4K videos, which would severely hinder battery life.

Arlo Ultra maintains good detail when zooming in

4K allows users to zoom in on content, while maintaining a higher visual quality than you would get when zooming in on a 1080p frame. It’s also why the Arlo Ultra 4K comes with a new Auto Zoom & Tracking option, which automatically pans and zooms around the frame in order to track subjects.


Along with support for 4K, the Arlo Ultra also features high dynamic range support, which can be very useful for security cameras that are placed outdoors. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, meaning that it’s able to capture a wider range of brightness levels, and present them in a way so that one level isn’t too bright or too dark. It’s basically a good way to make sure images are not severely overexposed or underexposed in certain areas of the frame.

Notice the overexposed windows

With that said, HDR would be very useful for my Arlo Ultra setup, which is placed inside of a dark garage with windows that catch lots of sunlight. Inevitably the windows are blown out from overexposure on my Arlo Pro 2 camera, but sadly it’s not much better on the Arlo Ultra. Admittedly my setup is a bit on the extreme side when it comes to the amount of dynamic range required. I’ll provide more feedback on HDR performance in a future rewind update.

Three viewing angles

Limited Arlo Pro 2 field of view

A new Video Mode panel allows users to configure the Arlo Ultra using one of three viewing angles — 180 degree super-wide, 155 degree wide, and a 120 degree full view. The super-wide angle, in my opinion, is the most impressive new camera-related feature outside of 4K, as it covers an area lesser cameras in Arlo’s ecosystem simply aren’t capable of.

A much wider 180 degree Arlo Ultra field of view

Both of the wide field of view options will attempt to automatically reduce the fisheye effect that occurs with a wide viewing angle. There are limits to how well that works, so temper your expectations, but it does a reasonably good job of reducing distortion of what’s in frame.

Arlo Ultra 4K integrated security spotlight

The integrated spotlight fixes one of my main complaints about the Arlo Pro 2. Now instead of having to install a separate Arlo security light, the Arlo Ultra 4K offers both a camera and spotlight in one combined product.

Built in spotlight functionality on Arlo Ultra

Not only is the spotlight good to have for illuminating a dark environment, it works in concert with the Arlo Ultra’s 4K camera to capture higher quality images. Arlo boasts about its enhanced night vision that allows the camera to see colors in the dark, but that seems a bit disingenuous since it requires that the integrated spotlight be triggered. It’s color night vision, yes, but that’s because there’s a built-in light allowing it to see colors. In other words, if you choose to disable the spotlight, color night vision is disabled as an option.

Enhanced 2-way radio

The Arlo Ultra features an enhanced 2-way radio that allows you to both listen and speak to those within range of the camera. The Arlo Pro 2 features 2-way radio support as well, but the fidelity of the audio is noticeably better and more natural sounding on the Arlo Ultra. The Ultra model also makes it possible to engage in conversations without having to hold down the the speak button within the Arlo app.

Opportunities for improvement

The Arlo Ultra is a big improvement over its predecessors, but there are still a few items that I’d like to see Arlo address…

Still no HomeKit support

With recent rumors suggesting that Apple will be fleshing out its support for security cameras in iOS 13, it may be possible that Arlo is waiting to push out support for HomeKit. Until then, there remains a void that prevents the Arlo security cameras from working together with HomeKit-enabled devices.

Smarter app

The Arlo app is good, but there are a few areas that I would like to see addressed in future updates.

First and foremost, we should be able to filter notifications based on the type of recognition. For instance, I don’t want to be alerted every time a cat or other animal walks in front of a camera, but I do want alerts when people come within view of the camera.

On that same note, when you have an alarm siren enabled, the camera should be smart enough not to sound the alarm when it sees someone it knows.

There should also be time of day triggers, so that you’re able to enable or disable Arlo hardware during certain times of the day. HomeKit support would go a long way towards helping in this area.

Web UI still relies on…Adobe Flash Player?

Most people will use the Arlo app to manage their Arlo account and view videos saved to the cloud, but there’s also a web portal available. The web portal feels ridiculously outdated, and you can’t even view videos without installing Adobe Flash Player, which is utterly absurd in 2023.

4K cloud storage up-charge

One of my biggest gripes is that Arlo nickels and dimes its users with a $2 add-on to save 4K videos to the cloud storage, which you’re already paying a monthly subscription for after the 1-year trial. This is absurd, considering that 4K video recording is the flagship feature of the Arlo Ultra. Arlo should do better in this regard.

9to5Mac’s Take

In most cases, the company’s Arlo Pro 2 camera kit will be “good enough” for security monitoring, but there’s no denying that the Arlo Ultra is a much more polished offering than any of its predecessors. If I were building a kit from scratch, I’d opt for a four-camera Arlo Ultra for $1000 MSRP over a $800 ($700 on sale) Arlo Pro 2 four-camera kit.

While some features come across as a bit gimmicky — such as the the Auto Zoom & Tracking, and the “color night vision” — there’s no denying that the Arlo Ultra’s higher resolution camera provides an improved experience that lends more visual detail, along with the ability to zoom around the frame while maintaining good quality.

Additional features, like the integrated spotlight and wider viewing angles are extremely useful additions. These can potentially save you money by requiring less hardware when the cameras are mounted in strategic locations.

The lack of HomeKit, and some of the half-baked features of the app experience means that there’s lots of room for Arlo to grow, but there’s already a solid foundation established to work with.

Obviously one of the biggest concerns with any truly wireless camera setup is going to be battery life. How well does the Arlo Ultra, with its ability to live stream and store videos in 4K, perform in this area? Arlo notes that the battery should last between 3-6 months, which seems really optimistic given my experience with the Arlo Pro 2.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that for high traffic areas where the camera is often triggered, you’re going to want to purchase an outdoor power cord or install the handy solar power kit. For lower traffic areas the battery should last long enough (think more like once a month) to where it’s not annoying to charge them when they run out of power. I’ll be monitoring the Arlo Ultra’s battery life closely over the next few weeks, and will provide a rewind update of my experience.

Arlo cameras aren’t perfect solutions for everyone. If you need constant recording, or require integration with a local NAS, you may want to consider other options. But if you’re looking for an easy-to setup wireless security camera, and you can budget the subscription prices, not to mention the high price of the initial investment, it’s worth looking into.

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Sandmarc Leather Collection Review: Leather So Fine, It Ages Like Wine

What you need to know about Sandmarc Leather Collection:

Sandmarc Leather Collection is a lineup of cases/bands for iPhone, AirPods, Apple Watch, AirTag, and MacBook made of full-grain leather.

These products are sleek, minimal, and elegant.

Use code IGEEKSBLOG for a 10% discount.

“The Leather Collection by Sandmarc” is a lineup of protective covers for Apple devices. Leather products usually demand a premium over their synthetic counterparts, and it is justified as leather not only feels premium but also always gets better with time. I have my hands on an iPhone 13 Pro Max leather case, 14″ MacBook sleeve, Apple Watch band, AirPods Pro Case, and the AirTag keychain.

These cases and covers are made of full-grain leather, a higher quality leather than genuine leather. Shocking, right? Here’s my review of the aforementioned device cases and a little more detail on full-grain vs. genuine leather.  

Full-grain leather vs. genuine leather

When discussing products, the word “Genuine” is always associated with original goods and of the best quality. In this specific case, those of us not well versed with leather might have a perception that genuine leather is the best quality of leather. In fact, it is the lowest quality of leather.

While Genuine leather is certainly better than fake leather, it is not the best quality of leather you can buy. Further, full-grain leather is not only the best quality but also the most natural leather. The evidence of full-grain leather being natural is that it develops a patina, a protective layer, which is a characteristic of the natural hide.

The products from “The Leather Collection by Sandmarc” are made of full-grain leather, so they will develop a patina and age like wine, which always gets better with time. Having used these products for a while, here’s my review on what I think about these products and if they are worth your time and money.

1. Pro leather case: iPhone 13 Pro Max

Cases that can protect your iPhone without compromising its design are rare to come by. The Pro Leather Case by Sandmarc protects your iPhone while adding a touch of personality to it. Let’s dive in and find out if it is worth your money.  

Design and build

The Sandmarc Pro Leather Case has full-grain leather on the back, sides, and inner sides, barring the button area, which has a mindful microfiber cutout that ensures the leather does not scratch the buttons. It has microfiber padding on the inner side, housing the MagSafe magnets.

However, the lightning port and speaker grille cutouts are perfect. You also get a pair of punch hole cutouts to attach a lanyard to your iPhone. The buttons on the case provide ample tactile feedback and are accented to compliment the color of the case.


The case has raised edges on the front, which help protect the screen from scratches when placed face down on rough surfaces and provide a certain degree of drop protection. However, the protrusion is subtle, so I don’t have high hopes regarding drop protection.  








Value for money


The camera guard is the only polarizing factor, and if it looks good to you, the Pro Leather Case is value for money. At $49.99, the Pro Leather Case by Sandmarc is $10 cheaper than Apple’s Leather case and has a better overall built quality. And it also has a magnetic ring in place to facilitate MagSafe charging. 


Made out of the best quality leather

Raised edges for screen protection 

MagSafe compatible  

Multifunction camera guard


Wobbly back 

Deep Ring/Silent switch

Price: $49.99

Buy now

2. MacBook sleeve  

If you appreciate the creases and patina that full-grain leather products acquire over time, the Sandmarc MacBook sleeve is worth your time. It is designed for on-the-go commuters allowing easy access to your MacBook. But is it worth the asking price? Let’s find out.

Build and design

A laptop sleeve is meant to help protect your device from accumulating dust, accidental spills, or minor drops, so don’t expect a sleeve to protect your MacBook like a case. With that said, this leather MacBook sleeve by Sandmarc strikes a balance between design and utility.

It is designed from full-grain leather, developing creases and patina as the leather ages. Having used a couple of leather products, I can attest that patina adds more character to a product, and I can’t wait to see how the look of this sleeve changes over time.

Besides, the leather MacBook sleeve is two sheets of full-grain leather stitched together. The stitching is minimal and does not blend in, adding a distinctive finishing touch to the sides of the sleeve, also for branding SANDMARC.


In terms of utility, the sleeve can house the 14″ MacBook Pro, 13″ MacBook Air, or 13″ MacBook Pro comfortably while providing it all-around protection from minor drops or spills. The inner padding has a microfiber finish, so you need not worry about the sleeve scratching your MacBook. Moreover, you can also charge your MacBook without taking it out of the sleeve.








Value for money


The Leather MacBook Sleeve is available for $129.99, and while it might seem expensive, we can’t disregard that it is made out of the best leather quality. While a few cheaper alternatives are built from full-grain leather, the market for such products seems niche.

Niche markets usually mean less production, resulting in higher costs. The sleeve is a great addition if you intend to get a few more products from the Sandmarc Leather Collection or if you love leather products in general.


Made out of the best quality leather (Full-grain) 

Detailed yet subtle stitching  

Microfiber padding on the inner side to avoid scratching


Slightly expensive 

Price: $129.99

Buy now

3. Apple Watch band

Adding a leather band to your Apple Watch will enhance its premium look and feel. And when the leather band is made of full-grain leather and has a stainless-steel buckle, you’re in for a treat.

Build and design

The Leather edition Apple Watch band is a product of minimalism. These products serve the purpose they are created for without adding much bulk aesthetically. The general idea of minimalistic products is to be simple yet elegant.

Also, unlike other products which look old with time, the full-grain leather of this band enhances its look with time. I appreciate Sandmarc for using the same leather throughout the watch.

Further, the buckle, buckle tongue, and band connector are all made of stainless steel and black in color. Again, the color scheme matches that of the bands, and the brown shade I have goes well with Apple Watch cases in the gray to a black color palette.

Below the buckle are two loops, one fixed and one adjustable. On the other band, 7 adjustment holes are neatly punched in.

Initial impressions of my colleagues

Since I do not use the Apple Watch regularly, I thought it would be best to ask a few people who use the Apple watch regularly what they think about the band. Doing so also helped me gain varied perspectives. Also, take into account that these are just initial impressions.

Suraj, the Digital Marketing Head at iGeeks Media, uses the Pride Edition Nike Sport Loop and says, “While the product feels premium, it feels to be on the heavier side.”  

Dhvanesh, the CEO of iGeeks Media, who uses the Alto Leather Band, says, “It is lightweight, has perfect finishing, and fits quite well, too. In addition to this, the band is also versatile and will suit most outfits.” 

Ridham, the Cinematographer at iGeeks Media, uses the Sport loop and says, “I’ll give it a 9/10 for looks and a 5/10 for comfort.” 








Value for money


At a price tag of $59.99, this band gets most things right. It’s versatile and fits a wide range of attire. It is comfortable for some, not for others; it is subjective. But at its price, it is a great addition to your collection of Apple Watch bands.


Made out of the best quality leather (Full-grain) 

Sleek and Elegant 

Versatile in terms of suiting outfits


It might not be comfortable for all

Price: $59.99

Buy now

4. Leather edition – AirPods Pro case 

While your AirPods Pro battery will degrade over time, I can assure you this AirPods Pro leather case will look better with time. And this case is among the few cases promulgating how protection and style can go hand-in-hand.

Build and design  

I have to give credit where it’s due, especially when Sandmarc has paid so much attention to detail that the hooks that connect the AirPods Pro case to the wrist strap have a dark gray finish. This subtle touch ensures that the hooks blend in and match the case’s aesthetic.  

The inner padding has a microfiber finish on the upper side of both parts of the case and also retains the plastic case on the lower, helping the case stay in place. The leather case does not obstruct the normal opening and closing mechanism of the AirPods case, and the case’s cutout does not feel rough at all.

While the charging port cutout is not precise geometrically, the edges are smooth, and there’s enough space to attach the lighting cable. There’s also a small hole for the battery indicator LED. All of this without losing on wireless charging is commendable.








Value for money


With all that said, at a price tag of $39.99, this AirPods Pro leather case is worth the money if you want to personalize your AirPods without adding bulk to the device.

While the protection from accidental drops won’t be substantial, it is not what the product is for. If you want to avoid scratches and aging of your AirPods case while adding elegance to your AirPods, you can’t go wrong with this case.


Made out of the best quality leather (Full-grain) 

Precise cutouts 

Included wrist strap



Minimal drop protection

Price: $39.99

Buy now

5. AirTag key chain

AirTag protects your devices, keys, etc., by helping you locate whatever you’ve attached to AirTag. And so, protecting your AirTags is equally necessary. And while we’re on the topic of protecting AirTags, why not do it with style with this leather edition AirTag key chain.  

Build and design   

Like all products from Sandmarc’s Leather Collection, this Leather Edition AirTag key chain is also made out of full-grain leather inside out. By now, you’re well aware of the benefits of full-grain leather, and you can expect the same patina and creases eventually, enhancing the key chain’s look over time.

You can insert the AirTag by unfastening the snap fastener. The snap fastener has a dark gray finish. The hook is also in the same shade; trust me; these subtle additions make a world of difference. The lock and pop mechanism of the snap fastener is so satisfying that you need to use one to know how it feels.

In terms of protection, the Leather Edition AirTag key chain houses the whole AirTag without exposing any portion, unlike Apple’s offering. So, the AirTag won’t be visible but will always be protected. Moreover, I assure you it will look amazing when kept with a bunch of keys.








Value for money


There’s not much one can complain about the Sandmarc Keychain as it ticks most boxes. Also, it’s cheaper than what Apple offers. And it also offers comparatively more protection. One AirTag costs $29.99, and the Leather Edition – AirTag Key Chain also costs $29.99. Sounds like a good deal to me.  


Made out of the best quality the leather (Full-grain) 

Offers all-round protection  

Elegant design 

Premium finishing  


No significant cons

Price: $29.99

Buy now

Are products from the Leather Collection worth your time and money?  

The short answer is yes. And I say this after spending a good amount of time with the products mentioned above. I think this is a collection of sleek, minimal yet elegant products. It’ll look even better if you get more than just one product and match all the cases for your Apple devices. And I’ll say it again, full-grain leather feels better than other genuine leather products I’ve had my hands on.

Also, those familiar with leather products will surely agree that the aging process of full-grain leather enhances the look and feel of the products. Most products in the lineup are a total bang for the buck. The only product I felt slightly overpriced was the MacBook Sleeve, as it’s two sheets of leather stitched together. But then again, it’s TWO SHEETS OF LEATHER.

Tip: If you’ve got your eyes on any of the products above, now is the right time to pick up a couple of these at a discounted price by using our promo code “IGEEKSBLOG” for a 10% discount.

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Consumer Technology and Motorcycles are the two things that excite Darryl the most. Why? Because Tech helps better people’s lives, and solving people’s problems related to tech is something he enjoys. And what about bikes, you ask? Well, drop a gear and disappear.

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