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HoloKit X AR Headset for iPhone: Price, Features, Release Date

HoloKit X AR Headset for iPhone: Price, Features, Release Date

If you need evidence that Apple is working on a mixed-reality headset, take a spin with the HoloKit X. Created by Botao Amber Hu, a developer who has worked at companies like DJI, Google, and Twitter and is now CEO and founder of Holo Interactive, this headset relies entirely on existing capabilities of the iPhone to create interactive hands-free augmented reality experiences. It’s a powerful showcase of what’s possible if Apple ever made a headset using the tech already embedded in its smartphone.

Any such headset to come out of Cupertino would almost certainly cost more than a thousand dollars. (This is Apple, after all.) Look at Meta’s newest mixed-reality headset for reference; it starts at $1,499. Headsets in Microsoft’s XR platform cost between $600 and $1,000. These high prices are why the HoloKit X exists. Hu, who has long had a special interest in future computing and new media art, says he wants to “democratize” the world of mixed reality. As such, the HoloKit X costs $129, and all you need is a recent iPhone (excluding iPhone Mini and iPhone SE models) to power it.

An iPhone on Your Head

The HoloKit X is a plasticky headset with optical lenses inside. There’s no technology here (save for an NFC sensor, but more on that later). Just think of it as a viewer, not unlike old-school View-Masters. Similar to mobile virtual reality headsets like Google Cardboard, Lenovo’s AR set for Star Wars games, or the now-defunct Google Daydream, you need to mount an iPhone onto the HoloKit X. 

HoloKit X VR goggles with eyeglasses attached

Photograph: HoloKit

Unlike VR headsets, you’re not staring at a screen. The iPhone is mounted up and away from your eyes. Instead, you’re looking through the glass in a 60-degree field of view and can see the physical world as well as the people around you. The iPhone’s screen, while using the rear cameras to manage these AR experiences, is mirrored in stereoscopic vision to the lenses, making it so that you can effectively see virtual 3D objects embedded in the real world.

Exactly what you can do with the HoloKit X is limited right now. There are just a handful of experiences—what Hu calls “Realities”—in the HoloKit app, one of which is a multiplayer dueling game where you cast spells at an enemy. The visuals are clear, colorful, and pretty sharp, and the platform supports six degrees of freedom via Apple’s ARKit framework. Because of this, you can move around virtual objects and they will stay anchored in the real-world places where you position them. And when you’re playing a game, you can even duck to dodge blasts. The “enemy” can be another person using a HoloKit X in a shared space, a virtual character, or even a character controlled by someone with just an iPhone.

Since it’s entirely powered by an iPhone, the HoloKit app is leveraging existing technologies. The ability to play a game with other HoloKit X users, for example, doesn’t rely on cellular data or Wi-Fi, but rather the local networking technology that powers AirDrop. This is also what powers “Spectator View,” which allows anyone to use an iPhone and the HoloKit app to view your augmented reality experience in real time by pointing their phone at the scene. (You can record and share this to social media, or cast it via AirPlay to a TV for others to see.) Hu says Holo Interactive is also working on a Puppeteer mode that would enable someone else to direct your AR experience.

There are a few ways to interact with the augmented reality experience. The HoloKit app uses Apple’s Vision framework technology to identify and track your hand. I didn’t see a demo of this, but the idea is that you can just use your hands to interact with objects and the iPhone’s cameras will recognize your hand movements. Hu says HoloKit also supports any Bluetooth device that can connect to the iPhone, like PlayStation controllers.

What I did demo was the ability to use an Apple Watch’s gyroscope as a motion controller, just like a Wiimote. Hu strapped an Apple Watch to my wrist (it works with Watch Series 4 and newer) with the HoloKit watch app installed and running, and gave me a wand purely so I could feel like I was using it to shoot out spells. Lo and behold, I was able to cast spells with mere gestures or a flick of the wrist. I could even point my wand downward to load a charging bar and trigger a more powerful spell. Aiding the immersion is the use of spatial audio via any of Apple’s headphones that support that feature, so you can hear a spell whizzing past your right ear. The iPhone’s haptic vibration adds another layer of sensory input, but since the phone is mounted in the headset, it’s only vibrating up near your forehead, so you may not immediately sense it.  

You can use the HoloKit X with an iPhone XS, XS Max, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max, iPhone 13, and iPhone 13 and 13 Pro Max, iPhone 14, and iPhone 14 and 14 Pro Max. (You’ll need to take off your case so it will fit.) You’ll get the best experience with an iPhone that has a lidar sensor, which became a staple on the Pro models—starting with the iPhone 12 series. 

Casio’s Flagship Keyboard Has a Voice of Its Own

Casio’s Flagship Keyboard Has a Voice of Its Own

You might want to learn music, but nobody wants to spend a thousand dollars on a keyboard only to realize they hate it. Most people buy a beginner keyboard to pound out “Hey Jude,” the kind of plasticky model that you probably remember from middle school. They work fine as tools to manufacture sound with your fingers, but the actual tones leave a bit to be desired.

That’s why I’ve enjoyed my time with the Casio CT-S1000V. It’s a sleek $470 model that acts as an excellent beginner keyboard, but with one particularly cool party trick: You can program lyrics into it and have the keyboard sing for you. It’s a rad tool for those of us with voices like angry crows.

Between solid construction, good sounds, and an easy-to-navigate interface, I think this board is the perfect place for beginners to start. The vocal synthesis engine is cool enough that even die-hard synth nerds will want to mess around when they come check your progress.

Classic Casio

Vintage Casio models are beloved by indie darlings like Mac Demarco for a reason. These basic, utilitarian keyboards sound as nostalgic as they are functional. Like many Casios before it, this one has a decent keyboard and 800 built-in sounds, with everything from boring piano to spacey synths represented. You also get 243 rhythms to play along with, should you need some inspiration.

You’d be surprised how far sounds have come since you last messed with a keyboard at Guitar Center before Covid. The team at Casio has included some legitimately great sounds, stuff you would have paid thousands of dollars for before the iPhone era (hear samples below).

You can plug the keyboard into an amp or use it as a MIDI keyboard with a computer, but I actually liked just using the built-in speakers on the top. It makes it easy to jam along with music, or to quickly sample sounds without the hassle of turning on an amp or opening the Casio Music Space app (which works for iOS and Android and pairs to the keyboard).

The included LCD display works well in dark rooms, and it gives you pretty granular control over everything you might want to adjust when playing. You can assign two knobs on the top left of the board to do various filters, effects, and EQ moves, and there is a very usable pitch-bend wheel on the far left side, for when you want to feel like Herbie Hancock in the 1970s.

Getting Connected

Casio CT1000V keyboard

Photograph: Casio

You can get sound information out of the keyboard four ways: through the aforementioned speakers, a headphone jack, stereo ¼-inch outputs, or via USB. You can also use the keyboard as a sampler for your favorite music, with the ability to capture sounds from Bluetooth audio and use an internal six-track sequencer to line up a beat.

Once you’re plugged in, you can easily mess around and save any sounds that you find you like for later. Speaking of mucking around and finding cool sounds, I really did fall in love with the new vocal synthesis engine. It’s easy to type lyrics into the Casio Lyric Creator app (iOS, Android) and then transfer whole songs of lyrics to the keyboard.

If you really hate to sing, or you particularly love Daft Punk or Peter Frampton, you’ll be in love. You can use 22 different vocal sounds and manipulate them with a fairly wide variety of effects and other sound parameters. The vocal synth is polyphonic, which means you can play really cool harmonies (hear below) over your own words.

The Best Binoculars to Zoom In on Real Life

The Best Binoculars to Zoom In on Real Life

Binoculars mean the difference between seeing a little gray bird and identifying a titmouse, cheering a home run and seeing the epic catch, or realizing that the 10-point buck is actually a doe standing in front of dead branches.

Whether you’re scouting terrain, watching birds in your backyard, or getting season tickets to Fenway, binoculars bring the world closer, making it sharp and clear far beyond what your eye is capable of seeing. Finding the right pair of binoculars means first figuring out what you’re going to use them for. If you’d just like to watch some birds at the feeder in your backyard and perhaps overcome the limitations of the cheap seats at the ballpark, there’s no need to spend a fortune. On the other hand, if you plan to go birding in diverse locations, or are planning a big hunt in unfamiliar territory, it’s often worth the extra money to get something a little more powerful.

Be sure to check out our other guides, including The Best Gear to Make Your Backyard More Fun, The Best Hiking Gear, and How a Birdfeeder Can Bring You Joy.

Updated August 2022: We’ve added the Fujinon 14×40 Techno-Stabi stabilized binoculars, Nikon Coolshot Pro II stabilized rangefinders, Nocs 8×42 binoculars, and Nikon’s Monarch 10×42 model, as well as updated prices throughout. 

Table of Contents

  1. Best Overall
  2. Best High Powered
  3. Best Compact
  4. Best for Kids
  5. Best for Special Use Cases
  6. What Do the Model Numbers Mean?
  7. Why the High Price Tags?

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What Do the Model Numbers Mean?

Binoculars are usually listed with two number specifications; for example, the Nikon Monarch M5 are 8×42. 

The number 8 refers to the magnification power. Objects seen through these binoculars will be eight times bigger than when you look with your naked eye. Newcomers should stick with 6x or 8x. They have enough power that you’ll see things clearly, but they don’t magnify so much that you’ll struggle to find what you want to see or have trouble following fast-moving objects (though all binoculars take some practice). 

The 42 refers to the size of the front lens in millimeters. The larger the lens size, the more light reaches your eye. That means the image will be bigger, brighter, and clearer. A pair of 8×42 binoculars are often significantly brighter and have a better viewing experience than a pair of 8×32 binoculars, even though both provide the same magnification. But the larger you get, the more glass they will use—so they’ll weigh more. The weight difference between a pair of 8×32 and 10×42 binoculars is significant if you’re wearing them all day. We suggest sticking with the 26-50 range. Our top pick is roughly in the middle, at 8×42, generally considered the sweet spot for most people.

Best Overall

Nikon’s Monarch 5 binoculars were my first “real” binoculars. Years later, their upgraded M5 is my top pick for most people just getting started. These offer great bang for your buck, and the 8×42 magnification is the most versatile. It isn’t just me, either. These are some of the most common binoculars I see when I’m out birding.

The Monarch M5s strike an excellent balance between optical power, quality, and price. The glass in these provides nice, bright views with very little chromatic aberration (the distortions or fringing that you sometimes see around objects in bright sunlight).

The Traeger Timberline Makes Smoking Ribs Easy

The Traeger Timberline Makes Smoking Ribs Easy

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably not accustomed to perfectly smoking nearly 50 pounds of pork shoulder using a smartphone while lying in your bed. But there I was with the new Traeger Timberline, hitting the “super smoke” button and checking my temps at 6 am before my morning coffee, making enough meat to feed 100 people at my town’s annual backyard kegger.

I haven’t just been cooking massive amounts of pork on Traeger’s freshly redesigned premium smoker. In fact, this summer, it’s become rare for me to cook anything that isn’t in some way smoked. Chicken salad? Smoke that chicken first. Steak? Smoke it before you sear it on the built-in induction burner. A fresh juicy melon? Throw it on the Traeger for 30 mins for a perfectly caramelized desert.

This smart smoker and induction burner provides the perfect all-in-one outdoor kitchen. Minus a middling Wi-Fi connection (you’ll want to make sure your yard has solid coverage), the new Timberline delivers everything I’d want from a modern smoker and more: You can bake, sauté, and smoke in a single unit that’s power- and fuel-efficient. After about two months, I’ve barely used a bag and a half of wood pellets. The fly in the smoke-ringed ointment? It costs $3,500. That’s a lot of cash for any kitchen appliance.

A New Rig

The Timberline comes in a large orange box with clear instructions for setup, but you may want a partner to help you move some of the heavier bits. The heart of the system is a sizable insulated smoke box with room for six pork shoulders, or about the equivalent racks of ribs or chickens (the company also sells an XL version with roughly a third more space for an additional $300). Inside the smoke box, there are three tiers you can put everything on, with a vent for the smoke cut midway along the backside of the smoker so that it circulates fully to the top before venting.

There’s a drip tray and ash/grease catch in an easy-to-detach compartment in the cabinet below the smoker, which also serves as a great place to store extra pellets and metal liners for the drip tray. You’ll get a lot of use out of those metal drip liners before you need to replace one; the six pork shoulders only filled one up about halfway.

Besides the smoke box, on the right of the unit you’ll find a box where you can fill your wood pellets of choice (Traeger sent me an assortment of their own in-house pellets, but you can use other brands). There’s even a plastic bin and special trap door so you can drop one type of pellet out of the auger for storage and put another type in if you want to smoke something with, say, hickory before switching back to applewood.

The main control area for the Timberline is on the right side of the unit via a very comfortable push-button knob and a color LCD display. The best way to use it though is to connect your phone to the grill via the Traeger app. Once you have it connected to your Wi-Fi, you can control every aspect of the machine (including setting timers and temperature alerts) from your smartphone. It’s pretty damn nifty. You just want to make sure your router has enough range because I experienced a spotty connection on the Traeger now and then. 

The left side of the Timberline houses an induction burner, which pairs perfectly with cast iron pans for searing items you’ve just cooked to perfection on the smoker, or for cooking companion dishes while you wait for something to finish smoking. 

Accessory rails surround the front and sides of the smoker and give you a place to put things like a paper towel holder, a pop-up holding tray, and hooks for grill tools. Traeger sent me those accessories, which are nice and all, but not necessary, especially since they cost a lot. You’ll pay $120 for a front shelf, $60 for a bin to store utensils, and $120 for a stainless steel grill tray. Yikes. The one accessory you need—a grill cover—costs an astonishing $180. No, it’s not made of silk.

24 Last-Minute Mother’s Day Gifts on Sale Now

24 Last-Minute Mother’s Day Gifts on Sale Now

Time flies when everything is always happening, so it’s totally understandable if you forgot Mother’s Day is this Sunday! We can’t buy you more time, but we can help you find quality deals with quick shipping so you can still get a great gift. Moms are multifaceted marvels, and we’ve rounded up a variety of products, ranging from headphones and ebook readers to beauty goods and kitchen gadgets.

Don’t forget to check out our Mother’s Day Gift Ideas guide for more recommendations.

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If you buy something using links in our stories, we may earn a commission. This helps support our journalism. Learn more.

Smart Display and Speaker Deals

digital frame with woman holding a child

Aura Carver

Photograph: Aura

My mom’s camera roll is filled with three types of photos—the Rocky Mountains, my siblings, and our family’s dogs. The Aura Carver Luxe lets her display all those pics like the proud parent she is, and it easily blends in with her home decor. You can check out Aura’s website to find other frame designs (many of which are also on sale.) 

Although Nixplay frames are similar to Aura’s, they look a little more like a digital screen, but with better resolution (photos will look sharper). If your mom is on the eco-conscious side, she can sleep better knowing that Nixplay plants a tree each time someone purchases a frame. Read our Best Digital Frames guide for more options. 

Facebook’s Portal Go (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is great for calling family members and friends, with a camera that senses and follows your motion as you move through a room. It also doubles as a Bluetooth speaker and digital picture frame, so you get more utility out of it. Our Best Smart Display guide has other options, if Facebook is not your jam. 

Mommy’s little helper is tiny, round, and named Alexa. The fourth-generation Echo (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is great for anyone looking to connect and control other smart home devices via voice or to rock out with Spotify. Ask Alexa what the weather is, set a timer, or order toilet paper straight from Amazon. Make sure to read our tips on how to secure your Amazon Echo (as best you can). The cheaper Amazon Echo Dot, which has weaker speakers, is also on sale for $40 ($20 off).

Tech Deals

Beats Fit Pro wireless headphones

Beats Fit Pro

Photograph: Beats

Everyone talks about dad jams, but mom’s music is just as iconic. Give mom the gift of high-quality earbuds to soak it all in. The Beats Fit Pro (9/10, WIRED Recommends) are Apple’s best earbuds ever, with great noise-canceling tech, spatial audio, Dolby Atmos support, and a comfortable fit. Honestly, they’re just sleek as hell.

If your mom’s been looking for a new tablet to take on the go, or even just to have on her bedside table, look no further. The iPad Mini (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is portable and powerful, so she can run as many tabs as she wants in the background while binging Moon Knight. This is the lowest price we’ve ever tracked. 

Your mom deserves a massage, but little or distracted hands often just don’t cut it when it comes to working out those knots. Instead, take on the tension with the Theragun Mini. It supplies 20 pounds of pressure, so she can pass it over to her partner and let the rest melt away.

Twelve South PowerPic Mod Wireless Charger

Twelve South PowerPic Mod Wireless Charger

Photograph: Twelve South

This little gadget pulls double duty as a frame for art or a 4 x 6 photo and a way for Mom to recharge her smartphone (if it supports wireless charging). No need to fuss with plugging cables into a phone, and it’ll blend in with the home decor. Read our Best Wireless Chargers guide for more.

Use code MAMA at checkout to see the discount. Take advantage of this promotion to get cases for a few people you know or give Mom a couple of options so she can style her case with her outfit. Sonix has some of the prettiest iPhone cases, and these all include MagSafe. If she has an iPhone 12 or iPhone 13, these will work with all her MagSafe accessories. 

I’ve never seen my mom devour anything the way she did a Dean Koontz novel. If your mom’s anything like mine, the new Kindle Paperwhite (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is a great option to bring her bevy of books with her anywhere. This model offers even faster page turns, USB-C charging so you can finally ditch that MicroUSB cable, and a warm frontlight so she can comfortably read in the dark.

Apple Watch Series 7

Apple Watch Series 7

Photograph: Apple

Calling all the #PelotonMoms out there: The Apple Watch Series 7 has improved cycling detection. This means you can track that ’80s ride with Robin even better and log more accurate stats on the calories you’ve burned. This is consistent with the lowest price we’ve seen for the Series 7 last month, but it’s still a great deal.

Does Mom have an Android smartphone? The Samsung Galaxy Watch4 (7/10, WIRED Recommends) is an elegant, classic-looking watch that matches the Apple Watch’s capabilities in many ways. That includes heart rate monitoring, blood oxygen detection, and sleep tracking. Read our Best Smartwatches guide for more.

The Garmin Vivomove is a great choice for the more fitness forward mom. The software is comprehensive, easily integrating with other fitness apps (like Strava), while also tracking other health elements like sleep and “body battery.” Much like the Samsung Galaxy, it also has a more “classic” look, so mom can transition from her runs to her dinner reservations.

It’s no secret that moms often have to sacrifice form for function so they can more efficiently take care of everything. The Garmin Lily is one of the smallest fitness trackers that Garmin makes. She can pick form first with this gorgeous smart watch.

Home and Kitchen Deals 

rolled up weighted blanket

Photograph: Baloo

For either a quick nap or a much-needed break during the day, your mom can calm down and check out with the Baloo Weighted Blanket. It’s a throw, so she won’t have to drag a massive, queen-sized blanket from the bedroom to the couch. And it’s made of cotton and weighs only 12 pounds, making it perfect for any season.

Whether your mom is a regular Julia Child or frequently heats up frozen meals, she can probably find a good use for the Instant Pot Pro Plus (8/10, WIRED Recommends). It makes mealtime much easier, with settings for pressure cooking, slow cooking, sautéing, steaming, and sous vide. With the Pro Plus, she can slow-cook her overnight oats for breakfast or whip up her finest filet for dinner.

This is one of the nicest-looking umbrellas we tested for our Best Umbrellas guide. It’s large enough to fit two, yet lightweight enough that it’s not cumbersome to carry. The cork handle feels great, and its bright canopy will shine through even the gloomiest of days. 

Though this isn’t on sale, per say, the Primula Burke Deluxe is our favorite cold brew coffee maker. The Primula makes a luxurious, smooth pot of cold brew for an affordable price. It’s also simple to use, so your mom can enjoy her daily caffeine with minimal fuss.

With a sunrise alarm clock like this one from HomeLabs, mom can wake up slowly and naturally as her room gradually lights up with a warm glow. A well-rested mom is a happy mom.

A mother’s to-do list tends to never end, likely leaving thoughts circling day and night. The Lectrofan Premium can help drown out a bit of that drumming, with a variety of sounds and decibel levels and a useful sleep timer. 

This machine has been at this price for around a month, though it frequently spiked much higher in early April. It’s our favorite super automatic espresso machine and can offer a moment of calm amidst the maelstrom that is mornings. Thanks to its automated settings and built-in milk frother, Mom can get all her favorite foamy, caffeinated goodness without having to trek to the local Starbucks. She just needs to fill up the water tank, add her favorite coffee beans to the hopper, and let the machine work its magic.

If your mom is a true coffee connoisseur, you can upgrade her to the Breville Barista Pro. This machine has a built-in, conical grinder that allows for a more precise, fine grind to get that perfectly pulled espresso shot. It also leaves room to adjust the pressure, the temperature, and the number of shots you want. 

Amongst the myriad of morning tasks moms often have, it’s likely that their cup of coffee ends up cold. The Ember Smart Mug is temperature regulated, stylish, and keeps track of caffeine intake — a trifecta for coffee lovers who likely have too many cups…in more ways than one.

My mother-in-law mastered the blowout, and she tries to teach me how to wield a round brush almost every time we visit. Though I just can’t quite figure it out, the Paul Mitchell Neuro Grip is perfect for those who have. The handle-free hair dryer lets you hold it at various angles so you can work with the round brush to give your hair that coveted bounce and volume.