Reviews Yesterday

GoPro has enjoyed a massive amount of success over the last few years as its name has become synonymous with action cameras. Because of that popularity, the accessory market has boomed as well. We’ve already rounded up the best gear for your GoPro in a separate post. Now the question is, how do you manage it all? We recently got our hands on the new Kelly Slater Action Pack Bundle from Incase. The iconic surfer hooked up with one of our favorite brands to release a kit with GoPro users in mind. Head below for a full breakdown.

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Reviews February 1

Every few months, a new category of technology products emerge at unthinkable prices. Whether it is because of a new chipset or fresh manufacturing techniques or other inventions, it takes the market by storm.  A few years ago it was Bluetooth speakers dropping in price and which are now almost ubiquitous for a few bucks each. Recently, I’ve seen LED desk lamps with USB ports from a few different manufacturers (current favs: Omaker and Anker) drop drastically in price and get USB ports alongside a variety of designs.

Probably the biggest “category buster” going on right now are USB batteries that have been retrofitted with heavy-gauge jumper cables to be able to start cars. It is a great secondary use for a USB product that is already ubiquitous. (Solar is another). Batteries that can jumpstart a car were previously heavy and used dangerous lead acid, with costs hitting over $100.

My favorites in this product category is from Bestek, a company that is also one of my top auto-inverter manufacturers – and probably why they are so good at this.

I’ve been using two of their products for a month in each of my cars. Apply the color-specific promo code to lock in a special discounted price.

  • BESTEK 300A Peak Current Car Jump Starter w/ 5600mAh Power Bank: $34.99 (Reg. $40)
    • Black5VXFE6I6  
    • RedD5DZPWUZ (above left)
  • BESTEK 600A Peak Current Portable Car Jump Starter w/ 10,000mAh Power Bank: $54.99 (Reg. $63)

(un)Fortunately, I haven’t had a dead battery situation to test its capability. I did disconnect my car battery and was easily able to start my car (2012 Prius) with each of these batteries – which seems to fit the bill.  If you have larger than a 3L engine, you’ll want to opt for the bigger 600A capable battery. Each of these is rated in the double digits in starts but hopefully just one will be enough.

Both chargers will also keep your USB devices charged in an emergency. If you have the extra money, I’d throw down for the larger, rugged battery. The 600A battery has an extra fast USB charging port, is more rugged, will start a much larger car and the LED light (that also comes in handy in an emergency!) is much brighter. The larger model also comes with a very nice carrying case.

But USB Batteries serve a secondary purpose in a car: I keep a battery permanently connected to my car plug which means it is always charged. When I need my phone charged, I simply plug it into the secondary battery. That means that it keeps charging at a 2.1A rate even when the car is off. If I need to, I can grab the battery and take it with me for an power supply.

Like I said before, Bestek isn’t the only player in this game, and this being 9to5toys there are some really good deals on this category below:

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Reviews January 15

Last month, I received the EasyAcc 7.2A 3 USB Ports Charging Desktop Power Strip with 2 Electrical AC Power Sockets Surge Protector Charging Station Power Supply which is at Amazon for $35.99. 9to5Toys Coupon code XM2RCCXO drops it to just $25 shipped (Reg. $35)expand full story

9to5mac 

Reviews January 12

Reviews November 23, 2015

Today we’re taking a look at the new limited edition Star Wars Battlefront Playstation 4. Obviously, there’s not much to say here as far as functionality goes, because well.. It’s a PS4. Pretty straightforward in that department, but the design is on another level…

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Reviews November 19, 2015

Today we’re getting into the ultimate set top box battle: 4K edition. At the moment, there are 3 major set top boxes that have the ability to stream 4K video, but which one packs the most bang for your buck. Since 4K content is rather limited at the moment, it’s a good idea to invest in something that caters to the eco-system you’re invested in, while providing enough of everything else until 4K really hits the main stream.

So today, we’re taking a look at three top contenders in this space. We have the Roku 4, Amazon Fire TV, and the NVIDIA Shield. Each lives in its own space, but offer very different experiences for different types of people. But enough talking about it, let’s get down to business….

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9to5google 

Reviews November 4, 2015

Microsoft’s new special edition Halo 5 Xbox One is absolutely phenomenal. It’s designed with a UNSC (United Nations Space Command) theme in mind, based on Halo 5 and is a must-have for any Xbox fan. Today we’re taking a closer look at it to see what makes this special edition so special…

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Reviews November 3, 2015

Amazon EchoI’ve had my Amazon Echo smart speaker since they were available to the general public and can honestly say it has changed the way our family lives. We put it in our open floor plan kitchen/family room where the far-field mic can hear our voices up to 20 feet away and has pretty incredible speech recognition accuracy. We were a little weirded out calling it “Alexa” so we changed the default name to “Amazon” – the only other current choice.

My wife used to ask me what the weather was going to be like in the morning which would annoyingly (jk love of my life) require me to go to a computer or smartphone and ask the…same…question. The Amazon Echo allows me to strut my passive aggressive side so when she asked what the weather was going to be like, I would just repeat “Amazon, what’s the weather going to be like today”. My wife, who hates using Siri because she feels like it makes her look weird/uncomfortable talking to her iPhone, stopped asking me what the weather was going to be like. She started asking Echo.

Bam! Worth the money right there. But there’s so much more… expand full story

Reviews October 16, 2015

Update (10/28 7:30am): Amazon currently offers the UE MEGABOOM in Charcoal Black for $232.45 shipped. That’s good for roughly $68 off the list price and the lowest offering we’ve seen in any color.

We’ve reached the point where there’s generally parity in both sound quality and feature sets across most popular portable Bluetooth speakers. It really takes a special speaker to stand out from the pack. Ultimate Ears’ MEGABOOM does just that by offering huge sound in a waterproof design with all-day battery life. ue-megaboom-blueI know most speakers claim to offer big sound, but the MEGABOOM truly does. I used it as the sole source for music at the after-party for my wedding in an wine vineyard and didn’t even come close to turning it up to max volume. The 360-degree design pumped out classic rock, pop, and acoustic music loudly, and most importantly, clearly in every direction. My friends and family were dumbfounded that this (relatively) small speaker could put out that type of sound.

Speaking of size, it is the biggest portable Bluetooth speaker in the UE lineup, but by no means is it a nuisance to travel with or keep in tow on a daily basis. With IPX7 waterproofing, this speaker can withstand dunks in the pool and blasts from a garden hose. I don’t look to get my speakers wet, but it’s nice to know if it happens there’s nothing to worry about. My only knock on the MEGABOOM is that it takes so long to charge that I just put it on the charger overnight, but I can live with that since it lasts up to 20-hours.

MEGABOOM is normally priced at $300, but Amazon currently has the blue model available for $257.86 with free shipping. It’s rated 4.5 out of 5 stars from 275 Amazon reviewers. expand full story

electrek 

Reviews October 5, 2015

It has been five long years since we’ve had a new Rock Band release from Harmonix. We were thrilled when it was announced back in the winter that the fourth generation of the popular franchise would be making its way to Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Along with that announcement came word of updated accessories, including a Band-in-a-Box bundle from Mad Catz with a Fender Stratocaster-inspired guitar.

So after five years, what does Rock Band 4 have in store for its loyal following? Aside from updated hardware, a new feature allows gamers to add their own “personal signature” on each song with freestyle guitar solos and drum fills. The game is set to ship tomorrow and we’re ready to tell you about our experience rocking out at home.

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Reviews September 27, 2015

JBL first announced its new Xtreme Bluetooth speaker back in July alongside the revamped Flip 3. It is the largest and most expensive speaker in JBL’s portable Bluetooth lineup. As such, slim and quiet are not terms that we’d use to describe this new product. Instead, JBL has packed this speaker full of battery life and power to fill large spaces with sound while still remaining portable.

Read on for more details on JBL’s newest Bluetooth speaker.

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Reviews September 18, 2015

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a bit of a chronic worrier, so naturally I jumped at the chance to try out Tile’s Bluetooth item tracker. Billed as an easy way to keep track of the things that mean most to you, Tile is like having Apple’s Find My iPhone feature for your entire life. The original Tile tracker launched in 2013 on the back of one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns ever, having raised more than $2.6M.

Just last month Tile launched its second generation Tracker that’s pretty similar to the original, but is just different enough that it’s worth exploring. Stay tuned to find out if these new refinements make a real difference in helping you get your lost keys back… expand full story

Reviews September 11, 2015

Monoprice has long been known as an excellent alternative to higher-priced electronics. After announcing its new action camera back in June, we spent some time playing around with it over the last month. With an included remote camera wearable and a price tag that is significantly less than GoPro’s lowest-priced entry point, we knew we had to check it out.

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9to5mac 

Reviews September 8, 2015

JBL has been tweaking and adjusting its Bluetooth line-up of speakers for years. Instead of coming out with completely new form factors every 12 months, it has subtly adapted its previous generations with improvements. Following a big week at IFA 2015, JBL has released the third generation Flip Bluetooth speaker. We’ve had our hands on the Flip 3 for the last few weeks and now it’s time to share our thoughts.

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Reviews September 4, 2015

Portable grills are not a new thing, nor are they especially complex: if you’re looking to do basic tailgate-quality BBQing or Japanese-style yakitori grilling, you can achieve either goal for around $50 plus the $10 cost of charcoal, ignition fluid, and matches. What that will get you is a little fireproof box with a basic wire top, passive cooking features such as “adjustable air vents,” and no style.

Importing an award-winning design from Korea, a company called Homping USA is trying to change the face of portable grilling. Rather than selling a plain box with disposable parts, the Homping Grill ($199) is a 13″ circular grill with a washable 11.5″-diameter cooking surface. Available in silver with a black or orange base, it’s claimed to be “smokeless,” safe to touch, and easy to clean. A fan is built into the base so you can actively control the power of the charcoal fire inside, and a carrying bag is included for portability. After testing the Homping Grill, I had mixed feelings about its performance relative to much cheaper or peer-priced Weber portable grills, but some people may prefer its design regardless…

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Reviews September 2, 2015

We first detailed the story behind Tucker and Bloom’s East to West Messenger Bag back in November of last year. Since then, the father and son team has continued to build out their brand with new stylings and updates to some older classics. Today, I’ll be taking a look at the newly released East to West XL Messenger Bag.

Aside from its Made in America backstory, I was particularly impressed with the level of craftsmanship on the smaller East to West offering. Head below to see if the updated and larger version passed our test.

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9to5google 

Reviews August 20, 2015

So here’s the story: we recently featured a pretty sweet lighting company out of the northwest called A-Lamp Design. As I was putting together the article, I became entranced by the red power cords that Erol Chandler was using for his products. He tells me that a company called Conway Electric, also on the west coast, is cranking out these power supplies that put your average cord to shame.

Turns out, Conway Electric is doing all that and more. As one of the only UL Listed companies in North America (a very costly certification), Kevin Faul and his crew are making the type of power supply everyone wishes that they had under their desk. So he sends over Conway’s 12-foot Extō Dual-USB power source in mint with a red cord and I fell in love.

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Reviews August 14, 2015

At one point, gaming headsets with microphones were reserved for the hardcore gaming enthusiasts that spent hours online at a time and craved the boost of a locked-in environment. Over the last few years, companies like Turtle Beach, SteelSeries and Razer have flooded the market with headset options at all price points. However, Xbox One users have settled in with one company in particular as the go-to for supplying top-notch audio for their gaming experience.

The Turtle Beach Elite 800X hit the shelves of retailers a few months ago, labeled as “the most advanced gaming headset ever”. That’s a lofty description, but with wireless connectivity, DTS 7.1 surround sound, custom audio profiles and luxury materials, we knew we had to see if this headset lived up to the hype.  expand full story

Reviews August 5, 2015

Ladies and gentlemen, what you are looking at is one of the most versatile point and shoot cameras on the planet. This is Sony’s RX 100 IV. It may be small, but don’t let its size fool you. There are a good amount of reviews that will give you every spec and detail about this camera, but I have one simple question: Is this the ultimate compact video/YouTube camera?

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electrek 

Reviews July 21, 2015

We see a lot of Bluetooth speakers come through for review that typically fall in the $50-$300 range, rarely topping a price mark higher than that. The question is: do higher priced models deliver a superior sound experience to justify spending two or three times as much other options?

Bang & Olufsen is known for its great sounding audio equipment that have beautiful designs but aren’t necessarily the most cost-effective for the average consumer. B&O released the Beolit 15 back in the winter as a new addition to its family of more affordable B&O PLAY audio products. After spending a few weeks with this Bluetooth speaker, it’s time to answer the question of affordability vs. quality.  expand full story

Reviews July 17, 2015

Since Apple Watch was released back in the Spring to varying degrees of fanfare, accessory companies have been rushing to develop and ship their own products for this new timepiece. There have been different levels of quality and styles that charge, hold or store Apple Watch. While the low-end market has been flooded with plastic charging solutions, we have not seen as many options that mix natural materials with Apple’s latest device.

Today we’ll be looking at DODOcase’s $100 Charging Stand for Apple Watch that is made from USA-sourced wood and is handcrafted in San Franciscoexpand full story

Reviews July 14, 2015

Apple doesn’t make it easy to expand the storage of its mobile devices. This becomes a big issue when you start shooting HD videos and downloading Retina apps. Most people (especially 16GB device owners) wind up filling their devices to the point that they don’t have enough space to install updates. Over the past couple of years SanDisk’s Connect wireless flash drives have been one of the best ways to workaround this problem: they allow you to have access to huge media files whenever you want and to take as many pictures as you want without eating up precious on-board storage.

This morning SanDisk released its new Connect Wireless Stick. This drive has a refreshed design, lower price point and is now available with up to 128GB. I’ve been using it for the past few days. Read on to find out my first impressions of it: expand full story

Reviews July 11, 2015

Update (7/18 7:30pm): @jamesthomasbyrd is our winner, thanks for entering the contest!

We have highlighted many talented companies, groups and individuals in our Small States series as the artisan subset of American manufacturers has seen a rebirth over the last decade. Not only are there quality goods being handcrafted on a daily basis from Brooklyn to Portland, people are changing their lives around just to pursue a passion of creating beautiful products with their hands.

Erol Chandler is no exception to this movement. After a career that has included two Master’s Degrees, a stint as a middle school science teacher and truck driver, it was time to start a new adventure. At thirty years old and armed with a lifetime of interest in making things by hand, A-Lamp Design was born in Oregon. Now, Erol is taking to Kickstarter to share his skills and bring a little light to everyone’s home.  expand full story

9to5mac 

Reviews July 7, 2015

The Bluetooth speaker market is flooded, filled with options that promise “room-filling sound” or an ultra portable design that can still bring the noise. The reality is, often times those pledges are not fulfilled, leaving us with another speaker in the closet.

JBL’s latest releases, the Charge 2+ and Clip+, are both portable and splashproof Bluetooth speakers that also promise big sound in a small design. Over the last month, I’ve spent some time with both models and after a big July 4th weekend by the water, I’m ready to deliver a verdict. expand full story

Reviews July 1, 2015

Update (7/2 11:55am): Amazon’s Gold Box deal has now expired. The iStick is currently priced at $19.99 + $2.54 shipping.

Update (7/1 3:50pm): Amazon has discounted the Mpow Selfie Stick even further. It’s now just $10.50 Prime shipped.

You can’t take them to Disney but they seem to be everywhere else. Selfie sticks. I think we’ve found the best and the best price in MPOW’s iStick.

mpow-isnap

Mpow gave me their iStick Selfie stick last month and I’ve used it with a number of phones big and small. On the small side, I’ve tried the Moto E and iPhone 4s without a case. But the stick expands so big that it can take small tablets like the Samsung Mega. It is strong enough to hold an iPhone 6 with a big battery case (see image, top). The fit is tight and it can be swung around pretty violently without losing its grip on your device.

More importantly, it is designed so that when the phone isn’t attached, it can flip around and fit in your pocket when the telescoping arm is closed (so maybe you CAN sneak it into Disney World!). This is the big differentiator.

The Bluetooth connectivity is easy to set up on both iOS and Android and it easily connects to multiple devices. Once connected, a thumb push on the button snaps a picture using the phone’s native camera or 3rd party camera app.

The iStick includes a wrist strap to help prevent droppage and has 3 different color microUSB charging ports if you want to differentiate.

Screenshot 2015-07-01 10.19.41

The only downside? It is a selfie stick. Call it a Mono-pod if you can’t bear it.

Today only, Amazon’s Gold Box has the iStick for $13.99 Prime shipped which is such a good deal, you’ll want to buy one for everyone you know that wants to take selfies.

For other styles, check out our roundup of the best selfie sticks for your iPhone.

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