If you’re looking for a gaming keyboard built around responsiveness and competition, then you should lend consideration to SteelSeries’ most recent release — the SteelSeries Apex M500. The M500 is the sequel of sorts to the SteelSeries 6Gv2, and is much leaner and compact than some of the other keyboard offerings in its class. The result? A mechanical gaming-centric keyboard that doesn’t occupy a lot of desk real estate. expand full story
Reviews April 28
Reviews April 18
When the Apple Watch launched nearly a year ago, one of the most intriguing aspects of the design was the ability to interchange bands to match your style. While there are a variety of options available direct from Apple, they are rather costly depending on the type. Even the simple silicone sport bands cost $50. Naturally, third-party manufacturers took note of this and started pumping out alternatives at lower price points.
The trouble is, there are literally hundreds if not thousands of knockoff options available on Amazon. It’s tough to know where to start and what the quality of these third-party bands will be. Over the last two weeks I’ve been wearing two different styles of watch bands from OULUOQI, a new brand for sale on Amazon. Its silicone option is available in ten different colors and retails for $10.99 Prime shipped, which is down $41 from Apple’s official band. I also looked at the Black Milanese Loop style for $18.99 Prime shipped. Were they any good? Head below for a few quick thoughts on each.
Reviews March 29
Despite wearing a Moto 360 with fitness tracking features for the past year, I continued to use a Fitbit on a daily basis. A fitness tracker from the San Francisco-based company has been on my body for the better part of the last four years, and in February, Fitbit announced a fashion-oriented fitness band called the Alta that particularly caught my eye. I had to give it a shot.
After just a week of usage, the $130 retail Fitbit Alta has completely replaced my full featured Android Wear device and I’ve come to realize that less is more. At least for me, the Alta has proven — and this has been echoed many times over at 9to5Google — that the fundamental features of actionable notifications and apps on a smartwatch are a convenience that can easily be lived without.
Reviews February 20
There has never been a better time to upgrade to a new pair of speakers for your home audio setup. The market is flooded with options at different price points to meet every need. From Bluetooth to traditional 2-channel, you’re bound to find something to fit your budget.
Audioengine, a speaker-focused brand out of Texas, recently released its HD6 powered speakers. These 2-channel bookshelf speakers are packed with nearly every mainstream connectivity medium. We’ve spent the last month testing and cranking tunes on our way to delivering a recommendation for our readers. At $749, these speakers are at the higher-end of the Bluetooth market. Were they able to perform? Head below for more.
Reviews February 11
Anker is one of a few big names in USB accessories, and there’s a reason for that. This week I had the chance to use several of the company’s PowerCore+ power banks (there are a lot of different offerings spanning many capacities), as well as a PowerPort+ wall charger, and a few different PowerDrive+ car chargers. There are many brands of chargers and power banks out there, and while the experience you get may be similar across the board (yes, there are many chargers and power banks out there just as good as these), Anker goes above and beyond to bring you a package that’s just very high-quality…
Reviews February 5
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.
Reviews February 1
- DBPOWER 600A Peak 16500mAh Portable Jump Starter: $65 (Reg. $70)
- DBPOWER 400A Peak 12000mAh Portable Jump Starter: $47 (Reg. $55)
- DBPOWER 300A Peak 8000mAh Portable Jump Starter: $28 (Reg. $33)
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)
- 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:
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
Reviews January 12
Reviews November 23, 2015
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….
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…
Reviews November 3, 2015
I’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. I 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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?
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