Reviews ▪ Today

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

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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Reviews ▪ August 20

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

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

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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Reviews ▪ July 21

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

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

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

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

Reviews ▪ July 7

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

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.

Reviews ▪ June 20

Update (6/27 12:15pm): @cheeyi is our winner, thank you for entering our giveaway.

Earlier this month, Grovemade announced the newest member of its desk collection: the Trackpad Tray. Since then, we’ve had the opportunity to spend some time with the Walnut rendition that wraps Apple’s Magic Trackpad in a beautifully crafted piece of wood. Grovemade has taken extra steps to deliver a one-of-a-kind American made home for one of our favorite Apple accessories.

Head below for all of our thoughts on the Trackpad Tray and to find out how you can win one for yourself. expand full story

Reviews ▪ June 14

We first covered Kano back in the fall of the last year, detailing its rise from a Kickstarter campaign to a fully funded success story. Now, we’ve had the opportunity to spend a few months with the Raspberry Pi do-it-yourself computer kit. It has a simple design with young computer scientists in mind. By coloring all of the included peripherals, Kano has created a unique yet fun learning experience for children and adults alike. expand full story

Reviews ▪ June 10

Update (6/18 11:45am): @kbranch is our winner – thanks to everyone for entering our giveaway!

With most Apple Watch orders finally being fulfilled, the accessories market for the new timepiece is beginning to take shape. We have already reviewed a handful of options for keeping Apple’s latest device charged and displayed. While these products offer unique solutions to power management, there is still room for developing this product category.

DODOcase, purveyors of handcrafted goods in San Francisco, is leaning on its talents to create a dock for Apple Watch and iPhone whether your on the road or at home. We’ve spent a few weeks with the Dual Charging Dock Organizer, head below for our full review and details on how you could win one for yourself. expand full story

Reviews ▪ May 30

Update (6/6 11:30am): @andrewcurryla is our winner – thank you to everyone that entered our contest!

In case you forgot, Father’s Day is coming up quickly. With about three weeks to go, it is time to start seriously figuring out what you are going to get Pops this year. In hopes that you’ll skip the Amazon gift card for 2015, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite gear and toys that Dad is sure to love, plus a pretty nice giveaway too.

We’ve already told you the story of TM1985 – atm1985-logo-9to5toys company from Brooklyn that puts out meticulously crafted backpacks, travel and home goods. If Dad is into quality products that also have an exceptional story, then go no further than TM1985’s offerings this year. Our favorite product from Tielor McBride’s line is the Roll Top Back Pack.

Head below for more information, including our top picks for Father’s Day and how you can receive 25% off all TM1985 products or win a Roll Top Back Pack for yourself.

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Reviews ▪ May 9

Update (5/16 12:01pm): Our winners are: @snazzyq, @yozh, @Demonoid55, @i3erica – thanks everyone for entering our giveaway!

As we continue to cover companies that manufacture in the United States, a recurring theme has come forward. Many of these brands do not have the resources of larger companies, while that may have some downfalls, it also pushes them to think outside of the box and do more with less.

A lot of the products that we feature in Small States have a simplistic design that achieve the same goal as much more complex offerings. Generally, these solutions are more complementary of the minimalistic design found in many household products.

One Los Angeles-based startup that we recently came across is a wonderful example of this. Feltmark manufactures beautifully simple lights that manage to look stylish without much in the way of extras. It truly is an example of the “more is less theory” and today we get to share these products and give a few away as well: expand full story

Reviews ▪ May 2

Back in January, I found myself becoming increasingly enamored with the idea of making bicycling a serious a hobby. A month later I was the proud owner of a Trek CrossRip hybrid bike, great for riding around town but also for longer trips through the country. As someone that enjoys technology, I quickly looked for ways to make my new hobby a connected experience.

There are a plethora of good apps for iOS that track and record your excursions. I found this to be particularly handy in keeping tabs on my progress as a rider. However, finding a safe, visible spot for my iPhone 6 during the ride proved to be more challenging. The beauty of having all of this data is somewhat lost when your phone is stored away during your ride.

Over the last month, I’ve had the opportunity to spend some time with iOttie’s new Active Edge Bike & Bar Mount, which places an iPhone or Android directly on your handlebars. Head below for my thoughts as well as an exclusive 30% coupon code. expand full story

Reviews ▪ April 25

Update (5/2 12:00pm): @tweakmedia is our winner, thank you to everyone that entered the giveaway.

As Apple’s lineup continues to grow, more users are finding themselves using one device at home and one on the road. Because of that, we are seeing more home workstations in need of customization.

If you’re like myself, then an external monitor attached to a MacBook Air is the solution to this problem. The struggle of this setup is the height differential between each display. If you’re someone that sits at a desk all day, this is an issue that is certainly noticeable (and annoying!).

Grovemade, a Portland-based company, recently announced its own solution to this problem. Over the last few weeks, we’ve had the opportunity to work with the Walnut Laptop Stand. Head below for more details and to find out how you could win one yourself… expand full story

Reviews ▪ April 18

Update (4/25 5:00pm): @sanders_voice is our winner – thank you to everyone that entered!

Last month journal-maker Moleskine released a new line of backpack and messenger bags. Since then, we’ve spent time with one of its newest products: the myCloud Smallpack in grey, which is designed for laptops up to 13-inches in size. This bag is a unique blend of compact design and high capacity storage.

Head below for full details on the myCloud Smallpack and details on how you could win one yourself… expand full story

Reviews ▪ April 12

Update (4/18 11:00am): @oneniner is our winner – thank you to everyone that entered our contest!

Bluetooth-enabled headphones are making a run for your ears and it seems like every release is improving on a once dysfunctional and disappointing product category. What was previously defined by empty and unpleasing sound is now finding its stride as Bluetooth continues to improve. Much like any technology, its quality is only enhanced by the standard that guides it. Now is the time to begin considering Bluetooth headphones as a potential replacement for the classic 3.5mm standby.

We’ve spent some time with the SOL REPUBLIC’s new Shadow Wireless Bluetooth headphones and today we are ready to deliver a verdict: expand full story

Reviews ▪ April 4

Update (4/11 9:00am): @jimmiebjr is our winner – thank you to everyone that entered our contest, and for reading!

This is Ground has made another foray into the iPad accessory world, this time updating its Mod case with new styling and inserts. When we last featured the Los Angeles-based manufacturer, it was riding the success of its line of products meant to complement both professional and casual environments.

Since then, This is Ground has expanded and found more ways to bring together form and function into quality America made products. Today, we’ll be taking a look at the newly released Mod 2: expand full story

Reviews ▪ April 2

There are a lot of reasons to be excited about Sling TV. Since it popped up in January just before CES, this streaming television service has been making waves throughout the entertainment world. Chances are if you watch television shows or movies, you’ve heard something about Sling.

Last month Dish brought its online streaming service to the Xbox One in an exclusive agreement that nets Live subscribers a one month free trial. The question is, does Sling bring enough to the table to make the Xbox One a complete solution to home entertainment? expand full story

Reviews ▪ March 28

Update (4/4 11:45am): @iamcoxnow is our winner, thank you to everyone that entered this week’s giveaway!

Since we last visited with TM1985, the New York-based bag and accessory maker has continued to expand its line of products. This week, we’ll be taking a look at the Weekend Duffel, a new travel solution from TM1985 that aims to put a little more style in your luggage game. expand full story

Reviews ▪ March 21

Update (3/28 12:15pm): @IAmTimBaker is our winner, thank you to everyone that entered our Grado giveaway!

Since Grado first announced its newest generation of in-ear headphones, we’ve spent sometime putting the GR10e’s through the paces. Starting at $299 for the GR8e’s and $399 for the 10e’s, these in-ear headphones come at a premium price in comparison to other options on the market. But the magic of the Brooklyn manufacturer is clearly evident in this latest iteration of in-ears. expand full story

Reviews ▪ March 14

Update (3/21 12:00pm): @RVDT_ and @chrislazattack are our winners. Thanks everyone for reading!

In a world full of throw away materials, it’s easy to get caught up buying another plastic iPhone case. But Northern Indiana’s Carved is taking extra steps to deliver a one-of-a-kind home for your device. While we’ve covered the company’s more traditional iPhone cases in the past, today we are taking a look at its Live Edge series. Made of raw pieces of wood, from a variety of locations across the United States, these cases truly blend the line between device and nature. Even more, the cases are all one-offs which means that the one you select is truly an original.

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