Reviews November 23
Reviews November 19
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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 – a 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.