A few weeks back, Twelve South introduced the newest rendition of its popular iPhone dock, the HiRise 2 Deluxe. The focus this time around was on a heavy design that took up less room on your desk or nightstand. In fact, the latest model is 33% smaller than the previous generation. One area of focus was to expand its compatibility with third-party accessories like battery cases. Hit the jump to see how Twelve South’s latest accessory handles the new iPhone and more.
Reviews Stories September 30
Reviews Stories September 23
It was nearly two years ago to the date that we first showed off This is Ground’s original Mod Tablet carrying case. Since then, it’s gone through two extensive revisions resulting in the release of the new third generation model last week. We’ve been able to spend some time with the Mod 3 over the last while in an attempt to apply it in real life scenarios.
Wrapped in Italian Leather and geometrically designed, this carryall screams attention to detail with Mad Men design cues. The latest version is slightly bigger, includes a Tile Bluetooth tracking device and ships with all inserts.
How’d it do? Head below to find out.
Reviews Stories September 16
A few weeks ago we rounded up some of the most popular LED desk lamps on Amazon with a focus on Apple-friendly designs. After much reader interest, we decided to take a deeper look at two models from TaoTronics. These are some of the very best-selling lamps at Amazon. Alongside today’s review, we’re also offering an exclusive promo code for 9to5Toys readers…
Reviews Stories September 14
The $180 Amazon Echo is a friggen game changer. Put it in your kitchen or living room and after about 5 minutes of setup you have an intelligent speaker that you can ask for news, sports, audio books, and of course music. You can also ask the Echo any question you can think of and more often than not (but less often than Google) it returns a good answer. The magic is in the always-on, far field speaker which happens to be able to understand language as good as any natural language processor out there – even from way across the room. You don’t need to have your phone on and nearby – you are hands free anywhere within earshot.
Amazon has added a ton of services that connect the Echo over the past year to just about anything in your home. Most smart thermostats, garage door openers, etc. etc now work with Alexa, Amazon’s assistant. Additionally, Amazon has worked with other partners to do things like order delivery pizza, get rides from Uber, and of course buy stuff from Amazon.
I’ve been using the Amazon Echo Dot which went on sale today (for delivery in October with new colors and combinations now only $50) for the past 3 months and I love it for its portability and its expandability even more than the $130 more expensive original. Let me explain:
Reviews Stories July 14
It’s summertime and that means the arrival of new outdoor Bluetooth speakers from all your favorite brands. JBL has been at the top of the chain in terms of quality, design and sound for the last couple of years. Today, we’re taking a look at its latest release, the Charge 3. Much like its predecessor, this speaker is made for outdoor fun with an IPX7 splashproof rating and compact footprint. An improved internal battery brings a whopping 20 hours of playback. We loved the Charge 2+ last summer for its top-notch sound and this rendition follows that trend…
Reviews Stories June 30
Towards the end of last month, Mophie announced a new line of Juice Pack battery cases for iPhone with wireless charging capabilities. These fresh products bring a lustworthy feature that Android users have been enjoying for some time. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been tinkering with the new Charge Force lineup. Mophie has long been known as one of the most reliable brands in the accessory world and its latest release continues that trend…
Reviews Stories June 23
Last month, Jaybird announced the Freedom Wireless earbuds to much fanfare thanks to their Apple-friendly looks. It’s no surprise as Jaybird’s headphones have continually ranked high amongst consumers for its active lifestyle design. This new pair sits alongside the popular X2’s but have a 20% lighter design and a new battery pack system. At $200, you’re also seeing a price bump too. Head below for an in-depth look and a video that dives further into the Jaybird Freedom Wireless headphones.
Reviews Stories June 15
The reality is, Apple’s pricing strategy for its Watch Bands is pretty ludicrous. We can’t recommend paying that kind of money when there are cost-effective alternatives for nearly every style available at Amazon. After all, you came to 9to5Toys for a deal, right?
Reviews Stories June 7
Despite having our iPhone in our pockets and an Apple Watch on our wrists, my custom desk clock made with vintage Soviet Union-era Nixie tubes still gets a ton of attention. Anyone that sees it in person is immediately drawn to it, likely because there’s something about the vintage, steampunk-esque look that you’ll never get from the cold modern industrial design of your smartphone or smartwatch. It’s the coolest desk clock you can buy, but you can debate that in the comments if you dare. I get dozens of inquiries about the clock each week because it’s pictured in the photo of my desk used in our weekly Top Stories post on 9to5Mac. Here’s how to get one…
Reviews Stories May 29
Pelican has spent decades providing the military and emergency services with its protective cases and more. The company is known for making tough and durable gear. So when I came across some of its luggage products looking for a new suitcase, the personally appealing design and pedigree of the company had me interested. Pelican recently sent over its BA22 Carry-On model from the Elite Luggage line so we could take a closer look and it was certainly a joy to use. But does its lifetime guarantee and high end features match its healthy price tag?
Reviews Stories May 26
On my recent trip to San Francisco, I realized that I had forgotten to bring my iPhone wall charger. It wasn’t the end of the world because I had a selection of other phones with me, but I had some key info — like boarding passes etc. — on my iPhone, and I needed to charge it.
Grabbing a new charger would only take $20 and a trip to the local convenience store, but I realized that I had a portable charger in my backpack — one with a Lightning port and plenty of juice to power up my phone. I ended up going a full four days using nothing but the Olala 13000mAh portable battery charger for my energy needs…
Reviews Stories May 19
DJI has long been known for its high-quality drones and accompanying software. A few months back, the fourth generation of its Phantom lineup was released. With new autonomous features and an impressive sensor-laden design, this quadcopter has all the specs we’d dream for in a drone. Now it’s time to share our Phantom 4 experience. Head below for an in-depth look.
Reviews Stories May 13
This has got to be one of Samsung’s most beautiful creations in the TV space. Meet the 9500 series 65-inch Curved SHUD TV and it’s basically a work of art. Though not the cheapest option, it’s a great looking TV, but you can also find some pretty sweet deals on other curved Samsung TVs here…
Reviews Stories April 28
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 Stories 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 Stories 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 Stories 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 Stories 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 Stories 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 Stories 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 Stories 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 Stories January 12
Reviews Stories November 23, 2015
Reviews Stories 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 Stories 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…