Jabra Halo Smart Bluetooth Headphones Hardware Review

Jabra Halo Smart Bluetooth Headphones Hardware Review

Jul 28, 2016

Jabra is a well-known entity when it comes to slick, effective Bluetooth accessories, and it is also a company that is seemingly unwilling to rest on its laurels. That combination usually leads to interesting products at set intervals, and we don’t pretend to not be eager to check out its current offerings.

In the Halo Smart Wireless Headphones, Jabra has a consumer-grade product that looks to enhance one’s usage of mobile peripherals via Bluetooth technology. It looks to be durable, technologically savvy and maby even indispensable.

The review package that Jabra sent us reflects the product in its retail manifestation: the headphones, charging cable and extra ear bud pieces. The headphones themselves are in neckband form, with mostly black hard plastic for the exterior. The earbuds are connected to each end of the curved neckband via rubberized cable, and can be held in place by magnets on the neckband. The main piece houses volume and power/pairing button on the one side, and a discrete microphone assembly on the other. The band also stashes a covered micro-USB charging port and a full-fledged rechargeable battery inside.

The neckband is interestingly crafted: quite flexible, but fairly durable at the same time. The whole unit is exceptionally light — officially, the set comes in at 1.34 oz — and the neckband itself is reasonably svelte 5.6 x 5.6 x 1.4 inches.

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The unit promises 17 hours talk time time and an astounding 22 days of standby time. Toss in the advertised water and wind resistance, and we were ready to get going.

Pairing is easy; using the incorporated Bluetooth 4.1, the unit pairs with most receptive electronics easily. As a pair of headphones, they work faithfully, and we didn’t discern any problems across walls inside of the advertised 10 feet, and even a little beyond. As a telephony accessory, they work well too; when connected to an Android device, one can invoke Google Now by tapping the microphone button.

The optional Jabra Assist app (which works with several other Jabra pieces) is the perfect cherry on top, adding some functionality such as battery monitoring, device location, information readouts and more. At $79.99, they are a bit of an investment.

All in all, another compelling device from an industry leader.

Satechi Launches Multi-Port USB Charging Station

Satechi Launches Multi-Port USB Charging Station

Jun 21, 2016

Mobile accessory maker Satechi has a new product out: the Multi-Port USB Charging Station, a mobile piece which serves as a mobile extension unit.

Key Details:
· The Multi-Port USB Charging Station provides one convenient and simple solution to keep all devices juiced with minimal effort and space

· Boasts 60 watts of power and integrated smart auto-detect technology to provide to best and safest possible charge to each device

· Compact design makes it ideal for traveling

· Price: $29.99

The unit is available now.

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Zipbuds SLIDE Earbuds Hardware Review

Zipbuds SLIDE Earbuds Hardware Review

Aug 25, 2015

The more mobile I get, the more I appreciate a good set of headphones.

As the kids get older, there’s only so much Taylor Swift I can listen to; the house sometimes feels like one crazy karaoke machine.

So, retiring to the quietest part of the house can be quite rewarding. The pure joy of it makes me smile. Get me an e-book (or mind-bending game), some sweet tea and some headphones with which to listen to accompanying music, and that quiet spot becomes mine.

Y’all feel me? That’s why cool stuff like the Zipbuds No-tangle Slide Earbuds are just what the doctor ordered.

The review unit the manufacturer sent us highlights the set in retail form; one gets the unit itself, extra eargels, and documentation. Specific to the headphones, we got the snazzy “p.o.p.” color, which is a colorful combination of orange and black with purple and chrome highlights (three other color combos are available). The construction does get interesting, comprising of a defined black cable and an orange one; the unit has a merging clip that allows the two to “zipped” or “unzipped” seamlessly, such that the space between the ear pieces can be adjusted. Down its length, it adds in a microphone, and the standard 3.5 mm input jack is angled for ease of use.

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The design of the cable also discourages tangling, which is an important claim to fame for this set.

With the expandable ear gels, this set ends up feeling very comfortable; the ends fit into the ear nicely, creating a pretty good seal that helps enhance the sound fidelity even further.

The sound quality is pretty nice indeed, and head-to-head, the unit compared well to some premium units I was able to compare it to. Any tinniness is well hidden, which is somewhat surprising, and on calls, and the microphone works well.

An included case would be nice, but I do admit to feeling greedy just thinking about extras.

All in all, these things are easy to enjoy. At $49.99, it is so easy to feel like one is getting over.

Perfect for my quiet time.

Samsung S Action Bluetooth Mouse Hardware Review

Samsung S Action Bluetooth Mouse Hardware Review

Aug 13, 2015

I have a confession. I actually like using the iPad Mini.

Oops.

My second generation was originally procured for work, and it became an ever huger part of my process due to (then) superior WordPress app on iOS. Paired with a great keyboard combo, and one gets an effective makeshift netbook.

One shortcoming, for my needs, is the inability to use a bluetooth mouse. When it’s all said and done, I like using bigger tablets like an aforementioned notebook — or more like a full-fledged computer — when the occasion calls for it, and reaching to touch the screen for navigation irks me more than I’d like to admit.

So, for doing computer-y things, it’s back to Android. Why? I get to use peripherals like the Samsung S Action Bluetooth Mouse.

The name says it all: it’s a wireless mouse (Bluetooth 3.0), and has the added benefit of working with Android devices.

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The retail package is simple, containing the mouse, AA battery and documentation. The top cover opens up, and the battery fits in intuitively. On the top of said cover is a scroll wheel. At the bottom, there is a bluetooth connection button as well as an LED indicator and on/off toggle. There are two soft non-skid grips on the bottom too. Officially, it’s 2.26 x 3.84 x 1.32 inches and 0.18 lbs. We tested out black, and there is a white option as well.

Pairing it to devices is as easy as one would expect. With the battery inserted and the unit turned on, it can be discovered by nearby devices. After the connection is approved, a telltale cursor appears on the screen, and one is ready to go.

The mouse works just as one would expect. Hovering, clicking, and scroll wheel work with no lag on any of the devices it was tested with. I was even able to use with Angry Birds 2, which was interesting, though I admit to prefer the good old finger. It works on any number of surfaces, including carpet. It’s size allows it to be comfortable in hand.

At under $30 on Amazon, it might be just the piece to boost productivity. It has value as a travel peripheral, as the power button allows for one to control battery usage, so it resides well over time in one’s go bag till needed, and it has the added advantage of working on other platforms.

Some of them, anyway.

K300 Premium 4K 3-port HDMI Switch Hardware Review

K300 Premium 4K 3-port HDMI Switch Hardware Review

Aug 11, 2015

Yep, it’s a wireless world.

Nothing really beats the convenience of hooking up a mobile source to a bigger target and being able to stream and consume content. It’s just awesome.

I’m old school though, in that I still appreciate the fidelity of wired connections. No muss, no fuss. No need for wi-fi (as is necessary in some wireless connectivity set-ups). HDMI connections are especially noted; these are universal standards, and have the ability to provide input options for a veritable host of peripherals, from smartdevices to whole computers and everything in-between. And, if truth be told (and being the gadget collecting generation that we are), TV manufacturers, for instance, may need to start allocating most of the back panel space to more and more — and more — HDMI input space.

But again, this is where small, useful and portable gadgets get me going. Stuff like the K300 Premium 4K 3-port HDMI Switch.

What the k#00 proposes to do is infinitely simple: it is an extension of sorts for HDMI inputs.

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The review unit Kinivo sent us highlights the design, presenting it to us in black with lime green accents and white lettering. It is a rectangular cuboid with soft edges, and the front panel features labeled lights, infrared sensor and the power button. The side opposite to this carries 4 HDMI slots, one for output and three for plug-ins. A power jack is on the one “side” to provide juice to the gizmo, and the whole thing is pretty small and light, being less wide than your average flagship smartphone. The review box also contained power cord, remote, battery and documentation.

Setup is intuitive; simply plug it in to power via the supplied cord, and then connect it to, say, a TV with an HDMI cable through the lone input slot. Then, one can add USB peripherals to the unit by connecting the respective USB units to it. Operation is simple, with the remote; one can then select which USB item is being piped through a specific port.

The benefits are pretty obvious; one slot for switchable three off the bat, and it ultimately allows more pieces to be connected simultaneously. The control is useful, but is one more remote, and the infrared sensor did get moody every now and then. Still, the setup and initial operation was mostly flawless, even when I ran a mobile HDMI cable through it.

It isn’t a new solution, but it is pretty relevant, especially with all the connections we run through our televisions. At $34.99 (on Amazon), it isn’t too bad of a financial proposition either.

New Device? Urban Armor Gear Has the Protection You Need

New Device? Urban Armor Gear Has the Protection You Need

Apr 17, 2015

Urban Armor Gear is no newbie when it comes to protecting our ultimate accessories, and in New Flagship Season 2015, it is coming to the party ready. It’s military-chic cases are tough, and still manage to add in a dash of elegance… perfect for the weekend wanderer or even the 40 hr/week warrior.

With the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge upon us, it’s good to know that UAG already has a catalog for it:

Cases for Samsung Galaxy S6
– Available in the following colors: Black (Scout), Clear (Ice), Orange (Outland), Blue (Aero), White (Navigator), & Ash (New Color, Transparent gray)
– Feather-light composite construction
– $34.95 MSRP

Folio Cases for Samsung Galaxy S6
– Available in Black (Scout) and Red (Rogue)
– $39.95 MSRP
– Holds up to 3 credit cards
– Glare-free flash photos and un-compromised audio

Cases for Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
– Available in Ice (clear) and Ash (transparent / translucent gray)
– Armor shell and impact resistant soft core
– $34.95 MSRP

The entire lineup can be seen here; we should have a review out soon.

Samsung Ultimate Accessory Pack Review

Samsung Ultimate Accessory Pack Review

Feb 16, 2015

Ah the fun of buying new a smartphone! It’s always great having a brand new device to fiddle with, play games on or just enjoy using, especially if it’s a behemoth like the amazing new Note 4. However, a new phone means having to buy a new raft of accessories. Luckily, our friends at Mobilefun have a useful bundle of vital accessories available to get new owners of Samsung’s phablet up and running.

Billed as the Ultimate Note 4 Accessory Pack, this kit contains everything that a new smartphone owner might need.

First is the ever useful Micro Suction Desk Stand. This is a universal stand that will work with any phone model. It is a small, easily portable stand with a micro suction pad that sticks instantly to any phone. Using it is as simple as pushing the phone firmly onto the pad. Mobilefun have managed to do this in such a way that the sticky pad does not feel sticky at all to the touch and does not leave any nasty sticky residue on your device. The connection between the phone and the stand is very strong too; shaking the stand around will not dislodge the phone and you can rest assured that it will not fall or slide off. The stand even includes a plastic plate that can be stuck to the stand. This allows phones without flat backs, such as those in cases to be used with the stand without having to remove the phone from the case. This is a really nice feature.

Next is the Universal In Car Mount. This is a very important item for most any mobile phone owner. It sticks securely to the dash of your car and allows a clear view of your phone for actions like GPS and voice replies to SMS. The holder’s arms support any phone from the gigantic Note 4 to smaller iPhones. The suction cup uses a unique twist-lock mechanism that causes the device to stick fast to glass. It also includes an adhesive pad that allows it to stick to other surfaces like plastic.

I found this a bit problematic however. I tested this by sticking the phone to my fridge. After about half a minute the phone holder itself came away from the suction part and my phone ended up on the floor. The second item I tried, the suction cup failed and the entire holder ended up on the floor. While a great idea and very simple to use, I would not trust this device with very heavy phones.

Next is the Universal Car Charger. This is a familiar charger than plugs into your cigarette lighter and charges your phone. The device also includes an additional USB port to allow charging of two devices at once. This is very good.

There is also a smaller mini desk stand/desk stylus included. This is small enough to fit in a wallet and is very useful.

Also included is a basic Perspex case. It only covers the back of the phone, but it feels solid and does the job. 5 screen protectors are also included.

All up the Samsung Note 4 Ultimate Accessory Pack is a solid pack of useful items. The stand and the car charger work great and the case and screen protectors are a good starter set, although the car holder is a bit unreliable. For $30.99 its a bargain. Recommended!

Thanks to our friends at Mobilezap for providing the items for this review.

Increased functionality: why I still love the M8 Dot View Case

Increased functionality: why I still love the M8 Dot View Case

Dec 23, 2014

As 2014 comes to an end, I have to say that it has been a great year for smartphone enthusiasts. For those of us lovingly stuck on Android, it has been especially enthralling; device manufacturers have shamelessly tried to outdo each other, and with that competitive atmosphere, regular consumers cannot help but win.

HTC made waves with the refreshed One (M8). The timeless design, metal exterior and softer Sense overlay makes it a surprisingly relevant option even today. HTC has done an admirable job of creating a veritable hardware ecosystem around its devices. Items like the MediaLink and newer camera accessory definitely help one fall in love with HTC devices.

One peripheral piece I have always found intriguing is the Dot View case. HTC is not the first Android device maker to go above and beyond with regards to cases, but the Dot View brings the extras in an interesting, loose manner. The case itself is light, surprisingly so; it is mostly plastic, and on its own, looks like a book cover of sorts with the back and fused, dot-spaced front cover.

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Setting it up is a matter of snapping it on; it fits perfectly with no gaps. On the M8, the companion Dot View app is the companion utility, and allows one to select apps that can be used with the case. In practice, the case is activated by a double tap, and then the cases utility is shown in all its glory. The display gets a retro feel and (depending on one’s setting) shows a simple data set of information through the device case. As a concept, I like it a lot: no need to open the case to see basic info and notifications, and even calls can be manipulated through the case. Yes, I admit I enjoyed reading the caller ID and answering the phone “through” the case way more than I probably should have.

My biggest gripe is the way the front works. The front naturally swings to shut, but doesn’t close all the way, as the cover doesn’t really stay plush on the phone. This little issue jumps on my singular OCD nerve.

In the spirit of nitpicking, I wish it was a bit more customizable. My biggest whine, however, is that the slim profile comes with a price: not a lot of physical protection. Frankly, I would avoid dropping it. Duh.

All in all, for a piece that is not that new, it is definitely a keeper. It’s gotten to the point that accessories are beginning to help tip the balance when it comes to picking upgrades.

The Dot View case underscores why.

Mobile Fun was kind enough to provide us with the opportunity to check out the Dot View case, and it is available to purchase (starting at $31.99) via the the Mobile Fun website

MOS Cable System Hardware Review

MOS Cable System Hardware Review

Nov 29, 2014

At any given time, I am blessed with an opportunity to review a lot of devices and accessories. I enjoy pitting products against each other, and I love the prospect of squeezing functionality out of our mobile devices by pitting accessories against each other. Survival of the fittest

There are very few downsides to this, but if I were to nitpick, I’d whine about the proliferation of cables. They are all over the place, seemingly sticking out of every outlet. With so many devices, and such a need for juice, it’s understandable, but even my workspace does descend into an infuriating pile of cables quite frequently.

This is where MOS comes in. MOS (Magnetic Organization System) is a simple setup that looks to save us from the chaos of cable with a simple main unit and optional secondary pieces.

As exemplified by the review box we received, the central piece of the solution is the MOS itself. It looks somewhat amorphous at first glance, but really leans towards a triangular presentation, with a curved top; it’s designed in such a way that it lightly rests on a surface, with a suction bottom. It is surprisingly portable, but not flimsy in hand, and feels polished with its black finish. The box also contains three magnetized cable ties, and an optional wall-mounting sticker. For those looking for color options, the MOS can also be had in white and/or anodized aluminum.

In essence, the MOS is a magnet. The idea is that it keeps the metal-ended cables we use daily in an organized fashion by having them adhere to it. In reality, it works well, too. The sleek design is very becoming, and the overall efficacy is increased with the optional ties.

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Another element is the optional use of the well-made USB cables one can purchase with it. We go to work with the Indestructible line of cables: Spring micro-USB, Spring Lightning (for newer iOS devices) and 3.5mm male-to-male Spring audio cable. The inner conductors are all coated in a special woven exterior that protects while being flexible. They all have anodized aluminum ends that help with use with the MOS, and the manufacturer willingly parades a no-questions-asked replacement policy if the unit fails for any reason.

Impressive.

All together, the solution is an effective one that looks good. I like the design and the ability to use it in several ways. Refrigerator. Desk. Car. Living Room. It can be used just about anywhere a random cable appears. Also, the solution can be built to suit. On the flip side, having a magnet besides electronics does make a tad nervous. I’d also prefer more ties; extras can be obtained though.

All in all, this solution is a fine one with potential uses in different scenarios.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

Pricing for the MOS can be found at the MOS purchase page.

Proxy42 Launches Pre-sale for its New AR First-Person Shooting Game

Proxy42 Launches Pre-sale for its New AR First-Person Shooting Game

Nov 10, 2014

With augmented reality games like Ingress grabbing a foothold in the mobile landscape, it’s obvious that the genre is a popular one. I think it is clear we’d love to see more.

As such, word that Proxy42 is launching the pre-order for its upcoming crowdfunded Father.IO game and associated “363R” Trigger accessory is something that is making us salivate.

The game is heavily dependent on the accessory piece, which seems to fit over Android devices; the device can then be used as a virtual weapon, creating a self-described laser-tag game. If the trailer and test videos are anything to go by, this should be an exceptionally interesting concept.

Folks interested in pre-ordering the $59 accessory can do so at the order site; there is also an associated referral system which can help defray that cost even further. The presale itself will be active for 30 days.

We look forward to hearing more about this game, and possibly trying it out.

Screenshot 1 _Father.IO

[Source: Father.IO Press Release]

AR Health Series: Ssmart Dynamo Activity Tracker Review

AR Health Series: Ssmart Dynamo Activity Tracker Review

Oct 29, 2014

As part of our ongoing health series, we explore connected health accessories with an Android connection. For an introduction to Android Rundown’s mobile health series, check out our editorial.

Health bands and smartwatches are all the rage now; there are several out in the wild, and, thankfully, several corresponding price points. Being healthy is becoming easier to incorporate in one’s lifestyle — in theory, at least. For a lot of folks, having a connected health tracker just makes sense… especially when it can be paired to a ubiquitous always-on device such as a smartphone.

Oregon Scientific is a tech company with good pedigree, and has made a name for itself in the area of personal and home electronics; it’s not too much of a stretch to see why it would throw its hat into the fitness tracker ring. the Ssmart Dynamo Activity Tracker is the fruit of this endeavor.

The Ssmart Dynamo isn’t exactly new, but the review unit shows that, at first glance, it still looks pretty relevant. Outside the box, it’s fairly sedate; the black unit is mostly constructed of hardy rubber, and looks somewhat like a faceless watch, with a logo-ed strap. The stated stats are 3.4 x 5.25 x 3.4 inches, and it weighs 0.8 ounces. It packs a built in battery, a bluetooth module and familiar sports clasp mechanism for securing it to one’s wrist. It has colored LEDs that are hidden when not in use, and there is also a button near the “top” of the device. It has a clean, deliberate feel to it, and almost begs to be put on. The review package also contains a nifty charging cable and documentation.

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Prior to rocking it, the unit has to be charged. I liked the included USB cable; it does use a proprietary charging system, and its suggested that unit be charged for an hour. Then, the companion OS Dynamo App can be downloaded and paired to the unit via long-pressing the Dynamo until the requisite blue light appears. The app serves as the portal to view the collected data, and the way to track data is to do things.

The unit acts like a basic pedometer, and also measures other activities, including sleep. Measurements garnered seem a bit off, and I think this where specific modes (outside sleep) could be useful. The collated data has an on-device shelf-life of a fortnight. It’s comfortable when worn, oo.

The system works as a decent guide, but I think the sync mechanism could be more seamless. To sync data, one has to press the button for a few seconds each time. The app could be a bit more user-friendly, too. The share functionality is useful, and I like the sleep measurements, even though it must be turned on prior to falling asleep.

All in all, the Dynamo might be a tenured product, but it still works in a crowded field. For the health conscious, it can be, at the very least, a great motivator.

STM Truth Gadget Messenger Bag Hardware Review

STM Truth Gadget Messenger Bag Hardware Review

Jun 17, 2014

Life is good.

You have the tablet, portable keyboard, backup drive, stylus, power bank and even a jump drive or two. Maybe you’re going big and even pack a mobile scanner, over-the-ear headphones and an emergency phablet. You, sir/ma’am, are the picture of mobile productivity, and are ready to go.

All one needs now is more hands and baggy dungarees with dozens of pockets. And, hopefully, understanding TSA agents and fellow travelers who won’t jump one for creating the airport metal detector bottleneck.

Seriously, just about as important as the tech gear we obtain is the gear we use to protect and transport them. A proper go-bag is a must have, and it goes without saying that the same things we look for in mobile gear — affordability, style and portability, amongst others — are the things we would probably wanna see in a functional bag.

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Enter STM Trust, a messenger bag that looks to strike a delicate balance between looks and functionality.

We received the small red version to try out (it also comes in olive and graphite, with differing sizes); the material is made of water-resistant poly. Officially, the exterior covers 1.22 x 14.96 x 4.72 inches for a capacity of 915+ cubic inches, and it weighs a bit over 2 lbs in weight empty. It looks quite unpretentious, with the red only broken by grey and silver snaps and zipper, black accents on the shoulder strap, and the grey bottom panel.

The bag compartmentalization is very well done, and will be perfect for folks high on organization and quick access. The front flap starts the party with a padded, zippered pocket, great for smartphones and other smaller delicates. Lifting that up reveals another zippered compartment, and another, more centralized pocket which is broken into smaller layers; this is suitable for all sorts of gadgets and devices. The main compartment is accessed from the top towards the back, and is lined as well. At the very back is a loose, easy-to-reach compartment without a a zipper, and there are pouches on the side.

The attention to detail is gratifying. The strap is easy to overlook, but on this bag, this key component is adjustable, optional and padded at the apex. The stitching is subtle and color-appropriate.

If I had to nitpick, I’d gripe about the placement of the hand handle, which is singular and offset towards the rear. I’d also prefer something other than hard plastic for the strap joints.

All in all, the STM Truth is easy to appreciate for its overall functionality and affordable style. It doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, and in the end, that might be its biggest draw.

The Small STM Truth Bag is available STM partner sites for $129.95.