BRAVEN BRV-1M Bluetooth Speaker Hardware Review

BRAVEN BRV-1M Bluetooth Speaker Hardware Review

Aug 29, 2016

Braven and “wireless sound” are all but synonymous, and as such, were happy to check out the new BRV-1M Rugged Wireless Speaker.

The review package that Braven sent us highlights a product that exudes a readiness to go; in the box, one gets the speaker itself, charging cable, male-to-male audio auxiliary cable, an optional strap, bike plate, hex tool and documentation.

The main unit itself looks remarkably compact, particularly in its red finish, and the exterior extends further proof that this thing isn’t opposed to hanging out in the elements, come what may. It has a defined rugged look, with the design seemingly a bit more concerned with function and durability than with looks. There are plenty of black accents, seals and hard surfaces, such that it doesn’t feel that one’s investment would be ruined by an errant drop. The top surface houses volume, advance and power buttons, while the covered back has charging port, output port, audio in slot, plus buttons for battery and reset.

Braven makes these in grey and black (in addition to the red we tested). Officially, the speaker comes in at 6.4 x 1.5 x 2.8 inches and weighs
Weight: 1.2 lbs


We found that pairing and usage to be collectively intuitive; anyone who has paired a bluetooth device to an audio source should have no problem working with this. Charging is accomplished via the included micro-USB cable (plus extra adapter); when juiced and paired, we had a chance to try it out with music. It streams clear, and does get loud. It did sound hollow with instrument-y music at high volumes, but overall does the job with reasonable fidelity. It works well with wall barriers within the stated range. We got 11+ hours of wireless usage, just under the advertised 12.

As a wired device, it showed an even tighter adherence to quality, piping in the music slightly cleaner.

The unit has yet another function; it works well as an emergency charger for mobile devices. I was able to power a device, even while using the bluetooth functionality. I was also able to operate phone calls thanks to the hidden microphone, though I readily admit I preferred such action on the phone.

We did some minor drop-testing — on carpet, because I’m a wuss, and it didn’t break a sweat.

In a nutshell, it’s another pertinent piece from Braven. It does more than a few things well, is made for the outdoors and isn’t scared of water.

Can one ask for more?

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.


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.

Jabra Announces Halo Smart Wireless Stereo Headphones

Jabra Announces Halo Smart Wireless Stereo Headphones

Jun 8, 2016

Premium accessory house Jabra just announced a new arrival to its wireless headphones line: the Halo Smart Wireless Stereo Headphones.

The new piece incorporates some interesting elements, the topmost of which are the ability to switch easily between listening to music and taking calls.

Jabra Halo Smart delivers a superior call experience thanks to high-quality microphones with integrated wind-noise protection, enhanced voice capabilities via a dedicated Google Now/Siri button and immersive, full-spectrum sound through its 10mm speakers. With the addition of up to 17 hours talk time or 15 hours of music listening with just one charge, Jabra Halo Smart is intended to be used all day, every day.

Built-in intelligence

The intelligence of Jabra Halo Smart lies in its ability to let the user manage calls, music and media with just one device. According to recent Jabra insights*, 79 percent of users would like to have one set of headphones for both calls and music, but believe the call experience on most music devices is poor. Jabra Halo Smart allows you to accept a call by separating the two earbuds as they rest around your neck, and use one earbud for phone calls or both for listening to music. It also lets you access Siri or Google Now at the touch of a button and keeps you connected and informed in a number of ways. A subtle vibration in the neckband alerts you to incoming calls, while Android users can expect readouts of calendar notifications, emails, text messages and social media messages.

Jabra SVP Calum MacDougall talks about the need for a great experience. “We are all doing more with our smartphones than ever before, whether it’s making and taking calls, listening to music on-the-move or watching a movie clip during a break,” he says. “So we wanted to develop a set of wireless headphones that deliver amazing sound whatever you’re doing whether taking calls or listening to music.”

To help promote the new hardware, Jabra will be hosting a Facebook livestream; folks can get questions answered, watch a demo and even look to win one via giveaway on June 9th.

The piece is slated to cost $79.99, and will be available at best Buy later this month.

Kinivo URBN Premium Bluetooth Headphones Review

Kinivo URBN Premium Bluetooth Headphones Review

Feb 26, 2016

Kinivo usually does its thing well, and we expected the same with its URBN Premium Bluetooth Headphones.

The review unit we received reflects the item in its retail presentation; in the box, one gets a zip case with carabiner. The case is semi-hard, and contains the headphones, male-to-male audio cable and micro-USB charging cable. Everything fits together neatly, and the addition of the carry case is a nice touch.

The headphones possess a similarly black finish, with hard plastic exterior parts and soft material for the ear cups. The head band is jointed (which allows for the folding and storage), has a sliding mechanism that allows for adjustment and also has soft material on the inside crown; the right side incorporates toggles for power, volume, play/pause, forwarding and such. At the bottom of that right side, there are also ports for charging and the aforementioned audio cable, plus a useful LED light that gives one an indication of the unit’s charging status.

Altogether, it looks nice physically, and is seemingly well fused out of the box.

To get going, one needs to charge the unit, and this can be accomplished with the included micro-USB cable; when it is ready to go, the LED light turns to solid green. The next step is to pair it to a Bluetooth-enabled audio source, and this should be easy to anyone who has ever paired two Bluetooth devices together: toggle on, search and pair.


We put the unit through the paces. Audio comes out crisply, without any discernible interference, though with distance and walls, clarity did decrease (as to be expected). It re-pairs automatically, and keeps a strong connection when in range. It came close to the stated hours of continuous streaming on a charge. To this admittedl non-audiophile’s ears, it did sound like a bit more base could be had, but the sound output is pleasing none-the-less.

The added wired functionality is an added bonus; using the supplied cable and built-in port, one can use the headphones wired to a suitable device when the unit isn’t charged, or when one simply wants to do so. The music fidelity is just as clean.

All in all, one does get a a nice, portable unit for a decent price that works well with mobile devices both wirelessly and otherwise.

Dog & Bone Locksmart Mini Wireless Padlock Hardware Review

Dog & Bone Locksmart Mini Wireless Padlock Hardware Review

Feb 24, 2016

Yes, we are becoming more connected. It’s where we are headed… a logical destination of sorts. Items like the kickstarted Dog & Bone Locksmart Mini Padlock are clearly on the roadmap.

The review package was provided by the manufacturer, and reflects the item in its retail packaging; we got the red version, charging micro-usb cable and a card with software download instructions.

The padlock looks like, well, a regular padlock; it consists of a U-shaped shackle, and a prominent body characterized by a defined soft rubber coating. At the bottom, it has a charging port right about where one would expect the keyhole. It also packs a power button protected by a rubber cover. Officially, it comes in at 3.98 x 2 x 0.94 inches (with a 0.24″ steel shackle) and 5.64 ounces.

Altogether, it has a solid feel in hand, strong yet agile, and, at first glance, definitely looks the part.

There isn’t a lot by way of formal instruction, but the companion LockSmart app (hosted on Google Play) more or less confirms the next logical step: charge the unit. The aforementioned LED light works to notify one when this is successfully done.lock1

But said app’s major purpose is to serve as control center for the hardware, which it connects to it via Bluetooth. The app is clean, and fairly straightforward. The app hints at a lot of the functionality to be found. First, one has to create an account and then pair the two together, and this can be done by using the aforementioned power button. Once paired, it is easy to unlock the unit by using the prominent Unlock button on the app.

There is a bunch of secondary utility to be found, for instance, in the Settings tab. here, there’s access options, showing one can use the default tap to run things, or use fingerprint or passcode. One can also monitor the padlock’s power levels (it’s rated to go two years without needing to be charged), and one can also toggle power saving mode for more conservative power usage. One also keep an eye on firmware too.

One cool thing a user can do is to give access to others. Using the “Share” tool, it’s possible to invite other users to get access to the lock, which makes it great for use with a lock that has several designated users. The associated “Activity Log” allows one to see who is accessing it when.

Altogether, it’s a pretty nifty solution. It did act temperamentally at times, and the assumption is that that was due to bluetooth restrictions… which might be the biggest drawback. Still, for a simple, cost-effective concept that just works, this one feels like a reasonable choice.

Vicks SmartTemp Thermometer Hardware Review

Vicks SmartTemp Thermometer Hardware Review

Feb 11, 2016

The more mobile we become as a civilization, the more we get to see connected devices. Yes, it does take a while for critical mass to be achieved with regards to some solutions, but there are several that make plenty of sense in present times.

The key is using one’s smartphone and/or tablet as a hub of sorts… not only to maybe power the peripheral, but definitely to collate and manage data on the go.

When it comes to the special category of health connected devices, there are several products on the market. Still, what is more crucial to healthy living and medical diagnoses than a thermometer? And, when it comes easy-to-understand health vicks7solutions, what has better cachet then Vicks?

With the Vicks SmartTemp Wireless Smartphone Thermometer, one gets said company potentially bringing a useful product to market.

The review package we got reveals the product in its retail manifestation; it’s tightly wrapped, with the thermometer itself, paperwork and a cover. The thermometer itself look much like a home use medical thermometer, with a slightly bulbous top that tapers into a probe. One pertinent detail, there isn’t a digital display on this. The surface is covered in hard plastic, and there is a battery compartment built in, and a prominent power button at the very top. It feels well fused and intuitively easy to handle, and is also bluetooth-enabled.

The thermometer uses an app for connectivity, and this app — Vicks SmartTemp Thermometer app on Google Play — is really the base of all operations. It’s a clean app, and surprisingly functional; it allows for one to link to the device via aforementioned bluetooth, and to create separate profiles, which is perfect for families. One can also select from three body locations, and then one can get to checking heat.

The thermometer beeps to signal completion, and it uses bright colors to denote healthy temperatures. When a temperature is taken, one can attach extra data, like symptoms and medications. The app itself has a reference chart, and allows for temperatures to be taken in both centigrade and fahrenheit.

The “on” button can be preclude one-handed operation, but the biggest drawback probably derives from its biggest attribute: app connectivity. See, with no display, the unit truly needs the companion app, and really can’t be used without it. Bummer, if one’s device is out of reach or out of commission.

Still, it works remarkably well, and is great as self-help unit. It is quite simple to use, and easy to depend on.

Fluance Introduces Fi70 Bluetooth Speaker

Fluance Introduces Fi70 Bluetooth Speaker

Jan 29, 2016

Fluance has just introduced a new wireless speaker to the market called the Fi70.

An evolution of Fluance’s critically-acclaimed Fi Series, the Fi70 is engineered to recreate the music user’s love with harmonious perfection. From the elegance of a jazz performance to the raw power of a live rock concert, the Fi70 has created a new expectation in home audio. Streaming music wirelessly from services such as Spotify and Pandora or playing tracks from user’s favorite playlists has never been easier and more enjoyable than ever.

At the core of the Fi70 are powerful dual 8” woofers, 5” woven glass fiber midrange drivers and 1” neodymium tweeters, which offer superior sound quality, unmatched by any speaker within its price range. Its 280 watt built-in amplifier boasts big performance and delivers exceptional bass response starting as low as 30Hz. The Fi70’s ability to deliver such incredible sound allows it to replace complete home stereo systems, sound bars and other high-quality audio solutions.

The Fi70 comes in three colors and costs $499.


Satechi Wireless Gamepad Hardware Review

Satechi Wireless Gamepad Hardware Review

Nov 6, 2015

Gaming on Android continues to reach new heights, with more intricate games and even more involved systems to play them on. With this advancement, there’s always room for wireless accessories, and especially one from renown mobile accessory expert Satechi.

We’ve been keeping an eye on its new Bluetooth Wireless Universal Gamepad, and we finally have it to formally check out.

The review package Satechi provided reflects the item’s retail presentation; inside, one gets the controller, micro-USB cable and related documentation. The controller itself is black in color with mostly white accents, and made of hard plastic. The general layout will be familiar, as it mimics the ubiquitous form exemplified by the XBOX controller: two hands required, four buttons in a diamond layout set to the right and 4-way d-pad towards the bottom left. There are two mini joysticks, and towards the top are keys for pairing and Android-specific navigation, and at the very bottom, between the d-pad and the right joystick are a set of indicator lights that hint at done of the incorporated connectivity… it lets one know if the unit is connected to an Android or Apple device, a PC, or simply charging. On the front edge are the expected pair of dual buttons, and on the back edge one finds the micro-USB charging port and on/off toggle.


The top corner houses a fun extension. It’s so well nestled it might be missed but for a subtle notch. Popping that reveals a spring loaded device holder that is used to keep connected devices in close proximity.

It feels familiar in hand, is light but not overly flimsy, and feels well constructed.

It comes ready to go, but we did top it off using the included cable. Pairing is easy using the Link button, and once that’s done, it’s ready to use. Off the bat, it works well as a replacement game controller, and also can be used to navigate PCs and such. It’s real value, as far as we are presently concerned, is how it on Android, and it works quite well. It works well with specific racing games (we used it on Raging Thunder).

Beyond this, it draws value as a cross-platform tool; even the Amazon Fire TV is covered.

Jabra Eclipse Bluetooth Earpiece Hardware Review

Jabra Eclipse Bluetooth Earpiece Hardware Review

Oct 30, 2015

Jabra has mostly reached the point where one can be guaranteed a quality product. Its audio and wireless products are usually topnotch, and we have had the opportunity to review more of Jabra’s recent offerings.

Jabra does seem to have an issue with resting any perceived laurels, which is great for consumers, as it gets us new pieces like the Jabra Eclipse, one of the company’s newer bluetooth earpiece offerings.

The earpiece itself is a sleek number, with a defined angle asking the main shaft. It had a smaller profile than the Jabra Stealth, but is somewhat lighter, coming in at 0.19 oz. This one is aimed at right ear use, and the angling ensures this. It’s grey and black with audio perforations; an all-white option with matching case is also available.

The obvious difference is the addition of the charging case; as such, the earpiece doesn’t need a charging port. Instead, it has subtle magnetic contacts that come into play when the unit is nestled inside the oval-ish case. The case houses the expected micro-USB charging port, and the matching set of contacts on the inside effect charging. It also houses a battery, so that it retains a charge that can be used to charge the unit even when it isn’t connected to an electrical outlet. The charging puck mostly matches the earpiece in color, being black and weighing 1.23 oz. It packs in NFC and extends standby time by 4 hours.


The rest of the retail box contains ear gels and a micro-USB cable.

Using it is quite simple. After charging, turning it on is a simple matter of removing the earpiece from the case and turning off is the reverse operation. Pairing it will be simple for anyone who has previously paired bluetooth devices, and the aforementioned NFC is another option for pairing. Once inserted in one’s ear, double tapping invokes voice operations, call answering, etc. Noticeably, Google Now is easier to manipulate, and it boasts 10 hours of talk time with the charger case, and 6 without.

The companion Jabra Assist apps adds a bit more functionality, like geo-tagging, battery management, software upgrades and more. It still needs yet another Jabra app installed on one’s device to work though.

The case is a great idea, and works well. For some, it might take some getting used to, because it is a needed piece to control battery usage and charging.

Nyrius Announces Availability of New, Kickstarted Smart Outlet

Nyrius Announces Availability of New, Kickstarted Smart Outlet

Oct 30, 2015

Smart Outlet, a kickstarted project from Nyrius, is ready to for consumers to get their hands on it. It’s a simple piece that does the excellent job of adding wireless functionality to outlets; in essence, allowing plugged in devices and appliances to be controlled remotely.

Key details on the Smart Outlet:
· Transforms any outlet in a home or business into a Bluetooth-enabled one which allows users to control plugged-in appliances (coffee makers, hair irons, space heaters, etc.) via the Android and iOS application

· Plug-and-play – does not require hubs or extraneous setup processes

· User-friendly app contains several helpful features, such as:

o Proximity controls

o Scheduling electronics

o Turning connected devices on and off

It’s available on for $39.99. We have a video below:

Satechi Unveils Wireless Gamepad for Mobile Devices

Satechi Unveils Wireless Gamepad for Mobile Devices

Oct 14, 2015

Calling all mobile gamers!

We are fans of Satechi and its impressive line of mobile devices; well, add a real pertinent one to the list: the Satechi Wireless Gamepad, a bluetooth-enabled piece which allows folks to ditch virtual onscreen buttons when playing games on Android devices.

And yes, it works with iOS and Windows devices as well.

The unit boasts 14 buttons, directional pad and the ubiquitous dual joysticks. It also incorporates a spring holder that is perfect for holding devices.

The Wireless Gamepad has three available modes, depending on the platform gamers are using:

iCade Mode for iOS is compatible with iCade classic games including PAC-MAN, Asteroids, Centipede, and Battlezone. It is also compatible with a plethora of modern games. Simply search “iCade” in the app store for a list of compatible games for iOS.

Android/Mouse Mode is compatible with a wide range of free apps from the Google Play Store including Angry Birds, Grand Theft Auto 3, MC4, Wild blood, Dungeon Hunter, Zombie, FC simulator, GBA emulator arcade emulator, SFC simulator, N64 emulator, Shadowgun, Sonic CD, Cordy, soulcraft, Zenonia4, 9 Innings 2013, Riptide GP, and more.

Joystick Mode for Windows devices is compatible with gaming services such as Steam (remapping of keys may be required) for endless game play of Dota, Metal Gear Solid V, The Phantom Pain, Grand Theft Auto V, Fallout 4, Mad Max, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, NBA 2K16, Left 4 Dead 2, Far Cry 4, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Borderlands 2, and more.

The Satechi Wireless Gamepad is available for $39.99 on Amazon and the Satechi website.


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.


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.


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.