Y-CHARGE QUIK Dual USB Car Charger Hardware Review

Y-CHARGE QUIK Dual USB Car Charger Hardware Review

Oct 12, 2015

At this point, charging accessories are almost as important as the units they power. This isn’t hyperbole, either as the latter are practically useless without the former.

It makes sense, then, that one should look for good, durable charging solution. And, being the mobile creatures that we are, it is imperative that we find different solutions suiting different environments. One environment that cannot be ignored is one’s vehicle; depending on one’s needs and commute times, the right type of power accessory is definitely needed.

With bigger devices and bigger batteries, it was only a matter of time before in-car tools began to match regular tools. With TYLT’s Y-CHARGE QUIK Car Charger, we get the possibility of a high capacity car charger matched with the style TYLT is known for in one handy package.

The review unit TYLT sent us reflects the unit in its retail state; one gets the piece itself and documentation. In hand, the charger looks relatively slick for what it does. The “Y” shaping intuitively underscores its dual USB function: the “tail” serves as the plug, while the two “branches” are outlets into which USB charging cable can be plugged into. The exterior is blue, and the accents shiny chrome. It isn’t too big, and even manages to fit in one’s hand fairly easily. Besides the blue we tested, one can pick, black, red and lime green.

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It is rated as Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 ready, so it boasts the ability to juice up devices up to 75% quicker, and it packs 4.8A that can be routed to two devices simultaneously. In practice, it mostly lives up to this promise, topping up devices tangibly faster than regular gear. Because of the “natural” spread, one can put two cables going in somewhat opposite directions. It works as advertised, and did well with power-hungry tablets.

The pricing is another draw, coming in at $16.99 on Amazon.

When it’s all said and done, one gets a nice quick-charging tool, stylish and seemingly well-formed for a decent price. Most importantly, it works.

SCOSCHE Unveils Reversible Micro-USB Connector Accessories

SCOSCHE Unveils Reversible Micro-USB Connector Accessories

Sep 9, 2015

If there is one recent enhancement to iOS hardware I really like, it is the introduction of the lightning connector. It just makes sense from a usability standpoint: small and symmetrical, perfect for those nights when one is trying to plug in a device bedside without turning on the lights.

Now, some creative accessory makers are replicating the functionality for devices that use micro-USB ports (like the vast majority of Android devices); SCOSCHE is leading the charge, and has just unveiled accessories with reversible Micro-USB ends.

No more right side up or upside down with these pieces, which were officially unveiled at CTIA 2015.

Excerpts from the press release:

The new EZTIPâ„¢ line of products will allow users to conveniently and easily charge and/or charge and sync all standard micro USB devices, such as smartphones, earbuds/headphones, portable speakers, portable backup batteries, tablets, digital cameras and more, by inserting the connector either side up. The new line of symmetrical connector products will eliminate the hassle of worrying about finding the correct side of the micro USB connector.

The first accessory available in the new line will be the STRIKEDRIVE™ EZTIP™ (part # EZC12), a powerful 12 Watt, 2.4 Amp car charger for smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. The hassle-free car charger with EZTIP™ will allow users to quickly and easily connect and charge their micro USB port devices in any direction, eliminating the fumbling and potential damage to mobile devices that can occur with traditional micro USB connectors. The charger’s convenient low-profile design fits flush in most vehicles, and its 3 foot coiled cable allows for easy and tangle-free cable management.

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The STRIKEDRIVE EZTIP car charger is slated to be available in October, and will cost $19.99; additional EZTIP accessories will be released through the rest of the year.

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.

RAVPower USB Charging Station Hardware Review

RAVPower USB Charging Station Hardware Review

Dec 9, 2014

It isn’t me. Really.

I know we’ve been harping on being organized… with good reason, too. With all the devices and accessories, it gets busy. Toss in a kid or two (with their own electronics and such) and a company-issued device, and one begins to approach wired purgatory.

So, it makes sense that accessories that help us to more effectively manage these devices will be if a high premium. Thankfully, proprietary cables are not the norm on Android, because solutions like the RAVPower USB Charging Station use cable standardization as a means to being order to chaos. In essence, this series of products looks to a central port for multiple USB cables, theoretically eliminating the need for several plugs and outlets.

RAVPower sent us two iterations of the product to check out: the four (4) port version (pictured) and the six (6) port one as well. Outside the obvious difference in ports, both units are physically similar, but the 4-Port unit is actually slightly smaller than the “6” at 3.6 x 1.2 x 3.5 inches and 6.1 ounces. Both review units are black, but there is also the option of white. Physically, they both have a polished feel, with a non-slip rubber rectangle on the underside. The port reside on one end, and the power input is on the opposite end. Each unit also comes with a detachable power cord and documentation.

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The “6” all but begged to be put through the paces. On paper, it certainly sounds interesting, with three ports rated at a max of 2.4A, and the rest are 1A. Setup is intuitively easy; the unit is plugged into a power source, and then individual electronics can be charged by it via USB cable inserted into onto one of the ports. And yes, the unit charges as advertised. The stated iSmart technology (which adjust charging output as needed) is a simple helper that makes sense.

Where it really shines is the portability. It’s easily slipped in a Go-bag, and while putting it in my pocket isn’t something I would prefer, it can work.

I might be asking too much, but for my needs, even though the unit helps with an organized front, the user will need those USB cables. I am weary about retractable solutions, but maybe, just maybe that could make it perfect. Still, as-is, it is an excellent solution worth trying, and one that lends itself to the notion of being indispensable.

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Pocket Dock-It

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Pocket Dock-It

Sep 3, 2014

Unfortunately, for all of the wondrous computing power of our smartphones, there is one major setback and that is, has been, and likely always will be, battery performance. Heading over to a friend or relative’s house for a few hours or nights usually involves packing a phone charger before anything else. Regardless of what those Samsung commercials tell you, all smartphone batteries are not doing so hot after a full work-day of use. The standardization of micro-USB charging ports has been a godsend for the smartphone industry, but that does not solve the responsibility of having to keep track of both the cord and the wall adapter.

This week we shine the spotlight on a great new KickStarter campaign that makes traveling with a smartphone just a bit easier. The Pocket Dock-It is, in its simplest definition, a wall plug that has a charging port built right in. The micro-USB, or Lightning connector for iPhone users, flips up and rests at an angle which allows the phone to rest against the wall that the outlet is attached to. My first reaction is that this did not seem very practical for most uses because a lot of people have their phones plugged into wall outlets that reside behind furniture or on extension lines. This is all true, but it is not what the Pocket Dock-It is for. When traveling, just grabbing this little guy out of the drawer is much easier than fumbling behind the bed-side table for the USB cable and wall connector which then has to be reconnected upon returning from the trip.

Another use for the Pocket Dock-It is for places where your phone could use a charging, but the surface may not be present or is not suitable for a delicate smartphone. I know that in my kitchen by the sink there is an outlet on the wall and I could definitely see myself using this product as a way to keep my phone visible, but out of harms way at the same time. Another such location would be the garage work bench which can get dirty in a hurry and is not a place where I would want to leave a piece of tech that costs nearly $800.

The Pocket Dock-It can be ordered at the discounted price of a $30 donation, but this package is only available in limited quantities and there are already over 980 of the 1000 spots taken. I encourage a visit to their KickStarter page to see if the Pocket Dock-It is a product that, while not revolutionary, is deserving of being funded successfully.

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Swich

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Swich

Jul 9, 2014

This week’s Crowdfunding Spotlight shines brightly on what might end up being the best looking product we have ever featured. For those who spend a majority of their day at a desk wires really become somewhat of an unexplainable annoyance. For the more refined taste, an elegant, serene work space is the pinnacle of productivity. Now more than ever work is done via smartphones and it is very important to have them at our beck and call. This leads to wires and inelegant solutions such as vertical docks that limit the ability to handle the phone when necessary. Slovenian designers Lutman Design have taken the traditional phone cradle, removed the wires and reclined the phone towards a more natural position. The device is called Swich and I am truly smitten.

The first part is really the Swich’s biggest selling point. Using inductive charging standard, Qi, Swich will charge any appropriately enabled device; which at this point is simply the Nokia Lumia and Nexus 5, or any device with a Qi receiver. The aftermarket receiver is what most consumers will opt for, and for $10 Lutman will provide iPhone users with a special charging case of their very own. Even though the field at the moment is limited, the Swich is banking on the reasonably safe bet that wireless charging is the way of the future and some day soon smartphones will come without the ubiquitous micro-USB ports. This technology is built into the stand and is underneath a layer of micro-suction material to ensure no slippage.
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What is possibly even more impressive than the wireless charging or micro-suction surface is just how elegant this device looks. The either white or black ceramic base and surface are joined by a delightfully arched piece of stained American dark walnut. The inclusion of high quality wood between two matte piece of ceramic make the Swich truly a modern work of art, and no designer would think twice about putting this device in their office. I am glad to see that it is also not as overpriced as I feared; a standard Swich can be had for around a $140 donation. Unsurprisingly, this project has already been funded but there are still 20 days to go, and with speakers, different colors, and even multiple designs promised through stretch goals there is no reason not to jump on this project right now. For those looking for something both convenient and beautiful to charge their phone at home or work look no further than Swich.

TYLT Vu Wireless Charger Hardware Review

TYLT Vu Wireless Charger Hardware Review

Jun 11, 2014

Wireless charging is becoming less of a novelty, and with the TYLT Vu Wireless Charger, it is easy to see why aesthetics can become a big part of the picture.

Off the bat, it definitely wins style points, with its deliberate angling and tapered look. The surface area is lime greenish with a subtle logo on the face, and black on the underside. The uneven, inverted V is very becoming, and the hard plastic feels solid in hand. The charger officially comes in at 7.5 x 3.5 x 0.5 inches, and weighs less than 5.7 ounces; it also boasts output of 5W off input of 12V/750mA.

The package contains a charger and documentation as well, and also comes in red, blue and black.

Setting the charger up is intuitively easy, and involves connecting the included wall charger via the port at the bottom of the device. The unit feels fairly firm, with no undue chance of tipping over. The broadest end of the unit bends into a brief lip, and this main part forms the main charging surface. In practice, the surface area is very liberal, which allows for relaxed placements. When paired with a few Qi-enabled devices, the charger immediately recognized them and started working immediately, as shown by the charging indicator on the devices. Charging is noticeably slower than wall charging, but this is something that is true of every Qi-enabled charger I have used.

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I would have liked an indicator on the charger itself, or even a vocal signature; if a device does not have an indicator, it can be hard to confirm charging if the screen is off. Also, the sleek design is easy on the eyes, but might make usage in places like a car a bit harder to pull off.

In any case, hats off to TYLT for making a modern charger that is cool enough to be as stylish as it is functional.

Crowdfunding Spotlight: XS Powercard

Crowdfunding Spotlight: XS Powercard

Jun 4, 2014

Mobile batteries for smartphones are an easy target for people looking to gain financial backing via popular crowdfunding sites because they are easy to assemble and there is certainly a market of people who want longer battery life for their smart devices. Generally, I try and steer clear of these projects because I am looking to focus more on innovative and creative endeavors, but every now and again something comes along that surprises me and breathes some new life into a stagnant product field. Most products are simply small batteries that will fit in a pocket or a purse and that is essentially where their functionality ends. With all that said, this week’s Crowdfunding Spotlight shines on XS Powercard solely because it broke out of the doldrums to deliver some new features that we have not seen before in these kinds of batteries.

Firstly, XS Powercard has all of the necessary wires built into its slender body which is obviously very important for ease of use and overall longevity. Secondly, embedded into the device is a tiny USB flash drive that is no bigger than the USB dongle for a wireless mouse. The thinking here is that, in addition to providing power, the XS Powercard can use its micro-USB or Thunderbolt connection to transfer data to a medium that is traditionally unavailable to smartphones. This flash drive will be available in the typical 8, 16, and 32 GB capacities. Finally, the third feature I like about the XS Powercard is that it is slim enough to fit inside of a wallet. This is imperative in a world where the only things that are carried around on a regular basis are keys, phone, and wallet; aka. The Holy Trinity. By combining this product with one of those three the developers are dramatically reducing the burden on the consumer; making it more convenient to carry an additional item with them wherever they go.

Again taking advantage of the USB connectivity, the XS Powercard can act as a straight USB connector to any computer, and when charging it always charges the phone first before charging the 2200 mAh battery. This truly makes the XS Powercard the ultimate smartphone accessory because it means that, not only does it remove the need to carry a USB cable, but now a personal flash drive will always be available whenever it is needed. This project is currently about $20,000 short of its planned funding, and with three full weeks remaining it is fairly safe to say this project will be funded. This means that there are not many more spots to get a discounted set of XS Powercards, with several tiers already sold out. The XS Powercard is a deserving project that really tries hard to stand heads and shoulders above other devices in its market.

RAVPower Qi-Enabled Wireless Charging Pad Hardware Review

RAVPower Qi-Enabled Wireless Charging Pad Hardware Review

Jun 3, 2014

It’s all about mobility these days, and frankly, that’s exactly how I want it. When it comes to smart devices and accessories, there is always room in my hear for tools or combinations that lessen the need for other tools, and especially for those that remove the need for wired and tethering.

Wireless charging is not exactly news anymore; the concept of inductive powering and gradual industry acceptance of the Qi standard is something all techies and enjoy. For those already on the train, accessories like the RAVPower Wireless Charging Pad will be great additions to one’s personal mobile ecosystem.

We got a white unit to review (the item also comes in black). It is not too big, but a bit removed from being diminutive; the exterior parts are made of hard plastic, and is a rectangle barely bigger than the HTC One M8, and feels lighter too. Officially, it is 5.7 x 3.11 x 0.31 inches, and under 5 ounces in weight. The review box also contains a micro-USB cable, plug and instructions.

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The continuity of the frame is only delicately interrupted by a micro-USB charging port at the “top” of the unit and a tiny LED at the bottom; at the front, there is a the company logo that serves as the charging sweet spot and slip guard, along with the written version of the logo.

Setting it up is as simple as it gets: wall plug cable to unit, and it’s on. The unit promises an output of 5V 1A max. I used it with an HTC One M8 and N5, and it worked well. With the former (which uses a third-party Qi element), the charging is slower than a wall socket.

The ease of placement makes it great for everyday use, though I admit I would have liked a physical guard in addition to the ant-slip mechanism.

It’s a fun gadget, and perfect for times when a device might be asleep for an extended period, like overnight.

KickStarter Spotlight: juiceBee

KickStarter Spotlight: juiceBee

Aug 1, 2013

One thing I have noticed about the KickStarter world is that it is littered with mobile charging solutions. Now this could be due to the fact that these are devices that could have a lot of facets and variations, but it is more likely centered around their simplicity and necessity. All that aside, however, the whole idea of having a mobile battery is not a bad one. My opinion is that they tend to be either too large or too much work to constantly keep charged. This is why this week I am bringing you a great KickStarter project called juiceBee which acknowledges these shortcomings and addresses them all head on.

So what is juiceBee? Well, obviously, it is a mobile battery that will charge a smartphone on-the-go. But, what is so different about juiceBee is that it is only one I have found that actually integrates the battery into a household charger. This means that it is intended to be that bedside charger at night as well as a companion during the day. The battery simply pops out of the 12V wall outlet and, voila, instant, fully charged mobile power. As with most KickStarter projects this is a stunningly simple solution to a very common problem.

The second issue with most similar products is the size, and coming in at a very svelte 3cm square by 9cm the juiceBee is incredibly portable and comfortably fits into a shirt pocket. Fortunately, its size does not mean a compromise on power. There is enough power inside this little guy to fully charge two iPhones via a typical 5V USB connection.

In conclusion, juiceBee is a very attractive, and convenient way to make sure that $600 phone is available even at the ends of long days. The sleek figure and innovative charging technique help set this project apart from the norm. With just more than a month to go this project is already nearly halfway funded which means that limited edition and discounted items are becoming scarce. This is a great product and I would wholeheartedly recommend jumping on it as soon as possible.

KickStarter Spotlight: POP

KickStarter Spotlight: POP

Aug 1, 2012

We tech users are a demanding bunch. Something is always just not good enough with our devices, usually lamenting on some network sluggishness. Comedian Louis C.K. has famously commented about this saying: “It’s going to space! Give it a second.” One of the more common gripes is short battery life, and this one is understandable: what use is that $800 iPad if it won’t start up on the train ride home. There are plenty of options for this with a bevy of pocket-sized battery chargers and such but what about those times where there is more than one phone or device. Picture working a booth at some event where power is scarce, like playing softball in a rec league. There are plenty of phones that probably need charging and I would bet that not all of them use the same charger port.

Enter POP, a stylish portable charger that brings some serious power to the table as well as a few surprises. The whole device is pretty large when compared to other chargers but this is for a reason: POP contains not one, but four charging stations as well as two USB ports. These charging stations come in the form of 3 foot retractable cables that are capped with an ingenious contraption that features both Apple’s 30 Pin connector and the ubiquitous micro-USB. This works by having the Apple connector slide up and hinge down, revealing the smaller micro-USB.


I cannot get over the sheer ingenuity of this feature, and coupled with the 3 foot retractable cord, it makes POP an incredibly useful and convenient device, that is attractive enough to be displayed on a living room coffee table.

So what is going to charge the potentially 5 devices all at one time? Try a 25,000 mAh battery, which is just stupid big. That is 7,000 mAh bigger than anything on the market now and POP is slated to come in at nearly $100 cheaper. Personally I cannot find anything to fault with the concept POP. For anyone who needs a portable charging station that has the brawn to last all day and charge up to 5 devices at a time without messy cables, then POP could be the perfect product.