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.

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.

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.

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 Nyrius.com for $39.99. We have a video below:

Nyrius Songo HiFi Wireless Music Receiver Hardware Review

Nyrius Songo HiFi Wireless Music Receiver Hardware Review

Mar 30, 2015

The review sample we were sent is the retail version, and contains the Bluetooth puck, power adapter, auxiliary to RCA cable, standard 3.55mm audio cable and documentation.

Now, once out of the box, if the main piece surprised me with its size — and it did, as I expected it to be a tad bigger — it definitely surprised me with regards to the weight, being only 2.4 ounces on a frame of 3.2 x 2.8 x 0.79 inches officially. The main unit is a rectangular cuboid, crafted in hard black plastic that is only broken up by required labeling, company logo and input/connection ports.

The ports are for power, 3.55mm audio out and, interestingly enough, optical input.

Understanding what the Nyrius purports to do is the key to understanding the proposed functionality; it works as a wireless receiver that collects signals from a Bluetooth source — like an Android device — and allows the audio to be played on a sound system that accepts wired signal from the puck itself. In essence, it bridges a Bluetooth source to an output unit (like a stereo or sound system without a Bluetooth chip) so that, say, music can be played. This is especially useful when one wants to continue using traditional devices, or even for folks like me, who prefer wired connections but like or need to go wireless for one reason or another.


Connecting it up is a matter of connecting the unit to power and and output device via the 3.55mm cable; traditional computer speakers plugged into it just fine. After that, it’s a simple matter of pairing t to the source device via Bluetooth (in our testing, we used the Samsung Note 4). The unit does produce slick sound, with little distortion when the phone was close to the unit; noticeable distortion occurred when the source device was a bit short of the advertised 33 feet. I do like the fact that multiple source devices can be paired (up to eight per documentation, and the aptX functionality is a plus. I also like the included RCA cable and Toslink functionality, which theoretically allows one to stream to two different outputs at the same time (we didn’t test this). My biggest complaint is the need for constant power, as this hinders the mobility of the unit. On the flip side, no issues with losing power during a session.

All in all, it’s a nifty little piece that is able to stand out from the pack (incuding other receivers from the same manufacturer) by doing regular things well, and even more.

Jabra Sport Wireless+ Headphones Hardware Review

Jabra Sport Wireless+ Headphones Hardware Review

Mar 26, 2015

As we like to say, being connected is a privilege, more and more aspects of our lives are becoming portions of IoT, and our smartphones are becoming the de facto hubs. This is so very obvious in the area of fitness and health, where accessories are quite the rage.

With Jabra’s Sports Wireless+ Bluetooth Headphones, we get to see a formidable option from an industry vet.

The review package Jabra sent was nicely boxed. The set is pretty light in hand, almost surprising so. The physical presentation basically consists of two three-quarter moon ear loops and a rubber-coated cable that connects the two in the behind the neck earphone style. The ear loops come in the main black-with-yellow accents that is synonymous with Jabra, The right piece houses the soft controls: a power button, volume buttons, FM button (hint, hint), microphone pinhole and covered micro-USB port. There’s even LED lights which help signify power and bluetooth status. Each ear loop measures in at 2.5 x 1.7 x 0.5 inches, and the whole set weighs 0.88 ounces. The retail box also contains a pack of ear gels, USB cable and a nifty carrying case.


After charging and powering on, pairing the 3.0 Bluetooth to an audio source is fairly easy; long-pressing the power button for several seconds puts the headphones in pairing mode, and they can then be discovered and connected to. That easily, I was able to start listening to music and podcasts from the trusty M8. Of special interest to me, obviously, is the fit. For a pair of sports phones, they work well, and the behind the neck styling is not too bothersome. yes, the loops did feel ever-present but not so much so that they were lingering distractions. They work well for running, and I wasn’t able to dislodge it by head-banging. the advertised military-grade specs (dust, durability and dust protection) definitely come into play, and the unit does feel durable.

This accessory boasts some decent extras beyond the core functionality. There is the built-in FM tuner, teased via soft buttons. Honestly, I was shocked at how well it worked. It didn’t catch every FM channel when compared head-to-head with a dedicated radio, but the ones it did catch sounded pretty good. It handles phone calls well, though I did get some feedback from talking in the microphone.

I also like the little things, like the fit adjust clip and the several ear gels that help in getting the most comfortable insertion.

One point that might irk some folks is that there isn’t any Android app; the app works well without it, bu if one wants the added on benefit available with some other Jabra products, they’ll have to forego it for now. Also, the range is fairly limited.

When it’s all said and done, it does well in it’s main job, and reasonably well in a few extra aspects at well. At just under $90 (on Amazon), it isn’t a prohibitive proposition.

Not bad at all.

AR Health Series: Misfit Shine Review

AR Health Series: Misfit Shine Review

Mar 3, 2015

The Misfit Shine is hardly new, but it shouldn’t be a surprise that plenty of people still consider it a piece worth at least trying out.

We were eager to get the review unit Misfit sent us, the unit itself is tiny, barely bigger than a quarter in circumference; the unit contains a battery, and fits into a watch-like band. It’s quite light, almost slender on the wrist, but reasonably nondescript for something crafted from aircraft grade aluminum. It is waterproof, and grayish in color (there are other color choices), which mostly hides the incorporated series of LEDs when they are not lighted..

A big part of the solution is the Misfit app; the app is the portal with which the app records and translates accumulated data. The app has gotten better over time, with a clean interface and simple controls. The app has a sync button at the top right of the main screen, ad this allows the physical unit to offload data via Bluetooth. Additionally, the app also interfaces with several established Android fitness utilities, like Runkeeper and MapMyFitness. The unit does not need to be formally synced to the app-holding device, but the two do need to be reasonably close.

Now what it sets out to do is keep track of activity as well as sleep. It estimates such using a precision 3-axis accelerometer, and syncs to the app, which can then interprets said data for easy consumption. Tapping the unit twice reveals a clock function using the LEDs


The sync procedure can be frustrating at times; the tapping mechanism is great on paper, but finicky in practice, such that I felt like I had to do a quick sync periodically just to ensure that everything was working as it should. Also, having used it on both iOS and Android, the former is more fully featured, and some of the advertised third-party app compatibility was temperamental.

After extended use though, I am a huge fan of the overall premise of functionality. It’s an exceptionally simple device, but manages to convey a sense of sleekness that is not forced or overdone. The ability to use the main piece in several ways makes it even handier, and the ability to customize it further with bands and even necklace holders is an attractive extra. According to Misfit Inc, as it (the company) expands to home automation, one can expect the Shine to do even more.

As a passive health/sleep tracking accessory, it is a surprisingly elegant solution, and current prices (under $80 on Amazon) ensure that even this long after its initial debut, it is still a veritable option for the health conscious.

FUEL iON Magnetic Wireless Charging System

FUEL iON Magnetic Wireless Charging System

Feb 23, 2015

So many devices… and so little, uh, battery time?

With all the unique devices out their, the one thing a lot of us would trade it all away for is probably extremely long battery life. Next best is probably an easier, wireless method of charging — and this something the FUEL iON Magnetic Wireless Charging System from Patriot promises to deliver via advertised neodymium technology.

The review package that Patriot sent to us was rated specifically for the Samsung Galaxy S5, and contained a white charging base, a back cover, micro-USB cable and documentation. The dock comes in hard plastic, with a logo on it; the case is grayish and the cable is stark white. In hand, the case feels decently constructed, and the dock unit has a decent heft without being too weighty.

Setting up is fairly intuitive. The powered cable goes into the dock, and the replacement cover goes on the device. At first the glance, one might be forgiven for wondering about the construction of the the dock; usually, one would expect a lip of sorts at the bottom, but with this one, the “back” tapers down into deliberate nothingness. This design paradigm hints at the major functionality of the system: magnetic charging.


The replacement back has pins that line up the Galaxy S5’s charging ports. Almost hidden towards the top of the dock is a small, circular component; this piece is magnetic, and it allows the device to adhere to the dock via the matching component on the rear of the system back piece. And then — get this — the device gets charged by magnetic contact.

This product claims to be faster than Qi charging; in my decidedly unscientific experiments, I tried charging the same device for about 20% increase in battery, alternating between Qi charging system and the FUEL iON. This unit did best the Qi standard handily.

Aesthetically, the system looks good too. I am a simple guy, and enjoy simple things. I like that I can be fairly loose with placement, and the phone holds in place. It doesn’t occupy too much physical space, so it works well as a semi permanent permanent charging and storage solution. I used the system to consume media in landscape, and even as a casting holder. I especially like that the system is somewhat expandable with other portable accessories.

My biggest whine is that outside five or so Galaxy and iPhone devices, there aren’t any compatible cases for most Android devices. Still, it isn’t overly expensive (at $79.99 on Amazon), as it is comparably to regular inductive units.

All in all, it’s worth checking out, and not just for the unique nature; it is a solid solution.

Puro Sound Labs Kids Bluetooth Headphones Hardware Review

Puro Sound Labs Kids Bluetooth Headphones Hardware Review

Feb 4, 2015

Here’s the problem: I’ve come to appreciate quality earphones the older I’ve gotten. I won’t describe myself as an audiophile, but I do enjoy the output a quality set of phones can bring. As such, I do have write a few. Wired, wireless, over-ear, in-ear, lounging, sport… you name it, and I probably have a set for the occasion.

I baby them too. They’re cased when not in use, and issued in places that negate the possibility of silly mishaps, like (gasp!) sitting on them. All because I like having options, and dislike procuring stuff twice.

You know what is kryptonite to gadget longevity? Kids.

Take my daughter for instance. Ariana Grande must be heard, ave outside hearing the SAME song played on loop, I have to reluctantly lend her a pair of mine.

Why aren’t there more gadgets available for kids? That’s a question the Puro Sound Labs Kids Headphones looks to answer.


To be honest, I expected a set of headphones full of frills and overly bright colors; the review package Puro Sound sent set me straight. The retail box contains the charging cable and AC adapter, 2 cases (soft and hard), special 3.55mm cable and the headphones themselves, with the headphones being mostly tan with an emphasis on soft gold and chrome highlights, and it has prominent buttons for toggling on, wireless pairing, volume up and down, as well as audio and microSD charging ports and an LED light on the left cup. The cups are braced by cushioned material, and are able to extend from the band for bigger heads (or hairdos). The band is also covered in soft material for a more comfortable experience; the main parts are crafted from lightweight aluminum.

These headphones, on paper, rack up up some nice features: 16 hours of usage (200 hours standby time), built-in microphone, balanced response, and (most interesting to me), a means of limiting overly loud outputs.

Getting the gear going is a matter of charging, and using the bluetooth pair button to match it to a compatible audio source. I like the crisp sound it produces, and the conduction seems topnotch. The advertised sound control is superb; I didn’t feel like I lost fidelity while keeping my ears safe. But even more importantly, the real testers (my kids) loved them, and, for once, didn’t complain about being forced to keep the volume down.

Not bad.


There are a couple things I especially like, and which make this a bit more than just a kid’s accessory, is the aforementioned microphone, which allows for usage with phone calls. Then there’s the wired functionality, which allows the unit to be used even if the battery is drained (and the supplied audio cable keeps to the noise limiting paradigm, in case one wondered).

All in all, the Puro Sound Labs Kids Headphones has a soft touch, but is great enough to have mature sensibilities. It’s priced relatively well ($79.99 on Amazon), looks good and does a lot.

IOGEAR TuneTap Wireless Audio Receiver Hardware Review

IOGEAR TuneTap Wireless Audio Receiver Hardware Review

Jan 31, 2015

As we become more connected in the digital sense, wireless solutions become that much more relevant. Bluetooth is an oldie but goodie, and the trusted protocol is easily incorporated in several ways. Now that it is all but ubiquitous with regards to mobile devices, it makes sense that mobile devices — especially Android — can be the ultimate hub in connected setups.

Looking at the IOGEAR TuneTap Audio Receiver, it’s easy to see why it could be compelling; it’s small, easy to set up and comes from IOGEAR. The review unit sent to us exhibits that size, which is 2.88 x 2.88 x 0.97 inches, weighing only 1.6 ounces. It is a sleek little thing, with solid fusing and ports for audio out, optical out and a power jack; on the top, there is a subtle LED light right under the logo. The package also contained 3,55mm to RCA cable, power cable and documentation.

The unit itself is a bluetooth puck that, in simplistic terms, takes in audio and converts it to signals that can be picked up by other bluetooth accessories. This opens up a bunch of scenarios: home sound system? TV? Wired speakers? The idea is to connect the TuneTap in wired fashion to the compatible audio output device, and then connect the TuneTap itself to a bluetooth audio source (Samsung Galaxy Note 4). Setup is intuitive: the TuneTap gets connected to power, and then we tried it with a set of traditional speakers via the 3.55mm cable. Subsequently, connecting to the mobile device with the mobile device is a simple matter of using the device’s bluetooth menu to find and pair to the TuneTap.


Voila. Everything worked smoothly. The sound quality is crisp, and pretty distant when both bluetooth devices are within range of each other. I tried the unit with a couple different devices, and it worked well every time. I like the choice of output cables; it just makes sense.

The need for power is both a blessing and a curse. It does curb the mobility somewhat, but that concern is tempered by the joy of not being concerned with charging the unit. The added optical cable is a bonus, as is the included NFC which allows for touch-pairing.

As far as solutions go, kudos are due for the simple ones that just work. This one definitely fits the bill.

Olixar Light Bulb Speaker Hardware Review

Olixar Light Bulb Speaker Hardware Review

Jan 7, 2015

We get pitched a fair amount of accessories to take a look at, and, frankly, some are very, uh, unique. Not all work, either; some are ambitious, but might have a fatal flaw. Or two. Or seven. In any case, mobile accessories can be interestingly varied.

I’d like to say I am open-minded, and I do feel like a decent assessor of product, but every now and then, I am surprised.

But hold a sec; let’s talk about the Olixar Light Bulb Speaker.

The name says it all: it’s a light bulb that doubles as a bluetooth-enabled speaker. The review package MobileFun sent us highlights the unit; in hand, it is mostly white, with a gold mid-section. It is more streamlined than “regular” bulbs, but also weighs a bit more. It sports LED light too, and emits 3W light (which the distributor says is equivalent to 50W from a standard bulb. It screws into regular receptacles (the package comes with an adapter piece for European light sources) and works the same way. Turn on the switch, and it bathes the room in bright, warm light. It functions well upright and upside down.


Now, the part that is of special interest is the speaker functionality. The Bulb has a 4.0 bluetooth module, and when it is on, one can pair it to a bluetooth audio source. Anyone who has paired bluetooth devices will do this instinctively: search and tap to pair, and after this, the Light Bulb Speaker streams the audio seamlessly. The audio quality is pretty nice, and it continues working with the constant electric source.

All in all, a surprisingly effective and portable audio solution.

But back to the opening premise. Light Bulb speakers are not an overly unique or new idea. Pricing and efficacy might be the biggest barrier to adoption. That’s where this piece just might be successful, in that it works well, and won’t break the bank (at $32.99 via MobileFun).

And, by and large, it showed one reviewer that the proof is in the pudding.