26May/17

Review: PITAKA Aramid Fiber iPhone 6s Plus Case

I normally do not use a case as I feel they take away from the feel and functionality of the phone. Also, many of them are bulky and within a few months need replaced because they start getting wore out. I have tried other minimal cases in the past that were made of plastic but they always felt cheap, didn’t fit well, or I didn’t find them protective enough to warrant even being there. The Pitaka case on the other hand is just awesome. It is so light that I am unable to notice any difference in weight. The thickness added to the phone is as minimal as possible and I have already dropped the phone on blacktop in which the phone survived with no issues and the case has no more than a very minor scuff.  The inclusion of a tempered glass screen protector is nice as well. Overall I am very impressed with this case and cannot recommend it enough.

If you are interested in one of these cases it can be found here.

04May/17

Review: Specter AQSTIX

Back in December I reviewed the Bose SoundLink Mini II and praised it as one of my favorite Bluetooth speakers of all time, at least it was, until I got to experience the Specter AQSTIX.  The Specter AQSTIX is a rugged, waterproof, Bluetooth speaker that is rated to last 12 hours on a single charge.

The exterior of the speaker is made almost entirely of a soft touch rubber and metal, providing both great looks and sturdy construction.  The great build allows the speaker to work fully submerged up to three feet under water.  Connectivity is provided via Bluetooth, Aux, or a micro-SD card.  The built in battery not only provides a rated 12 hours of battery life, but thanks to a full size USB port, can also be used to charge your mobile device.  The speaker also has a built in microphone to use for voice commands and phone calls.

Throughout my use of the AQSTIX speaker I experienced some of the best Bluetooth connectivity I have ever seen.  While outdoors I had no problem walking 30 or more feet from the speaker before experiencing any issues.  The waterproof rating also holds true as I was able to fully submerge the speaker while listening to music.  As for the 12 hour battery rating, I actually feel that it is under rated.  On the first charge I was able to get just over 12 hours of listening at over half volume the entire time.  Subsequent charge showed the same or even slightly better performance.  While I did not test the physical durability of the speaker, I have no doubt that it would handle any drop or fall from counter height and possibly even higher.

So the speaker is durable and packed full of features, but how does it sound?  First off, this thing gets loud, like put most other portable Bluetooth speakers of this size to shame loud.  It has no problem filling a room with sound, even with numerous people in it chatting.  Sound quality is also among the best I have heard from a portable speaker.  It creates a ton of bass for its size while keeping the mids and highs crystal clear even at high volumes.  The only time I heard distortion was at the last volume step.

Overall the Specter AQSTIX is an awesome speaker.  It is built well, waterproof to three feet, has plenty of input options, has the ability to charge a mobile device, looks classy, gets loud, and sounds great.   If you are in the market for a Bluetooth speaker, I highly recommend looking at the Specter AQSTIX which can be found here.

02May/17

Battle of the Buds

In a world that is going wireless cell phone companies continue to provide wired ear buds with their phones.  Also, many circumstances require the use or are more suited for wired earbuds.  That being said, I decided to compare some of the most popular ear buds as well as an inexpensive new comer to see how well they perform.  The four sets being compared include Apple Ear Pods, Samsung (included with the Galaxy S7), Bose SoundSport, and PWOW BYZ.  To summarize my findings please see the table below.

HeadphoneBassMidsTrebleClaritySound StageIsolationLow Volume SQMid Volume SQHigh Volume SQOutputBuild QualityAccessoriesTotal
Bose68895168699883
Apple76674137588365
Samsung34765246387560
BYZ37766157687265

As you can see, Bose is the overall winner, but after that the other three contenders came in pretty close to one another.  Each one has its different strengths and weaknesses, but aside from the Bose, I believe you will get a similar overall experience from the other three.  While the Bose set is not a direct competitor to the other three, comparing them with the Bose puts things into perspective.

If you are looking to replace or upgrade your set of stock earbuds going with something similar will most likely result in equal or better results per this comparison.  If you are looking for an upgrade, the Bose SoundSports make for a great replacement if you are a fan of the bud style headphones.  The headphones in this comparison can be purchased at the links below:

PWOW, Apple, Samsung, Bose

18Apr/17

Review: SPECTER EFITZ Headphones

The SPECTER EFITZ are among many in the crowded wireless headphone market and at nearly $100 they are right at the competitive price point of many of the “big” name headphone makers.  All of that being said, what sets the EFITZ apart from the others?

Prior to a few months ago I had never heard of SPECTER or any of their products, but viewing their website I quickly discovered they are serious about their products, at least on paper.  As always, I was skeptical of their claims which for the EFITZ include IP7 water resistance, premium noise isolation, 10 hour battery life, and dynamic sound thanks to Qualcomm’s aptX technology.  These are bold claims and certainly put them in competition with all the other headphone makers so I was happy to get my hands on them for testing.

Included with the headphones are five different size ear tips, a short charging cable, cable clip, and a very nice user manual.  Build quality on the EFITZ is great with plastic and rubber construction, strain reliefs at all cable end points, and even aluminum on the outside of the ear pieces.  The control unit is located a few inches down the cable on the right hand side and is a little on the chunky side compared to other headphones I have used.  The control unit houses the usual buttons, charging port, mic, etc, all of which are easy to use and work very well.  Thanks to the giant soft ear hooks, the headphones do a great job of staying in place and remaining comfortable.

After charging the headphones and spending some time finding the right size ear tips I was excited to give the headphones a try.  First off, they have great output and should please even the most demanding listener.  My initial impression was that the headphones sounded much larger than they are.  The sound reminded me of many on ear headphones but with much better noise isolation.  After a few hours of casual listening I started critically listening to some of my usual test music and again I was amazed by how large the sound stage was for in ear wireless headphones.  Sound quality overall is among some of the best I have heard from Bluetooth headphones.  Like many modern headphones they have a slight bump in both bass and treble but it is not overdone like on many other headphones.  The overall sounds is clear, precise, and controlled.  Even on complex tracks I was able to pick out each individual instrument.  The only time I heard any distortion was at near max volume which is understandable.  Something else to note about the EFITZ is the almost silent noise floor.

Using the headphones for calls worked extremely well.  I did not have a single person complain about the way I sounded or that they could not hear me.  Callers always sounded clear and often times better than using just my phone.  Controls for both music and calls are easy to figure out and the buttons are easy to find while in use.  The claimed 10 hour battery life was pretty accurate in my testing, and as for the IP7 rating, even though I would not recommend it, they survived being submersed in water for a few minutes with no issues even days later.

Overall the EFITZ are a great set of Bluetooth headphones.  Are they as good as a wired set like SPECTER’s website claims….no, but they are a solid attempt at the near impossible feat.  My only real complaint about the headphones is that I wish they included some type of case as that would complete the package.  At the end of the day I would happily recommend the EFITZ over many of the “big” name brands and can’t wait to try some more of SPECTER’s products.

If you are interested in purchasing the EFITZ you can find them here.

18Apr/17

Review: Anker PowerLine II Dura

The Anker PowerLine II Dura is Anker’s latest attempt at the ultimate charging cable.  It is available in multiple lengths with micro-USB, UCB-C, and Lightning connectors.  The cable is rated to withstand over 12,000 bends and is capable of supporting over 175lbs.  To back up these claims, each cable comes with a lifetime warranty.

My test cable is a one foot Lightning model in black.  While it is not feasible for me to test Anker’s claims, I did my best to put this cable through its paces.  On numerous occasions I tried pulling the ends off, yanking it from the jacks mid cable, bending as hard as possible at the connector, etc, and not once did I experience an issue.  I was also able to test voltage and amperage throughput using a USB multi-meter and the cable performed exactly as it should.

Thanks to its insane build quality and lifetime warranty, it is very easy to recommend this cable.

If you are interested in purchasing this cable it can be found here.

10Apr/17

Review: Zecti Tripod

The Zecti Tripod can be adjusted from 13″ to 55″ and weighs in at only 2.8lbs, thanks to its sturdy yet light aluminum and plastic construction.  Included is a carry case, ball head with case, quick release mount, waist pouch, hex wrench, and user manual.

The tripod can be used like standard tripod and is extremely versatile.  The legs have four sections for adjust-ability and multiple angle settings.  The tripod can be further extended by extending the two part center axis.  The two part center axis can be removed and inverted for lower camera mounting or connected to one of the removable tripod legs to transform it into a monopod.  The included ball head, while basic, provides unlimited angles when it comes to the standard quick release mount.  The head also has a ball level to aid in getting your camera perfectly level.

Overall the Zecti Tripod is well made and packs a ton of features usually found in more expensive tripods.  The ability to convert it to a monopod makes it that much more appealing.  If you are interested in purchasing this tripod it can be found here.

08Mar/17

Review: Atevon HDMI Cable

In a market full of “Super Special” HDMI cables, it is hard to read through the marketing and find one that is just good.  At the end of the day, HDMI cables are digital interconnects.  This means if the 1s and 0s make it from one end to the other, it will work.  It is also much more difficult for a digital cable to pick up interference when compared to its older analog siblings.  That being said, under most conditions a “high end” HDMI cable will work no better than a cheap one.  So why do these companies go to such great lengths to innovate and introduce better cables?  Overkill is one acceptable answer, but even with little room for error cables can always be made better, more durable, better looking, and more resilient to outside interference, but most of them do it for the money.

The HDMI cable Atevon has created seems to check all the boxes without being over hyped.  It features metal housed, 24K gold connectors at each end of nylon braided oxygen free copper wires that are triple shielded (overkill to the max).  They have used the best materials where it actually matters.  The connectors are made of inexpensive yet durable zinc as apposed to aluminum which is more expensive and in this instance no better.  The 24K connectors should never oxidize or tarnish and the oxygen free cables should work as good as anything else without breaking the bank on silver or dare I say gold wires.  This wonderful constructions looks great, is durable, and helps it meet the latest HDMI standards, providing up to 4K resolutions at 60fps, gigabit networking, 32 audio channels, 3D video, ARC, etc.

If you are looking for an HDMI cable that is durable, will handle anything you throw at it, looks great, and manages to cost less than a meal at a fast food joint, this is the cable for you.  This may even be the best bang for the buck currently available in the cable world.

If you are interested in purchasing the Atevon HDMI cable it can be found here.

07Mar/17

Review: Senbowe Bluetooth Headphones

The Senbowe Bluetooth Headphones are the traditional behind the neck, sport style, headphones.  They have small metal and plastic ear buds at each end of the connecting cable in the middle and feature a controller a few inches below the right ear bud.  The buds can be held together via magnets for wearing like a necklace when not in use.  Included with the headphones are three different size ear tips, three different size ear hooks, a clam shell zip style case, charging cable, and user manual.

The build quality of the Senbowe’s is much better than you would expect for their price point.  All cable entries have small but functional strain reliefs and all non metal surfaces have a soft coating that both looks and feels great.  The controller portion is slightly bigger than on many other headphones I have tested which is a good thing.  The buttons are very easy to find when reaching up with one hand and have just enough texture to differentiate the three buttons.  The controller also houses the charging port, microphone, and LED indicator.  Sound quality is on par with the build of the headphones.  With plenty of output and only a slight bump in bass and the upper frequencies, these headphones are very enjoyable to listen to.  Throughout my testing they remained clear and provided detail typically found only with much higher priced headphones.  Combine all of this with the over seven hours of battery I was able to get and the fact that they are sweat proof, and you have an all around winner.

Overall the Senbowe Bluetooth Headphones are an absolute bargain.  The build quality, included accessories, and sound quality will be hard to beat at the price.

If you are interested in purchasing these headphones they can be found here.

06Mar/17

Review: ICZI Smart KM Link Cable

The ICZI Smart KM Link Cable is designed to transfer files and/or share a keyboard and mouse between two Windows computers, Mac computers, Android device, or any combination thereof.  Included with the five foot cable is an OTG cable for connecting to Android devices, a Velcro strap, and a user manual.  The connector on one end of the cable is larger than usual as it houses the electronics and also acts as a storage device to hold the drivers.

Using the cable is fairly simple, connect both ends to the two devices you would like to work with and install the appropriate software with the help of the html file stored on the cable.  Once completed it works exactly as expected.  Data transfers are unfortunately limited to USB 2.0 speeds or a maximum of 480mbps.  Because of this it works great for sharing a keyboard or mouse but there are much more efficient ways to transfer files on any fairly modern device.  This cable will stay in my tool bag to use in a pinch, but when at all possible I will be using other means to transfer files.

That all being said the cable is built well and easy to use.  I can’t really knock it’s speed as ICZI clearly states those limitations on the packaging and the cable performs exactly as described.

If you are interested in purchasing this cable it can be found here.

06Mar/17

Review: ICZI USB-C Adapters

The ICZI USB-C adapter set consist of a USB-A female to male USB-C and female micro-USB to male USB-C adapter.  Both are constructed of aluminum with an anodized finish.  All connections are tight and precise.  Throughout my testing I did not have any issues in regards to charging speed, data transfer, or connectivity.  If you are testing the waters of USB-C or have some cutting edge tech along with standard USB-A devices, these are perfect to have around.

If you are interested in purchasing these adapters they can be found here.