Category Archives: review

Samsung Galaxy S7 active Review



s7activeThe Samsung Galaxy S7 active review unit from AT&T is by far the best model of the Samsung S7 family. If you lead an active lifestyle, this phones shell is designed from the ground up to take a beating. We where specifically asked by the AT&T team to be rough with the phone which is a little odd.  With great hesitation we dropped it from chest height to a concrete floor. The rugged shell and shatter resistant screen took the fall with nary an issue.

The phone comes in three designs. I had the camo design, and everyone that played with it kept looking at the skin and asking where I got the cover. When I told them it is designed that way everyone’s comment was like wow smart.

Just holding this phone you can tell that Samsung built this for folks that are either rough on phones, work construction etc. You will not need a secondary case with this phone. I also prefer the physical buttons on it, as I could easily navigate the phone while not having to look at the screen.  Everything you have heard about the Samsung S7 series is included as far as the technology of this phone.

For the sportsman you do not have to worry about this getting wet in fact if your waders get flooded out the phone can survive being submerged in water of up to 5 feet for 30 minutes with the IP68 rating. I let my son go boogie boarding with this in his key pouch and the phone worked like a champ.

All of the tech specs can be found on the AT&T website. But let me give this phone my highest recommendation. It is the first time in a very long while that I will regret having to ship one back.


Accell USB 3.0 Full Function Docking Station Review



accellThe Accell USB 3.0 Full Function Docking Station is a compact but fully featured docking station option supporting DisplayLink.  When I say compact I really mean it. The docking station fits on my palm of my hand.  Supporting operating systems Windows 7 through 10.  With any docking station it is about the hookups.  This dock is perfect for the small business owner or even college student that is on the go and wants a clean desktop area.

Inputs:
1x USB 3.0 Type B plug
2x DC Power

Outputs:
2x USB 3.0
1x USB 3.0 with BC adaptable power charging
1x HDMI Port 1.3
1x Display Port 1.2
Gigabit Ethernet
Combo Audio (Headphone/Microphone)

Maximum Video resolutions:
Single Display Port 3840×2160/30hz
Single HDMI Port 2560×1440/50hz
Dual Display (DP) 2048×1152/60hz / (HDMI) 2048×1152/60hz

So if you are hooking up a dual monitors pay attention to the resolution limitations and refresh rates. Single monitor hookups should be no issue for most users. Using this dock with my Dell XPS 13 I had no issues, and everything synchronized quickly and the HD video via HDMI was great. Priced @ $159 the folks at Accell have brought a reasonably priced USB 3.0 Full Function Docking Station


Polaroid Remote Controlled Panorama EyeBall Head Review



polaroidThe Polaroid Remote Controlled Panorama EyeBall Head could not be a cooler accessory. Designed to stand on it’s own or attach to a tripod. You can mount your GoPro, Digital Camera or Mobile Phone to it with the provided accessories.

Designed to pan right or left, swivel 75 degrees or advance 5 degrees every 10 seconds you can capture panoramic images perfectly. The best part you can link your device to it via bluetooth, and then using the provided remote control you can snap images to capture the perfect selfie or family picture.

The Eyeball head fits in the palm of your hand, and can be easily stashed in a backpack pocket.  You charge the device with a standard micro usb cable. With 3 hours of active use per charge take it anywhere you go. The Polaroid Panorama Eyeball Head costs $49.99 through Amazon.


XY Find It Review



xy-find-itThe XY Find it Bluetooth item Finder was a product that simply was made for me. I swear my car keys have legs and walk off and hide themselves in the couch crack, under the bed etc. It seems like the keys are anyplace but the hook on the wall where they belong. Because of the busy lives we live and the amount of stuff we are touting around it is real easy to leave things behind.

The folks at The Findable Company have made it simple to find any lost item that has one of their  XY Find it tags attached. By downloading their iOS or Android app you sync your purchased tag to your app and then you can have the tag beep or buzz when you need to find the item. Or you can enable the Keepnear feature which causes an alert if you have left the item behind.  You can even see your gears last location on a Map. The device is detectable up to 150ft away, and from my test I was able to easily detect it up to that distance.

I even placed a tag inside a computer bag pocket among other gear, and the Keepnear feature worked flawlessly.  This is great for students that are going to college to add a layer of easy to implement security to their valuables. Each XY Find It tag is $25.00 the XY Find it website has multi packs available as well at very reduced pricing.


RAVPower 22000mAh External Battery Pack Review



ravpowerThe RAVPower 22000mAh external battery pack is simply a power monster.  I am on the go daily with a mobile phone, tablet, laptop and even a MiFi.  No mater where I go I see folks fighting over power plugs. Those days are over with this external battery pack charge 3 devices at once with a combined max of 5.8 amps or a max of 2.4 amps each.. With plenty of power in the battery to do numerous rounds of charging.

I keep this battery pack in my car, it always has 3-4 days of power to charge up devices that are running low. @ $39.95 you cannot beat the price on this 22000mAh capacity external battery pack from RAVPower.

 


Sengled Pulse Solo Review



Sengled LogoLast year I reviewed the Sengled Pulse, a pair of Bluetooth-controlled LED lights with built-in speakers. The Pulse pair sounded surprisingly good but were somewhat indiscreet, being big and bright red. For those wanting something a bit more subtle, Sengled have developed the Pulse Solo, a smaller single LED bulb in white and silver that still provides stereo sound. Let’s take a look and see if the new Solo still delivers big impact from a small space.

I was recently on holiday in Mallorca and used the trip to test out the Solo. Never one to pass up a few gratuitous body shots, here’s the Solo soaking up the sun by the pool.

Sengled Pulse Solo

Sengled Pulse Solo

With a standard E27 screw fitting (B22 bayonet available too), installation is simple and the smaller bulb size makes it much easier to find suitable lamps. The dimensions are 72 mm x 142 mm, weighing in at 340 g, which is hefty enough for a light bulb. In terms of lighting, the bulb is more of a spotlight than anything else, though it’s not tightly focussed. As a result the Solo casts good light if the lamp is high up or intended to be directional, but I wouldn’t use the Solo in a side or table lamp. The brightness is rated at a maximum of 550 lumens which is slightly less than the 600 of the original Pulse lamps but is comparable with other LED smart bulbs, such as Philips Hue.

The LED light is on the warm side of white at 2700K – that’s extra warm white according to some commentators. Here’s the Solo powered up in one of Ikea’s finest illustrating the light colour and distribution.

Sengled Pulse Solo in Lamp

Once screwed in and powered up, the Solo is available for Bluetooth pairing in the normal way. I paired successful with a couple of devices, including a OnePlus 2 smartphone and Nexus 9. Once paired, the Pulse Solo works as a Bluetooth speaker without any further intervention. For greater control of the volume and brightness, there’s the Sengled Pulse app available for both Apple and Android devices. The app appears to connect to the Solo via a second Bluetooth device but the app handles that pairing by itself.

Sengled Pulse Sengled Pulse Sengled Pulse

The app’s changed a little since the last time and it’s now possible to control both the brightness of the lamp and the volume of the speaker from the same screen. Overall, this is an improvement but there’s no visual feedback on the volume level. You do end up with two volume controls, though, one for the Solo through the app and one for the mobile device itself.

As with the bigger Pulse, the Solo’s speakers are “JBL by Harman” and Sengled have managed to squeeze a pair of 1″ 3W speakers into the Solo. Obviously these aren’t going to be hifi quality as the stereo separation is neglible, bass is limited and they struggle with the treble (“esses” suffer) at maximum volume. However, it’s easy to focus on the negatives when the Solo is actually very listenable and fills a small room at full blast. It’s also quite fun when people can’t work out where the music is coming from.

To summarise, the Sengled Pulse Solo is a smaller less obtrusive solution than the larger red Pulse, but the reduction in size is at the expense of audio quality. Aside from my foreign travels, I found the Solo was a tidy solution to desk clutter too, as I could put the Solo into my work lamp, providing both warm light and musical entertainment without cables everywhere

In the end, I think that people who like high quality sound for listening will find the Solo wanting and should perhaps considered the larger Pulse, but for many people who want a little casual backgound music, the Solo will work out fine. The Pulse Solo can be bought direct from Sengled for €59.90 though the bayonet version (B22) is available for only GB£27.93 on Amazon.co.uk.

Thanks to Sengled for the review Pulse Solo.


Archos F24 Power Feature Phone Review



Archos LogoToday’s tablet-style smartphones are almost totally ubiquitous but the form factor isn’t without problems. Even basic models are expensive, the large touchscreens are easily damaged and batteries have relatively small capacities requiring regular recharges. These aren’t big limitations for suit-wearing knowledge workers but for people who spend more time outdoors, a more rugged, longer-lived and cheaper phone can be a better choice. On review here is the Archos F24 Power, a candy bar feature phone that costs less than GB£30. Let’s take a look.

Archos F24 Front

Although not immediately obvious from the picture above, the F24 is a chunky phone nearly 2 cm thick. Officially it measures 129 x 53 x 19 mm and weighs in at just under 100 g. The upper surface is filled with a 2.4″ 240 x 320 pixel screen and a keypad which wouldn’t be out of place on a old skool Nokia. And that’s a good thing, as long-forgotten key presses to, say, unlock the phone, work just fine.

The screen and keypad don’t explain the phone’s bulk but the 4,000 mAh battery does. Not only does the battery give the F24 Power its size and weight, it gives phone a ridiculously long battery life: standby time is nearly two months when loaded with a single SIM. The big battery powers the F24’s other interesting features; a twin LED torch and a USB charging port. The phone itself charges via a microUSB port, but the adjoining full size USB port can charge whatever other gadgetry is running low on juice, although the output current is only 700 mA.

Archos F24 Charging Port

At the other end of the phone is the torch. It’s a pair of LEDs that can be turned on and off by holding down the central pad button for a couple of seconds when on the home screen. The torch isn’t blindingly bright but it’s good enough to find your way on a dark night or find dropped house keys.

Archos F24 Torch

Archos F24 screenPopping the back off and removing the battery shows slots for two standard (mini) SIMs and a microSD card (up to 32 GB). I only used one of the two SIM slots during the review but there’s the option here to have work and personal SIMs, to maximise coverage with SIMs from different vendors or for a foreign SIM when travelling.

The F24’s installed apps are fairly limited in comparison to today’s app-oriented world but they do the job – Phonebook, Call History, Organizer, Multimedia, Messages, File Manager, Profiles, Recharge Mode, Camera, Services, App Zone and Settings. These broadly work as expected, though Services is a primitive web browser and the App Zone has three games plus links to the mobile versions of Google, Facebook and Twitter. Interestingly, there is a call recorder too. Organizer is a bit of mixed bag, with a combinations of apps (calculator) mixed in with settings (Bluetooth). Multimedia covers images, music (mp3), FM radio and video.

The rear camera takes 2 MP (1600 x 1200) and the camera app has a surprising number of options and the picture quality is fine in good light – the colour reproduction isn’t bad at all. Obviously this is not comparable to anything from the latest multi-megapixel smartphones but for comparison here are a couple of untouched photos – click through for the full size images.

Archos F24 Photo       Archos F24 Picture 1

To its credit, Archos tries to make configuring F24 for data as easy as possible with a large array of presets for European telecoms providers. It’s a good idea but fails as there’s too many similar names. For example, there are two called “3”, but one is Danish and the other Italian. I ended up having to enter the network data settings manually. Although the phone has Bluetooth, it doesn’t have WiFi, and any web surfing, such as it is, has to be done using the 2G mobile data network (and consequently, I don’t think it will work with 3 in the UK as they’re 3G only. Check before buying.)

Archos F24 RearDisappointingly, Messages is only for SMS messaging. There’s no email, POP3 or otherwise, which I think would have been a useful addition to the F24 Power. At a pinch, you might be able to use the web browser with an email service. I didn’t try.

Archos have made moving round the phone’s options as easy as possible, with a choice of navigation methods either by the rocker pad or by number key. For example, pressing 3 will select the third item on the screen. The four way rocker can be configured for four shortcuts and out-of-the-box, it’s linked to Camera, Profiles, Music player and write SMS message. While talking about “the box”, the F24 Power comes with a charger, USB cable and headphones.

In use as a phone, the F24 worked fine. Call quality was acceptable with both parties audible, though there’s no noise cancellation or anything fancy like that. Not much more that I can say here other than there’s no problem.

Overall, the F24 Power is good value at less than GB£30 and if you are the kind of person who needs a phone for calls and texts with a seriously long battery life, then the F24 Power worth a long look. It would also be ideal as an emergency backup phone, perhaps left in the car or taken hiking when away from power for several days. The LED torch, USB charger and FM radio are all handy for those little emergencies. Just remember that the F24 Power is a feature phone that would have been well spec’d ten years ago, cf Nokia 6300, so adjust expectations as appropriate.

The F24 Power is currently available from Sainsbury’s for only £20 in the UK. Thanks to Archos for the loan of the F24 Power.


MicFlip First Reversible Micro-USB Cable



microflipThe folks at Winnergear have come out with the World’s First Reversible Micro-USB Cable. Have you ever gotten frustrated when you where trying to plug a Micro-USB cable into something, and flipped it back and forth a couple of times. Or looked at the device to figure out the correct orientation? I have! Well those days are gone.

This review is simple, just plug it in anyway you want! Not only on the Micro-USB side but also the USB Type A plug both are reversible. Simple no more stabbing the plug and flipping the connector. Just plug it in.

Get it today for $19.99 at WinnerGear free shipping included.


STM Trestle Backpack Review



stm-trestleBackpacks are a challenge to review as many look and feel the same. My goal is to always breakout what I think sets a backpack apart. The folks at STM Bags sent over the STM Trestle Backpack for me to review. Having reviewed a few of their backpacks in the past, I am pretty familiar with their product line. But this specific backpack I instantly fell in love with.

First and foremost was the build quality in that they have really stepped into the premium backpack category in material and build. The inside of the bag was where it really sold me in how well they protected my devices. The sleeves where a laptop or tablet will go are fleece lined making for a fantastic scratch free environment for my devices. Thoughtfully there is a well designed pad at the bottom of the bag so that if I set the bag down hard, I will not bust anything.

stm2While the STM Trestle is smaller than most backpacks, it fits my 12 inch laptop and my iPad Pro perfectly.  There no less than 6 pockets to stash stuff a nice feature is  a zippered pocket within a zippered pocket where you can make it harder for someone to get to that pocket that is snooping. It is designed in such a way that both men and women will want to have this on their shoulder.

In the main pocket of the backpack there where 4 sections to organize your gear/ paperwork.  Critical straps are always double and triple stitched with bag zippers that will not bind and or break. To many laptop bags come with weak zippers that split. This is not the case with the STM Trestle.

Priced at $119.95 I am confident that you will get years of use out of this backpack. It is the perfect travel or day to day companion to tout your gear around yet be small enough you can stash it under the table at lunch and not have it in the way.

 


Samsung Galaxy S7 Review



s7The folks over at AT&T sent me a Samsung Galaxy S7 to review unlike other reviews I do. I thought it appropriate to let my wife use it as well for a couple of days as she is currently using a S5. Her comments are below, but let me weigh in on the device first.

The first thing that hit me was wow the screen is simply incredible, and it really did take me by surprise. The second thing that really hit me with this phone was that it was incredibly thin and lite weight. So lite in fact that I had to touch my pockets several times a day to make sure I had not left it on the desk. I also had a small concern that I would drop it the finish on the S7 is really polished. I would definitely want to make sure I had a case for it! So far as the operation of a phone it was very fast and app load times are equivalent to other top end mobile devices.

Obviously every new phone is typically better than the last, and this phone is no exception. The Samsung team really did a nice job with the S7 and as indicated by various reports is selling very well.

My wife’s comments follow. She says the S7 is a significant improvement over her S5. While pretty obvious to me this comes with a disclosure, prior to her using the phone she had been leaning at going back to iOS. But after using the S7 for three days as her primary device, she said that next month when her current phone is eligible for an upgrade that she would stay on Android and be looking very favorable with getting the S7. This more than anything surprised me. She also said that the she could actually multi-task with the Samsung Galaxy S7 and that the screen was large enough that she would likely not need to use her tablet as much.

The specs:

  • 5.5″ Quad Super AMOLED dual-edge display
  • 12 MP dual-pixel rear-facing camera and 5 MP Front Facing
  • IP68 water-resistant rating1
  • 3,600mAh battery
  • Quad Band World Phone

I want to add something on water resistance a friend of mine upgraded to the S7 upon examining the review phone, he dared me to dunk it in water.  I did not, but when he got his, he put it in a glass of water in front of me and left it there for 20 minutes.  Worked like a champ. I do not suggest doing this with a new phone, but he proved that the water resistance of the phone was pretty incredible.

You can pick up the Samsung Galazy S7 from AT&T for $26.50 for 30 months or $794 retail.