Category Archives: review

Pacum Sucks…And That’s a Good Thing



Master Space LogoBudget airlines have revolutionised air travel over the past few decades, and while the seats might be cheap, putting luggage in the hold can be pricey: I was recently on a trip where the ticket price trebled when hold baggage was added, so you really want to try and get everything into your hand luggage to get the cost down. Clothes can be bulky, though, and it’s difficult to get everything needed into a small trolley case.

Sitting on the bag in the hope of getting the zip done up isn’t the solution, but the Masterspace Pacum Travel Vacuum Compressor might be. It’s a personal vacuum packer, meaning the clothes go in an airtight bag before the air is sucked out by the Pacum, squeezing the garments down to a fraction of their size. That’s how you get more clothes in the trolley case. Let’s take a closer look.

Pacum vacuum compressor with accessoriesThe Pacum comes in a box which belies the diminutive size of the Pacum itself. Available in three colours; red, white and black, the Pacum is smaller than a 330 ml drinks can and is more rectangular than round. The actual dimensions are 86 x 43 x 43 mm and weighs in at 145 g. The Pacum looks good with features on three of the six surfaces. On the bottom are two rubberised air holes, one for vacuuming and one for inflation. On the top is a USB C port for powering the Pacum and on the side are three buttons for Eco, Super and Inflation modes.

In the box, there’s the Pacum itself, a 1 m USB C cable, a Pacum vacuum bag and adaptors for other vacuum bags, pool toys and sports balls, plus a small travel drawstring bag. To be clear, there is no USB charger supplied and, contrary to my first thoughts, there’s no battery in the Pacum either. It’s fully powered by the USB C port on the top, and a 2 A power supply is required, either from a mains charger or a battery pack. 1 A will not work and the Pacum will cut out with a flashing red light. Trust me on this.

Pacum on Bag Before CompressionReady to go on your holidays? Put the clothes you’re taking into the vacuum bag and arrange them to suit the available space in the luggage – you’ll not be able to do this afterwards. Close up the bag and make sure it’s properly sealed along the edge. Unscrew the cap in middle on the vacuum bag and then slip the Pacum over the nozzle. It uses the larger of the two air holes on the bottom so it’s hard to go wrong.

Assuming that the power cable is plugged in to suitable power source, pressing either of the two “minus” buttons (-) and (=) will start the Pacum up in either Eco or Super mode. Simplistically, Super sucks harder than Eco, although I can’t really see any good reason to use Eco mode. While sucking, the light on the Pacum flashes blue and it’ll go red if there’s not enough power being supplied to the device.

Pacum on Bag After CompressionUsing the supplied bag with a couple of t-shirts and jumper (that’s a sweater for those across the pond), it took about 90 seconds for the Pacum to evacuate all the air from the bag, resulting in a stiff but thin packet that uses a fraction of the original space. The two before and after pictures show the difference and you can watch my review video below.

The main purpose for Pacum is to remove air from vacuum bags, but that’s not its only trick. Inflating holiday pool toys usually involves much huffing and puffing, but Pacum will pump up the inflatables in no time. Use one of the three adaptors in the air outlet and press the Inflation (+) button. It would take awhile to inflate a large paddling pool but makes short work of rubber rings and footballs. The air outlet looks to be a standard size, so existing adaptors will likely work fine with the Pacum.

My only real gripe with the Pacum is that the supplied USB C cable is frustratingly short at only 1 m and would recommend twice the length for any practical use. Yes, you might get lucky with a hotel that has sockets on the counter but frequently they’re down behind the bed which is just a PITA with a short cable.

Pricewise, the Pacum is currently on sale at US$60 / GB£46 (RRP is $80/£61) and a set of five vacuum bags is US$29 / GB£22 (prices are rounded).

Overall, the Pacum is really neat little gadget that’s well-designed and works as described. Is it worth buying? Ultimately that’s a maths problem. If you fly frequently or travel as a family, I imagine it will be easy to save money with the Pacum by reducing or avoiding hold luggage charges. Do the sums.

There’s more in the unboxing and demo video below.

Thanks to Master Space for providing the Pacum for review.


Fenix LD30 Outdoor Flashlight



Big things come in a small package. The Fenix LD30 Outdoor flashlight has one of the most innovative designs I have seen in a while. When ordered with the ARB-L-18-3500u 18650 rechargeable Li-ion battery you unlock some very cool features. First of all the battery is recharged directly by plugging into the battery I have never seen anything like it. This allows the flashlight to be 100% waterproof. Providing 1600 Lumens of lumination and a multi-selection switch to change intensity. The onboard sensor even indicates battery charge life.

Priced at $79.95 with the battery included this is an incredible flashlight packed in a small package.


MyCharge Product Reviews



MyCharge Product Reviews, I look at two products from MyCharge.com The UnPlugged 10k Wireless portable charging station priced at $69.99 with a battery capacity of 10,000mAh with two additional USB-A ports and the RazorExtreme PD 26,800mah battery capable of charging a compatible device at 45W with 2 USB-A ports, and 1 USB-C port priced at $99.99 designed for Small Laptops, Tablets & Smartphones.

 


EarFun Go Portable Bluetooth Speaker Review



These days, listening to music is all too often a solitary affair. The earbuds are in, the playlist is loaded and it’s time to yourself. On the other hand, there are situations where the music needs to be a shared experience with friends and family: here the EarFun Go portable Bluetooth speaker can help out. Let’s take a look.

The EarFun Go is a portable Bluetooth personal speaker with 24 hour battery life and IPX7 water resistance. It’s a roughly cylindrical unit with flattish parts for the buttons along the top and the speaker grille on one side. It’s about 17 cm long and 6 cm tall. There’s a hanging loop at one end, and round the back there’s a rubber plug covering the USB C charging port and 3.5 mm aux in. Covered in a soft touch rubber coating with four little nubbin feet, the Go is black. All black.

For those uninitiated in water resistance ratings, IPX7 means that the device will survive immersion in up to 1m of water for half an hour. In reality, this means it’s perfect for pool parties or going to the beach where there is a risk the speaker’s going to take a dunk, but it’ll be fished out in fairly short order. Weighing in at 430 g, it does initially float but I get the feeling that once the air has escaped from behind the grille, it’ll be heading for Davy Jones’ locker. I’d be inclined to attach a small float to the loop for activities on open water. If you want to see the EarFun going in a bucket, check out the YouTube video.

In the box, there’s only the EarFun Go itself, a 60 cm USB C cable and instructions. What else were you expecting? Ok, a carry pouch or bag might be a handy little addition.

Pairing with a range of smartphones and tablets was faultless and once connected up, it was time to crank out the tunes.  The Go supports Bluetooth 5.0 which is in most high-end phones from 2018 onwards e.g OnePlus 6, Pixel 2, LG G7, iPhone 8. To be honest, I’ve no idea why Bluetooth 5 is better than 4…

The EarFun Go has two 6W speakers and it is surprisingly loud and clear but it’s not going to get a beach party going. Remember, it’s only a little over 6″ long. The Go is perfect for tables, sun loungers, picnics and beach towels. Audio quality is good for something this small, though it’s relatively easy to pump up the volume to distortion levels.

It is possible to pair two EarFun Gos together for wider stereo separation. I wasn’t able to try this as I only had the one speaker. Sorry.

Battery life is phenomenal. The manufacturer states “Up to 24 hour playback” and I don’t think they’re far wrong. I used the Go for over a week listening to music and podcasts for a couple of hours a day, and I still had 27% battery life remaining. Charging the battery takes about four hours from flat. I’m not going to disagree with that, either.

And for the EarFun Go’s final party tricks….there are five embossed buttons along the top: power, Bluetooth connection, multi-function, volume down, volume up. All the buttons do what’s expected of them, though the multi-function does a whole lot more. To start with, pressing the button once, twice and three times will respectively play/pause, skip forwards and skip back. Pressing the multifunction when there’s an inbound call will pick up the call, and pressing it again drops the call. And finally, holding the button down for 2 seconds will launch your digital assistant of choice, such as Alexa, and allow it to answer questions. I haven’t seen this feature before but I can see it being handy at times.

Any downsides? Well, there can be a bit of distortion at higher volumes, but my main gripe is that it’s only available in boring black. The EarFun Go deserves to be in bright colours, like red, blue and orange.

Here’s the full spec from the website
– Bluetooth Version: V5.0
– Bluetooth Profile: A2DP , AVRCP , HFP , HSP
– Transducer: 2 x 40 mm
– Output Power: 2 x 6W
– Signal-to-noise ratio: >=80dB
– Battery: 3.7V, 4400mAh
– Play Time: up to 24 hours – varies by volume level and audio content
– Charging Time: About 4 hours
– Dimensions: 58x171x62 mm
– Weight: 430 g

If the EarFun Go needs to be in your life, it’s available from both Amazon.com for US$39.99 and from Amazon.co.uk for GB£35.99. There are some special offers so check those out to save some extra cash.

Overall, the EarFun Go is a fun little portable speaker perfect for keeping you and your buddies entertained, even when it’s wet.

Disclosure: The EarFun Go portable speaker was sent to me for review at no cost.


Hidizs Sonata HD DAC Review – USB C to 3.5 mm



There’s no doubt that USB C is the new standard for smartphones, tablets and laptops and it replaces a plethora of legacy ports, including all the annoying variants of USB. In addition, USB C supports digital audio and several device manufacturers have decided to remove 3.5 mm audio sockets from their phones and tablets. Google, OnePlus, Samsung, Huawei and LG all have at least one model which only has USB C.

This is not good news if you have invested in high-end headphones or earbuds that connect via a cable. Yes, manufacturers typically include a USB C to 3.5 mm adaptor for the devices but my experience is that the sound quality isn’t that great – frankly, it’s rubbish.

Both my smartphone (OnePlus 6T) and tablet (Huawei Mediapad M5) are USB C only devices, and as an owner of some half-decent headphones, I’d been looking to improve the audio experience. I came across a recommendation for the the Hidizs Sonata HD DAC Cable II so I thought I’d try it out. I ordered via Amazon.com to be shipped to the UK, so it set me back about US$45 in total.

The Hidizs DAC comes in small zipped case typical of audio goods. Inside there’s the Sonata DAC cable itself, plus a USB A to USB C converter for use with laptops and PCs that don’t have the newer type of USB. It’s also needed for flashing the firmware, but more on this later.

First impressions are that this is a good product – the cable has lovely plaiting and the socket is metal….but we’re not here to look at the Sonata. What does it sound like?

Brilliant. The difference between the Hidizs DAC cable and the Huawei OEM one was easily noticeable. The sound was much clearer, with greater clarity and really opened up the performance.  Very impressed and would definitely recommend the Sonata if you have any kind of quality headphones. I tested with a range of headphones from Sennheiser to 1more, both over-ear and in-ear.

Using the USB A to C converter gives the benefits of the DAC over whatever penny chip was used in a PC or laptop. Windows 10 picked up the DAC on insertion and resetting the audio output to the new device yielded much better sound across the board too.

Finally, the Sonata 3.5 mm input is a TRRS type and supports headphones with a microphone, meaning you can take phone calls when you have your headphones on, as long as there’s a mic on the ‘phones. Interestingly, the firmware can be updated too and if you don’t use the phone function, the output audio quality can be enhanced further to 24bit/192kHz. I didn’t actually try to flash the firmware…

Overall, the Hidizs Sonata HD DAC Cable II is a big improvement over the cables provided in the box with smartphones and tablets sporting USB C. Recommended.

There’s more in the video below.

 


S-Charge 10,000 mAh Portable Power for Nintendo Switch Review



The Nintendo Switch is unique among the current generation of gaming devices, morphing between a console and a handheld. It’s a novel idea implemented well and a key factor in my choice to buy one for Christmas last year. For gaming on the go, the internal battery lasts a couple of hours which is usually enough for a commute, but for long journeys the Switch will need a recharge and this is where InDemand Design’s S-Charge comes in. Let’s take a look.

The S-Charge is a 10,000 mAh battery case for the Nintendo Switch that combines extra power with card storage and a multi-angle kick-stand. Originally, an Indiegogo project, the S-Charge is now available direct either from S-Charge or from Amazon for GB£65. This price includes the S-Charge itself, a carry case that takes a Switch with the S-Charge attached, a 45cm USB A to C cable and a screen protector.

The Switch slots into the S-Charge much like it slots into the standard TV dock, connecting into the lower USB C port. The Switch is retained in the S-Charge by a top hinge which rotates round and clicks into place, holding the the Switch securely while still giving access to the buttons and vents along the top edge of the console. The card slot’s not realistically available but it’s not much effort to flip the top up and switch the game card over.

Once connected up, pressing a small button on the left side powers up the S-Charge and there are four small white LEDs which show the battery level. Next to the button is a standard USB A port for charging other devices, such as phones or Bluetooth earbuds. Finally, there’s a USB C port for recharging the S-Charge via the supplied cable.

The long and adjustable kickstand on the S-Charge addresses one of the Switch’s other weak points, namely the flimsy, offset and single position built-in stand. The one on the S-Charge runs the full length of the unit and will click into about five different angles to get the Switch just right. Underneath the kickstand is space for two game cartridges.

Using the Switch with the S-Charge attached in handheld mode takes a little getting used for two reasons. One, the S-Charge weighs 325g and two, where do you put your fingers? A Switch with joycons attached tips the scales at 400g, so once the S-Charge is added, it’s 725g all in, which is hefty enough to hold. Depending on hand-size, fingers can either curl behind the joycons or lie along the the back of the S-Charge, but it’ll take a little getting used to. Obviously, neither of these are an issue if primarily using the Switch in tabletop mode.

The carbon fibre effect carry case is good too. It’ll take a Switch with both the S-Charge and joycons attached and there’s space for an extra six game cartridges. In the lid, there’s a zipped pocket to keep the charging cable and any other extras, like a screen cleaning cloth. The only thing I’d say about the case is that the zipped pocket has a metal pull on the zip itself. For the sake of the left hand joycon, I would have preferred a plastic one or at least a rubber coating.

The battery in the S-Charge is a beefy 10,000 mAh – that’s over twice the capacity of the Switch which Nintendo says is 4,310 mAh. How much extra gameplay depends entirely on the games being played with Zelda burning through the standard battery in less than three hours. Starting with the Switch and S-Charge at full capacity, Breath of the Wild play time could be extended to ten hours.

I used the S-Charge extensively over a couple of weeks and while I never managed to fit in a whole day of non-stop portable gaming, my experience was very much in-line with expectations. Taking the console round to another family’s home over Christmas, there was some serious Mario Kart for a couple of hours with only the loss of one white LED.

The S-Charge isn’t a pocket money purchase at GB£65, but you do get a multi-functional unit with a carry case and overall I think it’s a very good solution. Not only does it extend gaming-on-the-go to at least ten hours, the stand is much better, there’s cartridge storage and the S-Charge can recharge other devices too. It’s the perfect travelling companion for the Nintendo Switch.

There’s more on my YouTube video.

Thanks to InDemand Design for providing the S-Charge for review.


Jingle All The Way with a Bluetooth Bauble Speaker



Looking for the final decoration to finish off dressing your O Christmas Tree? Well take a look, or rather a listen, to the Accelerate Holiday Tunes bauble with Bluetooth speaker. Connect to a smartphone via Bluetooth and instead of a Silent Night you’ll be Rocking Around the Christmas Tree. The decoration comes in four different colours – Red, Gold, Green and Silver Bells.

The 200 mAh battery will Jingle Bells for about two hours before needing a charge via the supplied USB cable. There’s a microUSB charging port on the back and it takes a similar amount time recharge. You could go for a Sleigh Ride while you’re waiting.

Avoiding a Blue Christmas is straightforward. Hold down the power button to put the bauble into pairing mode and look for HOLIDAY TUNES in the Bluetooth settings of your smartphone. Once paired up, any music played on the phone from Spotify, Amazon Music, iTunes, etc. will come out the Holiday Tunes bauble. It’s not worth Driving Home for Christmas just to hear the music but the sound quality’s better than you’d imagine. There’s a hanging loop for putting the bauble on the tree.

The Holiday Tunes bauble is available from Amazon.co.uk, priced at around GB£12-£15 (the price changes a little). You may find it cheaper in store too – try Home Bargains. It’s kitsch Christmas fun so even if it’s a White Christmas and It’s Cold Outside, you’ll have a Holly Jolly Christmas with your favourite tunes.

More in the YouTube video below. It really is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

Disclaimer: This was a personal purchase.