A few weeks ago I took a look at Lumsing's harmonica battery pack. Now from the same stables comes the lengthily titled DCH-5U 5-Port USB Travel Wall Charger. This is a slightly different twist on the idea of providing power to travellers' devices -- this is a wall charger rather than a portable battery pack. If you're going on vacation, taking a trip, or even just hitting the office, there are your devices to consider. Your phone, tablet, MP3 player, and other bits and pieces all need power, all need their own charger.
Except they don’t. Leave all of your chargers at home, and just take a selection of USB cables -- this 5-port hub allows for up to five USB devices (obviously) to be charged from a single wall power point. The 31W/6.2A unit has two 5V 1A ports for phones, and three 5V 2A ports for tablets and devices with higher power demands. Oddly, the ports are labelled, left to right, iPad, iPad, Samsung Tab, iPhone, and Android. It would have made more sense to simply indicate which of the five were the high-powered ports, but this is a minor niggle in the grand scheme of things.
Taste in music is very personal. My favorite genre is Hip-Hop, but many people detest that music type. And really, that's OK -- not everyone has to like everything. However, it is nice for people to respect all music. Even though I listen to songs from Slum Village, Lil Wayne and Mobb Deep, I can respect others too. Hell, I went to the Beach Boys concert this past Saturday night and had a blast.
As polarizing as music can be, so too can music mediums and hardware. Some people still swear by vinyl, others by CD and people like me are OK with streaming music services and MP3. Sadly, when it comes to hardware, like speakers and headphones, it seems consumers are adverse to spending money on quality. It is crazy to see people listening to music with expensive smartphones and tablets with $10 junk ear buds. Today, I am looking at an expensive and polarizing set of on-ear cans -- Beats Solo2.
With the recent Hurricane Arthur moving up the east coast of the US, power becomes something to worry about and a mobile connection can prove a lifeline for many people in the path of such storms. Keeping a tablet or cell phone alive during a disaster is paramount, but portable power is also handy for mundane times like travel and camping.
Backup batteries are not scarce on the market, you can find any number of them if you look. The real question is, what do you need? Ideally, you want the maximum mAh you can afford, as it will provide the most charges -- remember that battery in your phone is rated, and is usually somewhere in the 2,000 to 3,000 range. Use that number to compare to what you are buying to get a rough estimate of the amount of times you will be able to recharge. If you live in a household with multiple members then that should also be taken into account.
It is hard to get excited about an Android smartphone nowadays. There are simply too many similar devices on the market. Slightly faster processor? Slightly larger screen? Yawn. At this point, Android is simply evolution rather than revolution. Hell, Google I/O 2014 was rather boring. While the proposed changes to Android "L" are nice, it is hardly anything to get excited about.
Instead, it seems that true innovation is coming from the manufacturers, rather than Google. There have been many cool additions to Android by Samsung, LG and HTC to name a few. Samsung in particular has enhanced the OS immensely with its tweaks and features. Sadly, many critics have lambasted that manufacturer for cluttering the user experience with too many features. While I understand the "less is more" philosophy, I refuse to fault any company for being too ambitious. For the past couple weeks, I have been testing Samsung's ambitions with the Samsung Galaxy S5 (Verizon) and I would like to share that with you.
When we first looked at AOMEI Data Backuper in January 2013 it was a capable free image backup tool with some limitations -- no scheduler -- but a lot of promise. Now at version 2.x , and renamed to AOMEI Backupper Standard, is the program worth considering again? We checked it out.
Installation remains quick and easy. It’s the free edition of a commercial product, but there’s no adware, no nag screens, no unmarked functions which display annoying "can’t use this until you pay" messages. Only an unobtrusive "Upgrade" link on the main page reminds you there are other options available.
Samsung's Galaxy Tab Pro comes with an 8.4-inch, 10.1-inch and 12.2-inch screen. I reviewed the pen-friendly foil to the largest Tab Pro, the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 earlier this year, and we've also already looked at the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4.
What you have in the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 is quite an interesting concept. A giant sized screen, in tablet format, that at £480 for the 32GB version easily costs as much as a good laptop but which lacks a lot of laptop features. There's no capacious hard drive, no physical keyboard, no support for the huge range of apps you might want to run on Windows or OS X.
HTC has been extremely busy recently in terms of unleashing handsets upon us. Over a period of just a few weeks I have reviewed the flagship HTC One M8, the smaller format HTC One mini 2, and the HTC Desire 816. Now, with barely a pause for breath following those last two reviews, here comes the HTC Desire 610.
Styled by HTC as a good value, entertainment-focused handset, the Desire 610 costs around £235. It shares a lot of design features with its more expensive, higher specified cousin the Desire 816, which will set you back close to £300. So, if you need to save money but like what the Desire 816 has to offer, is this handset a good buy?
As we become more and more reliant on mobile gadgets it's inevitable that running out of battery life on your phone or tablet will become a regular occurrence.
Since we don't tend to carry chargers around with us all the time this can be a bit of a problem. If you have access to a USB port, however, your problems may be over.
Android smartphones are a dime a dozen nowadays. If a manufacturer wants to stand out among the sea of rectangular Google-powered devices, it has to bring it. But, what exactly is "it"? Is it specs? Is it the experience? What exactly do consumers want? I'm not sure that is crystal clear anymore. When buying a smartphone, consumers are forced to choose between an iPhone or Android (sorry, Windows Phone). If you want an iPhone, there isn't much choice, it is an easy decision. If you want Android, well, you'd better do your homework. Do you want pure Android or a tweaked UI? What screen size do you want? How much do you want to pay?
Cost is a huge factor now, as devices like the Motorola G push the boundaries of what a low-cost smartphone can be. For a consumer to spend a huge amount out of pocket or sign their life away with a long contract, the phone needs to be exceptional. There must be real reasons as to why they should buy it over a low-cost no-contract variant. When the LG G3 was announced, I was immediately impressed with how the company focused beyond the incredible specs to the overall user experience. But, would the G3 prove to be wonderful in practice? Luckily, I've been using the phone and I can now answer that question.
HTC has stolen a lot of limelight recently with its flagship handset the One M8 and its smaller One mini 2, and you could be forgiven for thinking that these two are just about all the phone maker has in its range. But in fact the Desire range continues to go strong, and a couple of handsets announced earlier this year have recently popped up for review. I’ll be covering the Desire 610 soon, but today’s review handset is the Desire 816, a large format phone on sale for around £300 which ticks quite a lot of boxes.
The Desire 816 doesn’t have the startlingly good build quality that its top-end cousin the One M8 boasts. The body is unashamedly plastic, and my white review sample had a shiny white plastic back which, while not removable, is quite clearly a separate section. You can see the join where it meets the matte sides of the phone so clearly that it’s almost embarrassing for HTC.
Lenovo seems to be hedging its bets in the exciting new world of tablet-Ultrabook hybrids. The company offers models where the screen is removable, like the ThinkPad Helix, and also where it rotates, like the ThinkPad Yoga. The Yoga 2 Pro is the latest non-corporate version of the latter. The basic concept is the same as the ThinkPad Yoga, but it moves the genre forward considerably in one key area.
The primary step forward is the screen, which has a whopping resolution of 3,200 x 1,800. This is even greater than the considerable 2,560 x 1,440 offered by Dell's XPS 11 2-in-1 Ultrabook, although the Yoga 2 Pro has a larger 13.3-inch display, like Toshiba's KIRA 101. It's an IPS screen, too, so doesn't suffer from the viewing angle issues of the cheaper TN variety, with the display clear from every position. Detail is superb, although colour is a little more muted than we would have expected.
Listening to music on a computer can be a very rewarding experience nowadays. However, we aren't far removed from the days where laptops and desktops shipped with horrible speakers. This shouldn't be surprising though; while mp3 and streaming audio is commonplace now, listening to music was not always expected on a computer. Tinny-sounding, rattling speakers were OK for midi files, but now we expect much more.
While Bluetooth speakers are very convenient, their sound quality usually does not match a hard-wired set. My favorites for many years are the Logitech Z-2300 -- a 2.1 setup, which are THX certified and pack a 120 watt subwoofer. I still own these speakers, but they are extremely bass-heavy, even with the bass knob turned down to the lowest setting. They can be overly disruptive to the other people in my home, as the walls shake. For a party, they are great, but for everyday use I need something more tame. Today, I am looking at the Cambridge Audio Minx M5 in hopes that I have found that.
Acer is probably not the first company you will think of when you start pondering tablets -- but in fact it has quite a pedigree. It has forayed into Windows-based tablets, with recent examples being the Iconia W4 and the Iconia W700 -- an attempt at an all-in-one/tablet combo. And its Android-based tablets are plentiful with A and B series lines alongside the more recently announced Tab 7 and One 7. ITProPortal actually reviewed the predecessor to this new model, the Iconia A1-810, last summer.
As tablets go the 16GB Acer Iconia A1-830 is a bit of a baby. It has a 7.9-inch screen, just a bit larger than the 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX and Nexus 7, and the same as the iPad mini. Its price marks it out as a budget buy at £140. For reference, the Nexus 7 16GB and 16GB Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch are both £199. The 16GB iPad mini is over £300.
Having been born in the 80s, I've seen a lot changes in technology. Believe it or not, our first VCR was a hand-me-down with a wired remote -- yes, wired. We also did not have a cordless phone for quite a while. Instead, we had a phone with a 50-foot cord. My first Walkman, a non-Sony portable cassette player (they were all called "Walkman" back then), had crappy corded headphones. Are you seeing a trend yet? Cords, cables and wires were a necessary evil.
Luckily, nowadays we have wireless everything. The coolest technology for me is Bluetooth headphones. The fact that I do not need to strategically run a cable down my shirt or jacket is a godsend. Unfortunately, the quality of Bluetooth devices vary wildly. It is easy to buy a wireless set of cans that sound terrible. So, are the VOXOA HD Wireless Stereo Headphones terrible or great?
Android phones have become rather predictable. Year after year, we see specs increase and little else. In other words, the Android market has become stagnant. Even low-end phones are very good -- case in point, the Moto G. However, many consumers still want to have top of the line devices, so manufacturers keep pumping out flagships.
Today, I had the opportunity to attend the LG G3 event in New York City. Since I had already seen many of the leaked images, I was not expecting to be surprised. However, the company did surprise me by focusing on software and UI improvements in addition to the improved hardware. When I finally got my hands on the beautiful hardware, I surprised myself -- rather than focus on what the G3 hardware is, I focused on what it does.