Category Archives: Reviews

Kinivo BTH410 Bluetooth Headphones Review

IMG_9160The Kinivo BTH410 headphones are a 2-in-1 solution. This headphones features bluetooth capabilities for usage wirelessly or plug in the included 3.5mm jack for wired usage. Pricing and availability are currently available from Kinivo’s website as the headphones are out of stock at this time, but Amazon currently has a used pair for $33.00 (link). The headphones were sent out for review by Kinivo (link).

The headphones come in a glossy black color so it is a fingerprint magnet, but only shows up in direct light. The inside of the headband is a matte finish with a rubberized top portion so that it will stay on your head. The ear cups are a rectangular shape and are an on-ear fit. The headphones are comfortable and the padding is thick and soft. After a few hours (2-3) of continuous use, they do start to wear down on my ears (but most on-ear headphones cause that problem for me). The headphones are able to fold up for easy storage or for traveling.

All of the buttons and ports are located on the left side of the headphones. The multifunction button is on the headband portion with a blue LED. The button is an on/off switch, answers/rejects/ends calls, pairing, and plays/pause music. Adjacent to the multifunction buttons, on the side of the headband, are the replay and skip track buttons, as well as the volume buttons. On the ear cup itself are the micro USB port for charging the headphones, the 3.5 mm headphone port, and the microphone.

The headphones replaced my bluetooth headphones and my wired headphones. It is nice to have one pair of headphones that does both jobs. The headphones work with the included 3.5 mm flat audio cable for use without bluetooth. This type of audio cable reduces tangling cords. This option saves battery power, and I use this option when I am watching a lot of Youtube videos or TV episodes in one sitting. Additionally, the headphones come with a micro USB cable for charging.

When powering on the headphones for bluetooth use, a voice will announce the headphones are on by saying “Power on.” The same voice will announce when power off also, by saying “Power off” or playing a sound. There is also an announcement of “Pairing” when in pairing mode. The voice is quite loud so I would recommend activating these features with the headphones off of one’s ears.

Pairing is quick and easy. Once in pairing mode and bluetooth is turned on, the headphones will show up on the device’s bluetooth list for pairing.Multiple devices can be paired with the headphones for use at different times. I use the headphones with my Macbook and iPhone and both pair with the headphones in seconds after I turned them on.

The headphones have a long battery life (up to 8 hours stated on Kinivo’s website) and I was able to use them periodically everyday for 3-4 weeks before needing to charge. The headphones can be used with the included cable while the headphones are charging. The headphones will play a sound every minute or so when the headphones are running low on battery. Also, the headphones will flash a red LED instead of the usual blue color when the batteries are low.

The sound quality is great for listening to music. There is no loss of sound when using bluetooth. The bass is nice and thumping. The treble is present. Sound is clear and crisp. Each instrument can be distinguished in most songs. The headphones are also great for watching movies and making calls.

Overall, the Kinivio BTH410′s are a great solution to one’s headphone needs. This package offers a wireless (bluetooth) and wired options, which gives the user multiple options for using the headphones. These headphones also offer great sound quality with either option. The plus is the 8 hours of battery life for more enjoying and less charging. I would recommend this pair of headphones to those looking for a bluetooth headphones or a wired pair of headphones as they work great for both options.

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CHOETECH 21W/4.2A Dual USB Wall Charger Review

IMG_9137The CHOETECH Dual USB Wall Charger has two USB ports. One port is a 2.1 A Apple port and the other is a 2.1 A Android/Other port, which is indicated on the USB charger. The wall charger comes in two colors (white and black). The wall charger retails for $12.98 USD currently and is available on Amazon (link).  The wall charger was sent out for review by CHOETECH (link).

The charger is larger than the standard USB wall charger, but allows for two devices to be charged at the same time. When the charger is plugged in, a blue LED light turns on to indicate it is working. The USB ports are located adjacent to the prongs, which is different than most other chargers. But, the position of the ports is good for pointing the bright LED light away from direct contact with one’s eyes. It is on par in size with other two port USB charger I have used. Although, it is a bit heavier than the other chargers I have used. However, the shape of the charger can make it difficult to plug in two power bricks at the same time. Also, the prongs can be hard to open as they are collapsable for easy storage when not in use.

The charger is much faster than the certified apple charger in my tests. The iPhone 5S was used to test the charger. With the certified apple charger, it took 1.17 minutes to charge the phone 1%. The CHOETECH charger (the certified apple cable was plugged into the Apple 2.1 A port) clocked in at 1.02 minutes for 1%. This is a 15 minutes different to fully charge the iPhone to 100%. Keep in mind that charging times may vary so you may not get 15 minutes, but charging with the CHOETECH charger should be faster than the certified Apple charger.

Overall, I would recommend this charger because of the extra minutes the charger can save you. When you are on a time crunch or need those extra percentage of battery, this charger is great to have on hand.

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Proporta Wallet Case for iPhone 5/5S

IMG_8762The Proporta wallet case comes in tan, and is a distressed leather material. The case retails for $33.95 USD and can be found on Proporta’s website (link). The wallet case was sent out for review.

The wallet case uses an adhesive material to attach the iPhone to the case instead of a snap-on case, which is different than other cases, but reduces the bulkiness of the case. The adhesive is strong and holds the iPhone to the case well. Without the snap-on piece, the wallet case provides little drop protection for the sides. It has space for three cards and has another pocket for money or something else. The case closes via a magnetic latch, which holds fairly well.

The power button, 3.5 mm port, and lightning port are accessible when the wallet case is closed. Most of your 3.5 mm jacks and lightning cables should work with the case. The mute switch and volume buttons are accessible with the case open. The camera cutout does not interfere with the flash.

The iPhone’s front screen is parallel to the card slots so a the cards may come into contact with the screen. The top right corner of the back of the case is flimsy as it has no reinforcement (see video for more details).

The stitching on the case is even and the thread color accents the tan color well.  Scratches from daily use show up well because of the light color, but there is not too much wear and tear on the case.

Overall, the wallet case is great for cutting down on what you carry around every day. I went down from 5-6 cards to only 3. The wallet case is not great for playing some games as the front cover of the case is either hanging over the side or on the back of the case, which reduces the grip of the case. But, for those days where you are trying to cut down on what you are carrying around, a wallet case is a good choice.

 

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Proporta Barbour Hard Shell Case for iPhone 5/5s

IMG_8736The Barbour hard shell or snap-on case comes in a few different colors. Currently, Proporta has the case in brown in stock. The case retails for $33.95 USD on their website (link) and was sent out for review.

The olive green color and quilt- like design looks nice. It is a simple design, but is still sophisticated and classy.

The case adds minimal bulk, but as a drawback it provides little protection. There is scratch protection for the back of the iPhone, but the front is fully exposed. All of the buttons are accessible so most of your 3.5 mm jacks and lightning cables will work without removing the case. The camera cutout is large enough so there is no interference with the camera or the flash. The case is flush with the front of the iPhone so there is no lay on the table design.

Overall, the case is great as a snap-on because of the minimal bulk, but for those who are accident-prone, this may not be the case for you as it provides little protection.

 

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Destressing: 5 Online Games You’ll Love to Play

Destress This Mess

When you’re feeling worn-down, pressured, and stressed, sometimes the best thing to do is to turn away from the source of strain and let your mind relax. That’s what’s so great about online games. They’re quick, they’re easy to get access to, and they’re fun snippets of entertainment to take you away from your stress for a few minutes at a time. Let’s take a look at a few of the most interesting, stress-reducing games on the Internet today.

Idleplex

One of the more unusual trends in online gaming today is the rise of the idle game. Idle games are designed to work with minimal player input, allowing the player to enjoy the pure satisfaction of watching numbers rise and circumstances get more complex with every decision. Idleplex is six different idle games in one, asking players to build a massive tapestry of windows filled with one of six different mini-games.

What starts as a slow and silly game of keeping a bouncing goat in the air quickly evolves into a wall of wild, partially self-playing games where you rack up money for upgrades by the millions per second. Idleplex even has a convenient button to make it look like you’re working on a spreadsheet so you won’t get caught de-stressing at the office.

Robot Unicorn Attack

The “endless running” genre may have started with classics like Canabalt and gotten famous with mobile games like Temple Run, but few running games are as charming and addictive as Robot Unicorn Attack. This Adult Swim invention is ground zero for extreme irony, tasking players with navigating a magical land of floating platforms in the role of the titular mythological creature.

Crash through stars, capture butterflies and enjoy the 1980s synth pop of “Always” by Erasure in the weirdest quest for a high score ever. There are also variations on the original, including a delightfully dark “death metal” version, a mobile-only sequel, and an extra-challenging version that has the original unicorn transforming into other creatures.

Plants vs. Zombies

Sure, the supply of zombie-themed games is an endless horde, shambling through every genre looking for new games to devour, but this one is special. Plants vs. Zombies has a simple premise but deep gameplay, pitting the two forces against one another in a lane defense model for the ages.

There’s a single-player challenge mode, a multiplayer adventure mode, and a puzzle mode that’s good for fans of Bejeweled. It’s silly, it’s creative and it’s a must-play for those who get a lot of satisfaction out of besting greater and greater challenges. And when you’re ready for a new wave, a mobile-only sequel hit the market in 2013.

Poker

While you’re de-stressing, you might as well earn a little cash on the side. Some of the best online games are digital adaptations of classic casino games. From slots and roulette to card games and skill tests, these games are good for players who don’t have much interest in killing the undead, controlling a cartoon or going on an adventure. There’s a great community out there for dedicated players, the buy-in is usually pretty small and you have the chance to earn some cash besides.

Lumosity

Games don’t just have to be about mindless fun. Quite the contrary; games can actually strengthen your brain while you play. Lumosity is a system containing dozens of games designed to train your memory, reaction time, attention, and problem solving for players of all ages. These games have been proven effective by a variety of international studies, and the scientifically supported program has aims beyond simply entertaining and improving players. Lumosity games are actually advancing the field of cognitive science and making it easier for researchers to build better teaching tools.

Don’t let stress get the best of you. There’s an endless supply of great games online that are great at taking the edge off those high-pressure days. Some will make your brain stronger, some can supplement your income and some are just for fun. Happy gaming and don’t forget to post your high scores.

Scuf Gaming Hybrid Controller Review

IMG_8316Scuf Gaming makes professional gaming controllers for PC, Xbox, and PlayStation, as well as accessories and other gaming gear. They offer controller customizations so people can find or make their ideal controller. The Xbox 360 Hybrid controller (The Scuf Hybrid model) retails for  $125.95 on their website (link). The Scuf Gaming controller was sent out for review.

The controller arrives in a sturdy box that includes an instructions guide on how to set up the controller and how to remap the trigger buttons. It also comes with a Scuf-Key to adjust the trigger pull resistance.

The controller comes in a wired (for Xbox or PC) or wireless version, but the wireless version can be used as a wired controller for the Xbox. The wireless version (reviewed in this post) includes a rechargeable battery so it is a lot lighter than the original Xbox 360 controller. It is charged via mini USB, with the included cable. The cable charges the controller but it can also be used to game while charging through the Xbox. My controller has some battery issues as it was unable to hold a charge for more than a day even if I used it only for an hour, but I did not see anyone have this problem so it might just be my controller.

The Hybrid controller is light because it eliminated the battery pack and is rechargeable. This allows the user to continuously play longer without fatigue because the added weight of the battery pack on the original Xbox controller does add up over time.

The Scuf Hybrid has a matte finish on the front of the controller and a rubber-like back that improves one’s grip of the controller. The matte finish prevents fingerprints from showing up and keeps scratches to a minimum, if there are any scratches at all. The controller has a depressed/concave left thumb stick and a convex right thumb stick for extra grip. The d-pad is more defined than the original controller so pushing in different directions is more accurate.

The controller can be equipped with up to four paddles and they can be mapped (assigned) to any button desired via the remapping button located on the top of the controller. These paddles are great for FPS, other types of shooting games, and other games as well. They provide quicker access to the assigned buttons, but it does take some time to get used to this controller. The paddles are accurate and I have not had any times where it did not work when I used them.

The controller as a whole surpasses the original xbox controller in every aspect because it performs great as well as features many things that the original Xbox does not have. After using the Scuf controller for a week, I could not stand going back to the original Xbox controller because it was a lot heavier and could not perform like I expected it to.

Overall, the Hybrid controller is versatile and performs like I imaged a professional gaming controller to perform. It works as promised and outranks the original Xbox controller in every aspect. I would recommend this controller to anyone looking for a controller that provides better grip, performance, and is lighter than the original Xbox controller.

 

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Native Union Switch Speaker Review

IMG_8303The Native Union Switch is a portable bluetooth speaker that offers some big sound. It is a versatile device that does more than just playing music. It comes in a variety of different colors and the standard colors retail for $149.99 on their website (link) or view it on Amazon, where it is currently priced at $75 (link). The Switch bluetooth speaker was sent out for review.

The speaker is larger than some of the portable speakers on the market so it is less travel-friendly than some speakers but makes up for it in features. The speaker allows users to make conference calls, charge one’s device while using the speaker, play music in two different positions, and has a volume dial to adjust sound.

The Switch has four different ports which include the auxiliary port, the phone port (for conference calls), micro USB in for charging the speaker, and USB out for charging one’s device. Included with the speaker is a braided aux cord and micro USB cord that are the same color as the speaker. The braided cords are an added bonus because they do not fray as easily and do not tangle as easily than the conventional cords.

The volume dial is great for adjusting the sound of music or calls to the perfect level because it is precise and easy to turn. There is a feedback sound when the full volume is reached indicated that it has reached the maximum output of sound. Inside of the volume dial is the multipurpose button for turning off/on the speaker, putting it into pairing mode, playing and pausing music, and answering and hanging up calls. The LED next to the volume dial indicates what mode the speaker is in so in pairing mode, the speaker will alternate between white and red flashes. On the opposite end of the volume dial, on the speaker, is the LED indicator that shows the battery percentage left on the speaker.

The battery life on the Switch is impressive. I usually only have to charge it once every few weeks. I use the device about every few days for a couple of hours on average.

Build quality is great on the Switch. It is made of a soft touch plastic with a matte finish so it does not pick up fingerprints or scratch easily. The speaker looks sleek and fits nicely in any room.

The Switch can be used in the horizontal or vertical position and offers the same sound in either position. This is a unique feature of the speaker so if the user has limited space, the speaker can be used in the vertical position.

The sound quality is clear on the device. It fills a small or medium room well. The sound on the speaker carries well. The bass on the device has a nice thump to it. The highs, mids, and lows are present. There is also some good treble. The speaker is also great for adding some surrounds sound to a movies, videos, etc.

Overall, the speaker offers a nice alternative to the speaker on one’s device.  It packs a loud punch in the sound department and offers some extra dimensions of sound that may not be available on one’s laptop, phone, or mp3 player. I would recommend this speaker to those looking for a bluetooth speaker that has good sound quality and many other features.

 

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