LifeProof has been in the case game for a few years now. They advertise their cases as being water, dirt, snow, and shock proof. I caught up with the folks at LifeProof at CES this year and took a look at what they had to offer now. They graciously sent me some review samples to put through the paces. This review has been a long time coming, but I wanted to be fair and honest with it, so I used both cases for over a month before deciding to jot down my thoughts. Well, here it goes…
At first glance, one would think these are some very strange looking headphones. AfterShokz Sportz M2 headphones are not your traditional headphones you would find in the store, they are open ear headphones that use bone conduction technology to transfer stereophonic sound via vibrations on your cheekbones to the inner ear.
I was first introduced to AfterShokz at CES 2012. They had a very impressive product, and I could tell they were off to a good start. Well, CES 2o13 rolled around and AfterShokz was back with a bigger and more impressive booth. They had revamped their product line and made some great improvements.
AfterShokz sent me a set of the Sportz M2 headphones to review, and it has been a pure pleasure to be using these headphones. Keep on reading to see what I thought about them.
The days of cable-less phone management are now one step closer. AirDroid allows any phone running Android 2.1 or higher to be managed over a wireless network. Everything from photos, music, apps, even your SMS messages, can all be controlled through a simple web interface.
The operation really couldn’t be any simpler. You start up AirDroid on your phone, it will give you a local IP address to enter into your browser, enter the 4 digit randomly-generated password, and you are in. AirDroid lays out everything in a desktop setting, so everything is very straightforward. Have some photos you want off your phone? Simply click the photos icon, and you are greeted with a folder view of all the photos on your phone. You can then easily export them to your desktop. Same goes for music, files, and apps. You can also completely manage your SMS messages from within AirDroid, so if you are on your computer, you no longer have to switch back and forth to and from your phone when you get a message. Another very cool thing you can do is import/export text to and from your phone’s clipboard. So if you have a website you found on your phone, but it would be a pain to find on your computer, simply copy the URL, go to the Clipboard within AirDroid on your computer, and copy it from your phone.
The best thing about AirDroid is that it is completely free. It also currently sports an amazing 4.8 of 5 star rating on the Android Market with over 7500 reviews. You can check out a video of AirDroid in action below.
It’s happened to all of us. We are in a meeting, or a movie, or class, or some other place where an inopportune phone call or text message would immediately draw everyone’s attention to you, and not in a good way. Ring Dimmer is an app for Android that uses the ambient noise to intelligently adjust your phone’s ringer volume. This works both ways. If it is loud, it will crank up the volume. If it’s quiet, it will turn it down. This is also good for times where you are just by yourself at home, for instance, and full blast ringtones are way too loud.
I had the opportunity to beta test this app for the past few days, and it does what it says. The app is very bare bones, with only 2 options available. You can either enable or disable it, and enable or disable the “Smart Vibrate” feature, which goes a step beyond adjusting the volume and will use factors such as ambient noise, time of day, and the light and proximity sensors to determine if vibrating would be a better option than ringing. In use, I tended to leave Smart Vibrate off, because it would tend to decide that it was always the best time to vibrate (when it is plugged in, for example). The ring dimming though did work very well. I had imagined that this app would be a HUGE drain on the battery, seeing that it has to listen to the ambient noise to make a decision on the ringer volume. This ended up being completely the opposite. Using my best guess, I’d imagine that the app intercepts all notification sound requests, samples the ambient noise, adjusts the volume accordingly, and sends the notification request on its way. I have no idea how long a sample it uses, though.
This had some unintentional consequences of choosing to sample during a random quiet moment, or a random loud one, and would then either play the sound way too loud or way too quiet. One horrifying scenario that I imagine is my phone getting misplaced with Ring Dimming and Smart Vibrate on, and then trying to call it to locate it via the ringing. My one gripe with this app is that there is no customization. There is no way to set thresholds for volume levels, adjust the sensitivity of the mic, or anything. You are basically stuck with “On” or “Off”. Granted, out of the box it does a pretty good job, it could be much better if you could customize it.
Ring Dimmer is available in the Android Market for $0.99. You can also check out a video of it in use below.
I dislike earbuds. Before the advent of the “in-ear” variety, when the world was stuck with only iPod earbuds, I literally could not wear them. They didn’t stay in my ear for more than about 10 seconds, and those 10 seconds hurt. Then came along the in-ear headphones with the changeable silicon tips. Instead of trying to sit on your ear, these snuggly fit inside the ear canal itself. This made it so they didn’t fall out, but extended listening periods became painful. Now we have a hybrid of the two which promises to be the most comfortable earbuds you ever wear, and guaranteed not to fall out.
I’d never heard of Yurbuds before, but apparently the company is the #3 headphone vendor in the US. These headphones are designed specifically for athletes, by athletes, and are made of some pretty tough stuff.
Comfort: These headphones are comfortable. They were in my ear for the entire 5 and a half hour trip home from CES, and never once did I have to take them out due to being uncomfortable.
Strength: I can’t say specifically what the headphones are made of, but I was told that the gauge of wire used in the headphones, coupled with the sheath material, give them the highest tensile strength of any headphones on the market. This means they will last. I have given them some pretty big yanks, and so far they are going strong with no sign of damage.
Water Resistance: All Yurbuds products are moisture and sweat resistant. This doesn’t mean you can go swimming in them, but it means that sweat and rain are not going to phase them. Read more
Huawei is everyone’s favorite brand that they don’t know how to pronounce (it’s WAH-WAY for anyone who needs to know). Historically confined to bargain phones and smaller carriers, Huawei is breaking its own mold with its latest products. The Springboard is one of the products that has the potential to bring Huawei into the big leagues.
At first glance, this does not look like a Huawei product. The build quality is amazing. With the exception of two plastic accents at the top and bottom of the tablet, it is all aluminum and and glass. While not necessarily light or slim, the tablet feels great in the hand, similar to the tank-like build of Motorola’s original Droid. Fans of Samsung phones and tablets will think it’s a monster, however.
Under the 7″ screen lie all the goodies you would expect of an Android 3.2 tablet on T-Mobile: a 1.2 ghz Qualcomm dual-core processor, 768mb of RAM, 8gb internal storage with a micro SD slot for expanding, WiFi/HSPA+/GPS radios, support for 1080p playback, and a gorgeous IPS display.
However, all of this greatness didn’t come without a price. There was one glaring issue that almost made the tablet unusable until I happened to figure out a workaround, and a couple nitpicky things that prevent this tablet from being a true champ.
Build: This tablet is practically dripping quality. A nearly solid aluminum chassis that reaches all the way around the tablet to the glass feels great in the hands, and gives a pleasant heft and sense of sturdiness that some other tablets are lacking.
Screen: The screen on this is amazing. At 227 pixles-per-inch, this IPS display is bright, easy to read in all lighting conditions, and has great color accuracy, with none of the ghosting or weird artifacts that happen with Pentile screens.
Battery: The 4100mAh battery is rated for 6 hours of use, and it easily reaches that. In my testing, pretty constant use with reading and watching Youtube over WiFi brought me to about 50% after 5 hours.
Software: Huawei chose to play it safe and leave a vanilla Honeycomb experience on the tablet, which in my opinion is a great idea. This means that updates can get pushed out much faster, as there is no fiddling with custom skins like MotoBlur or Touchwiz.
Camera: The camera is surprisingly clear for being only 5mp. The 720p video that is records is also pretty good, but does suffer from blur when the camera is moved too fast. Read more
Have you ever wondered why all electronics aren’t waterproof? For those times when you accidentally jump in the pool with your phone still in your pocket, or you spill your drink all over your keyboard? Well, this may not work for all occasions, but it is definitely the next best thing.
Enter LokSak. This company specializes in creating bags specifically to element-proof whatever is inside. Designed with the help of world champion Adventure Racers, and tested and certified by the US Navy Experimental Diving Unit, these bags are no joke. When you take a look at them, they appear to just be heavy-duty Zip-Loc bags. Then you notice the fine print on the bag that reads “Certified waterproof to 200 feet” and “Puncture-resistant”. These are no ordinary plastic bags. Designed with a patented hermetic-seal zipper closure, they are completely waterproof and air-tight, and reusable. Seeing as they were tested and, according to their website, used by the US Navy, I figured I would put them to the test.
Since I’m only a closet outdoorsman, and live in the city, I don’t really have the means to put these through their paces in the rigors of the natural world. So I had to devise a test to simulate weeks and months of extreme conditions. What I did was put some loose change, a car key, and some toilet paper into one of the bags. The key and change were to test the puncture resistance of the bag and simulate wear from the inside, while the toilet paper was to determine if any moisture made it into the bag. Read more
As promised, we made sure to visit Powermat during CTIA to catch up with our friends during the show and see what they’ve brought to the table. To be perfectly honest, there really wasn’t anything new that impressed. Well, not to us anyway. We already saw their roadmap into the near future at CES back in January. The difference now is that we’ve been given the green light to share the knowledge with our loyal readers! What was taboo to speak of before is now fair game; complete with photos of our private tour!
If you missed our previous article which reviewed the Powermat product, it is essentially the premier wireless charging solution for all your favorite small electronics. Imagine the ability to simply rest your device on a mat and have it begin a charge and notify you when it is done; completely free of wires. This is what Powermat delivers. If you ever felt that Powermat was a one trick pony in the wireless race, boy, are you in for a treat! Read more