2 months ago

Review: BB-8 by Sphero

BB-8 by Sphero

It's a Star Wars-themed robot you drive with your phone, and you can speak to it. No-brainer?

Smartphone-powered toys are not a new idea by any stretch, and there aren't many lists of the best in this category that don't include at least one of the little robots from Sphero. When the first trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens found its way to YouTube and the small soccer ball droid raced across the screen, several of us here at Android Central immediately thought of Sphero.

In fact, when we ran into a couple of Sphero folks at CES this past year, their awkward and somewhat coy refusal to answer any questions set fire to our imagination. After nearly a year of waiting, BB-8 by Sphero is real and ready for a spot in your home.

Here's our review.

BB-8 by Sphero

slight learning curve

BB-8 by Sphero Driving Mode

As you might have suspected by its design and the company behind the project, BB-8 by Sphero is a rolling robot powered by your phone or tablet. Just like Sphero and Ollie, the app is designed to make an effortless connection to your robot and get you driving as quickly as possible. Just start the app, hold your phone or tablet near BB-8, and when it lights up you're good to go.

BB-8 by Sphero

The driving portion of the app gives you a large virtual joystick and an orientation pad. Point the orientation dot to yourself, and whatever direction you slide the virtual joystick is the direction BB-8 will travel. The interface for driving couldn't be more simple, but since you're driving a rolling ball there's a bit of a learning curve. If you've ever used the original Sphero ball you've got the basics, but the addition of BB-8's head adds a layer of complexity in driving.

You can drive BB-8 on just about any flat surface, but things are a little different on each surface. On most carpets, BB-8 will be the most stable but not quite as fast when you first give a movement command. Hardwood and similar hard, flat surfaces are the best for BB-8 for movement, but it's easy for the robot to slide out of control for a moment or two. Gritty surfaces like pavement are the best of both worlds as long as the surface is nice and flat, but if you're on a road or a similarly imperfect surface, BB-8 tends to overcompensate any time there's a bump which frequently leads to pauses while the robot re-orients.

BB-8 wobbles

As a brief aside, there's no need to worry about those gritty surfaces damaging the outer shell of BB-8 as long as it is driven on the ground. Like all Sphero robots, the outer plastic is tough and stands up to quite a bit of abuse. That having been said, one of the fastest ways to deal permanent damage to BB-8 is to drive it off of something and let it fall off a table or down a flight of stairs. As long as you drive it on the ground, and that ground is nice and flat, BB-8 is a lot of fun.

Above all else, BB-8 will try to keep the magnetically attached head connected to the body. This means it turns a little slower to keep the head on the top half of the body, and while its top speed is right around the same as a Sphero ball it takes a little longer to get there. If you're not happy with how long it takes to reach that top speed you can tap the boost button in the interface, but if you lose control and there are kids around the results can be a little on the traumatic side when the head goes flying. Fortunately, all you need to do to remedy the situation is set the head back on top of the ball.

BB-8 crash

The rest of the driving interface is accessories for making BB-8 feel more like the bot we'll see in the upcoming Star Wars movie. You can make it shake the head yes or no, spin all the way around, shake with fright, and perform simple movements like a square or a figure-8. Each of these actions is accompanied by some audio, much in the same way you'd hear R2-D2 chirp as it moved. These sounds all come from your phone, which is cool when you're in a small room where everyone can hear BB-8 but somewhat less exciting when outdoors. Ideally, BB-8 would have its own speaker for this sort of thing, but when it works the audio accompaniment is cute.

BB-8 patrol mode

little rolly robot

BB-8 by Sphero Patrol Mode

If you'd prefer BB-8 drive itself, you can slide the app into Patrol Mode and tap the play button in the center of the instrument panel that keeps an eye on the robot while it rolls around without you. The Patrol Mode interface also has a couple of visual options for your phone, map readouts and gyro visualizations that are fun to cycle through. If nothing else, it's a fun thing to keep on your desk while the robot roams around. As long as the app is open and running, BB-8 will patrol the area you place it in. By patrol. we mean it picks a random direction and rolls around until it bumps into something.

This mode is really more for messing with you cat or surprising your kids, and as long as you have a large clean space with few obstacles it's a cute demonstration of how lifelike Sphero made some of the behaviors. When BB-8 bumps into a wall, it surveys the area and attempts to course correct. The behavior is almost like a Roomba, but when it gets stuck somewhere BB-8 will keep trying to wiggle out until the batteries are low.

BB-8 by Sphero

"come in, BB-8"

BB-8 by Sphero Voice Commands and Messaging

While they weren't available at launch, it didn't take long for Sphero to sort out some bugs and bring voice commands to the BB-8 Android app. You can enable voice commands in the app settings, and in doing so you can call out "OK BB-8" or "Come in, BB-8" and the app will flip to a voice recognition screen to let you know it's time to speak your command.

The list of commands you have access to right now is a little on the slim side. You can instruct BB-8 to explore if you want a few seconds of random behavior, ask how it's feeling to get a yes or no animation, and a handful of other basic movement commands. It's a cute accessory for showing off to friends who don't have a BB-8 for themselves, but there's only so many times you can shout "it's a trap!" at your robot and watch it peel off in a random direction before you find yourself wanting either new commands or the ability to make your own.

BB-8 trap

Included in the original announcement for BB-8 was a holographic messaging system, that looked as though you could record messages and send them to others to view on their BB-8 droids, but in reality the feature is a lot less exciting. You can record a message and view it yourself, or hand your phone to someone so they can see it, but the experience is currently a little underwhelming. It works through an augmented reality interface, the thought here being you can point your phone at BB-8 and through your camera and screen it will look like BB-8 is projecting a holo recording for you to watch.

In our extensive testing of this feature across multiple phones, it never really worked as advertised. The video frequently jumped around or failed to sync with BB-8, which quickly removes any lingering fascination with the ability to see a message in true Star Wars fashion. Hopefully this is something that will improve over time.

BB-8 by Sphero

the movie isn't even out yet

BB-8 by Sphero Final Thoughts

It was difficult at first to separate the excitement over a Star Wars product you can drive with your phone with the excitement over another Sphero product. While it isn't lost on any of us just how weird it is to get excited over a toy verison of a Star Wars character none of us know anything about yet, there's something surprisingly emotional about using this toy. The familiar audiovisual experience when navigating the interface, the way BB-8 reacts when something goes wrong, and the highly personal way you interact with the toy make it easy to feel a desire to slam money on the counter that never really existed with the previous Sphero products, even though they are equally fun to drive and play with.

On a technical level, BB-8 does almost everything Sphero promises it will do. The battery lasts at least a full hour of constant driving, and with exception to the holo messaging feature everything works well. The most impressive part about that is knowing how great Sphero is at improving their products over time with software updates. Anyone who has ever owned a Sphero robot before BB-8 will tell you this is a toy that will undoubtedly get better with time, which is great.

It's a solid experience if you're a fan of phone-powered robots, and when we all get to see The Force Awakens later this year it's likely this will be the big toy everyone is trying to get someone for Christmas.

BB-8 by Sphero

Should you buy it? YES.

Without a doubt, if you like Star Wars and robots and smartphone-controlled toys, BB-8 by Sphero is worth the $150. It's a genuine pleasure to use, looks nice, comes in quality packaging with a nice charger that looks good enough to display somewhere when it's not in use. While there's no denying the price is steep for a toy, even a Sphero toy, this experience deserves a spot in the home of any fan.

Sphero BB-8

Amazon Best Buy

img { width: 100%; } .devicebox ul { display: table; margin: 0 0 10px; width: 100%; } .devicebox ul li { background: #f7f7f7; margin: 2px 0; padding: 4px 15px; } .devicebox ul li:hover { background: #fff; } .devicebox ul li:before { display: none; } .devicebox p ~ p { line-height: 1.25; } .devicebox p:first-of-type + p { padding: 15px; } .devicebox a.buy-link { border-radius: 5px; display: inline-block; font: 14px/31px "Proxima Nova Extrabld",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; text-align: center; } .devicebox a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:link, .devicebox a.buy-link:active, .devicebox a.buy-link:visited { background: #37B5D7; color: #FFF; } .devicebox a.buy-link:hover { background: #2694B2; text-decoration: none; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { content: "\e61e"; font: 40px/0 "ac_iconset" !important; margin: 0 3px 0 -8px; vertical-align: middle; } /* PORTRAIT */ div *:not(:last-of-type):not(div) + .devicebox, div .netshelter-ad + .devicebox:not(:nth-last-of-type(3)) { float: right; margin: 0 0 20px 20px; max-width: 350px; width: 50%; } div *:not(:last-of-type):not(div) + .devicebox h3, div .netshelter-ad + .devicebox:not(:nth-last-of-type(3)) h3 { text-align: center; } div *:not(:last-of-type):not(div) + .devicebox a.buy-link, div .netshelter-ad + .devicebox:not(:nth-last-of-type(3)) a.buy-link { margin: 0 5px 8px 0; width: calc(50% - 5px); } div *:not(:last-of-type):not(div) + .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-child(even), div .netshelter-ad + .devicebox:not(:nth-last-of-type(3)) .devicebox a.buy-link:last-child, div *:not(:last-of-type):not(div) + .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-child(even), div .netshelter-ad + .devicebox:not(:nth-last-of-type(3)) .devicebox a.buy-link:last-child { margin-right: 0; } div *:not(:last-of-type):not(div) + .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-child(odd):last-child, div .netshelter-ad + .devicebox:not(:nth-last-of-type(3)) a.buy-link:nth-child(odd):last-child { display: block; margin-right: 0; width: auto; } /* LANDSCAPE */ @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox .video, div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox h3 + p { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } div :last-of-type ~ .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 20px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 59px; } div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox p img, div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox p, div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px), all and (max-width: 500px) { div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link { margin: 0 5px 8px 0; width: calc(50% - 5px); } div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-child(even), div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:last-child { margin-right: 0; } div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-child(odd):last-child { display: block; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 660px) and (min-width: 501px) { div *:not(:last-of-type):not(div) + .devicebox a.buy-link:before, div .netshelter-ad + .devicebox:not(:nth-last-of-type(3)) a.buy-link:before { display: none; } } @media all and (max-width: 660px), all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px) { div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox h3 { text-align: center; } div :last-of-type ~ .devicebox ul, div :last-of-type ~ .devicebox p { display: block; } } @media all and (max-width: 660px) and (min-width: 501px), all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px) { div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link { margin: 0 5px 8px 0; width: calc((100% / 3) - 7px); } div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):nth-last-child(odd), div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):nth-last-child(n+3) { margin-right: 0; } div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n+1):nth-last-of-type(2), div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n+1):nth-last-of-type(2) ~ a, div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n+1):nth-last-of-type(4), div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n+1):nth-last-of-type(4) ~ a { width: calc(50% - 5px); } div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n+1):nth-last-of-type(2) ~ a:nth-last-of-type(odd), div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n+1):nth-last-of-type(4) ~ a:nth-last-of-type(odd) { margin-right: 0; } div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-child(odd):last-child { display: inline-block; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 500px) { .devicebox, div *:not(:last-of-type):not(div) + .devicebox, div .netshelter-ad + .devicebox:not(:nth-last-of-type(3)) { float: none; margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { display: none; } } .page-admin .devicebox {max-width: 350px;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe {position: relative; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.9%;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe iframe {width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ */

Read more and comment

2 months ago

A quick review of Samsung's Clear Protective Cover for Galaxy Note 5


Things sure are slim with this OEM clear cover for the Galaxy Note 5, which doesn't mean much for protection, but it's something.

After a lackluster experience with the S-View Clear Cover, we figured there was still hope for a decent OEM option with the Clear Protective Cover for Galaxy Note 5. We weren't wrong, but there's still a lot to be desired at its particularly high price point.

Read more and comment

2 months ago

Dash and Dot robots review

Teach kids to program with the Dash and Dot connected learning system Samsung Galaxy Tab 4

One of the coolest benefits of our modern smartphone and tablet-using culture has to be the advent of gear that connects to smart devices. Users can connect to their smartwatches, exercise bands, thermostats, car engines, and much more. Naturally, connected apps also have educational uses as well. Kids love touch screen devices and tech, so why not use that tech to help them learn?

Dash & Dot from Wonder Workshop is a connected learning system that works with a pair of real-world robots named Dash and Dot. Using the two robots and a handful of Android and iOS apps such as Blockly, kids will learn the fundamentals of programming, problem solving skills, and much more. We've put Dash & Dot and the Wonder Workshop apps through their paces to bring you our detailed review.

Read more and comment

2 months ago

Top 10 best cases for Samsung Galaxy Note 5


These Galaxy Note 5 cases are the best of the best, offering you whatever level of protection you desire.

Since the official launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, we've had our hands on a few great cases that were both super-slim and a bit bulky. When you're shopping for cases for your Note 5, the options available can be overwhelming, so we're going to narrow it down to the best Galaxy Note 5 cases that are all wireless charger friendly — including some recommendations from members of our Galaxy Note 5 forums. Without further ado, let's dive in!

Read more and comment

2 months ago

Gadgets of the week: Jabra Eclipse, V-Moda Crossfade Wireless and more!


We've got a fresh batch of new Android-friend gadgets this week, particularly on the audio front. Jabra's newest Bluetooth headset is slick and full of noise-cancelling goodness, as well as its own pocketable battery dock. V-Moda has upgraded their premium headphones with wireless audio, but what will really interest you are the wealth of accessories available for it, including precious metal shields. There are plenty of other new accessory launches to check out, so dig in!

Read more and comment

2 months ago

Android Central's Ultimate Tech Tailgater's Guide


You can keep your tailgating setup simple, or you can go all-in like a true techie.

Picture pulling up to the stadium with gadgets designed for a good time like a WiFi grill, LED HDTV, gaming console, and smart cooler complete with all the essentials for a good time. Sounds dreamy, right? That's what we're after — the perfect pregame wishlist if you will. Let's dive in and tackle the selection.

Read on: The Ultimate Tech Tailgater's Guide

Davy Crockett WiFi Grill

For grilling up some grub, this easily portable WiFi grill from Green Mountain Grills weighs only 57lbs and folds open to run on 12V or 120AC. It comes packed with all the basics like a meat probe, peaked lid for ribs or large game, grease tray, thermal sensor that keeps track of the grill's ambient temperature, and of course a digital WiFi controller that allows you monitor grilling temps on meat, or even set timers on your food via the free Android app. This smart little grill retails for about $399 if you can stick a fork in that.

More info at Green Mountain Grills

BESTEK 300W Dual 100V AC Power Inverter

If your vehicle doesn't already come loaded with a power inverter, then this is an affordable option that'll get the job done for a few of your gadgets. Featuring 2 AC outlets and 2 USB charging ports (2.1A and 1A) you can run a TV, speakers, or your electric grill while connected to the cigarette lighter port. It's lightweight and easy to carry, packing a 40amp fuse and cooling fan with overload and short circuit protection. You can even get it with a pair of 3.8ft battery clips for a different setup.

Buy for $35 on Amazon

AmazonBasics Ultra-Thin HDTV Antenna

Pick up free HD channels from broadcast towers up to 50 miles away with this super-thin antenna that supports 1080p HD. As with most antennas, the quality of reception will depend on your surroundings and how far you are from the nearest towers. Included is an 18-foot coaxial cable for optimal flexibility to your TV. Channels including ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, and FOX can be obtained — all without any subscription fees and straight to your parking lot pad. You can snag this antenna in a shorter or wider mile radius as well.

Buy for $48 on Amazon

VIZIO 32-inch 1080p Smart LED HDTV

Yes, our dream tailgating setup includes a proper 32-inch LED HDTV — what of it? Maybe not everyone has the room for a TV, but with proper planning anything's possible, right? It's capable of 1080p full HD and over 2 million pixels, providing a perfect picture no matter what you're watching. As a smart TV, it comes preloaded with a bunch of apps including Netflix, Spotify, YouTube, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, and more. Hook it up to a WiFi hotspot and enjoy some Madden NFL 16 with your mates.

Buy for $248 on Amazon

Gaming Consoles: Playstation 4 and XBOX One

These next 2 choices are no-brainers. If you're going to do any kind of gaming while you party, you'll want the latest and greatest gaming consoles to push the the best graphics. The PS4 is great choice, rocking an octa-core Jaguar CPU, 8GB of GDDR5 RAM, and AMD Radeon GPU. If you're going the XBOX One route, good on you. It'll keep up with whatever games you throw at it with its octa-core AMD CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a GPU that's clocked slightly faster than that of the PS4, but a bit behind on shaders. Aside from just gaming, they're both excellent media centers, too. Just don't forget to load up on controllers if your plan on letting anyone else in on the action.

Playstation 4:

Buy for $379 from Walmart


Buy for $399 on Amazon (Madden NFL 16 1TB Bundle)

Buy for $349 on Newegg (Console only)

Madden NFL 16

We're tossing Madden NFL 16 into our lineup as well for good measure. Get your friends or neighboring tailgaters together and dive into some head-to-head action. You can create the ultimate team of your favorite NFL players and even dictate the outcome of each play as the ball is in air. You can grab Madden NFL 16 for PS4, XBOX One, PS3, or XBOX 360.

Buy for $54 on Amazon

Razer Leviathan Elite Gaming & Music Sound Bar

Having a compact and easily portable sound bar doesn't mean you have to sacrifice on the sound quality of your games and mobile playlists. The Razer Leviathan provides an impressive 5.1 channel surround sound experience that's paired with a bass-thumping subwoofer. It features a total power output of 30W, two 2.5-inch full range drivers, two .74-inch tweeters, and a 5.25-inch driver on the sub. You can pair your mobile devices to the sound bar using NFC, Bluetooth v4.0, or connect directly to your audio source using a 3.5mm cable or optical connection. Its design is unique and at only 19.7-inches in length, you won't have to fight to fit it in your car.

Buy for $197 on Amazon

The Coolest Cooler

Sure, you could bring any old regular cooler with you to the game, but this is one that's designed to kick things up a notch. The Coolest Cooler's plethora of features include a high performance blender, Bluetooth speaker, LED lid light, cutting board, bottle opener, accessory deck, USB charger, and its rubberized wheels are built for easy portability. The company has come a long way since its initial Kickstarter campaign, succeeding far past their $50,000 goal. It may not be a YETI, but it's got a lot more to offer for its price.

Buy for $485 from Coolest

Honda UE1000i Super Quiet Inverter Generator

Depending on how long you're claiming your party space, you can't go wrong with an easily portable generator. Keeping control of ridiculous dB's is Honda's EU1000i, a super-quiet, fuel efficient, 2K watt inverter generator that provides stable power for all your gadgets on site. It'll run anywhere from 3.8 to 8.3 hours on a single 0.6 gallon tank, depending on how much of your tech it's powering. The loudest this generator gets is an acceptable 59dBA, which will sit well with your fellow sports fans nearby.

Buy for $799 from Northern Tool

iDevices iGrill Mini

Whether you're slow cooking or just want to keep a close eye on meat temps, the iGrill Mini snaps magnetically to your grill and allows you monitor temperatures straight from your Android or iOS device up to 150-feet away. After downloading the free iGrill App, you can use preset temperature alarms, create your own, find recipes, share on your social networks, and more. The smart LED on the front of the iGrill Mini lights up when you're in range, indicating the cooking progress by color instead of having to check your phone while so close. For keeping track of more than one item on your grill, the newer iGrill2 sports two temperature probes with a very similar design.

Buy iGrill Mini for $32 on Amazon

Buy iGrill2 for $88 on Amazon

What's your ultimate tailgating setup?

That's a wrap on our ultimate tech tailgater's guide! We'd love to hear what your ideal tailgating setup would be for this NFL season and many others to come in the comments below.

Read more and comment

2 months ago

Groupon is selling the HTC RE for just $99


Groupon currently has an offer for the HTC RE, the small sports-style camera, which saves you 50 percent on the purchase. For a limited time, you can purchase the RE for just $99 from Groupon. The discount appears to only be on the blue version of the camera, but it is still a big savings.

Read more and comment

2 months ago

Review: Moto Hint 2015

Moto Hint 2015

Motorola's new Hint isn't a significant improvment over its predecessor, and in this instance that is a good thing.

People who buy Bluetooth headsets tend to care about one thing, and that's everything. A good Bluetooth headset has to be small, but it also has to have a big battery. It has to be discrete, but it also has to have amazing audio and a quality microphone. It has to have a great feature set, but it also has to be convenient and uncomplicated. While you're at it, Bluetooth headset manufacturers, it needs to be cheap.

You can walk the mobile electronics aisle of any store and see a reasonable combination of these features with an understandable series of compromises to match, but the Bluetooth headsets that stand out actively work towards having it all. Last year Motorola made their first serious attempt at a Bluetooth headset that could be all things to all people, but especially Moto X owners. It was called the Moto Hint, and this year Motorola has refreshed this mighty little earbud in a continued effort to do everything.

Here's our review.

The Moto Hint is designed to be the Bluetooth headset you reach for when you need it, instead of something you wear all day out of convenience or laziness. It's a small ear plug that sits in a battery case you hang on your keys, and when you climb into your car or you've got an incoming call you need to take privately, you shove this little piece of plastic and rubber into your ear and everything just works. There's a sensor on the inside of the Hint that detects your ear when it is inserted, which sends the command to power up the rest of the headset and pair to your phone.

There's no two ways about it, having a Moto Hint connected to a Moto X is damn cool.

Shoving this earbud into your ear is the nicest possible way to describe what happens when you prepare to use the Moto Hint. You're effectively forcing this piece of rubber and plastic into your ear canal until the curved back finds a groove it can comfortably rest in, and the combination of that resting position and the friction caused by the design of the rubber ear gel holds Hint in place. If your ears are particularly waxy, or you've been particularly active and are sweaty, there's a good chance you'll need to perform some personal maintenance before Hint comfortably sits and stays. Once you get that seal, however, it stays surprisingly well.

When you remove Hint from your ear, the headset disconnects automatically and prepares to be places back in its case. There are no physical buttons on the Moto Hint, it's all automatic and it really does "just work" when you go to use it. In place of a physical button, the flat area that sticks out of your ear a little is a touch sensor. You can place your finger on this area and hear a beep in your ear, confirming the touch was received and launching your voice command service of choice. On the Samsung Galaxy S6, this means you can choose between S Voice and Google Now, and whichever you choose becomes the default for voice commands for as long as it is connected. You tap once, speak your command, and as long as your voice assistant of choice translated you correctly you get the response you wanted.

Moto Hint 2015

Of course, this is just what happens when you're connected to something that isn't a Moto X. When you're connected to a Motorola phone with Moto Voice set up, something a great deal more impressive happens. Moto Voice uses the microphone in the Hint as the microphone for your phone's voice recognition system, which means your Moto Hint is now ready at all times for you to give your personal command and wake the phone from upwards of 150 feet away as though you were standing right next to it. There's no two ways about it, having a Moto Hint connected to a Moto X is damn cool, especially if you regularly use Moto Voice for things.

Moto Hint

When you insert a fully charged Moto Hint into your ear, the first thing you'll hear is a voice telling you there's three hours of talk time remaining. In our tests, this was a little closer to four hours of talk time. Depending on what phone your Hint connected to, standby times vary wildly. When connected to a Moto Voice phone, standby time is only five hours due to the constant connection to your phone. Any other phone will get you more than a day of standby time, since it's working like a regular Bluetooth headset in this situation.

According to Motorola, the battery case provides an additional 14 hours of talk time and either 27 or 200 hours of standby time. It doesn't provide this battery power all at once, rather through a constant swapping in and out as you charge it. Ideally the headset is always fully charged when you need it, so you've always got at least three hours of talk time to use. Placing the earbud back into its case and closing it immediately starts the charging process, and in our testing it took just under an hour to fully charge a dead Moto Hint. This works well for anyone who is casually using a Bluetooth headset, but those who require something constantly connected and are on the phone for more than three hours in a day may find it's important to keep a power supply nearby.

Moto Hint Galaxy S6

For most users, audio clarity is what separates a decent Bluetooth headset from a great one. The speaker on the Moto Hint isn't particularly loud, but it's nice and clear. For a Mono earbud, there should be little problem hearing the other side of the conversation and the occasional YouTube video or song almost passes for enjoyable. The microphone faces some natural challenges being so far from your mouth, and since it's not in contact with your jawbone it can't use audio conduction like some of the other small designs. As a result, the overall quality is a little on the muddy side.

As you can hear for yourself, while the audio in a quiet room is passable, there's not a lot going on in the way of ambient noise reduction. Using this headset in a car will result in some obvious background noise, and using this headset in a crowd will be less than ideal for the person on the other end of the call. It's far from unusable, but the limitations here are indeed noticeable.

Moto Hint 2015

Motorola's Bluetooth efforts have caught our eye for the send year now, but the bottom line remains the same. Hint is designed for people who need a Bluetooth headset for short bursts and aren't looking for the absolute best in audio quality. It's small enough that anyone could enjoy using Hint, but only if you can actually get the earbud to fit and stay and by comfortable. This is a solid update on an attempt to make a one size fits most Bluetooth earbud, and it goes a long way towards making the once awkward and bulky ear accessory disappear, but you're still going to need to touch one for yourself to see if its for you.

Buy: Moto Hint (2015)

Read more and comment

2 months ago

Amzer SlimGrip Hybrid Case for Samsung Galaxy Note 5


For light protection against minor accidents, the Amzer SlimGrip Hybrid hugs the Note 5 perfectly with complete access to its features.

This bumper case is straight up simple — making it a great option for those that don't care for cases and only need the bare minimum to keep it scratch free. The TPU bumper is the only portion that's actually colored, and is available in black or white. It's glossy, which means fingerprints will make their appearance, but aren't very noticeable since it's only the edging we're talking about.

Read more and comment

2 months ago

Pelican Protector Case for Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+


Not one to bulk up your Galaxy S6 edge+? The Pelican Protector Case is sure to satisfy with its slim design that scores high in protecting against impacts.

The thermoplastic rubber (TPR) construction of the Pelican Protector Case keeps it just flexible enough to easily install and remove from the Galaxy S6 edge+. The easiest method is to set the phone in topside first and lay the rest into the case, pulling back the bottom a tad to snap it into place. The edging seems to be slightly more flexible than the rest of the case, especially around the side buttons and port openings at the bottom.

Read more and comment

2 months ago

Where to buy Sphero BB-8, the Star Wars droid toy


Ask any Stormtrooper, it can be hard finding droids.

If you can't find a Sphero BB-8, either prepping for a Christmas present or just some immediate nerdy satisfaction for yourself, check out some of these retailers currently offering the toy. Whether or not they have stock on any given day is a bit of a toss-up considering how hot these things are right now, but take a look, and let us know in the comments if you find a place that has them.

Read more and comment

2 months ago

Spigen Slim Armor Case for Samsung Galaxy Note 5


You can't go wrong with 2 layers of protection around your Galaxy Note 5, and the Spigen Slim Armor ensures things stay slim.

The Galaxy Note 5 is a handful, so selecting a case that doesn't make handling the device any more difficult is what we're after. Spigen's Slim Armor Case manages both layers without going overboard on bulk with a couple extra features to boot.

Read more and comment

2 months ago

ZTE partners with AT&T to offer its first Wi-Fi hotspot for the car, the Mobley


ZTE has announced its first Wi-Fi hotspot for the car, the Mobley, which will offer AT&T customers high speed data on-the-go. Unlike other hotspots, the Mobley will plug directly into your vehicle, as long as it's from 1996 or later, through the ODB II port. This prevents you from having to turn it on and off, as it is on when the car is, and off when the car isn't running.

Read more and comment

2 months ago

Top 6 accessories for Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+


It's time to accessorize your Galaxy S6 edge+ with the essentials that make everything sweet and simple.

If you're on the hunt for new accessories for your Galaxy S6 edge+ then you've come to the right place. We've selected 6 of our favorite gadgets to go with the new device that include fast charging solutions, amazing audio options, and even a solid case to keep it protected from impacts and scratches.

Read on: Top 6 accessories for Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+

Samsung Fast Wireless Charging Pad

If you're going cable-free, then this is the wireless charger to snag. Both the Galaxy S6 edge+ and Galaxy Note 5 are capable of fully utilizing this charging pad's increased charging speeds — a step up from the traditional 1A pads that have saturated the market. The multicolored LED halo indicates the charging status, and a soft pad on top keeps your device from sliding off. In under an hour, this fast wireless charger will juice up your drained Galaxy S6 edge+ to 100%.

Buy for $69.99 from Samsung

Buy for $69.99 on Amazon

Spigen Slim Armor Case

If you're not going naked, then you'll need a solid case to protect your new Galaxy S6 edge+. One of our favorites is the Spigen Slim Armor Case, featuring a slim dual-layer design that's great for everyday protection against impacts. The back even features a fold-out kickstand for watching Netflix, YouTube, or your own videos. This hybrid cover manages to enhance grip without being excessively bulky, which is important for such a sleek device. Color options include gold, gunmetal (as pictured), slate, and violet.

Buy for $14.99 on Amazon

Aukey 10,000mAh Dual-USB Power Bank with Quick Charge

Although the 3,000mAh battery inside Galaxy S6 edge+ is suitable for most, you can't go wrong with having an external backup for emergencies. Whether you forgot your charger, or are miles away from civilization, this slim power bank provides an extra 10,000mAh of juice for up to 2 devices. One USB output is dedicated to Quick Charge 2.0 speeds — ideal for your Galaxy S6 edge+ — while the other will charge at the normal 2A rate. Between both ports is an LED flashlight that lights the way when you need it to.

Read our review

Buy for $34.99 on Amazon

Samsung Level Box

When it comes to rocking your favorite playlists, you'll need a speaker that can deliver quality audio while looking good. Samsung's Level Box sports a compact, brushed metal design that uses a 55mm stereo speaker inside with a passive radiator. It also features easy NFC pairing with your Galaxy S6 edge+ and up to 15 hours of playback. Go hands-free and manage your calls over the Level Box at any time while paired, and enjoy instant sound equalization with its SoundAlive feature. Samsung has also featured the newer Level Box Pro on their website, but hasn't announced when we can expect to see it available in stores.

Buy for $95 on Amazon

Tronsmart Dual-USB Quick Car Charger

When getting from point A to B, you'll want the quickest charge available for your Galaxy S6 edge+. This dual-USB car charger features Quick Charge 2.0 technology in not just one, but both ports. You'll never need to fumble for the fastest charging port again! It's even packed with safety measures against overheating and overcharging.

Buy for $19.99 on Amazon

Moto Surround Wireless Earbuds

Enjoy your favorite jams cable-free with the comfortable Moto Surround Wireless Headset, featuring a completely waterproof and sweatproof design that provides up to 12 hours of steady playback. With built-in aptX technology and full HD sound, you'll get an incredible audio experience that's truly impressive for its price range. Its 150-foot range makes it a great companion to your Galaxy S6 edge+ when it comes taking calls and listening to music, no matter where you are.

Buy for $69.99 from Motorola

Read more and comment

2 months ago

Gadgets of the week: Moto 360, Sphero BB-8, and more!


It's been a hectic IFA with tons of new gear to look forward to. We're going to peek behind the big-name phones and tablets at the Android accessories that are ready to order now, including toys, wireless video, and especially wearables. Both Motorola and Huawei had some respectable new smartwatches on the show floor this week that are worth a gander. There were even a few new releases outside of Berlin; come and see what's up.

Read more and comment

Show More Headlines