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1 week ago

Zolo Liberty+ wireless earbuds mini review

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This could have been a shining review of a more-than-capable set of truly wireless earbuds that retail for a mere $150. Instead, it's a cautionary tale.

I was genuinely excited for the Zolo Liberty+ earbuds. Zolo's an audio-centric offshoot of Anker, the company that makes pretty much everything, makes it relatively inexpensive, and makes it reasonably well. So a Kickstarter campaign for $99? I was in, saving about $50 off the retail price in the process. A few months later (plus a little extra time because white earbuds are hard, apparently), and I was exercising with a new set of Bluetooth buds, and without a connecting wire snagging my neck.

See at Zolo Audio

The format is simple at this point. You've got two independent — as in truly wireless — earbuds, and a case for charging and carrying them around. You charge the case, the case charges the buds. (And you can, of course, charge the case and the buds at the same time.) Zolo says to expect 3 hours or so of playback time before the buds need to be charged again, but that was fairly moot for me, since I'd just pop 'em back in the case when I was done with my workout, and they'd charge right back up for next time. The charging case itself is supposed to get you more than 48 hours of use. But, again, I'd just plug it in once I got home, and we'd be back to 100%. Because when it comes to hitting the gym with no music, you don't mess around.

  • Price: $149 (retail)
  • Tech: Bluetooth 5.0, AAC, SBC
  • Drivers: 2x 6mm graphene dynamic
  • Battery life: 3.5 hours before recharge, 48+ with charging case (microUSB)
  • Water resistance: Sweat-proof IPX5
  • Apps: Android, iOS

The buds and case are nicely constructed. The only real complaint here is that the case uses Micro-USB for charging — a step backward for anyone expecting "the future" of USB-C to actually take hold at some point. (Wireless charging would have been great, I guess, but it's not too surprising not see that as an option.) Hell, even the in-box experience is nice. I'll gripe about Micro-USB, but also enjoy the fact that Zolo included a braided yellow (because branding!) cable for charging.

Fitting the buds was simple enough. Just stick it in your ear hole, and twist a little to fit. I didn't have any issues with it falling out while on an elliptical or with light jogging. But if you do need to fiddle with the fit a bit, you've got options in the box. Nice touch.

Sound quality was just fine, too. I wasn't expecting the best for $150, but wasn't disappointed at all either. There's decent passive sound isolation as well. There's an option in the included Zolo app for "transparency," with which the microphone is used to feed in sound from the outside world. It was worthless in the gym, though — just too much noise from the overhead music and weights clanging, so I just left it off. There are a few built-in EQ presets, but none of them really suited me, so I just stuck with the default.

The buds themselves have the basic one-button operation going on. I don't do much beyond play/pause and picking up the occasional phone call, so that's simple enough, but it also ties into Google Assistant on Android, or Siri on iOS, which is just fine.

All in all — perfectly usable, truly wireless earbuds at a decent price. Of course, post-purchase is where companies really start to stand out, right?

Don't lose the charger. Or an earbud. Because you'll be SOL.

Admittedly, I screwed up. I grabbed the Liberty+ case as I was getting out of my car, forgetting to extract the buds and leave the charger behind. I realized that, and didn't bother walking 50 feet back to the care to lock the case inside. Instead, I left it in an open-face cubby, along with my sweatshirt and keys. I'm pretty sure the case was at least partially visible. And when I finished my workout an hour or so later, it was gone.

The joke's on whomever ganked the case, I guess, because the earbuds were safely in use in my ears. But I was left without a way to charge them.

Time for a little detective work. Not to have my YMCA check security footage — ain't nobody got time for that, and Karma's a bitch. No, I wanted to see how the upstart Zolo Audio handles this sort of thing.

That you can't actually buy the Liberty+ yet — it's still listed as "coming in 2018," though Zolo says to expect it at the end of January — wasn't a good sign. And there's no "buy a spare charger" listing on the site, either. That's no good.

I emailed customer service, which promised to get back within 48 hours. Three days later (Saturday evening, no less), I got the bad news. There's no way to buy a spare case. You'll have to buy a whole new set. (Same goes for earbud tips, I presume, which also aren't listed on the site anywhere.)

How does this compare to other players in the space?

Apple will replace a single AirPod for $69 and the charging case for $69. That's reasonable.

JayBird — whose X3 wired Bluetooth buds I had (and in the interim have been) enjoyed — sells a new charging case for $69, a spare earbud for $59, and new tips for $9. Also completely reasonable. (I've since ordered the $179 Run buds — more on those at another time.)

Bose's more expensive $249 SoundSport Free has a spare charger for $49, and tips for $9.

The first-gen Jabra Elite Sport (new ones were just announced at CES) has a spare charging case for $99, and a replacement but for $79.

Sony's WF-1000X buds? Nothing.

The bottom line

Good earbuds are one thing. Good earbuds at a good price are another. But it's worth remembering that the purchase is just one part of the product lifecycle, and really should be just a part of your decision to buy. I was happy spending money on the Zolo Audio Liberty+ — especially at the discounted Kickstarter price. (Remember, they'll retail at $150.)

A good product can fall apart if post-sale support falls flat.

The earbuds worked great. I didn't have any problems with the audio cutting out, they sounded great, and worked really well.

But accidents do happen. And if I do something dumb — like leaving the case out where someone might happen to walk off with it — then I should also have the opportunity to redeem myself, without having to pay full price for a full new product. That's where companies can (and do) differentiate themselves.

And there's where an upstart like Zolo Audio fell flat in this case.

See at Zolo Audio

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1 week ago

Essential starts selling a few new accessories

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Replacement fast charger, new USB-C headphones, a carrying case for the Essential 360 Camera, and more.

The Essential Phone was a difficult device to recommend when it first launched at $699, but following the price cut down to $499, it's now a fairly decent purchase as long as you know what you're getting into. If you recently picked up an Essential Phone and are looking to outfit it with a few new accessories, Essential now has you covered.

The company announced on Twitter that it was finally selling official accessories on its website, and while there's nothing particularly groundbreaking here, it's still worth checking out. You can pick up another 27W fast charger in either black or white for $39, and $15 will get a backup USB-C to 3.5mm dongle in those same colors if you happen to lose the one that comes included with the Essential Phone.

Earphones HD (left) and Earphones Mini (right).

If dongles aren't your thing, you can also buy two new USB-C headphones. The cheapest of the two is the Earphones Mini at $49, and they come with USB Audio Class 2 support, small, medium, and large earbud tips, and an included carrying case. Stepping up to the Earphones HD will cost you $99, and the main difference with these is that they have 9.2mm drivers with Hi-Res Audio support.

Lastly, the accessories page also shows a new carrying case for the Essential 360 Camera that comes in both black and red. There's no word on price or availability, with the website merely saying that it's "coming soon." Essential's Phone Dock charger is here as well, but it's also still not available to buy despite being announced back in May of 2017.

See at Essential

Essential Phone

Amazon Best Buy Sprint Telus

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1 week ago

HDHomeRun Connect DUO+ adds a hard-drive for an all-in-one cord-cutting solution

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SiliconDust, makers of the HDHomeRun, unveiled a new product at CES that'll make cord-cutting even easier.

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The HDHomeRun Connect is a great product for folks wanting some freedom from cable subscriptions while keeping their entire household entertained with TV. At CES 2018 the latest product in the lineup has been announced, the Connect DUO+. And the big story here is that it comes with a built-in DVR.

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1 week ago

What do you think about Zagg's new screen protector for curved displays?

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There's a lot of hope for the InvisibleShield Glass Curve Elite.

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During CES 2018, Zagg announced its latest attempt at making a screen protector for curved displays with the InvisibleShield Glass Curve Elite. Unlike past attempts from Zagg and other companies, the Glass Curve Elite has a strong adhesive along the entire surface to prevent poor touch responsiveness and ugly halo effects.

The screen protector isn't cheap at $50 a pop, but even so, most of our forum users seem quite interested in giving it a shot. Here's what some of them had to say.

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Relletti 01-09-2018 08:12 PM “

Nice. If it does really stick to they note 8 and doesn't collect dust around the edges, I'll get it.

Reply
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tekjunkie28 01-09-2018 09:32 PM “

$50 isn't bad when it has lifetime warranty and they actually work. I have used these for 9months+ and they have excellent customer service. I'd like to see $35-40 but 50 isn't horrible but I also wouldn't pay a dime more.

Reply
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LuvULongTime 01-09-2018 11:06 PM “

Looks promising. Hopefully it works as advertised.

Reply
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Joshua_Muldoon 01-10-2018 02:27 PM “

Ok, you all talked me into it, I'll be buying one soon (today or tomorrow)

Reply

Now, we'd like to pass the question on to you – What are your first impressions of the Zagg InvisibleShield Glass Curve Elite?

Join the conversation in the forums!

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1 week ago

Blocks modular smartwatch is finally available to purchase, but will anyone bite?

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The Blocks modular smartwatch launched on Kickstarter in 2015 and is now available to purchase.

Back in 2015, smartwatches were in their golden age. The Apple Watch had just launched, Android Wear was still appealing and Pebble still existed. At the same time, a little company called Blocks launched a Kickstarter campaign for its modular smartwatch, with a promised ship date of May 2016.

May 2016 came and went, and the shipping date kept being pushed back. But now, the company is finally ready to ship its smartwatch ecosystem. The Core smartwatch features notification support, fitness tracking, Alexa integration and even the ability to display the time. Users can then add on one of the following modules to expand functionality:

  • An environmental sensor for detecting temperature, air pressure and humidity.
  • A heart rate monitor.
  • An LED light that can be used as a flashlight or more obnoxious notifications.
  • A smart button that can be programmed to perform certain tasks in certain connected apps.
  • A GPS.
  • An extra battery for 25% longer charge.

If all goes well, Blocks will develop new modules including a fingerprint sensor, air quality monitor, flash memory module and a bone conduction speaker. The Core of the Blocks ecosystem comes in either a black or silver casing, with either a black or red strap. Each module costs $35. The Blocks smartwatch runs a proprietary OS and is compatible with Android and iOS devices.

Are you interested in the Blocks smartwatch? Let us know down below!

See at Blocks

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1 week ago

Zolo announces Model Zero radial speaker with Google Assistant

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Anker's Zolo sub-brand has announced an interestingly designed speaker with Google Assistant.

Anker is no stranger to audio products since it produces some of the best inexpensive earbuds out there. Its Zolo sub-brand is no stranger to experimental products either, with the company releasing its Liberty truly wireless earbuds late last year. That heritage continues with Zolo's latest announcement: the Model Zero speaker.

Image courtesy of Zolo

I'm not quite sure what the inspiration is for this design, but it makes me want to use the speaker as a kettlebell. The oval cutout should make the speaker easy to lug around the house, assuming it isn't too heavy, and a strip of buttons on the inside of the oval offers media controls. Besides that and the compatibility with Google Assistant, Zolo didn't share any other details about the Model Zero. The company is aiming for a fall 2018 release, so we should learn more by then. The Model Zero will be available in black and silver, black and bronze or white and gold color.

What do you think of the Zolo Model Zero? Let us know down below!

Qualcomm's Bluetooth SoC aims to make truly wireless headphones a whole lot better

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1 week ago

4 Best Smart Plugs for Alexa, Google Home in 2018

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Make your home smarter in 2018 with the right smart plugs that work with both Google Home and Alexa.

Amazon Echo and Google Home speakers have been growing in popularity over the last couple of years as the technology transitions from early adopters to finding a mainstream market. Both are functional, but at this point, there's no clear leader, so maybe you're interested in testing both out.

While you're doing that, you should be sure to buy smart home accessories that are compatible with both AI assistants. One of the best places to start is with smart plugs that let you control the stuff already in your house, such as lamps, TVs, and air purifiers. We've rounded up the best options for smart plugs that work with both Alexa and Google Assistant.

Samsung SmartThings

Samsung's SmartThings is a very capable and customizable home automation system that's a great place to start for both Alexa and Google Assistant users. The starter kit includes a Hub for connecting different smart sensors for monitoring your home. The SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit comes with a Hub, two Multipurpose Sensors, a Motion Sensor, and an Outlet. You can configure them however you like in your home, then get instant notifications if anything is out of the normal. You can also buy additional sensors, including an Arrival Sensor and a Water Leak Sensor, along with more smart plugs for controlling different lamps and devices around your home.

Since SmartThings works well with both Google Assistant and Alexa, it's a great starting point for building out your wireless smart home system. The Hub starter kit is a good place to start, as many other smart devices are compatible with the SmartThings Hub, plus you'll get some smart sensors to play around with, too. Samsung has also begun consolidating all of its smart home products under the SmartThings umbrella, so just another great reason to start with SmartThings when setting up your smart home. The whole kit is $154.

See at Amazon

TP-Link Smart Home

TP-Link offers a line of smart plugs and switches that allow you to convert the lamps and appliances you already own into smart devices you can automate to power on or control with your voice.

Their newest smart plug, the Smart Wi-Fi Plug Mini, is their most compact option yet, leaving the second outlet free. The outlets work with either Alexa or Google Assistant and thanks to the built-in Wi-Fi technology, no hub is required to get things connected. Pick up the Mini or a Smart Plug 2-pack Kit from Amazon, both starting around $45.

See at Amazon

D-Link Smart Plug

D-Link is another brand that offers a smart plug that doesn't require a hub to connect to either Alexa or Google Assistant. You're able to control devices plugged into the D-Link Smart Plug via the D-Link app on your phone from anywhere, but more importantly, you'll be able to use and control things with your voice with your Amazon Echo or Google Home

While not as compact as the TP-Link mini plug, the D-Link is still a great option for any room in your house and starts at $29.99 on Amazon.

See at Amazon

AWAIR Air Filtration Smart Plug

Smart plugs are cool enough as it is, but AWAIR has combined the technology with its own air filtration technology to create an uber-functional smart plug. According to AWAIR, the air inside your home can be up to five times more polluted than outside, and that can end up aggravating allergies or asthma, affecting your concentration or sleep quality, and much more.

To combat this, AWAIR has developed a line of smart products that monitor the air quality in your home. Each device monitors five aspects that determine air quality — temperature, humidity, CO2, airborne chemicals, and dust. AWAIR monitors all these factors and churns out a quick guide that gives you a good idea of how clean the air is in your home at a glance and will also send tips to your smartphone offering tips and suggestions.

The AWAIR Glow is arguably the coolest device AWAIR sells — it plugs right into an outlet and can be set up to turn on an appliance such as a dehumidifier or air filtration system at a specific time or when levels get a bit high.

Once connected to Google Home or Alexa, you're also able to use the AWAIR Glow to control whichever device you have plugged in using just your voice.

The Glow starts at around $119.

See at Amazon

Did we miss any?

Got a favorite smart plug that didn't make our list? Let us know in the comments and we'll check it out!

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1 week ago

Fingers-on with the new and weird Vital and Keyboard Moto Mods

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The latest Mods for the Moto Z line bring a slide-out keyboard and blood pressure monitoring to the party.

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Motorola's not backing away from the Moto Mod ecosystem, adding a mini slide-out keyboard and a health monitor to the line-up of capability enhancing add-ons for the Moto Z. We got to try out the two newest: the Lenovo Vital Moto Mod and the Livermorium Slider Keyboard Moto Mod.

Lenovo Vital Moto Mod

More and more we're seeing health tools integrated into the gadgets we carry, from heart rate sensors to blood oxygen sensors. They're usually pretty good, but they're not quite clinical level. But there's stuff they can't do, and that's where the Lenovo Vital Moto Mod comes in.

It's a very bulky number, but it has to be to include the mechanics necessary to measure blood pressure. It is, in essence, a miniature blood pressure cuff, but instead of being for your arm it is for a single finger. You slip your finger through the ring on the back (a finger on your left hand is recommended for the 99.99% of people with left-sided hearts) and into the cradle — the ring then inflates to restrict the flow of blood through your finger and the pulse and blood oxygen sensors in the cradle turn on. It takes about two minutes to complete the measurements, which are logged in the associated app.

The Vital Moto Mod also has an infrared thermometer that you can hold close to your forehead to gauge your body temperature. While the Vital Moto Mod hasn't been FDA certified, Lenovo says their own testing has shown it was at least as accurate as the approved clinical devices.

Lenovo's built the Vital Moto Mod as more of a separate module than a Moto Mod. In fact, it only connects to the Moto Z with the magnets and makes no use of the pin connectors, instead handling data transfer over Bluetooth. The Vital Moto Mod is entirely self-contained, with a USB-C port to charge it up for the claimed 2-month battery life. This was an intentional design choice — it allows use without having to tie the phone to the mod.

Of course, that leads to the question of why this even had to be a Moto Mod. Every phone has Bluetooth, and nobody is going to carry around this incredibly bulky block of plastic on a daily basis. There's absolutely nothing gained by it being a Moto Mod — in fact, being a Moto Mod dramatically limits the potential addressable audience of what's an otherwise potentially useful healthcare device.

But, if it fits your healthcare needs and you have a Moto Z to slap it onto, then by all means, go ahead. You'll be able to pick up the Lenovo Vital Moto Mod in April 2018 for $395.

Livermorium Slider Keyboard Moto Mod

I'm a longtime keyboard phone fan, so when I heard about the Livermorium Slider Keyboard Moto Mod (hereon referred to as the Keyboard Moto Mod) I found myself somewhat excited... and apprehensive. The Keyboard Moto Mod was born from the "Transform the Smartphone Challenge" that Motorola put on with Indiegogo, winning with its slide-out full-width QWERTY tilting keyboard design.

As a $99 accessory, I had high expectations for the Keyboard Moto Mod, but I was thoroughly disappointed. The slider action is smooth though stiff, and given its width it exhibits a fair amount of wobble in the mechanism. And because this is a landscape-oriented keyboard meant for a large phone, it's not designed with any sort of handheld use in mind — you're supposed to tilt the phone up after sliding it out and stick it on a hard surface to type.

Adding to the pain is the weakness of the magnets that hold the Keyboard Moto Mod to the phone. About half of the times I tried to open the keyboard I instead detached the phone. Thankfully the Moto Mod system is designed with the magnets in the mod itself, so these could (and should) be upgraded before the release sometime near the first few months of 2018.

Once you've successfully slid it open and positioned the phone upright at the 60-degree angle (any less of an angle and the weight of the phone will tip the whole thing back), then you can type. Except the keyboard is so short and the key travel so shallow and mushy with near zero tactile feedback that you'll immediately regret that decision. Daniel Bader described the feel as similar to the original Motorola Droid, and I'm inclined to agree. With how far design and manufacturing has advanced since 2009, it's just not an acceptable typing experience.

You might've noticed that this keyboard which slides over the back of your phone doesn't have a hole in it (as you'd expect for a keyboard). Problem is... the camera's on the back of the phone. So if you want to take pictures, you'll have to slide the keyboard out. Honestly, if you want a keyboard phone, get a BlackBerry KEYone.

Moto Z, Moto Z Force and Moto Z Play

Motorola Verizon

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1 week ago

6 High-capacity Power Banks that are Great for the Traveling Techie

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These aren't your pocket-friendly power banks, but they can be your lifeline when battery life runs short across multiple devices.

Given today's power-hungry phones and tablets, any power pack under 20,000mAh shouldn't be considered high-capacity. While the majority of these beefier backup batteries aren't suited for storing in your pocket, they're still compact enough to toss in a backpack, suitcase, or laptop bag for a quick charge when you need it. Check out these five power banks that provide enough battery to keep up with the most demanding tech-lover.

Anker PowerCore+ 26800 Quick Charge / PowerCore+ 26800 PD

Anker brings two versions of the PowerCore+ 26800 to the market, one with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 and one with USB PD (Power Delivery). Both offer a whopping 26,800mAh capacity and are only 7.1 x 3.1 x .9 inches in size. This is a power bank that you probably can fit into your pocket!

The Quick Charge model also features PowerIQ so that non-Quick Charge devices can still charge at up to 3 amps and can be fully recharged in about 6.5 hours. It's priced around $74.

See at Amazon (Quick Charge)

The USB PD model features a 30-watt USB-C port capable of charging laptops like a MacBook or Chromebook as well as your phone. It can be fully charged in about four hours and costs right around $120.

See at Amazon (USB PD)

EasyAcc Monster 26,000mAh Power Bank

If you're after more than just a pair outputs to keep your phones and tablets charged up, the EasyAcc Monster packs a 26,000mAh capacity and provides four USB ports as well as two Micro-USB inputs on the side that can work in tandem decrease recharge time up to 50%. With a total output of 4.8 amps, the more devices connected means a slower charge, but the overall convenience, functionality, and capacity outweigh reduced charging times.

Next to the USB outputs is a built-in LED flashlight that's handy for seeing in the dark, and on top are four tiny lights that indicate how much battery life remains in the power bank. EasyAcc has added plenty of safety features to prevent any damage to your connected devices, too. You'll pay about $47 for the EasyACC Monster.

See at Amazon

RAVPower USB-C 26800

The new USB-C RAVPower 26800 can output 30 watts through its USB-C port and has two "regular" USB ports that feature its iSmart technology to charge at up to 2.4 amps each. RAVPower says that its iSmart 2.0 system will automatically sense the correct charging current so that your devices that don't use a fast-charging standard will still charge as fast as they are able. The USB-C port charges a MacBook at the same rate as the included charger, and can charge a Nintendo Switch while you're playing.

Using both charging inputs, you can fully charge the RAVPower 26800 in 4.5 hours. The USB-C RAVPower 26800 costs about $80.

See at Amazon

ZeroLemon ToughJuice V3.0

This beastly backup battery rocks an impressive 30,000mAh capacity that's able to provide power to phones, tablets, and even laptops. It has a total of five USB ports three standard 1-amp outputs, one Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 output and one USB-C output so it's compatible with almost everything.

It also features a rubber outer shell that makes the ZeroLemon ToughJuice V3.0 the most rugged power bank you're likely to see. You'll pay about $70 for it.

Remember, this power bank is too big to carry on a plane in the U.S. without talking to your airline first.

See at Amazon

EcoFlow Tech River

This behemoth packs a wallop and comes at a steep price (about $700), but it's your source for power when you wanna go totally off the grid for a while. This is the charging station you need for everything you take with you anywhere. It houses a 412Wh (that's watt-hour) battery and features 11 independent outputs: 2 AC plugs, 4 USB ports, 2 USB-C ports, 2 DC ports, and a car charger.

It also has a solar panel, so you can take it anywhere and it'll juice itself up (albeit incredibly slowly). Just note that, despite its AC outlets, the River won't power a hair dryer or coffee maker (heating elements are no joke!). That being said, our own Marc Lagace went into the forest and played electric guitar and did a whole bunch of other wild things; read his full review:

The EcoFlow Tech River: Portable power wherever you need it

Note: You definitely cannot take this on an airplane with you.

See at EcoFlow Tech

Kenruipu

The name may sound a little funny, but the Amazon reviews don't lie: this 24,000mAh power bank is great. It features four USB ports, and it has two ports to charge the bank itself: one Micro-USB and one USB-C, so you only need one charger to charge this and your Android phone.

The Kenruipu charger comes with its own AC adapter, comes in black or white, and costs around $31. If you're looking for a quality budget option, then this is your best bet.

See at Amazon

A note on air travel: What you need to know

While traveling in the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration allows you to carry a device (like a power bank) with up to a 100 Wh capacity. You are also able to carry a limit of two spare batteries between 101 Wh and 160 Wh with prior approval from your airline. All lithium batteries must be in your carry-on bag and can't be stowed with checked luggage.

Most power banks list their capacity in mAh (milliamp-hours) and not Wh (watt-hours). Let's do some conversion using a 3.7-volt average. You can calculate from Wh to mAh using this formula:

(mAh)/1000 x (V) = (Wh)

After some rounding off, that means you can bring a 26,800 mAh power bank on your flight. With approval, you can bring up to two 43,240 mAh (again, some rounding is used) along as well. Just be sure not to put them in your checked luggage!

Other countries may have different regulations, so you should check before you travel outside the U.S.

Updated January 2018: Updated pricing for each item and added the EcoFlow River and the Kenruipu portable charger.

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1 week ago

Zagg has the curved display screen protector you've been looking for

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It's called the InvisibleShield Glass Curve Elite, and it costs $50.

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There were a few different smartphone trends that we saw in 2017, but one of the biggest was curved displays. Samsung went big with curves with the Galaxy S8, and after this, phones like the LG V30, Note 8, and Pixel 2 XL followed suit.

Curved displays look fantastic and feel great to the touch, but one area where they flat out suck is with screen protectors. You can find plenty of screen protectors on Amazon and Best Buy to purchase for these devices, but unless you're willing to spend 20 minutes messing with LOCA glue and UV lights, they're all pretty much useless.

However, that might soon be changing thanks to Zagg's latest screen protector – the InvisibleShield Glass Curve Elite. The InvisibleShield Glass Curve Elite has a gel-based adhesive surrounding the entire surface, and this is what sets it apart from other screen protectors released by Zagg and competing brands. Rather than only having the adhesive around the edges or putting it everywhere else but here, Zagg potentially eliminates any lost touch responsiveness or ugly halo effects that are often seen with other protectors.

Zagg will be selling the InvisibleShield Glass Curve Elite for $50, and it'll first be available for the Galaxy S8, S8+, and Note 8. It's possible Zagg will release it for other devices, such as the Pixel 2 XL, but that's yet to be confirmed.

Honor 7X will get its own face unlock feature in Q1 2018

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1 week ago

Sony's adding Google Assistant to lots of its older headphones

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Five headphones in total are getting some Assitant love.

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To no one's surprise, CES 2018 has been home to announcement after announcement of new speakers, headphones, TVs, and more that ship with Google Assistant built-in. This new tech is great, but if you own Sony headphones that have already been released, you'll get a taste of this Assistant action, too.

First reported by the folks at Android Police, Sony will be releasing software updates to multiple existing headphones to add Google Assistant functionality. You'll need to have your headphones connected to your phone in order for the update to download and install, and models that will receive this treatment include:

  • WF-1000X
  • WI-1000X
  • WH-1000XM2
  • WH-CH900N
  • H.ear on 2 WH-H900N

Sony hasn't announced exactly when these software updates to add the Assistant will be pushed out, but even so, it's still great to see a company adding new features to "old" tech.

Hisense announces two Android TVs with Google Assistant and Alexa

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1 week ago

Pro Drybag 2.0 Is Built To Protect Your Gear In Extreme Conditions

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Take all your favorite tech with you on all your adventures!

Mobile technology has gotten better and better over the years, so when you set out on an adventure into the great wide wilderness, you'll want to take your favorite tech along with you. So what makes a great gear bag? It's got to be well-designed and customizable to keep your gear organized and secure, and it's got to be rugged and durable enough to withstand anything life throws at you.

The folks at Subtech Sports have a great solution with their latest Pro Drybag 2.0 series of bags. After a successful campaign launching the original Pro Drybag, they're back with improved models that are an ideal bag choice for extreme athletes, extreme tech geeks, and everyone in between. There are actually three bags released here — a commuter-sized tote bag, a medium-sized bag that includes a shockproof inflatable system, and a full-sized bag with a fully adjustable internal pack system. All bags are built to be waterproof with an air-tight zipper designed to keep your valuables dry and safe.

Thanks to their previous Kickstarter product, Subtech has received real-life feedback from athletes and adventurers around the world who have taken these bags to all corners of the earth. Just like its predecessor, the Pro Drybag 2.0 has already crushed its Kickstarter goal, but there's still time to score your own for a great discounted price. You can snag the tote bag model with a pledge of $49 (over 50% off), or opt for the floating carry-on bag or the larger Pro Drybag with a pledge of $199. It's worth noting that Subtech is based out of Sweden, and the prices are listed in Swedish currency, and will presumably be shipping from Sweden — and shipping costs are not included in the pledge price.

This is the third Kickstarter campaign for the team behind the Pro Drybag, so you'll be buying a product that's been refined over years. The bags are set to start shipping in June 2018 — perfect timing for any summer adventures you may be planning — and there's still three weeks remaining to get in on this deal. Whether you're a thrill-seeking adventurer, or simply a frequent traveler that wants peace of mind when you pack up all your valuable gear, you'll need to look into the Pro Drybag 2.0 Series.

See the Pro Drybag 2.0 Series on Kickstarter

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1 week ago

Project Linda just made the Razer Phone a lot more interesting

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What if your phone could become a computer? It's a question Motorola, Microsoft, HP, Samsung, and Huawei have all tried to answer – and now Razer's getting in on the fun. While the Razer Phone doesn't necessarily ring all my bells, it certainly has enough power to bring Project Linda's laptop to life. With a 13" display, Chroma keyboard and a battery big enough to charge the phone three times over between top-ups, the Project Linda notebook is plenty compelling – and its ingenious re-use of the Razer Phone's screen, fingerprint sensor and speakers only reinforce its allure.

But can anyone make the notion of a laptop-smartphone hybrid work in 2018, or is Project Linda doomed to follow Project Valerie into the dustbin of history? You won't find the answers in the above video, but you will see the coolest smartphone dock of 2018 (so far). Join me for the Project Linda Hands-On!

Stay social, my friends

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1 week ago

Razer's Project Linda turns your phone into a laptop

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Razer Project Linda

Razer is trying its hand at the holy grail of mobile computing: your phone is also your laptop.

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It's been the dream of smartphones for well over a decade, and basically every attempt so far has been a failure. Razer is now giving it a shot and, to be honest, Project Linda is the best version of "your phone is also your laptop" that we've ever seen. It might even be good enough to actually work.

Let's just say up front that this is a prototype. Razer likes to do this thing where it rolls out a concept product (like a laptop with three 17-inch 4K displays) to gauge interest and get feedback. Since this isn't a final or complete product we're not going to talk too much about specs or price or availability. What Razer Project Linda is, however, is the fullest and best realization of a dream of mobile computing.

Project Linda is a shell for the Razer Phone, turning the high-powered device into an Android laptop. But unlike past attempts at this concept, which have almost universally used a middling laptop design and poor cabled or wireless phone connection, Razer designed Project Linda to accept the Razer Phone into a cavity carved out where a traditional laptop's trackpad would go. It connects via the USB-C port, with a plug that mechanically (and loudly) sticks into the phone for power and data — and to simply hold it in place. The high resolution display of the phone becomes the trackpad, flanked by a pair of smartphone speakers — that can easily rival most laptops — that are now pointing right at you. There's even a slot carved out along the front to provide easy access to the phone's side-mounted fingerprint sensor.

The laptop shell itself is based on the highly regarded Razer Blade Stealth, with a similar compact and spartan design. Project Linda sports a 2560x1440 120Hz 13-inch LCD and a full-sized Razer keyboard complete with customizable Chroma lighting. The laptop shell offers a USB-C port, USB-A (in signature Razer neon green) and a headphone jack, plus 200GB of storage and a large 53.6Wh battery capable of recharging the Razer Phone 3-4 times. It all lands in a package that's 2.76 pounds.

The software is filled with eye candy, but also concerns over app support.

There's still a lot for Razer to sort out. We were told that it wants to add touchscreen support as well as HDMI-out for hooking up to even bigger displays. But those things are pretty simple. The bigger hurdle here is the software. Android isn't very well positioned to make use of a 13-inch display, and just doesn't offer robust support for this kind of dual-display system, so Razer is having to build that itself with its relatively small Android team. The current concepts that Razer showed us have a more desktop-like interface that makes better use of that extra screen, plus a few ideas that it has for using the Razer Phone's display as a secondary source of information when you have a wireless mouse connected.

Beyond all of Razer's own work just to make Project Linda's core operations a reality, apps (and more importantly for Razer, games) would also need to support the dual-display system. That's going to require an API from Razer for developers to implement in their apps — a big ask for the small (if dedicated) Razer Phone user base.

That's assuming that Project Linda ever sees production. Over the years several of Razer's "Project" concepts have moved into reality, but not all of them make the jump. And if it does, we have no idea what price you'll be looking at, though knowing Razer and the penchant for going all-out, it won't be cheap.

When the Razer Phone was announced, its 8GB of RAM seemed like overkill. But when hooked up to a laptop like this with intentions for higher-performance applications, it doesn't seem so ridiculous now. We want to see this evolve and become a reality.

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1 week ago

Sony packs Google Assistant into its new wireless earbuds

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Sony's new truly wireless sports earbuds will have Google Assistant. Eventually.

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Google Assistant headphones will be coming thick and fast throughout 2018 it seems and Sony is also jumping aboard with the WF-SP700N truly wireless earbuds.

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