Monday, April 7, 2014

Grandmax Tweakers GoRock Review

     I've reviewed a lot of speakers by Grandmax, and most of them have been solid, well-built speakers for the price. In this case, though, I was disappointed. The GoRocks perform well, don't get me wrong, but I expect a little more "oompf" in terms of power or features for the $40 price tag. Watch my review to learn more.

***Please note, these are the 2x2 Watt GoRock speakers, not the cheaper, less powerful 2x1.7 Watt version that is also found on Grandmax's website***

Sunday, March 16, 2014

MiniReview: OtterBox Commuter Case for HTC Droid DNA

OtterBox is known as the leading provider of durable cases for phones. This one, their Commuter series for the HTC Droid DNA, is the smallest case they offer for the phone, and can be found for $25 on Amazon.

The back of the case. Note that it covers the rear notification light.
I've had the OtterBox Commuter on my HTC Droid DNA for half a year now. The case is two parts, a grey rubber part that slides onto the phone first, and a white ABS plastic sheath that slides on top. So far the case has protected the phone from many drops. Take note though that this case will not protect from severe drops/accidental "tosses" (those of you who have done it will know what I mean) of your phone. I accidentally dropped my phone from about 6 feet and it must have landed in just the right way that the screen on the corner of the phone cracked.

The front of the case, showing the coverage of the provided screen protector.

Also, the product comes with a screen protector, but they are just the regular plastic ones that scratch easily and create glare, and are nothing like Zagg or Military Shield. The glass on the DNA does not scratch easily enough that I found it worth the hassle of using a screen protector.

The case is pretty solid and takes a lot of effort to get on and off. One thing that could have been better quality-wise is the rubber material of the first case layer. Over time it has rubbed/peeled away, and I can imagine by the time my two-year contract with Verizon has run out, there will be parts of the rubber that has torn or worn away to nothing.

For $25 though, you're getting a solid case from a brand you know and trust. Also, while the $5 case from your dollar store may work for iPhones and smaller phones, I'd recommend you invest some money in getting a good case since the screen of the phone is so big and liable to seriously cracking if dropped.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Kinivo BTE40 Bluetooth Earbuds Review

     Kinivo is one of thousands of small up-and-coming electronics companies trying to make their footprint in the lucrative consumer electronics industry. Their miniature Bluetooth speaker, the ZX100, has allowed them to gain a foothold in the market and release other electronics, such as the BTE40 Bluetooth earbuds, ($30 on Amazon) one of their newest offerings.


     Upon receiving the BTE40, I was largely unimpressed with the box, and wouldn't have known inside there would be something even closely resembling earbuds had the name of the product been written in plain white font on the front of the box. Indeed, all that is pictured on the box is the Bluetooth adapter, not the earbuds themselves. A minor qualm, but from a marketing standpoint they could do better.

     The earbuds, along with an instruction booklet, charging cable, the Bluetooth adapter, and two gold-plated auxiliary cables, are packaged in the box in hard plastic. I'm not quite sure what the auxiliary cables are used for, and their function is not mentioned in the instructions. I was able to operate the earbuds without them. I liked the feel of the earbuds and the Bluetooth adapter. The earbuds have a full-metal body, and the adapter was of durable, matte-finished plastic with a solid metal clip that you can pin to your shirt on the back of it.

     Directly plugged into my phone, the earbuds sounded like similarly-priced earbuds. Bass was slightly muddy and at the forefront of the music. Using the earbuds wirelessly via Bluetooth, however, bass became intensely muddy and surfaced over the rest of the sounds. This might be a good thing if you're a basshead, but I personally did not enjoy it, and found myself turning up the volume so that I could hear vocals that had been pushed to the background by the tyrannous bass. It doesn't make sense to me why I experienced so much distortion in sound quality since the Bluetooth version that runs the adapter is Version 4.0, one of the latest. Fortunately, the design of the adapter enables you to plug in any variety of earbuds, not just the ones that come with the device. I tried using my Klipsch S4 earbuds with the adapter and experienced surprisingly minimal distortion, a sharp contrast to the earbuds the product came with.

     All-in-all the BTE40 is a solid first offering by Kinivo to the earbud market, especially since if you're not a fan of the bass with the stock earbuds, you can pair your own to the adapter and still have the Bluetooth earbuds you want. Be on the lookout for more reviews of their products coming soon!

Friday, March 7, 2014

A Quick Update

Hey guys,

School has been busy recently but soon it will be winding down and the summer will be here! Once summer sets in, I will have more time to focus on the channel and work on getting more reviews and giveaways out to you guys! As for now though, our week-long spring break has just begun, so expect some new reviews coming this week.

Reviews coming soon:
-Klipch S4 Earbuds
-Grandmax Tweakers mini Bluetooth Speakers
-**Unreleased** Kinivo Bluetooth Earbuds

In addition to the new Grandmax offerings, I'm particularly excited to show you the Kinivo earbuds, as Kinivo is an up-and-coming electronics company that started with their popular miniature Bluetooth speaker and are now branching out into the headphone market. Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Speaker Month Day 8: Tweakers Lites Mini-Speaker Review

     The last "official" day of Speaker Month (August) brings us to the Tweakers Lites by Grandmax, a company that specializes in various portable music systems.

     Besides being in one of those annoying plastic packages that *almost* can't be opened without using scissors, packaging is solid and well-designed. As too are the speaker themselves, which is actually two speakers that latch onto each other via magnets and are separated for stereo sound, a feature that is uncommon for speakers of this price and size. Each speaker is rated at 1.7 Watts and expands for enhanced bass.

     The volume of the speakers at max was something of a single 3 Watt speaker: about the volume of someone talking loudly. Sound quality was about average. The speakers are small so one should not expect to hear deep, full sound. Nonetheless, they do distort at high volume, which iI did find strange because of the other Sub-3 Watt speakers that I have tested in the past, none have ever distorted.

     Overall the Twakers Lites are a decent speaker. Are they the best-sounding in their $25-$35 price range among portable speakers? Probably not. Does Grandmax make better speakers? Yes. But what the Tweakers Lites lack in the audio quality department, they make up for in portability and their ability to produce stereo sound. Anyone with limited space or a fancy for cute speakers will be sure to love these.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Speaker Month Day 7: Audible Rush Jam-Lite Essential Bicycle Speaker

     Speaker month is already three-quarters finished! Third-to-last to be reviewed is the Jam-Lite Essential by Audible Rush. Audible Rush makes a wide range of bike speaker models, ranging from $45 to over $200 in price. The Jam-Lite Essential is their entry model and can be found on their website as well as on Amazon.

     The speaker is coated in a plasticky canvas material that  feels durable enough to withstand several drops without sustaining any major outward blemishes. Inside is a compartment padded with foam sizable enough to fit most phones, including the new S4. Note that larger phones such as the Droid DNA and the Galaxy Note II will not fit, however. My only qualm with the device is that it lacks rechargeable batteries and instead makes use of two AA batteries (included). Rechargeables can be bought for $5 or so, but weight of the product (although already weighing less than a pound) could have easily been cut further with a simple lithium-ion battery, no doubt. Nonetheless, after shopping around, I found that Audible Rush has one of the lightest bike speaker systems on the market.

     The two roughly 2-Watt speakers pack a lot in the sound department and do not distort at even maximum volume on the bassiest of music. There is certainly plenty of volume to enjoy for any bike ride. Lastly, music comes out clear for a speaker this size, just don't expect much fullness (due to the device's slim design).

Monday, August 26, 2013

Speaker Month Day 6: EcoXGear Eco Extreme Rugged Speaker

     Continuing on with our reviews of portable audio systems, we look at the Eco Extreme weatherproof case by EcoXExtreme, a subsidiary of Grace Digital. Just like all other EcoXGear products, the Eco Extreme is water resistant, shock/drop resistant, and dust-proof. Inside the box the speakers are packaged in are also a clip to attach the speaker to a backpack (perfect for hiking), a warranty card, manuals, and air filters that aid the Eco Extreme's air pressure-adjusting capabilities (for all you mountain climbers). Three AA batteries are required, but not included, to operate the device.

      Cutting right to the chase, in terms of performance, the single 3 watt speaker on the device sounds unimpressive and easily distorts, but still gets plenty volume for use when relaxing in the pool or hiking to the top of that mountain.

     Overall, the Eco Extreme might be a great option for those looking for a cheap beater speaker that can be taken virtually anywhere without having to worry what will happen if it gets dropped or wet. Just expect to replace batteries occasionally or buy rechargeables for around $8.