Monster ClarityHD High Definition In-Ear Headphones

Monster Clarity HDIn case you aren’t familiar with Monster, it does refer to a place to find an energy drink, find a job, a Charlize Theron movie, and a place to get cables and other tech products. I see this company every year at CES, and I was very impressed with their Head Monster Noel Lee, and sat down with him for an interview. I had the chance to try out their ClarityHD High-Performance Earbuds.

These are some pretty good earbuds, and there are some ergonomically good design to fit into the ears for a better fit. There is some good noise isolation as well, and there is a Universal ControlTalk for making clearer calls.

So what else can I say about earbuds that you can only read about at this juncture? Well, Monster has a campaign about “Get Rid of the Crappy Earbud”, and there is video after the jump by BachelorsPadTV. I’m going to be honest when I say that I don’t really like the video and the end is just mean-spirited. Yes, Monster sent me this to review, and they are good, but that don’t mean that I can’t say “meh” when it comes to their actual ad campaign.

So yes, you should get yourself a pair because the earbuds that come with Apple products just aren’t well-made. You should be able to get the ClarityHD High Definition In-Ear Headphones on the Monster site for about $49.95.

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Speculative Fiction Saturday: Maleficent

MaleficentMost people who see Disney’s Maleficent, a prequel/midquel/retelling/reboot, and they don’t like it. I can understand where they are coming from, as most people seem to compare it to its source material, that animated Sleeping Beauty.

I must confess, it has been a while since I saw Sleeping Beauty, but I don’t really remember much about it. Most people who remember the villain Maleficent, who most people know that her name just means “badness” or “evil”. In the original animated film, she was a very one-dimensional villain, only evil because the story needed a villain, really.

Lately, there has been this fad going on for decades where villains are getting their retelling so that there can be some sympathy for them. There is Broadway play known as Wicked, telling the story the Wicked Witch of the West. Heck, the whole Star Wars prequels were about how Darth Vader was a sympathetic villain. At this point, Voldermort from Harry Potter and Agent Smith from The Matrix are going to have some kind of sympathetic villain movie.

Someone thought this would be a good idea for a movie, and honestly, there actually is a good story in Maleficent, but most of it really just take the story of Sleeping Beauty and tosses it without a thought. I get the feeling that someone at Disney just wanted to do a Maleficent film, and they started with the basics.

Instead of making her a witch at the beginning, they decided to make her a fairy. That’s not a bad idea, and then they gave her wings. Now here’s the thing: she has horns. I always thought that in Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent was wearing a hat. No, stop staring, they’re real.

The set-up for this world shows two worlds: one is a fantasy kingdom full of castles and kings, and the moors, which is full of fantasy creatures like fairies. This would be a good time for me to say that the looks and effects of this film is just beautiful. Granted, it is mostly CG, but the world here make it work, just like Avatar did.

So, worlds collide when a prince from one world meets Maleficent, and they fall in love. Then the prince’s father, the king, wants to declare war against the moors because…I don’t know. Seriously, there are probably some legitimate reasons why he could invade. Maybe he is afraid of the magic, even though Maleficent and her friends keep to themselves.

The prince Stefan realizes that he can help win this war by essentially drugging her and stealing her wings. It feels out of character for this character, because I thought that she loved her. Instead, Stefan becomes this villain, who inherits a kingdom and marries someone else.

After a while, Maleficent embraces her dark side, and creates a thing that looks like a staff/wand, but is actually a cane, really. That is a smart touch. What happens next isn’t smart.

Maleficent then stops by the King’s party and puts a curse on the princess. She will but cut herself on a spinning wheel and fall into a sleep unless her true love kisses her, because…yeah, if she wanted to kill the baby, just do that. Why drag this out if you want revenge?

Then something happens that is really weird. The King decides that to keep his daughter safe, he hires three fairies named Flittle, Knotgrass, and Thistletwit to raise his daughter in a hidden cabin in the moors. Even though these three fairies look like the ones from Sleeping Beauty, the name are changed. Why? Also, when these fairies are small size, they look like freaky CG bobbleheads. Also why?

Now, if Maleficent wants Princess Aurora dead, she sure takes her sweet time doing it. She even finds the princess and watches her grow up. It’s a good thing too, because those three fairies really suck at it. In the original Sleeping Beauty, one of the three fairies manages to use her magic to undo the curse so the princess won’t die, but will be put to sleep. It almost looked like the movie was setting itself up for this important plot point, but it didn’t.

It could be argued that Maleficent’s gift/curse, which was that Aurora would be like by everyone worked on her. It looks like the laws of magic are pretty rigid in this universe, and Maleficent isn’t able to undo her own spell.

Yes, she tries this, because Maleficent finds that she actually love Aurora, this leads to a very interesting plot twist that I believe is done well.

In fact, at its heart, there is a really good fantasy story in this movie. The issue is that it shouldn’t be shoehorned into this story of Sleeping Beauty, as it makes the Source material look bad. In short, this could have work, if you had just not had it take place in the Sleeping Beauty world. I would not be surprised if this is how the movie’s screenplay started out. This really is a good story about how love can conquer scorn.

Native Union Part 3: Gripster Wrap for the iPad Air 2

Native Union GripsterToday, I am completing the Native Union trilogy with the Gripster Wrap for the iPad Air 2. There is a lot of to say about this stand/case/wrap/grip for the iPad Air 2.

Yes, there are a lot of interesting features on the Gripster, and one of them is the grip. It is this elastic strap where two fingers can be placed and the iPad can be held very steady. Around this strap is a very cool ring that can serve as a stand if you prop it up. By the way, it is possible to rotate this ring as well, so you can stand it up in portrait or landscape view. The Ring can serve as a handle so you can carry your iPad Air 2 like a briefcase.

What is interesting is the magnetic cover, which I’m going to say is pretty close the iPad Smart Cover that came out with one of the iPad’s a while ago. You know, that one could turn into a triangle. This one can become a square and even roll up very tight.

I’ve reviewed a lot of intriguing iPad accessories that did one of these things, but this the first that has really done them all. You should be able to purchase the Gripster Wrap for the iPad 2 on the Native Union site for $59.99.

The Geek Church’s “Saving Thanksgiving”

I haven’t seen Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas, but I did see the Cinema Snob’s commentary on it, and I honestly don’t really need to see it to know how bad it is. Of course, whenever I see something so bad I have to see the good in it. Considering that this film is considered one of the worst films of all time, and I actually believe has the top spot there, there isn’t anything more that I should say about it.

The issue with the film is that it tells nothing that we haven’t heard before, that there is a “war on Christmas” and people want to take the Christ out of it, blah blah blah. Like this film, I’m not going to say anything that hasn’t been said before.

Personally, I really think Thanksgiving needs to be saved, but the presence of Black Friday has proven that for years. Many are really saying this because now all the retailers are open on Thanksgiving for sales.

Now, I realize that Thanksgiving is a pretty questionable origin. Some say that the Pilgrims and Indians is a myth, and it started colonization and all of the bad things that happened there. Most will say that Thanksgiving is about being thankful.

However, how can we be thankful when shops are giving deals, almost saying “you don’t have enough”. Yeah, you knew I was going there. I’m not about to tell you that you can’t shop on Thanksgiving, but for gosh sake, can you just be thankful for what you have.

Native Union Part 2: CLIC 360 and CLIC Marble for the iPhone 6/6S/6/6S Plus

Native Union Clic 360So, now that we have another day to look at some Native Union products, I’m pleased to say that I am quite glad with what I see and have tried out.

I’ll start with the CLIC 360. I’m not certain why it is called CLIC, but it has the 360 label because it surrounds the case. So yeah, there are a lot of cases, so what makes this one different?

Well, the interior has this “3D Rubber Mesh”, which means it will really hold in the iPhone 6/iPhone 6S. In addition to the hard yet soft plastic, it has a canvas backing, making it feel like the pocket of some jeans. It even has the “Native Union” patch that feels like Levis.

You should be able to find it on the Native Union site for a price of $39.99in several different colors.

Native Union Clic marbleNow, as far as the CLIC Marble goes, I think I realize why this series is called CLIC as it might be some deliberate misspelling of “clique”. In this case, the CLIC Marble is made of marble.

You heard it right, marble, and I swear, this case has more class than any case that I have ever reviewed. Now I have reviewed a lot of cases in my time, but this one is gourmet. I feel like if the Roman Empire never fell, then all of our iPhones would have to have this case.

The only drawback is that the phone case has some instructions on how to care for your marble case. Also it seems to pride itself on being cold, which is odd, to say the least. I would rather have a case that would be warm to the touch, but that might not be possible.

You should be able to get the CLIC Marble case for the iPhone 6/6S for about $79.99 on the Native Union site.

STM Atlas Wallet Case for the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus

STM AtlasI have reviewed a lot of STM products in the past, like the STM Blazer Small Jacket Sleeve and I have also reviewed many cases for smartphones that are wallets. In fact, it is starting to become a new standard. That being said, the only thing to talk about the STM Atlas wallet case for the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus is what is different.

It has a textured fabric that protects against scratches, and it gives a better grip as well. I also noticed that there are some interesting suction cups that will really protect the screen when it is closed, and I have never seen that before.

As far as any differences go, most wallet cases that I have seen have three different “pouches” for lack of a better word. This one has about two of them, and they are pretty thin. This means that you can’t shove too much cards, IDs, or cash in there.

Now here’s the thing about the STM Atlas cases for the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus: I don’t know that price. You can find out more inforamtion about the products here.

Native Union Part 1: POWERLink and Switch Bluetooth Speaker

Native Union PowerLinkIt’s been a while since I reviewed some good Native Union products, and I was pleased to try out several new products that I am going to review during Black Friday week, and I will recommend them for holiday gifts.

I’ll start with the POWERLink, a charging cable that looks like it is in the shape of a woman with a long dress. Okay, I hope that no one thinks it’s weird that I describe it that way. Look at it, what does it look like.

Like Nomad with their charging cables, the Native Union POWERLink makes charging something easy as carrying with you. So if you are in a place where you need a quick boost, you have a way of getting some juice.

Granted, you will need a spare USB port to do this, but those are pretty common these days. The POWERLink can be something decorative, and that is something that works out really well for everyone. It is available to purchase on the Native Union site for $59.99.

Native Union SwitchThen there the Switch, which is a Bluetooth Speaker, and it sounds good. Best of all, it looks good, too. It reminds me of a long LEGO brick.

The way that I judge a Bluetooth speaker is whether or not I can use it without looking at the instructions. In this case, I was able to press the top, and then I was able to sync it in seconds. From there, I was playing music through it, and I am told that it will play music wirelessly for up to 14 hours.

Of course, it can be used as a professional conference call unit for hands-free or group settings. There’s also a convenient USB port for an emergency recharge, in case you got the CHARGELink handy. Yeah, you knew that was going to work its way back.

Anyway, you can get it for purchase on the Native Union site for about $129.99.

Man Enters Apple Store with Samurai Sword

sword-h1This is an interesting time that we live in after the Paris attacks. I actually was going to publish an article about those, but my editor at the other website that I write for thought it would bring too much fear.

I decided not to publish the op-ed piece, and I recently heard that this story happened as a man with a samurai sword entered the 5th Avenue Apple Store. He swung it around and screamed at people. Two officers were in the store and escorted him out, and he kept screaming and swinging.

Considering that there has recently been a video released by ISIS showing New York City and a suicide bomber getting ready to strike, I can see a lot of fear going on, especially in NYC. With the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade going on, I can see that a lot of people are afraid of what could happen.

It turns out that the swordsman guy wanted to harm himself. He was then escorted to Bellevue hospital, and I honestly hope he is okay. Fear can drive anyone crazy, and I’m guessing that this is what terrorists want to do. I’m not going to let them.


Lander Neve Charge and Sync Cable, Powell Phone Cases, and Carriers

PowellBGZ Brands has recently unveiled a new brand known as Lander, and it is one of those tech accessories made for outdoor enthusiasts, kind of like EKUSA products. I’m hoping to get some hands-on review products of these, but this is what I’ve seen from them, and it’s pretty impressive.

For example, there is a Neve cable that is flat and made for Apple, USB to Micro USB, auxiliary to auxiliary cable and more for a price range of ($17.95-$29.95). It looks like it is made tough and hard to pull out.

The Powell cases, as you can see here, have those cool ribbed sections on them, with a splash of color. They will be available for the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and the Samsung Galaxy S6 for a price of $34.95-$39.95.

Then there is the Brenner case for all sizes of the MacBook for $49.95. There are also Timp carrying bags: 25-liter ($129.95), 20-liter ($99.95), and messenger bag ($79.95).

Well, we’ll be certain to report on more when we get more info on them, and some of these items are available now. Check out more information at the Lander site.

Speculative Fiction Saturday: Fantastic Four

fantastic-four-trailer-poster-2015Some of you might remember when I did my review of CHAPPiE that I tried to say something positive about it, even though that on the whole, I didn’t like the film. The issue with Fantastic Four is I have never seen any film that is so thoroughly disengaging.

It’s pretty clear why Marvel wanted to do a Fantastic Four movie, and yes, money is one of the reasons. The Fantastic Four is kind of like Marvel’s first family, and they mean a lot to Marvel. I used to read them in comics back in the eighties, and the best thing about this book is that they were family. Reed and Sue were husband and wife, Johnny was Sue’s brother, and Ben was Reed’s best friend.

Unlike other super-teams, they got along. A lot of people don’t like that aspect with super-teams, but they think they should be like the Avengers and X-Men. You know, where the team is just thrown together and don’t get along but work together anyway, making the conflict a bit more interesting. Fantastic Four always had the familial bond between them, so nothing really stops them, honestly.

The film opens in 2007, and yeah, that wasn’t a long time ago. Not very nostalgic, really. Why even give it a year? Anyway, young Reed Richards has invented a teleporter, but it only slightly works. He does manage to black out New York City, which actually happened in 2003, and…couldn’t we just set this back then? Well, I guess we just had to make Reed Richards younger.

Now, what is interesting about the Fantastic Four is that they have been rebooted, several times, and Reed Richards just keeps getting younger. This film deviates a lot from the Source material so much, it almost represents something else. This isn’t like the change makes it interesting, and some of these changes just seem like they would work.

Anyway, the film opens with Reed and Ben being friends, but not really developing that friendship that much. Reed has a teleporter that he’s been working on all through his childhood, and one day, at a science fair, some people notice it. One of them is Sue Storm and her father.

Sue Storm is played by an actress who decided not to show any personality whatsover. Many times, Sue is portrayed as a Jessica Alba type, but in the Source material, Sue is both beautiful, nurturing, and motherlike, and no live-action film has ever got that right.

As for Johnny, he’s like this character from the Fast and Furious transplanted into this film, and the movie as a whole is rejecting him.

Anywway, Reed figures out how to make his teleporter work, and he decides to take the four of them into this other dimension. This isn’t the Fantastic Four, but Reed, Johnny, Ben, and…hey, this is bros only, so let’s find someone else. That someone else is Victor…something or another, but they call him Von Doom because he’s kind of a pessimist.

So, they all get into the teleporter so they can have an origin story, and now this film becomes a reboot check-off list. Once the group gets their powers, it still isn’t interesting. There is scene where Reed tries to crawl away from the wreckage of the teleporter accident with a pinned foot. Then we realize that his leg has stretched. I saw that effect coming from a mile away, and it was the only interesting thing in this, and it wasn’t very interesting.

So, Reed escapes from the military who want to use the Fantastic Four as weapons. They apparently do this for a year or two, and apparently only the Thing has been used for covert operations. Now, why in the world would you use a brick guy when you have a woman who can turn herself invisible? Wouldn’t that be the greater asset?

From there, the government rebuilds the teleporter, tries it again, and they find Dr. Doom, who wants to destroy the world because…I honestly don’t remember. From there, it is a finale to end all…yeah, I barely remember that either.

This Fantastic Four film is now become one of the worst films of the year, and it is pretty obvious, because this film is so forgettable that I probably should have done it a few weeks ago, when I first reviewed it. This can be the worst thing for a film, when it isn’t so bad that it is good. Personally, I believe that Fantastic Four has achieved some kind of level of so bland it has no impact, good or bad.