AQUAPHONICS AQ10 by LifeProof Review

We’ve done a lot of phone case reviews from the LifeProof company, like the FRĒ but LifeProof is branching out into things like “WaterProof, DirtProof, SnowProof and DropProof” Bluetooth speakers. The one we’re reviewing today is called the Aquaphonics AQ10.

photos courtesy of LifeProof

AQ10 Specs

This Bluetooth speaker is 8.5 inches long, about 3 1/4 inches tall and wide, and weighs about 27 ounces. This rugged, portable speaker is great to take to the beach. This one is the middle size of the two speakers offered by LifeProof. You can buy it in this basic black color, or you can jazz it up with the Laguna Clay Grey color- which is a grey speaker with green accents. An AC 12V/2A power adapter is included for charging. It probably would have been better to have a USB charging option. This is something many have found strange. You can use the 13 hours of battery life to charge your phone through a USB out port, but it doesn’t charge very fast.

Other Details

As you can see, the buttons to operate the speaker are extremely tactile, making it easy to use the speaker for controlling your music from the speaker.

Another button to power on the speaker and a switch to lock controls, plus LED lights that indicate how much power is left in the speaker are on the one side, while the other side hosts the charging port, a 3.5mm aux in port, and a USB port hidden under a protective waterproof flap.

The bottom of the speaker has a dry box that’s small enough to hold some cash, credit cards, and other small items. It also contains a USB power port and 3.5mm auxiliary in port. The dry box is too small for a cell phone on this model. If you had an old iPod Nano, you could plug that in and play it inside the speaker maybe, with a small enough cord. Again, if you want to store your phone inside your speaker, you better get the bigger size.

Another great feature is that this speaker floats. It has a IP67 rating, which means it can be submersed for 30 minutes at 1 meter. Like the LifeProof cases, it stands up against dirt, dust and snow, and can be dropped from close to 4 feet and survive.

 Sound

So how does this speaker sound? Well, the sound quality has been a big complaint for reviewers. This device is definitely not for true audiophiles. Common complaint is lack of bass. The Bluetooth range is decent, so go ahead and walk through your house with your device. You should still stay attached. You can also answer phone calls on this speaker.

Buying the AQ10

If you want the AQ10, it comes with a price tag of about $200 on the Lifeproof site. We can suggest that those looking for a highly durable, waterproof Bluetooth speaker might go for this one if waterproofing is what you desire. The AQ10 is available at Best Buy stores, and you can also buy online.

This speaker was provided free to us in exchange for our fair and unbiased review. No other compensation has been given.

The Louie by Coal Power Will Give an Extra Charge to Your Devices

When I was out doing Pokemon Go the other day for Community Day, I noticed many people walking around using external batteries, powerpacks, portable chargers- whatever you may call them. We’ve reviewed many of these things like this one from Nomad and this one from Cygnett. At CES this year, Mark picked up one from COAL Power that a representative gave him. We thought we would do a little review on it today. “Louie” is the name of this one.

The Louie Specs

There are three outputs on the 12,000 mAh capacity charger that we received- A Qualcomm 3.0 Quickcharge 5V/3A, a type C ouput 5V/3A, and a USB-A output 5V/2.1A. The input is a typeC 5V/2A. The Louie also comes in an 8,000 mAh version. That one just has a USB C and USB A output, and a type C input.

The device also comes with a nifty charging cord that has a triple-headed adapter cable that includes a micro end, lightning end, and  USB Type-C to USB-A.

The Louie Design

The covering of this pack has a nice geometric design on a brown background. The texture of most of it feels rubberized almost, with the exception of the top, where the display with the LED is a black plastic. The white LED numbers will give you a good feeling of how much battery life is left.

*Side note, if you try to jam your backpack into the overhead compartment on a plane, you might want to take this out. The display cracked a bit, but the charger still continues to work.

Should you Buy the Louie?

We’ve found this charger to be on the heavy side of the different chargers we’ve tested. It’s about the size of two Samsung Galaxy S7 phones stacked on top of each other- same length, and I’m guessing it weighs about that much, too. The bonus of this pack is that it will charge your device a couple of times at least, and it has charge protection that protects your devices from overcharging and overheating. So, all-in-all, a good product.

The COAL website says that it will be available on Amazon.com by April 15th. We have not seen it show up yet, and there’s also no price available. When the company gets back to us, we’ll update the article.

The Louie was given to us for free in exchange for our honest and unbiased feedback. No other compensation has been provided.

Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro

Once again, we get to review a nice pair of headphones from the German company of Beyerdynamic. The headphones we’re about to review are the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro. In the past, we’ve reviewed the 1990 Pro, among others. The 990 ones are similar, but we’ll tell you more about these ones that don’t cost as much.

 

photo credit-Beyerdynamic

DT 990 Pro Features

Similar to the 1990, you have the soft, velour earcups. These feel so soft and comfortable- maybe the best feature of the headphones. They’re very lightweight, although the 9.8 ft coiled cord (which comes with a 1/4″ adapter) can be a bit cumbersome unless you are sitting still. These headphones are designed more for professionals who do mixing and are in studio settings, so I don’t suppose they will be using them to listen to music on their phones.

The cord is not removable like on the 1990 cans. The headband is made of a metal material, but covered by a soft, padded material that can snap off when if it needs to be replaced.  A cloth carrying bag is included, as well.

DT 990 Pro Sound

There are different ohm impedance models, and the ones that we are reviewing have a 250 ohm impedance. You’ll want to make sure to get the right ones for the device you plan on using them on, as that can affect sound quality. The sound is what you would expect at this price level- without an emphasis on any certain sound levels. They are open back headphones, so you won’t be blocking out sound from around you, and they aren’t something you want to use in the library. Of course, these headphones are really made for studio listening, so that probably won’t be an issue for buyers.

DT 990 Pro Price

While the 1990 Pro headphones are an upgrade in many ways from the 990 Pro, there is also a significant price difference. With these, you will only be spending about $179 as opposed to the $599 price tag of the 1990s.

That concludes our review. What headphones do you like the best? Let us know in the comments below.

This review was a hands-on review thanks to Beyerdynamic lending us a pair to review. No compensation has been given in exchange for our fair and unbiased review.

Phone Cases from Tech21 to protect your iPhone X and Galaxy S9

It’s been a while since we’ve reviewed products from Tech21, but they are a good company if you are looking for some cases and protection for your phones. They have sent us some more cases to consider and tell you about. So get ready for our assessment of four different Tech21 cases.

Tech21 EVO LUXE

This classy looking case looks like leather, but it’s really “Vegan Leather,” or what seems to be some PVC material. It kind of has a leather smell, but I don’t know if that’s chemicals I am smelling. The drop protection on this black case is made of 3 layers with ribs on surrounding the sides of the case on the inside. This design with FlexShock is said to protect your phone from 12 ft. drops. The lip wraps around the front so you can place the phone face down and have protection. The part that covers the buttons on the sides are not very prominent, and might be a little tougher to maneuver than other cases I have seen.

If this ultra-slim, 1.8mm thick case that works well for wireless charging appeals to you, you can find it for $49.95 on their website. We were sent the case for Samsung Galaxy S9, but it’s also available for iPhone 8 and up.

Tech21 EVO WALLET

This case is good for those looking for something to totally envelop their phone. It contains the same FlexShock drop protection from 12 ft. This one, though, has a leather- like front (maybe this one is actually leather) that wraps around your phone. There is a clasp to close it on the side. It seems a little difficult to open and close the clasp. That may get easier with time. I can see it becoming problematic if you want to access your phone in a hurry, but there are cutouts and buttons so that you can answer calls with the cover still on. The tactile buttons on the left side, again, are not very prominent.

A cool feature is the ability to carry a couple of credit cards in a concealed compartment in the front of the phone. The case comes in pink or black, and they have different textures. I can’t tell what the texture of the black case is, but it definitely has a different texture from what I see. We received the pink case. This one for the Galaxy S9 is $49.95. It is the same price for iPhones, and from reviews I have seen on those, there is a way to take the Folio cover off and just use the basic case. I don’t see that on the case for the Samsung Galaxy S9, though.

Tech21 PureClear

If you want a clear case for your phone, this could be the one for you. It has a 10 ft. drop protection of two layers- the ribs like the cases above, and BulletShield material, which is used in bulletproof glass. It’s thin(1.2mm), and can be charged wirelessly. It also says that the case resists UV damage for longer and therefore won’t yellow. The button covers on this case seem much better to me than the others.

This case, also available for other phones has a cost of $39.95 on the Tech 21 website.

Tech21 EVO Check Evoke Edition

Finally, the last case we are about to review is a beautiful way to protect your phone. In this case, we received the iPhone X cover in clear and blue. It also comes in pink, with red flowers.

This case also has the FlexShock impact protection, and has a promised protection of 10 ft. drops. Again, a thin, light-weight design for easy access to wireless charging. The back of the case has a texture with checks, and the floral design that really stands out. This design costs $49.95, and this Evoke edition only seems to come for the iPhone 7 and up, but the Evo Check is available for other phones as well.

That concludes our review of these phone cases. Our usual disclaimer- these cases were sent to us for free to review in exchange for our fair and unbiased analysis. No other compensation has been given.

Happy 102nd Birthday, Beverly Cleary!

This picture was taken two years ago on Beverly Cleary’s 100th birthday. Who could have imagined that the beloved author would still be alive today? From Ramona and Henry, to Ralph S. Mouse and his motorcycle, to the older teens experiencing their first crush, Mrs. Cleary has instilled a love for reading in many of us for generations. Today, schools across the nation celebrated National D.E.A.R.(Drop Everything and Read Day) in honor of this great author.

Beverly Cleary may have struggled in her early years learning to read according to her website. She could sympathized with struggling readers, as she started out in the low level readers’ groups at school. In third grade, she was encouraged by the librarian to write books for children when she grew up. She wanted to write the books as she would later describe as,  “From my own experience and from the world around me.”

As a result, she has written books for kids such as:

Henry Huggins– her first book published in 1950

The popular Ramona collection- of which there are 8 books!

The Mouse and the Motorcycle

FIFTEEN

Dear Mr. Henshaw

and more!

She was even asked to write some books based on the show Leave it to Beaver, and she wrote three of them- Leave it to Beaver, Beaver and Wally, and Here’s Beaver!

Her books are cherished all over the world, and have been published in over 25 different languages. She has received many awards and honors over the years including three Newbery awards for Dear Mr. Henshaw in 1984, Ramona and Her Father in 1978 and Ramona Quimby, Age 8 in 1982. In 2008, the Fernwood Grammar School she once attended  was officially renamed Beverly Cleary School.

As a child, I couldn’t get enough of the Ramona series and the books about Henry and his dog, Ribsy. I also enjoyed Dear Mr. Henshaw as a teenager.  What was your favorite book? Let us know in the comments.

 

Home Security can be Yours With 2GIG Rely

We’ve done many a review on cameras which assist in monitoring your home, but this might be the first time we do a review of an actual security system. Today we’re covering the 2GIG Rely Home Security Kit by Nortek Security & Control .

I’m going to focus on the basic kit that we were sent, but according to your needs, you can build on it even more.

2GIG Rely Kit 1 Contents

The basic kit comes with the Rely Security Panel, 3 thin door/window contacts, a passive infrared motion detector, and a four button key ring remote.

Rely Kit 1 Specs

The security panel is 3 1/2 x 5 x 1 inches. You can either hang it on your wall, or it sits on a flat surface with the stand to set it up at a 45 degree angle. An AC adapter and mounting screws also come included.  The remote to arm and disarm is small enough to fit on your keyring at 2 x 1 inches, and comes with a lithium coin battery.

The three thin door/window contacts have a magnet dimension of 1.3 x .435 x .312 inches. The sensors are 2.59 x 1.03 x .49 in. They also include batteries. Each one takes two CR2032 batteries.

Finally, there is the motion detector sensor. It detects motion within a 30 ft. by 50 ft. range. It also has the battery (3 volt lithium) included. It’s dimensions are also pretty small at about 3 x 2.5 x 2 inches. It comes with a few different mounting options. It will be immune to sensing your pets up to 55 pounds. If you have bigger animals, you might need to talk with the monitoring station you use.

Rely Kit 1 Setup

Once plugged in, you will need to download the 2GIG Rely app available for both Android and iOS. You’ll most likely be buying your kit through a dealer, and they will be able to tell you all you need to know to get it set-up. We did not actually do the set-up, as this system requires a monitoring service through Securenet or Aventguard. Again, your dealer will tell you all you need to know about setting that up. Here’s a video that explains how to set it up with your app, though.

2GIG Rely is Expandable!

We just received the basic kit, but you can buy more sensors, a wireless smoke/heat/freeze detector, a wireless glass break detector, window sensors, a wireless carbon monoxide detector, etc. This system really is versatile to work with your home security needs.

Here’s a video that shows what 2GIG can do for you:

 

If this product meets the need of your household, you can find a dealer near you on the 2GIG website. We haven’t been able to find the price of our basic kit, but found one with some of the extras on Amazon for $267.33.

We were sent this model to review, but not to keep, and no other compensation has been offered to us for our fair and unbiased analysis.

LifeProof SLAM for Samsung Galaxy S9

LifeProof has sent us phone cases to review in the past- the last one being the FRĒ for Samsung Galaxy S8. This time, we will be giving you our analysis of LifeProof’s SLAM case for the S9 (also available for the S9+). This case is designed primarily to protect your phone from drops.

photo credit: LifeProof
The case boasts the MIL STD rating 810G-516.6, and survives drops from 2 meters. It is not waterproof, like the FRĒ, but it is cheaper in price, and the S9 phones already have the IP68 waterproof rating, so you have coverage there.

Putting the case on is not too tricky. There is a plastic key included to snap apart the shell so you can put your phone in, and once you place your phone in the front part, the back will snap on with a bit of pressure on your part.

SLAM Design

The clear cover on the back allows the S9 owner to see their phone. There are added colors around the side bumpers, though. You can choose from Nightflash (green/black), Aloha Sunset (pink/blue), and Lava Chaser (gray/orange).  While the side wraps around the front of the phone a bit, there is not a lot of protection that seems to be offered for the phone face, so a screen protector is recommended.

The buttons on the side are covered, and the buttons on the case may be a bit stiff at first. The port cutouts provide easy access unless you have a third party headphone jack that has a wider diameter than the one that comes with the S9. Otherwise, you can access your fingerprint scanner and all perfectly fine. The thinness of the case is important for those who don’t want bulk, and ease of wireless charging.

Purchasing the SLAM

This case is available for purchase on the LifeProof site for $49.99. They have excellent customer service and free shipping in the US.

We also like the companies Giving Back philosophy,  and how they work with kids to prepare them for the future.

This review was done without bias and fairly, and LifeProof did send us this case to review free of charge.

Patchworks Protection Options for Samsung Galaxy S9

We’ve reviewed cases and screen protectors from Patchworks before. This time we’ll be reviewing cases and screens made for the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus. The glass screen protector is the ITG Full Cover. The cases are from the Level ITG series and the Monogrip.

First off, we’ll cover the glass screen protector. This protector has beveled edges that wrap around the screen nicely to fit the curved sides of the S9 Plus. Patchworks uses a unique heat bending technique to bend the edges- as opposed to other glass screen protectors that shave the glass to fit. This technique is said to improve the durability of the glass.

The screen protector boasts a hardness of 9H- which I have found does not equate to the Mohs hardness scale, but rather something like a pencil hardness test. We have not tested out the glass by trying to scratch it, but it’s more than likely to be pretty tough. The most important part is that it protects the screen underneath. The Patchwork page guarantees the scratch resistant part of it, so at worst, you could get a new screen protector out of it.

There is an oleophobic coating that will aid in preventing fingerprints and smudges. It is also very smooth and will give you a screen that responds beautifully to touch. On top of it all is an easy application, which makes the $24.95 suggested retail price a good deal. I saw a $15.95 pricetag on the WalMart website, though.

photo credit:Patchworks

Next up, we have the Level ITG series case. This one comes in black or red, and looks simple and basic, but it really does have what it takes to protect your phone- as proven in the Military grade drop standard 810G. The case wraps around the front and sits 1 mm above a glass screen protector to provide even more screen protection.

There are good sized cutouts for ports so everything is easily accessible, and the design around the flash will prevent the flash reflections.The buttons will be covered, but are tactile and easily-manipulated at the same time.

The dual layer TPU and polycarbonate case has air pockets to help cushion from any drops that might happen. It will be hard to drop the case with it’s textured grip on the side and anti-slip surface. As durable as the case is, it is very thin and works well with wireless charging. It retails for $24.95.

 

Last, but not least, we have the Monogrip case.

photo credit:Patchworks

This case is similar to the Level ITG in protection, accessibility, and many of the things we mentioned above. This one has a aluminum finish, but looks like a leather grain, and feels like it as well.

A triple layer of aluminum, TPU and polycarbonate give protection to the phone inside, and also has the ribs on the side to give the user something to grip.

 

The lifetime warranty protected case comes in black or taupe, and is also listed at $24.95. 

 

It’s hard to go wrong with any of these cases, and we appreciate Patchworks sending us these products for free in exchange for our fair and unbiased review.

FIXD: The Device That Can Save You in Car Repairs

A few years ago when TechnoMark and I were driving home from CES, our check engine light came on. We ignored it and continued to attempt to make it to our destination. Unfortunately, our van broke down on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. We got it towed to the nearest town, and would soon learn that the engine had blown. If we had FIXD back then, we might have saved our vehicle.

What is FIXD?

FIXD is a small device that plugs into your vehicle’s OBD 2 port, and combined with the free app for iOS and Android, you will have knowledge of what’s going on when your light comes on. This little gadget will save you a lot of money and headaches when it comes to vehicle repairs, and you can know if your maintenance guy is trying to fleece you.

How Will FIXD Help Me?

If you have a vehicle that is a 1996 model or newer, it is most likely to work for you. FIXD can scan for more than 7,000 problems that can be giving you a check engine light, and notify you exactly what is the problem. Sometimes a check engine light will come on for small things like a gas cap not screwed on all the way. If it’s something little like that, you can use the app to turn off the check engine light.

It can also turn off other lights that might come on your panel like TPMS, ABS, Airbag, and Maintenance and Stability Control. This feature will really come in handy for us when the tire pressure light comes on after we change our tires to snow tires. It definitely saves the hassle of having to drive to the shop and ask them to turn it off. It will also send notifications to remind you to take your car in for an oil change or maintenance.

Set Up

The app is simple to download. You do need to register to get it started, but it’s pretty painless. The app will show where to plug the sensor in for your particular vehicle if you don’t already know where the OBD 2 port is. Plug it in, pair it up with the app, and you’re ready to go! The sensor runs off the power of your car, so you don’t need to charge it or anything. If you have multiple sensors, you can put them in your other cars and assign them all in the one single app.

How to Buy FIXD

A single FIXD sensor sells for $59 plus shipping and handling on their website. But those who want them for multiple cars can get a special deal- $88 for two, plus free US shipping and handling. If you want three, you can get them for $118 plus free US shipping and handling. They pretty much pay for themselves, since many automotive places will charge to hook your vehicle up to their computer to figure out what’s wrong. There’s also a 30 day money back guarantee, so you really can’t go wrong. We give this product a thumbs up, and look forward to have better protection and knowledge about potential car problems.

Thanks to FIXD for sending us this device for free in exchange for our fair and unbiased review.

Review of IONA Dock for iPhone and iPad by Landing Zone

Finally, to wrap up our Landing Zone review series, we will conclude with the IONA dock for the iPhone and iPad.

The IONA is a great dock for those who are looking for something to hold an iPad or iPhone in order to FaceTime, watch movies, listen to music, read recipes, or do a variety of activities without having to hold your device.

Size and Aesthetics

The aluminum base is 4.5 inches in diameter. The dock stands at 6.5 inches tall and is a white, plastic material. It weighs in at 1 lb. Most of the weight is in the sturdy base which has a rubberized bottom to accommodate a solid hold. The base also rotates 120 degrees, so you can easily adjust to your viewing preference. The backing that your device rests on is an aluminum material like the round base.

Compatible Devices and Cases

Included in the box are different bumpers to make many different iPhones and iPads compatible. You can use it with iPhones 5 and 5s, and all the way up to 6s and 6s Plus. Do you have an iPad mini? The iPad minis 2 through 4 will work as well. The iPad Air and the Air 2 can also fit.

Most cases will fit on the dock. Thicker cases like Otterboxes and those with battery cases will not work. If you don’t have a case, there is a bumper to use. You’ll see this in the next video I post in…

Set Up

The IONA is relatively easy to use. Here’s a great video that can show you how easy it is to set up.

Other Cool Features

As you may have seen in the video, you can charge your device while it is docked. It didn’t use to come with a Lightning Cable, but the company decided to start including one that is 4.5 feet long, and it is an official Apple cord. You can also use the one that came with your phone.

There is a slot that makes the audio input port accessible, so you can plug in headphones or a speaker while your device is docked as seen here:

The designer, Mike Nuttall, made sure to make the dock stand at a perfect height and angle to match with other screens like the MacBook computer and Thunderbolt monitor shown here:

All in all, a great little docking station that sells for a very reasonable price of $19 on the Landing Zone website.

This concludes the series of Landing Zone products we were sent to review, and I’ll throw in the disclaimer that we have not received any compensation from this company, and this is my fair and unbiased analysis of the product. I’ll also include the photo credit to Landing Zone for all pictures used in these reviews.