Review of Etón Multi-Powered Emergency Weather Radio with Bluetooth®

frx5bt_img1Outdoor lovers will appreciate this item I am reviewing now- especially those who might need to charge their phones or tablets while outdoors. This would also be useful in case of a storm when the power has been knocked out. Today I’m talking about Etón’s FRX5-BT Emergency Weather Radio with Bluetooth®. 

In the past, we reviewed a similar radio from Etón- the SolarLink FR360.  I can’t find the review we did for that, but I’ll say that it worked okay for us, and we have taken it camping. The cell phone charger on it is not reliable unless you want to crank it for a while, and then you might only get a few minutes to call. This new FRX5, though, is a vast improvement.

For example, the FRX5 has a big solar panel that covers the whole back of the device, instead of the small panel on top of the handle. Where the solar panel was on the SolarLink handle, you now have an ambient light panel- in addition to the LED flashlight and emergency beacon on the side. After you turn off the flashlight or light panel, the strips around them will glow. The charging of cell phones/tablets seems to work much better on the FRX5.  I didn’t have to crank anything to charge my phone this time.

FRX5_lightSideThis product has Bluetooth capabilities in addition to being able to play tunes off the radio. In addition, you can get NOAA weather alerts and S.A.M.E. alerts.

There are a few ways of charging- with the solar panel on the back, by turning the crank, or charging through the included USB cable. The first two methods are going to come in really handy in situations where the power is out, or you are out camping. Cranking won’t give you much time for your effort, so hopefully you will have some sun to help out.  Or you can make sure it’s fully charged before you go. There is a handy little display on the front that will show you how much battery it has.

With this emergency radio being splashproof (not waterproof), and drop-proof from a height of 3.3 ft (depending on drop situations according to the website), I think this would make a great addition to camping supplies, and emergency prep kits.

You can buy it for $99.99 on Amazon.com.

Nomad Powerpack Charges Your Device in a Rugged Way

Nomad PowerpackWe’ve reviewed many a powerpack here at The Geek Church. Many of them have their own claims to set them apart from the others.  Per their website, Nomad is a company that brings products “designed for adventure.” From their multiple products, we were sent the ultra rugged PowerPack to review.

The Nomad PowerPack boasts an “ultra-rugged construction.” Under that assertion on the box, it states,”mortise and tenon.” I had to look up what that was, and apparently it is a type of joint that is one of the strongest in wood-working, and apparently used in the construction of this product. It is also created with overmolded rubber, and boasts a 1.2M drop protection under the Military Spec. The construct on this product is pretty grippy, though, and it would not be easy to drop.

There is a feature on this device that I can really appreciate. I have some external battery chargers to assist in charging our family’s devices on the go. The problem lies in always being able to locate them when I need them. The answer to this is an app called Tile® that works with Bluetooth tracking, and as long as you have your phone, you can ring up your Powerpack- being able to hear it from other room, or buried in a deep pocket in your backpack. If you have Apple(iOS 8.1 and up) or Android(4.4 and up), you will be able to use this app on your device.

There are two different Output ports- USB C and USB A. The USB-C charging works with high-density Panasonic li-ion cells, and makes for some fast charging. There are 3 indicator dots on the end that will tell you how much battery life is in your PowerPack. 1 dot = 1-33%; 2 dots = 34-66%; three dots = 67-100%. There is also a sensor that will detect the lighting in the room so it will dim the LEDs at night, which is a nice touch. An iPhone 7 will be able to charge 3.5 times off a fully charged pack.

The Nomad PowerPack is pricey at $119.95 on their website, but for something that has these great features- especially the ability to track and find missing devices, it could be well worth it for someone looking to charge in style on the go.

 

 

Earin True Wireless Earbuds Review

Only_Buds_front-620x400With all the activity we do, it’s great to not to have to be tied down to something. Many earbuds have you hooked up to a line trailing down your arm, neck , back, or leg. There’s an option, though, for those who don’t want strings to hold them down. We were sent these wireless EARIN earbuds to review, so here we go.

Coming from a Swiss startup, these Bluetooth- enabled earbuds come in a nice package. The box that holds them looks like a cardboard box, but it opens and closes magnetically, and the magnets also attract the earbuds so that they don’t fly out when you open the box. We still recommend that you carefully open the box because there still is a chance for them to fly out, and those little guys are miniscule and round, and they roll.

The box contains the wireless earbuds, a charging capsule reminiscent of the flashy-thing in the Men in Black movie, a micro USB cable to charge the flashy-thing, stabilizers to make extra sure they won’t come out of your ears with heavy activity. There’s also the Comply foam tips that give a tight seal, or if you would rather, there are Silicone tips.

The case, or flashy-thing, will hold the earbuds as they charge, and you had better be sure to put these earbuds in the case when you aren’t using them, as that is the only way to turn them off. If you just put them in your pocket, the battery will drain on them, so it’s best to keep them in the case. It will likely be a safer place to keep them anyway. A simple light will turn on while it’s charging the earbuds, another light on top indicates that the case is charging itself.earin-true-wireless-earbuds-with-charging-case-and-aweni7-5

There are complaints that sometimes the right ear bud will cut out, and there is sometimes lag when watching videos. The left ear bud is the one that connects to your device, and the right one is a slave, so it’s not always as reliable as the left.

Other wireless earbuds on the market might run less expensive on price, but we haven’t been able to compare the sound quality of them. We have reviewed the Jabra wireless earbuds, and they are about $100 more, though the Earins used to be the same price, and the Jabra had the addition of being able to take calls because of the microphone. You can’t take calls on the Earins. You can also check your heartrate with the Jabra pair.

Earin does have a special app that you use on your phone to control the bass boost, the balance of volume in each ear, and you can see how much battery life you have left in them. Speaking of battery life, there is about 3 hours of battery life in them, and you can charge them up to 3 times in a fully charged capsule.

Earin is coming out in the future with the M-2 earbuds. These look to be more advanced with a microphone and a way to control them with touch interface on the earbuds. The question will be whether they are comparable in price and quality to the other wireless earbuds out there. Still, at $149, the M-1 might be what you are looking for.

Secure Protection for Your Phone With the Urban Armor Gear PATHFINDER Series

GLXS8_PATHFINDER_RST-MAIN.1006_grandeUrban Armor Gear has protection available for many devices- laptops, tablets, and phones, and we have reviewed many of them here at TheGeekChurch. The case we’re reviewing today comes from the PATHFINDER series.

The case we were sent to review is specifically for Samsung Galaxy S8, but you can also get them for iPhones. The PATHFINDER series cases come in black, white, and rust- which is the color we got. It looks more orange, and brighter than what you might think rust would look like, but still a very nice, sporty color.

This case has many of the same characteristics that other UAG series cases have- like being feather-light, impact resistant, anti-scratch, and having the same great access to charging ports, and the camera/flash. I currently have the Composite case on my phone(Galaxy S7), and it feels very similar. In fact, the descriptions on the UAG website here and here are pretty much the same- with the exception of things unique to the S8- like being “compatible with Samsung Pay and Samsung Fast Wireless Charging Convertible.”

As with all of their cases, the Pathfinder series is drop tested according to military standard of 810G-516.6, which is assuring to those who want to protect their phones in case they drop. If you can appreciate this quality of case for your phone, they sell for $34.95 on the UAG site, or you can buy them at other places like Amazon, Best Buy and Wal-Mart.

 

 

Protect Your HUAWEI P10 and Mate 9 with UAG Plasma Series

We’ve reviewed many excellent phone cases from Urban Armor Gear. These cases that we’ve been sent to review from the company are from the popular PLASMA series. They are for the HUAWEI phones like P10 and Mate 9.

Ice for the Huawei Mate 9

                         Ice for the Huawei Mate 9

The PLASMA series for other phones like Samsung Galaxy S7 have come in different colors like Ash (which is dark grey in color), Magma (red), and Cobalt (blue). There is even a Citron(green)- in addition to the other colors for an iPhone. From what we can tell, if you want a PLASMA case for the Mate 9, it will come only in Ice- which is the clear case. The P10 has the option of Ice and Ash. So there isn’t as broad a variety of colors for these phones, but color can be overrated anyway.

These cases have it where it really counts, though. There is the three layer protection- which consists of an armor shell, shock cushions, and impact resistant rubber. The case is feather light, while still providing the quality that you need to protect your phone. As with all the other UAG products, the cases have been drop-tested to Military Standard of 810G–516.6.

The P10 comes in Ash and Ice

                  The P10 comes in Ash and Ice

Each case has the sturdy, rubberized grip that helps those of us with butter fingers. Also, there is easy access to the ports for charging, headphones, and an opening for the camera, as well as access to the fingerprint sensor on the HUAWEI Mate 9 located below the camera. The power button and volume button is covered and protected, but still work just as well.

Overall, this is a great product that we trust to protect our phones, and if you want the same protection, you can purchase one for $39.95 on the UAG website for the Huawei Mate 9 here and the P10 here.

30th Anniversary Edition Street Fighter Pixel Pals

chun-liPixel Pals™ are an officially licensed collection of light-up, pixelated iconic characters brought to you by Performance Designed Products. Such characters include Mario, Luigi, Link, and Vault Boy from Fallout 4. We have been given the new 30th Anniversary Edition Street Fighter Pixel Pals™ to review.

Chun-Li is number 11 in the Pixel Pals™ series. Fans of Street Fighter II will recognize her as the first female fighter. She became a playable character in the game in 1991, and now is one of the most popular characters of the game. Now her fans can have a little 8 bit Chibi form that glows with the addition of two AAA batteries- not included.

Number 12 in the series is Ryu. I would think that he would come before Chun-Li, but ladies first, eh? Ryu, of course, was a main character in the very first Street Fighter game- which premiered in 1987. His character is wearing ryu1the classic gi, black belt, hachimaki(headband), and sparring gloves.

The plastic, pixelated, glowing characters stand at almost 5 inches tall, and a little over 4 inches wide. If you have a long shelf, you could line up all the 8-bit characters from your favorite game classics and have a little lighted parade!

We’re told that the next release will be announced shortly. What game character would you like to see from Pixel Pals? Leave your favorite in the comments below, and go purchase the other characters for $14.99 on their website, or at Amazon.com. They are also available in Best Buy, Walmart, and GameStop stores.

Turtle Beach Ear Force Recon Chat Review

ReconChat-PS-PackagePhoto-1200x1200For the video gamer looking for a simple way to chat while playing on their PS4 Pro, PS4, Xbox One, or even mobile device, Turtle Beach has a relatively inexpensive answer: the Ear Force Recon Chat.

This product would primarily be used for chatting during a game. If you want to include your family and friends in the room with you during the game, this would definitely be the ideal way. Anyone can still hear the volume coming into/out of the ear cup. The description on the box says that this “Open ear-cup allows you to hear game audio in both ears.” Likewise, you can reverse what side you have your ear-cup on.

The shape of the earcup is unique to allow it to fit over glasses. That might be a bonus to many gamers. There isn’t a lot of padding to the headset, but it does feel reasonably comfortable. There’s not really a fair comparison to other Turtle Beach headsets that are more expensive. They aren’t bad for the price. You get what you pay for. Some gamers might prefer the non-bulky experience of this headset to the heavier ones that weigh you down after a while.

ReconChat-Inline-1200x1200
The mic does make your voice heard clearly, and it is adjustable, as well as having the toggle on the wire for volume control, or to mute the mic. This gaming audio product is not yet available in the U.S., but you can pre-order one on the Turtle Beach site for $19.95. It is anticipated to ship starting May 15th. You can either get blue for PS4, or green for XBox.

Disclaimer: Turtle Beach sent this free product to TheGeekChurch in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was received, and this review is not influenced in anyway by the company.

A Review of the iblazr

Needing an extra light when you are taking a selfie with your front facing phone camera? Is your tablet missing a flash? The iblazr can help with that! th (1)

When testing it out on my Samsung Galaxy S4, I had some problems getting the free iblazr companion app to work. The answer given to the similar reviews in Google Play was to download the Shotlight app(also free). Unfortunately, I did not have the room on my phone to do so. I did download it to my LG tablet, and found the program to be useful with the ability to adjust iso, focus and exposure. I found that I couldn’t get the iBlazr flash to go off automatically when I wanted to take a picture. I had to push the button on top of the flash to turn it on and adjust the brightness. The video below shows how you can adjust the brightness from your phone.

Iblazr is supported on iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. The 1 x 1.25 in device weighs 10 grams and easily plugs into the headphone jack on your device. It can shine as bright as 270 Lux while used as a flash on the phone, and has the ability to be dimmed. It will flash 500 times before you need to recharge it. Charging USB cord, small stand and soft case included. The original iblazr can be purchased on Amazon.com for $34. On the iblazr shop, you can buy it for $39.99. There’s also a premium aluminum one for $10 more. They now have the 2nd generation iblazr2 available for pre-order also.

KiiTAG Bluetooth 4.0 Item Finder

CaptureIf you’re anything like me, this item from Life n Soul would be a gadget that would come in handy. The KiiTAG Bluetooth 4.0 Item Finder promises to help you to never lose your item!

We received the item finder to review a couple of weeks ago. Even though it said on the package that it was only compatible with iPhones, the app was recently made available in the Google Play Store, and the KiiTag does, in fact, work on my Samsung GalaxyS4.

When I set up the App on my phone, my daughter and I played a couple of games of hide-and-seek with my keys. The signal got stronger as we were closer to the keys, but it was still not very easy to locate the precise position of them. I would prefer something with noise like a metal detector when I get close to the object, that it would buzz or beep really loud. Even a flashing light on the fob would improve it greatly.

CaptureThe app features an alarm that will go off(can be disabled) if the item goes out of range from your phone. It will show you the last place your item was seen- again, not down to the nitty gritty spot, but you can see if your item was last seen at home, or at your local coffee shop. You can assign up to 10 items with their own KiiTags on one phone. You might be out of luck if you lose your phone, though.

If you lose an item, you can report it missing, and others in your community can help you look for it(assuming they have the app. Unless you report your item missing, no one will have access to your KiiTag. Once you register your KiiTag, it will only be able to be used by you.

There are other add-ons like a camera remote($3.99), auto message sender($4.99), and phone finder(99 cents). These are all purchased through the KiiTAG shop within the app. KiiTAG can be purchased for $19.99 a piece on the LifenSoul website.

Life n Soul Mini Water Resistant Speaker

th This little gadget makes a big sound! If you want a portable bluetooth speaker to listen to your device’s music on the go, I think this would be a good investment! The bonus is that it is water resistant against splashing water from any angle! You can listen to your music while riding your bike in the rain!

Mark was introduced to Life n Soul before with other products like the MT 101 Bluetooth earbuds. They make other products, too, like other Bluetooth speakers, and headphones. I’ll be reviewing another product by them that will locate lost objects in a later post. I’ve enjoyed testing out this Bluetooth speaker they sent us to review.

The speaker is easy to set-up. There is a USB cable to charge it. Once charged, it paired up with my phone quickly and painlessly. There are no apps you have to download to get it to work. Once paired, my phone automatically brought up my music, and I was amazed at the sound quality that came out of it! It took me a minute to figure out after the volume controls on the speaker weren’t going any louder, that I just needed to adjust the volume on my phone. The bass is impressive for this tiny thing, and I like that that it glows and flashes when it is on. The BM101 comes in black, blue, pink, purple, or white. There’s a stretchable strap so you can attach it to your backpack, bike handles, or wear it on your wrist.

Life n Soul sells this product for $24.99 on their website, and can also be found on Amazon, or in stores like Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and Staples- to name a few.