Landing Zone Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station for 15 inch MacBook Pro Review

Landing Zone is a Silicon Valley company that is dedicated to make docking stations designed for Apple users. They were generous enough to send us three products, which we’ll cover in three separate articles today. In this review, we’re going to look at another Thunderbolt 3 product- a Docking Station For 15.4″ MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.

This isn’t the first time we’ve reviewed a Thunderbolt 3 product. The last review of one was by Promise Technology- just last week. Landing Zone’s docking station has quite a different look and set up, but many of the same features. This Thunderbolt 3 actually fits the MacBook Pro on it which gives you a bit of an angle on your keyboard, but it has some good ergonomics.

There are several different ports to use:

  • 3 USB 3.1 Type-C Ports
  • 1 USB Type C Passthrough Port
  • 3 USB 3.1 Type A Ports (one with high speed charging)
  • an HDMI port
  • a Mini DisplayPort or HDMI Port (depending on how you want to use it)
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • SD card slot
  • Micro SD card slot
  • a 2 way audio jack
  • a slot for a Kensington Security key to lock up your MacBook Pro
  • and, of course a port for the power cord (a 96 W adapter is included)

Your MacBook Pro could be working for you like this one:

Note, while the docking station looks very metallic, it is actually made of a plastic material, which makes it lightweight, but it still feels sturdy and of reputable quality. It is easy to set up and use right away.

The cost of this device is $299, but if you are a student, you could qualify for a discount by purchasing it on the Landing Zone website.

Thanks again to Landing Zone for sending us a free model in exchange for our fair and unbiased review.

Two UAG Cases to Protect Your Galaxy S9- Monarch and Plasma

Urban Armor Gear (UAG) is a popular and reliable brand for phone cases. We’ve done many reviews for them in the past, and are pleased to review two cases that we’ve reviewed before, but are now available for the new Samsung Galaxy S9 phone. These cases are in the Monarch and Plasma series.

UAG Monarch

photo credit: UAG

We recently reviewed the Monarch case for the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+. This one we were sent has pretty much the same design, but of course, it is made to fit the S9, and there’s also one for the S9+.

What I’ve noted about this case is the announcement of the top grain leather on the box. The leather part of the case really does feel nice to the touch, and looks to be of great quality.

The other features of the case to be noted are pretty much the same as the other cases in the series. It has the sturdy UAG quality with a drop test rating two times military standard. It has the traction tire- like grip on the side. With a 5 layer protection, the case is very rugged, but also light weight. It does add a bit of bulk to your phone, but that’s the cost of protection.

The case does fit around the edges of the phone so you can lay the phone on its face without worrying about scratching. Easy access to your buttons, good cut-outs for the ports on the bottom, and cut right on the back so you don’t get the glare from the flash.

This case runs at $59.95, and comes with a 10 year warranty, so you know there’s a good value. We were sent the black case, but it also comes in red for a sleek contrast as well.

UAG Plasma

As with the Monarch, we’ve also reviewed several cases from the Plasma series.

photo credit- UAG

The Plasma series seems to cover just about everything from phones of many different brands like LG, Huawei, iPhone, and Samsung, and also Surface laptops. So, it’s natural that they would come out with a case for the newest Samsung Galaxy phones.

Coming in an array of colors like Cobalt (pictured), Citron (a yellowish green), Ash (black), and Ice (clear), these cases offer a three layer protection. There are shock cushions in the corners, and the case has been drop tested to military standard, also.

UAG does a superior job in making lightweight, but sturdy cases, and this one is no exception. It is not as rugged as the Monarch, but offers many of the same features. It’s also a bit less expensive at a price of $39.95.

We can safely say that both cases could be recommended by us, and will take this moment to say thanks to UAG for sending us these cases for free in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

X-Doria Defense Lux and Defense Shield for the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+

It’s nice that we can review another X-Doria product again, and not have to wait so much time. This time, we get to review a case for the new Galaxy S9 and S9+, and in case you are thinking it, we will be reviewing more of them in the near future (like next week). We’ll start with the Defense Shield.

The Defense Shield is aptly named, as it has military-grade protection. It is good for drops of 9.9 feet or 3 meters, on concrete. It has a rubber bumper around the perimeter, as well as an over-sized raised lip for protecting the screen from drops as well as surface scratches.

What is interesting is not only does the Defense provide protection, but it somehow has some integrated sound channel to amplify the bottom speaker and redirect sound to the front. I am not certain how it does that, but I think that it is odd that no one has addressed this for the new S9 and S9+.

You can get the Defense Shield on the X-Doria website for $29.99 for the Samsung Galaxy S9, and the same price of $29.99 for the Galaxy S9+.

As far as the difference between the X-Doria Defense and the X-Doria Defense Lux, there seems to be some kind of texturing going on with the front. I mean, there is a Black Fiber and Ballistic Nylon, and I suppose this has been made for a better grip?

Yeah, this seems to be the point. It has the same measurement of protection with 10 feet (3 meters) of dropping. Oh, it also has that special ability that can project sound to the front, and I am really to have to see if this is one of those features that every Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ case has.

Well, they are some really cool cases, and I’m glad we got to try them out. Yes, X-Doria sent these for an unbiased review, and if you want to get in on the Defense Lux, it costs $34.99 for the Galaxy S9 and $39.99 for the Galaxy S9+

Review of Phone Cases from Man&Wood

A company in Korea called Man&Wood sent us some lovely phone cases to review, so we’ll cover the four different ones we received today. We’ll also throw in a review of the iKins case we received in the same package- also Korean made.

The first one is called MilkyWay, and we received one for the Galaxy S8.

The Man & Wood cases are all made out of wood, or maybe it’s wood products. This one has a smooth, epoxy surface with the Milky Way galaxy on it. It seems pretty flexible and a bit rubbery to be made out of wood. The jury is out on this one. There are some ridges on the side for a good grip. The case covers the buttons on the Samsung Galaxy S8, but even though they don’t protrude as much as buttons like we’ve seen on other cases, you can still easily manipulate them.

The next case we are reviewing is one for the iPhone X. This case definitely includes real wood- it actually has the feel and smell of wood. It also has a sketch of my favorite bridge on it.

This one, called the Strato, also has the feel and smell of wood. I should add that these cases have a poly-carbonate lining. The tops and bottoms of these iPhone cases are open, they do not encase the phone all around. It makes the phone easy to access in the case, but some users might want something that surrounds their phone. There is no drop-proof claim to any of these cases, but they are nice if you want to protect the back of your phone while being stylish at the same time.

Our final case, which is branded by iKins, is named Pearl Skin Mondria, and this one was for the iPhone 8/7. The iKins are carried by the Man&Wood company, and their cases are made out of various materials like metal, fabric, pearl and leather. I would say this one is a pearl material. It has a sleek geometric design that is also luminescent.

Man&Wood has a website with these cases and many more, but at this time, we can’t find prices for the cases, so we can’t give those details out yet. We’ll update when we find out more.

We do not have a sponsored relationship with this company, but thanks to Man&Wood for sending us these cases for free to review. This review is our honest and unbiased assessment.

The iOttie Easy Smart Tap 2 and Wireless Fast Charging Car and Desk Mount

We have reviewed an iOttie product in the past, which was a selfie stick. Today we have the chance to review more from iOttie. The first product is the Easy Smart Tap 2 tablet mounting system. The other product is a car and desk mount for your smartphone.

Here is what we think about the Easy Smart Tap 2.

This device is useful. Each knob adjusts to help move the arm up and down, swivels your device slightly to each side, or tilts it up and down at different angles for optimal viewing. When you get it at just the right angle, you can tighten the knobs to help keep it sturdily in place.

Putting it together out of the box wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Most of it was pretty straight forward, and I didn’t have to read the instructions. There is a socket that connects that area where the 360 knob is to the tablet mount. In the socket, there’s a little tab that you have to pull out before trying to join them. I didn’t figure it out until I watched a video of someone else putting it together.

The button above that is the button you push to adjust the arms to fit around your tablet device. The device has to be at least 4.5″, and no bigger than 7.5″ to fit. There’s a nifty little guide on the side of the box that allows you to see if your device works.

I’ll let this video explain how to put the whole thing together. It’s somewhat complicated, and the instructions included are tiny and not easy to follow along with, and much easier to follow a video.

The video shows how to mount it on a surface. There is a sticky 3m pad that is suggested for use in mounting in a car, but many people say that it doesn’t work and they just use the sticky suction cup.

This mount retails for $44.95.

Moving on to a different mount for your cellphones. This one is great, because it has a wireless charging system so you can charge your phone while it is mounted to your dash or windshield.

The Easy One Touch Wireless system will mount to desks, dashboards and windshields, and then when you have reached your destination, you push those little side levers in with one hand and those surrounding arms pop open to release your phone. As long as that button is sticking out, when you lay your phone on it, the arms will snap right back on to your phone.

The Qi enabled charging cord is included, and will give a wireless fast charge to Qi enabled devices. Devices that are not Qi enabled can still be charged wirelessly. This is probably the best cell phone mount I’ve reviewed so far, and gets the GeekChurch stamp of approval. You can buy it on the iOttie website for $54.95.

Disclaimer- iOttie sent us these products to review for free in exchange for a fair and unbiased report.

A Review of Some Re-fuel by Digipower Products

Re-fuel by Digipower is a company which manufactures items like portable chargers, a lot of GoPro stuff like rechargeable batteries, protectors, and mics. They also make bluetooth speakers, and tripods/monopods, et. al. For this review, we have four different items that we’ll cover- the Powerbiner, the 24 hr Action Pack rechargeable battery for GoPro HERO4, 3+ and 3, another Action Pack rechargeable battery for the GoPro HERO6 and HERO5, and a rechargeable 13,000 mAh PowerBank called Juggernaut.

First off, we’ll review the Powerbiner.

This cool gadget can clip to your backpack when you are hiking, and with 3,000 mAh, it can recharge a phone a couple of times. While this Powerbiner looks like a heavy duty, giant carabiner, it is not meant for rock climbing, rappelling, or any other extreme outdoor activities. It says so on the box (well, on the back in small print).

It doesn’t have much juice included in it when you hook it up- not really ready to go out of the package, but you could juice it up with your own USB to USB-C cable (not included).

A sealed compartment in the rubberized grip contains the USB ports. It doesn’t say if it’s waterproof, but at CES, they do keep these items in a display next to water. I would say maybe water resistant. I wouldn’t risk testing the waterproof capabilities. Usually the packages have an IP rating, but this one doesn’t.

It has short circuit and overcharge protection, which is pretty cool. It can hold up to 132 lbs, so you could use it to hang your backpack from a tree to keep it from bears, or something. Give us your uses for a carabiner in the comments below. If you like it, it retails for $29.99.

Next up, the 24 hr Action Pack rechargeable batter for GoPro Hero4, 3+ and 3. In one charge, you can have up to 24 hours of recording (with a fully charged internal battery on your GoPro). They also have 6 and 12 hr ones which aren’t as big and expensive if you don’t need the extra battery life.

It’s waterproof up to 131 ft, and dirt and dust proof so you can do those high adventure filmings- including in extreme cold and heat from -22F to 122F.

The little LED indicator lights on the side tell you how much battery life you have left with a simple tap or shake. A micro USB cable and USB wall charger is included.

This item runs for $129.99 on the Re-fuel site.

If you have a GoPro HERO6 or HERO5, you can extend your filming time as well with this Action Pack rechargeable battery. This one will allow you to film at 4K for 6 hours straight, at 1080P for 8 hours, and 720P for 9hours.

This one is also waterproof- only up to 33ft, but is also protected from dirt, dust and extreme weather (this one from 0 degrees to 110 Farhenheit) like the aforementioned product.

It has pass through power, so you can use it while it’s charging (though, not underwater). It is $59.99, if you’re willing to spend on this one.

Finally, we have the 13k mAh rechargeable power bank. They call this the Juggernaut. It’s one of the more powerful ones they sell- with the ability to charge devices up to 5 times per charge. It has double USB ports, so you can charge a couple of items at a time on it.

Easy to read LED indicators will let you know about how much juice you have left. It comes with a 1ft long USB to micro USB charging cord. This lightweight portable charger is a great deal at about $59.99 for those on the go.

ZAGG Invisible Shield Glass + Luxe 360/ Invisible Shield Glass Curve Elite

This review will cover two different kinds of glass cell phone protectors from the same company, which is Zagg Invisible Shield. This company is known to be the top seller in screen protection according to a study done from 2011 to 2017 by the NPD Group Retail Tracking Service.

The first one I’m reviewing is the Glass + Luxe 360. This product that we were sent to review for the iPhone X is different from most protectors that we’ve reviewed- in that it has protection for the front AND the back of the phone. When you hear 360, you might think that the protection would completely surround the phone, but it doesn’t get the sides. Still, this product protects the delicate iPhone X on the screen and on the back of the phone- up to 3x an unprotected screen, and those who don’t want to deal with a case on their phone might enjoy this lightweight bonus protection.

The glass borders come in black or black/silver for the iPhone X. It looks like this:

Other features:

It comes with an “EZ Apply Tray,” microfiber cloth, cleaning wipe, and dust removal sticker. I highly suggest checking out the video I’m posting for more tips on applying these protectors. You want to make sure that they are accurately applied so you don’t get the bubble effect or peeling. Make sure to register your product when you get it because there is a lifetime warranty on the screen protector for as long as you own your phone.

The glass + luxe 360 protector runs a pretty penny at $69.99 on their website, but they have free shipping…

The same company sells the Glass Curve Elite for the S8, S8+ and Note 8. The curved glass protection that Zagg offers is probably the best out there. Many companies in this market are trying to figure out how to get the best coverage on these infinity screens, and Zagg probably got this right with their adhesive that covers the whole glass, so there is the precision touch sensitivity all over the phone. There is also no weird effects around the edges like other products.

The package comes with all the stuff that I listed above for the 360 (well, different protector, of course). Also, as with the other glass protector, it comes with a limited lifetime warranty.

The Glass Curve Elite runs about $50, and you can find it here.

This guy gives some good tips on how to avoid getting dust trapped under the screen protector, and how to apply perfectly…

Now Featuring White Marble iPhone X Case From The Casery

We’ll take a break from our reviews of rugged, practical looking cases to bring you a different design. This White Marble case comes to us from The Casery- a website that sells fashion cases for phones. In particular, they sell iPhone cases.

This is the design of the iPhone X case that we were sent to review. It’s got a nice, sleek design that will make your phone look like an elegant countertop. In fact, if you have a similar countertop, you might want to be careful when you put your phone down on it, or you might lose your phone.

It really is a nice design, though, and the case itself has been drop tested from a 4 foot drop. In fact, my husband was watching an indie-film called Ingrid Goes West, and he noticed the case that the main character was using…

Is that Aubrey Plaza using a Casery case? Not only that, she’s got the white marble model that we had a chance to use. We don’t have confirmation on that, so we can’t say for sure.

This case is not the only design you can get. Check out The Casery website to see all the different designs you can get. This case and others for the iPhone X have a $32 pricetag attached. If you want other cases, The Casery has deals of thirty percent off when you buy a 2nd case, and free shipping.

 

Urban Armor Gear case reviews- Plyo Series and Monarch Series

Today we’ll review a couple of cases from the popular brand of Urban Armor Gear.

The first case is from the Plyo Series. We were sent one for the Galaxy Note 8, but this series is also available for iPhone X, 8, 7, and 6s Plus. The case looks a lot simpler than most UAG cases we’ve reviewed. They are translucent, and come in Crimson(red), Ice(clear) and Ash(grey) colors for the Samsung Note 8, and an added Glacier(blue) for iPhones.

The cases are sturdy like other UAG cases and meet military drop-test standards like others. They also have soft, cushion anti-shock corners to help protect from phone drops.

And good news for those who use Apple Pay and wireless charging- the cases are compatible for these activities.

These cases retail for $39.95 and come with a one year warranty.

Now, on to the Monarch series. These cases give me the UAG design vibe. The classic armor frame with the UAG name on the back, and the alloy metal screws holding things together in the four corners. It’s very rugged looking- reminds me of a truck tire.

Notable about the Monarch is the five layer protection, and that it has been drop tested to 2 times military standards- which is saying a lot.

These cases are available in just the black case for Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+, but adds a red color for the Galaxy Note 8, and even more colors for iPhone- the most colors for iPhone X. You can get a better idea of all the colors on their website here.

All this protection will run you higher in cost than most cases at $59.95 USD, but there is a 10 year warranty, which is a good long time to protect your phone.

 

 

Element Case Rev Review

This phone case I’m reviewing has a design that looks stylish and rugged and made for speed. It is really designed for speed. It was car tossed at 65 MPH. So not only does it look like a sports car, and can survive being thrown out the window of a fast moving one. This one is a different Element case, but I can guess that the results would be similar to that of this video:

The Rev comes in three colors- a translucent red, blue and black. The corners may look big and bulky, but they are designed to protect your phone from extreme bumps and drops.

The frame of the case is called the X-FRAMEā„¢ chassis, and it is engineered to keep it lightweight while resisting twisting and bending. These cases have also been dropped 65 times at 10 feet to prove that they are extremely durable and will protect your phone.

The case we were sent to review is for the Galaxy S8, but they sell them for the Galaxy S8+, as well as other phones- including the iPhone. Most of the cases this company makes, in fact, are not designed for the S8 or S8 plus, so if you want to go with a Element Case for these types of phones, the Rev will be your best bet.

The Rev costs $39.95 on the Element Case website, but you can also find it at Amazon and stores such as WalMart.