Landing Zone USB Type-C Hub for the new MacBook Pro Review

For our 2nd Landing Zone review, we will be covering the USB Type-C Hub for the MacBook Pro. If you don’t need all the extra ports that the Thunderbolt 3 provides, read on to find out how this device could be useful for you.

 

This hub is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand (4 1/2 x 2 inches and about 1/4 inch high), but gives you several different ports to plug in all your devices, therefore eliminating the need for a bunch of dongles. Using the hub is as easy as plugging it into the ports on the side of the MacBook Pro. Similarly easy to unplug and slide in a pocket while carrying the MacBook. You could leave it plugged in, but it might not fit in your carrying case.

Featured:

  • 2 USB Type C ports, which will support 5K video output, 40 gigs of data transfer, and up to 100 W power
  • A port for HDMI cables- up to 4K capacity
  • A USB Type C 3.1 Gen 1 port with a transfer rate of 5 Gb/s
  • 2 USB 3.1  Type-A ports- again with 5 gigs of data transfer rate
  • and a SD card slot that supports up to 104 Mb/s data transfer rate

Landing Zone has thoughtfully included a Micro SD to SD card adapter.  There are rubber feet on the bottom of the all-metal casing- providing for stability and a decent quality.

If you have a 13-inch or 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar released in 2016 and 2017, or the 2016/2017 13-inch MacBook Pro without the Touch Bar, we think this product will be a good deal for those looking for some ports to plug things into.

You can buy it on their website for $99, and get a discount if you qualify under their student/educator deal.

We thank Landing Zone for providing a free review model in exchange for our fair and unbiased evaluation.

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.

Creative Labs’ Outlier Sports and Aurvana Trio Earbuds Review

Recently, Creative Labs has sent us some great products to review including a bluetooth speaker, a gaming mouse, and a gaming keyboard. Today we will have another chance to review some CL products. Two different kinds of earphones/earbuds- some wireless ones for the gym, Outlier Sports, and some high end in-ears called Aurvana Trio.

Outlier Sports

 

photo credit:Creative

The Outlier Sports are a nice pair of lightweight, wireless earphones- perfect for workouts. They come in three colors- Fiery Orange, Midnight Blue and Neon Green. With a IPX4, they are sweatproof, but you can’t really take a shower with them, or submerge them in water.

 They have an in-line mic with controls that are easy to find because of their relief texture. The port for the USB to micro USB cable to charge the earbuds is right there on the side. The mic is great for picking up the user’s voice on phone calls.

Speaking of charging, once charged, the Outlier Sports last on a battery of 11 hours, which could give you several good workouts between charges. And connectivity? The Bluetooth reaches about 20 feet before cutting out.

What’s included?

You get a couple of different sizes of wingtips to make for a good hold in the ear. Three different sizes of silicone tips will give you the option to customize to your liking. Once in the ears, these silicone tips are great at blocking out everything around you. There’s a nice carrying case (also water resistant) to carry everything conveniently. You also will find a small charging cord that will need to be plugged into a USB port to charge. It does not come with a wall adapter.  A convenient clip to hold the earbuds to your clothing is also included.

They’re not high-end in sound, but good enough quality for this price range. These sports earbuds are sold for $69.99, a decent price for the quality that you receive.

Aurvana Trio

Moving from wireless to wired, the Aurvana Trio is so named because of the triple driver included in these in-ear pieces.  There is a balanced armature super tweeter, a balanced armature mid-range, and a bio-cellulose woofer. I suppose “Aurvana” is a play on Nirvana for the aural crowd.

The Aurvana Trio also comes with a carrying case, and some interchangeable tips to customize the best fit. The MMCX cable is detachable in case the cable frays and needs replacing.

 

A very basic in-line remote allows you to pick up calls as well. All you can do with this remote is answer, pick-up, and play or pause your music. Not as detailed as I would expect on the higher end in-ears, but it gets the job done. The listening experience is what makes the $149 price tag worth it.

Thanks to Creative Labs for sending us these quality in-ear headphones for us to review free of charge in exchange for a fair and unbiased analysis.

Our Review of the JBL Link 300 Voice Activated Speaker

We’re reviewing another product from JBL. This product doesn’t have cool flashing lights, but it can stand on its own features. This is the JBL Link 300, which is a voice activated speaker similar to Google Home products.

What Does it Do?

This is an alternative to Google Home Max- comparative in size, but without the large price tag. It pairs with Google Assistant to answer all your “Ok Google” questions. It has Chromecast built in, so you can stream music and you can also pair it with your phone with Bluetooth to stream music from your phone as well. It has nice sound that you would expect a JBL speaker of this size to have.

What it Doesn’t Do

It doesn’t do hands-free calling like Google Home products do. I can’t ask Google to dial friends and family. It’s not portable, either. It stays plugged in on your desk or coffee table- much like Amazon Echo and Google Home products. There is a smaller JBL Link 10 that is waterproof, rugged and portable, but we’ll do a review of that another time if JBL sends us one to review.

Design

There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles to this speaker. The dimensions are 9.3 x 5.4 x 6.0 inches. Weight is about three and a half pounds. The black matte plastic casing covers the top and bottom, and the cloth speaker covering surrounds front and back with the exception of the bass subwoofer that can really get thumpin’! The buttons on the top are the basic ones you would find on a JBL speaker. The one in the middle is the Google Home Assistant button in case you would rather tap it than talk to it.

There are two mics on top that can pick up your voice from far away. If you have music going, you might have to yell to make sure your voice is picked up, but otherwise, it’s pretty powerful.

Cost

So what it all comes down to is cost. Currently, the JBL Link 300 is $199– down from $249.95. That’s a pretty great value if you are looking to save money compared to the $400 Google Home Max.

Disclaimer- This was another free review product sent to us courtesy of JBL. No compensation was given to us for this fair and unbiased review.

Pulse 3 Bluetooth Portable Bluetooth Speakers Will Color Your World

Look

We’ve recently seemed to be doing some different reviews of color changing speakers like the Halo and this one by iHome. Those were nice, but the Pulse 3 by JBL will blow those speakers out of the water.

Speaking of water, the Pulse 3 is waterproof with an IPX 7. This is great if you want to put it in your bathtub and jam out with a light show in the tub with you! As long as it’s about 3 ft. deep. The underwater sound isn’t that great, of course. Maybe you want to take it in the shower. That might be better.

This upgrade from the JBL Pulse 2 has a sleek plastic design. This is opposed to the mesh design of its predecessor. This makes the light show more radiant and much more awe- inducing.

The speaker comes in colors of white(as shown), or black. With the plastic casing, there could probably be a chance of scratches. Fingerprints are visible when the device is off, but not so much when the lights are turned on. They can be easily cleaned off, though.

The size is about two 12 oz. soda cans stacked on top of each other. A little wider than them. It weighs in at about 2 pounds. 8.78 x 3.62 x 3.62 inches are the dimensions.

Sound

The 360 (well,almost 360) sound at the base of the speaker is pretty decent for a portable Bluetooth speaker. There are 2 passive radiators- one on each end. I don’t know how much they contribute to the sound, but it is kind of fun to watch the water fly off or bounce around when it is submerged.

Turning the sound up too high will lead to distortion, but you can turn it up enough for the sound to fill a room. If you want even more sound, you can use the JBL Connect to pair a couple of JBL devices. You can even pair up to 100 devices if you had them. That could make for a pretty amazing party.

Light Show

This really would be the reason for buying a JBL Pulse 3. After downloading the app, you can really make the experience personalized. Cycling through different features like jet, explosion, equaliser, rave, and rainbow, you can use the app to add your own colors. This feature used to be directly on the Pulse 2, but for some reason they took it off.

Other Great Features

The Pulse 3 fully charges with the included mini USB cable in about 5 hours. 12 hours is the general battery life, but will most likely go faster if played at a loud volume. Turning off the lights could save battery life as well, but who wants to do that? If you need more battery, bring an extra power pack.

The app can work with Siri and Google Assistant as well, and the speaker can be used as a speakerphone. You can have fun talking to your loved ones while watching a light party.

I think it’s safe to say, this speaker is a good buy, but has a higher price tag than others at $199.95

We received a Pulse 3 speaker to review at no charge in exchange for our fair and unbiased analysis.

 

1More Spearhead VR Gaming Headset Review

Well, I always like reviewing 1More products, and I got to review 1More. Okay, that is not a good way to start this, and I’m too lazy to review my previous articles to see if I told that bad joke before. I’ll restart this review of the 1More Spearhead VR and say that it received a CES 2018 Innovation Award.

This was where I first had a chance to try out the 1More Spearhead VR Gaming Headset. I am assuming that it has the VR suffix because it has made for a “3-dimensional gaming and entertainment experience” with its 7.1 Channel Surround Sound. I will tell you that this has a bass to melt your face, and I don’t know if I ever made that comment on any pair of headphones before.

I believe that the deep sound is because of a 50mm Maglev Graphene Driver, but what is really surprising is how light they feel on the head. This lightweight construction also has some ENC Dual Microphone technology, and it is quite something because the mic can filter out the background noise. Oh, and you can see the lightsaber-like light on it, which is fully customizable with millions of color options for syncing with your game, because yeah, these are some great gaming headphones, yo.

Seriously, these are some great gaming headphones, and they have some superb on the ear controls. I should say that you can connect via USB and 3.5 mm Audio cable.

So, I would recommend the Spearhead VR if you are into some serious gaming. You can pick it up on the 1More site for $149.99.

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.

Reviewing the Apollo Cloud and Thunderbolt 3 Dock by Promise Technology

Promise Technology is a computer company based in California that is dedicated to improving storage capabilities for computers and the technology market. We had the opportunity to review two of their products. The 1st one is the Apollo Cloud 2 Duo- a personal Cloud storage system. The 2nd item is the Thunderbolt 3 Dock.

Apollo Cloud 2 Duo

credit: Promise Technology

If you need a massive storage system for files and photos, and don’t want to waste money on a monthly membership to the Cloud or some other on-line system elsewhere, then this is a great system.

It allows 40 users to have their own accounts on it at once, and you can access your content from anywhere and easy to sync from any device to your system from anywhere.

The software is smart, and can recognize faces and sort pictures into individualized albums if you roll like that. If you have Time Machine for macOS, that is supported as well. You can be assured that the info you store is secure with encryption of military grade.

This sleek, white tower measures 5.6 x 7.5 x 2.4 inches and weighs in at 2.64 pounds. It has a glowing light on the front that will change colors based on the status of the device. Thanks to an app you can download for your phone, you can control this light- among other things with some taps.

If you have a router with Gb port, internet connection(high-speed recommended), and a smartphone, tablet or computer, along with the free Promise Apollo Cloud app, you have what you need to get started with this great photo storage system- which you can buy with 4TB or 8TB of storage. The 2 TB model is $199, the 4TB model is $369 , and $449 will buy the extra storage at 8TB.

Thunderbolt 3 Dock

photo credit- Promise Technology

Promise Technology has thrown their hat into the ring with this Thunderbolt 3 Dock (TD-300). We’ve reviewed a Thunderbolt 3 dock from OWC before, and you can see our review of that one here.

This Thunderbolt 3 Dock is $50 cheaper than the one from OWC, but it has less USB 3.0 ports(2 on front, and 3 on back). Still, five is better than the three most docks offer. There is the Gigabit Ethernet port to allow connection to your LAN. An Audio In/Out port gives access to your tunes. The SD 3.0 card reader is also a great feature.

The dock is about the same size and look as other Thunderbolt 3s. This one is 9 x 3 1/2 inches, and about an inch tall, weighing in at about a pound. It has a black matte finish on top, but is glossy on the sides.

Included in the box is the dock, an AC/DC adapter, and a Thunderbolt 3 cable. All other cables that you might need for connections like an HDMI cable is not included.

The dock is easy to use and setup right out of the box. There are no FireWire or eSATA ports like other docks, but these don’t seem to be extremely necessary for most people. The only other downside to this dock is that it only offers 60 watts of charging power, which can be useful, but if you need something more powerful, you will probably be paying more for an 85 watt device.

You can buy this product for about $249 off the Promise Technology website, or online stores like Amazon.com.

Disclaimer- We received both of these models for free to review by Promise Technology. No other compensation has been received for this fair and unbiased review.

Does Jessica Jones Season 2 Just Suck? (Spoilers Ahead)

So far, Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (MCU) seems to be getting better, as they have been taking ideas that seem weak like Ant-Man or Black Panther and milking billions out of them. A few years ago, when Daredevil hit Netflix, it was proof that this more mature and darker branch of the MCU could be just as successful.

Marvel’s Jessica Jones

Daredevil‘s Season 1 was a huge hit, and Jessica Jones Season 1 was an even better step up (in my humble opinion). The reason Jessica Jones was so successful is because Season 1 ignored the conventions of superheroes, as it spent very little time on heroic origin stories or dressing up in a costume. Instead, Jessica Jones first season story was about how she was victimized by a mind-controller known as Kilgrave, and how she rose from this. It was a more character-driven story that still had plenty of action and introduced the audience to interesting characters like Trish Walker, Jeri Hogarth, and even Luke Cage (before he got his own decent series).

Jessica Jones Season 1 just sucked me in, but Season 2 had the opposite effect on me. There were scenes in this season that just made me say: “man, this is terrible”. Instead of interesting characters and story, Jessica Jones Season 2 made these characters a mockery and had very lame plot elements. Even though an attempt at a story-length season was made, it still felt like things were just happening during each individual episode.

I’m going to bring some spoilers here, so don’t hit the jump unless you want to see Jessica Jones Season 2 for yourself to see if you thought it was as bad as I thought it was. What is interesting is how Rotten Tomatoes gives Jessica Jones Season 1 a 92 percent, while Jessica Jones Season 2 is given an 86. That is not much of a decrease, but I would given it a decrease of double digits.

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Final Space and the Difficulty of Science Fiction Epics

The thing about science-fiction epics on television is that it is starting to be done more successfully, but this is only a recent development. It was a quarter-century ago when Babylon 5 was released, an epic science-fiction series that had a definite beginning and end in mind. It lasted five years, but it was a gamble back then as TV audiences were not very committed to programs for the long-term. This was the days before streaming TV, so each TV show was planned to exist for the casual viewer.

If you aren’t familiar with Final Space, it is a new animated science-fiction series on TBS that is pretty imaginative and appears to have one giant storyline in mind. The difference between it and the aforementioned Babylon 5 is that Final Space is made to be a half-hour comedy show.

I should probably get this out of the way and say that it feels like Final Space was made to fill in the gap between seasons of Rick and Morty. The animation looks similar, even though it has a brighter color palette, and the show even had a cameo appearance from Rick’s saucer ship. Something tells me that was how the show was pitched, and fans of both science fiction and animation will be drawn to this show like a magnet.

The show is created by Olan Rogers, a name that I was not familiar with, but it is very apparent that he is giving his heart to this work. Olan plays Gary, a man who is serving a five-year prison sentence in space. Gary’s crime is that he blew up a lot of stuff in a vain attempt to impress a girl. Gary has gone nuts during his space solitary confinement, but he has this incredible spirit of optimism that seems to come out of nowhere. He is such a great character that he could probably carry the show on his own.

On the first episode, it is revealed that Gary’s sentence is almost over, but then a cute small alien comes into his life. Gary calls this alien Mooncake, because it reminds him of a pet bug that he had once as a child. Mooncake is followed by a group of bounty hunters, who know that Mooncake is a planet-killer capable of launching much energy out of his eyes. The first episode consists of Gary escaping from the bounty hunters, but one of them, a cat-man named Avocado, becomes Gary’s partner.

As you might have guessed, this show takes place in some future world with faster-than-light spaceships, aliens, and all other sorts of science fiction machinery. There is no shortage of voice talent here with Tom Kenny as HUE, Gary’s ship’s computer, Fred Armisen as KVN, Gary’s annoying robot sidekick, and David Tennant as Lord Commander, who appears to be the main villain on the show. Lord Commander’s name is pretty weak (not to mention redundant), and the character itself doesn’t appear to be anything more than a funnier version of the Emperor from Star Wars. What is really odd is how Olan Rogers’ name is third-billed, because he is the creator of the show and the main character.

So, is the show good? Honestly, I was pretty surprised by it, as there are genuine great levels of action and comedy. There are even moments of extreme drama, as it is clear Gary has some daddy separation issues. Avocado also has a missing son that tears him apart as well.

Similar to other science fiction series, Final Space is off to an awkward start, but something like this has never really been done before, and that goes for its beautiful animation. I’m personally anxious to see where this show is going, and I’m hoping that when this show is over, I can look back at it and say it is one of the best space sagas ever.