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.

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.

Boomstick by Boomcloud 360

BoomstickIn case you are wondering, I am really having a hard time not saying: “All right, you primitive screw-heads, this is my Boomstick”. In addition to the reference to Ash from Army of Darkness, this is quite a good product from Boomcloud 360.

So let’s go with my second intro: in my review of the Monster Clarity HD earbuds, I talk about how the company declared war against the crappy earbud, like the ones that come with the iPhone. The Boomstick is designed to correct the problem and give you some good sound.

Now, I have seen products like this in the past, where it says that it improves it, but I don’t really hear the difference. Fortunately, you do hear it. In fact, after the Boomstick is completely charged, there is a button so you can turn its functions on and off.

In other words, Boomstick really wants you to hear the difference, and it is there. I was given this product to test out at CES 2016, and I am so glad that I did. I happen to use a pair of crappy earbuds on my smartphone and laptop, and they integrated quite well.

Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to obtain this item right now, but it is available for pre-order here for $99.00.

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC33iS QuietPoint Noise Cancelling In-Ear Headphones

ath_anc33is_1_sqIn addition to the turntable that I got a chance to try out this week, I also had a chance to try out the ATH-ANC33iS QuietPoint Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones from Audio-Technica. I have tried out a lot of Audio-Technica products before, and this one is as good as the others that I have reviewed.

The ATH-ANC33iS can reduce distracting background noise by up to 90 percent, and then there is a QuietPoint control module that creates a noise-cancelling wave that is 180 degrees out of phase with the ambient noise. Seriously, with these earbuds, you should be able to pretty much block out the rest of the world.

Also on these earbuds is an inline microphone and controller for controlling music as well as answering calls. It is made to support all kinds of mobile devices like iPads, iPhones, iPods, and smartphones. The microphone has an omnidirectional pickup pattern made so you don’t have to speak directly into the microphone. Oh, by the way, there is a clothing clip, but don’t most microphones come with this?

Other features include Comply Foam Tips for comfortably fitting in the ear canal, and they have audio functions that work without the included AAA battery.

All in all, it is pretty terrific, and you can get the ATH-ANC33iS on the Audio-Technica site for about $79.95.

Audio-Technica AT-LP60-USB LP-to-Digital Recording System

audio Technica LP turntableI’ll be honest when I say that the Audio-Technica AT-LP60-USB LP-to-digital recording system is definitely for a niche crowd. I think it is just plain odd that I got into cassettes back in the early eighties, and then when the nineties happened, I was doing CDs. I think that the rest of the world was with me on this, so those who still have vinyl albums will love the AT-LP60-USB.

I think it is strange that vinyl is still a working format, when I will have to scrounge to find a new album on cassette or 8-track. Fortunately, the AT-LP60-USB allows for a direct connection to the computer with a USB output. From there, you can put your tracks on an MP3, and the AT-LP60-USB also has a built-in switchable phono/line preamp that allows connection to a stereo system equipped with either a phono or line-level input.

To help out getting the your tracks as digital files on your computer, there is some Mac and PC compatible Audacity software. I’m not certain what more can be said about the AT-LP60-USB other than vinyl enthusiasts will love it. In fact, there are reviews of it on the Audio-Technica site that are positive, and I like it to. If you are a vinyl enthusiast yourself, you can get for about $149.95.

iRig Mic Field from IK Multimedia

iRig Mic FieldI’ve reviewed products form IK Multimedia products before, and they usually have something to do with sound on mobile devices. This particular iRig Mic Field, which is a pocket-sized stereo microphone for Apple products, provided it comes with that Lightning port.

I’ve actually seen something like this before with Blue Microphones called the Mikey. It plugs right in the bottom and it backs a 24-bit audiophile-grade A/D converter, 44.1/48 kHz sampling rate, 115 dB maximum SPL rating and a low-noise/high-definition pre-amp. Okay, here are the sepcs, so let’s talk about some other features.

First of all, it has a companion application for free, appropriately called the iRig Recorder Free app. Not only is it a good way to record, but it is possible to edit and process stereo audio in the field. It is also compatible with all Core iOS Audio and Video apps including the Voice Memo and Camera, not to mention GarageBand and iMovie.

As for the device itself, it has a lightweight design and has this cool ability to rotate ninety degrees for “optimal audio/video positioning and locks in place with comfortable to use controls”. That control is a “thumbwheel” gain control.

About the only information here that I couldn’t find is how much it drains the battery. You should be able to get it on the IK Multimedia site for about $79.99.

IK Multimedia iRig Mic Studio

iRig Mic StudioI have reviewed a lot of microphones in the past, like the Nessie from Blue Microphones, and I have reviewed a lot of IK Multimedia products, and they just announced an iRig Mic Studio.

The iRig Mic is a portable large-diaphragm digital condenser microphone that is good for anyone who sings or like doing anything on their computer like Internet radio or video or something. It has a large one-inch diameter back electret condenser capsule, which has a 24-bit audiophile-grade A/D converter, which means that it is good for the best sound quality possible or any sound situation.

The release of the iRig Mic Studio comes with a new Mic Room microphone-modeling application for the iPhone and iPad. It is compatible with eery popular mobile and desktop platform. It has a lot of other great apps that work with it like VocaLive App, EZ Voice App, and iRig Recorder App.

If you want to get on the IK Multimedia train, head on over to the iRig Mic Studio site and pay $179.99 for it.

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.

The Loop- Earbud Anti-tangling Device

lime-loop-with-buds-300x300Have you ever thrown your earbuds into your backpack, only to pull them out later and find them a tangled mess? Would you like a fun, colorful solution to that problem?

The Loop is a little gadget that you simply insert the jack of your headphones in, and wind the cord in the direction of the blades. They will then place nicely into the blades when fully wound. Pretty simple and basic, but you can find a video of how it works on Youtube:

The Loop retails for $16.99 for a pack of 3, $48.99 for a pack of 10, and $350 if you need 100 of them(they can be stamped with your business logo for swag freebies!). Designed in the U.S., made in China, but they are good for the environment- as they are made from recycled content, and they are recyclable.

Rainbow-w-buds-on-white-web

Visit ipocketloop.com to find out more and purchase your own! They can also be found on Amazon.

iKlip Xpand Mini from IKMultimedia

iKlip Xpand Mini 2I have reviewed a lot of IK Multimedia products before, and the last one was the iRig Voice, a microphone that is essentially made for a smartphone or tablet. This iKlip Xpand Mini is made for those who want to use their smartphone as a microphone.

The iKlip Xpand Mini is made for putting your smartphone on a pole. Yes, as long as you have a pole that is smaller than a half-inch, you can screw on your smartphone holder to it. The purpose is to hold your smartphone on a mic stand so you can presumably use it as a microphone or some other type of application. For example, if you have an IK Multimedia product like the iRig.

iKlip Xpand Mini 1You will notice that I have included two pictures with this article, instead of my usual one. Okay, I had 60 in my picture of PAXPrime 2014, but can you blame me? This is because I wanted to show you how it can be used vertically or horizontally, thanks to the ball joint. I also want to show you how it can mount it on this weird “Gorilla Grip”, so it can free up the ports.

You can see that it has an interesting aesthetic. This is because it was designed and made in Italy, and it has that aesthetic. If you want this, you can get it on the IK Multimedia site for about $39.99.