Looking for the latest mobile gaming addiction? Have you considered trying out an indie game? Independent game studios develop some of the most unique and fun games you can hope to find out there. So we’ve put together a list of new indie games that are worth checking out when you have the time.From casual puzzlers to startlingly deep storytelling games, you’ll surely be able to find something to munch on.ShatterbrainWhat it is:Orbital Nine Games has come up with one of the most challenging puzzle games for Android. Called Shatterbrain, it invites players to draw shapes to solve complicated physics puzzles.Why we like it:Extremely challenging, but also very fun and addicting, Shatterbrain allows you to come up with numerous approaches to tackle each confound.Each level brings a mixture of shapes you have to shatter to make them disappear, as well as others you need to avoid.The game lets you compete with leaderboards for the fastest time or best solution.Install ShatterbrainSpider BallWhat it is:A game developed by TTGame Studio, set on a minimalistic stage filled with obstacles, in which you need to swing past the numerous obstacles.Why we like it:Easy gameplay. Simply touch & drag to aim in the direction you want to fire your web and release to fire.In the beginning, the controls feel a bit tricky, but as you continue to play you’ll get used to them and be able to control the ball as smoothly as you want.Features different game modes including “Endless Mode” and “Arcade Mode”. In total, you get 45 levels of gameplay and around 40 funny balls to unlock.Install Spider BallReturner 77What it is:Created by Fantastic, yes Returner 77 is a puzzle adventure set in a haunting alien world.Why we like it:Stellar puzzle design and storyline. You play the 77th Returner and your mission is to save humanity by exploring a mysterious alien spacecraft that could quite possibly be the key to the mystery.Collect items and use them to solve challenging and beautiful puzzles.The game also benefits from an immersive, ambient soundtrack, so it’s recommended you play it with headphones on.Sidenote: This is a paid app. It will cost you $4.99 to download it.Install Returner 77Still Here…A cute AdventureWhat it is:Designed by StillHere, this 2D platformer game will have you search for the answer to a very interesting question: Why did mankind leave earth?Why we like it:It’s a very relaxing tap-to fly game.You control curious little creatures called “Pip” as you explore the environment and try to find out why there are no longer any humans around.15 beautiful locations to explore and 3 playable characters for you to try out.Customize the look of your Pip and upgrade its qualities (speed, agility, weight).Sidenote: This is a paid app. It will cost you $3.99 to download it.Install Still Here…a cute AdventureLosts.ioWhat it is:Developed Replay Entertainment, Losts.io invites you to step into the shoes of a primitive man whose goal is to conquer land and become a powerful landowner.Why we like it:The game challenge is to seize as much territory as you can by drawing hexagonal shapes with your weapon on the sand. Once you have conquered a piece of land you will need to guard it, because other players can easily take control over it.Use the prize money you get at the end of each round to buy new weapons, badges and even tattoos.11 different characters to choose from including Poseidon, Dark Lord, Elf or Knight.Install Losts.ioBeast BrawlersWhat it is: Created by PiiK Games, Beast Brawlers is a game that lets you join real-time PvP battles, and create your own collection of cool, unique beasts.Why we like it:3D top-down view game with colorful graphics and eye-catching character design and graphics.The game boasts a diverse system of beasts including Dire Hog, Emerald Dragon or Moten Phoenix. The characters are sorted in different rarities, and of course, each has its own set of abilities.3 main game modes including Emerald Pit (gain points and protect beasts), Dark Forest (explore and pick up Orbs) and Ice Cove (cooperative mode for clan members).Install Beast BrawlersDandaraWhat it is:A superb platformer in which you play Dandara, the heroine who is needed to save the Salt world from the forces evil.Why we like it:The game’s lack of traditional gravity is unique. As the heroine, you get to jump across floors, walls and ceilings. Dandara’s leaps have limited range and you can only latch on to certain places, so navigation becomes a small puzzle in itself.Dandara is a metroidvania, the world is open, but you need to unlock new skills in order to unlock some parts of it. It offers a lot of room for explorationLovely handcrafted pixel art graphics and original soundtrack compositions make sure you’ll never forget the experience of playing Dandara.Sidenote: This is a paid app. It will cost you $14.99 to download it.Install Dandara
Worries that phones listen to our private conversations are common, but now a study revealed that some apps may be secretly recording parts of our phone screens and sending the data to analytics companies.The post Some Android apps could be secretly recording your phone’s screen appeared first on Digital Trends.
Ever since Apple released the AirPods, Android users have been hoping for a proper competitor. We have seen options from Bragi, Samsung, and others, but nothing really has stuck with us.READ MORE: Zolo Liberty+ Headphones ReviewThen, Jaybird decided to jump on the hype train with the Jaybird Run. These headphones are completely wireless, come with a charging case, and come from a trusted brand.In fact, Jaybird has been one of the de-facto choices for Bluetooth headphones if you want to move out of the budget market. But how well do the Jaybird Run really stand up?DesignWhen you unpackage the Run for the first time, you will notice that these are a bit bulky. You can thank the included battery for that, but it won’t take away from how good these look.No, the Run won’t turn any heads and make you rush to your local Best Buy to pick up a set. But it’s a muted design that you would expect to see from Jaybird.Inside the packaging, you receive the left and right earbuds, charging case/cable, along with a few different ear-tips. This is a much-welcome addition so that you can get the perfect fit. There are even “fins” that will fit into a groove and help provide a better fit in your ears.On the outside of each headphone, you will see the Jaybird logo with a small LED placed at the top. The LED allows you to gauge battery life, along with pairing status and more.On the inside of each headphone, you’ll find the charging pins so that you can use the charging case on the go. You will also find some labeling to let you know which headphone goes where.UsabilityThe pairing process for the Jaybird Run is pretty simple. Before getting started, you’ll want to download the free Jaybird MySound app from the Play Store.This will assist in the pairing process, along with including some extra goodies. Once the Run are charged up and ready to go, you can take them out of the case and power them on with the button on the outside.That’s right, the big Jaybird logo on the outside of each earbud is actually a button. A long press of the button turns it on, and will also put it into pairing mode for the first time.After these have been connected to your smartphone of choice, you can get started. Which brings us to the MySound application.From within the app, you create and customize different sound presets. This will be super helpful so that your music sounds as crisp and clear as you want it to.Overall, the pairing process is extremely easy, even if you want to pair it with more devices. There are even community playlists and EQ presets for you to save and take advantage of.For those who rely on Jaybird for workout headphones, have no fear. The Run is both sweat-proof and water resistant. These will keep going, regardless of whether you’re running in the rain or pumping some iron in the gym.Battery lifeWhen it comes to these truly wireless Bluetooth headphones, the biggest question is battery life. Jaybird claims that the Run will last for up to four hours before needing to be recharged.In our testing, the Run came close to this on a regular basis. At times we would see shorter battery life, but that was largely due to the EQ being put to work for bass-heavy music.Listening to softer content such as podcasts and audiobooks gained us as much as an extra 45 minutes of usage. I look at this as a benefit due to the fact that the MySound allows for so much customization.The included battery case will provide up to 8 extra hours of charge. Meaning that you can swing for two more playing sessions with the Run before having to completely charge everything.But what makes life even better for Run owners is the Fast charge capabilities. If you’re going out for a bit, you can throw the Run in the charging case for 5 minutes and get an extra hour of play time.That’s pretty impressive and is something that more of these headphones manufacturer’s should do.SoundThe next big question when it comes to these headphones is the sound. Did Jaybird sacrifice anything to join the truly wireless headphone push?In my experiences with the Run, the short answer is no. Of course, these headphones aren’t studio quality, but they will definitely hype you up during a run or workout.Listening to some Rap or Dubstep? Pump up the base a bit. Listening to a podcast? Use the proper preset or create one for your personalized listening experience.We can’t say enough good things about being able to customize presets to your needs. You won’t have to worry about being “stuck” with bass that is too heavy or treble that is too high.Jaybird really hit the nail on the head with the Run and these are some of the best sounding earbuds on the market.ConclusionJaybird is killing the game, as it has been for quite some time. With the release of the Jaybird Run, the company is finally moving out of the wired era, and into the wireless age.Despite being the company’s first such iteration, you can definitely tell that some cues have been taken from previous products. But in the end, what you get is a solid product from a company that you trust and love.The biggest gripe is one that we haven’t mentioned. Price. The Jaybird Run are priced at $180, which is $30 more than the AirPods and Zolo Liberty+.But what you get for that $180 is a high-quality product that will survive anything that you throw at it. If you want to pick up a set for yourself, hit the button below and let us know what you think.Buy the Jaybird Run!
With the lack of headphone jacks on so many smartphones today, it’s no wonder wireless earbuds are more popular than ever.To answer the demand, many top companies like Google or B&O have released wireless earbuds, but unfortunately, these offerings aren’t really affordable. Google’s Pixel Buds, for example, will take you back with $129.99 (originally priced at $159.99).But what if you like the convenience of being able to listen to wireless music while you go for your morning run, but are not willing to spend $100+ on a pair of wireless buds?The good news is that you have options. A few weeks ago I was sent a pair of Aukey Latitude Wireless Headphones (EP-B40) and given that they were priced at just $25.99 on Amazon I was pretty skeptic to begin with. But as I set out testing them, I soon found myself presently impressed with the wireless earbuds.DesignTo make it clear from the beginning, the Aukey Latitude are not what you’d call “true wireless” headphones. Instead, they are earbud-style headphones that connect to each other through a wire.SEE ALSO: Gear Up: myCharge portable chargers are perfect for Pokemon Go huntsThe design of the earbuds is minimal with a plastic construction to make them lightweight. The silicon wings and tips keep the earbuds secure and come in three different sizes, so you can get the optimal combination.The Latitude earbuds boast a black finish with the Aukey logo plastered on each earbud. Yes, they do feel plasticky and a bit cheap, but hey they cost only $25.The two headphones are connected by a wire with an in-line 3-button remote on one side of the cable, which allows you to perform things like adjusting the volume and skipping tracks.On the left side of the remote lives the microUSB port which you will need to use to charge your wireless audio accessories.In addition to extra silicone tips, the Latitude ship out with a tiny charging cable and a rubbery carrying case open at the top in the box.FunctionThe in-ear headphones are really comfortable to wear, once you find your fit. You’ll probably have to try a few combinations before doing so. My ears are quite small, so most in-ear headphones are usually too loose or aren’t seated well in my ear. Aukey provides you with three sizes of ear-tips and in-ear ear-hooks in the box, and fortunately, the small sized one fit relatively well in my ear canal.I do a bit of running in the morning, nothing too grand, but I found that during my sessions the buds stayed firmly in place. No slipping out! They also managed to provide pretty great noise isolation. I run in a small park that’s next to a busy road, so the buds helped me tune out the noise and focus on my workout.On the negative side of things, the long cable does have a tendency to tug a bit when you turn your head, but it’s nothing I couldn’t get past.The Latitude wireless earbuds are marketed as offering a Sports design. Which means they are IPX4-certified to be able to washstand sweet and rain. This is particularly helpful during workouts when every anyone would sweat profusely.Another cool detail, the earbuds have magnets that allow you to clip the back of the Latitude around your neck when you’re not using them. If you’re forgetful like me, it’s a great addition.How to get startedThe in-ear headphones connect to any Bluetooth-enabled device including most Android phones. The Bluetooth range is fairly accommodating.To get them started, hold the middle power button to turn them on (or off) and they will be ready to pair in seconds. The middle button doubles as play/pause music, answer calls (short press) and switch EQ modes (double press). While the volume buttons can be used to skip tracks back and forth (press 2 seconds).Be warned that you might often find yourself hitting the wrong thing, especially if you’re running or jumping up and down at the gym. But the more you use them, the more you will get accustomed to the commands.In case you’re wondering how much these budget earbuds can last you on a single charge, well I found them to be able to provide approximately 7-7.30 hours of music. Also in my experience, the buds need about an hour and 20 minutes to fully recharge.Audio experienceFor its tiny price, the Aukey in-ear headphones manage to deliver reasonably good sound. The manufacturer says it is using aptX technology to offer robust sound with punchy bass and a choice of three EQ sound signatures including vocals/bass/treble.But despite the alluring presentation, I can’t really recommend the Latitude to an audiophile. Don’t get me wrong, for me, they proved great, although I have no real highlight to report. The earbuds are a lovely fit for hitting the gym or any place where stellar sound quality isn’t necessary.Yet, if you want to be able to discern the subtle changed in the produced music, you’ll have to look somewhere else. And upgrade your budget for a pair of wireless earbuds.ConclusionAll in all, these wireless earbuds proved perfect for my needs. I don’t focus much on audio quality while running or working out, but I do like the convenience of going wireless.In situations when I do want great audio, for example while commuting, I will turn to my trusty over-the-year headphones. Basically, I don’t use the running buds all that often, as I usually jog once or twice a week. So the Aukey wireless earbuds are an excellent choice if you’re a casual user.The bottom line is that the Aukey Latitude offer quite a lot for their price range. Yes, they might not be able to deliver stellar audio, but they get the job done.So if you don’t feel like you want to invest a lot of money into a pair of wireless ear-buds you won’t use every day, the Aukey Latitude really offer a great package for only $25.Our pair was all black, but you can also get a pair of Latitudes with Blue and Red accents on Amazon for $29.99.Get the Aukey Latitude Wireless Headphones (EP-B40)
OnePlus’ creed has always been to deliver smartphones packing the latest technology at an affordable price. When the OnePlus One came out in 2014, it quickly became a wild success.It was a hard-edged phone with a backside covered in sandpaper. It offered high-end components and the freedom for nerds to tinker around with the phone’s software.Four years later, the Chinese indie brand has unveiled the OnePlus 6, and it’s the company’s most mature phone to date. Yes, it costs nearly double than what the OnePlus One use to, but the company has evolved a great deal and with this model, I believe it has completed its transition to the big league.Don’t MissAvengers-themed OnePlus 6 confirmed, but it won’t come to the USOnePlus’ latest design choice is leaving fans frustratedHot Take: OnePlus 6 (Podcast)It’s a stellar piece of technology that looks and feels like a million bucks. And the best part is, it won’t burn through your savings like the iPhone X. Instead, OnePlus has managed to once again keep prices relatively low (compared to the competition), so the OnePlus 6 starts at $529 for the 6GB RAM and 64GB storage model.So if you’re on the market for a phone right now that doesn’t compromise on specs and features, the OnePlus 6 is one of the best options you have available at this point.Not 100% sure you want to jump on board yet? Keep reading below for more details on OnePlus’ latest flagship.DesignMuch of the OnePlus 6’s appeal comes from the fact that it now sports a completely new build and design. This year, OnePlus abandoned the aluminum back of its previous phones in favor of glass, Corning Gorilla Glass 5 to be more precise. Which now covers the back and front of the device. Despite the change, the phone does retain the slight palm-curved shape of earlier models.As far as I’m concerned, the OnePlus 6 looks stunning and feels really premium, but the all-glass design might feel a bit overused to some. After all phones like the LG G7 ThinQ, Galaxy S9 and others also adhere to the same current.OnePlus has also incorporated other trendy design details into the new flagship. Yes, there’s a notch on the 6.28-inch Optic AMOLED display, but if you’re not a fan of that don’t fret. The company gives you the option to easily hide the notch from settings.Now, if you were to hold the OnePlus 6 next to the 5T you’ll immediately notice that screen real estate on the former is bigger. It’s grown from 6-inches to 6.3-inches, leading to a slight increase in thickness (0.4mm) and weight (14g). Though the newcomer has shrunk a bit in width.DisplayThe display itself is still excellent, although there are no major upgrades to speak of. The resolution is the same FHD+ or 2,280 x 1,080, and the AMOLED display continues to offer bright, sharp and vivid colors, with great viewing angles.Like on its predecessor, users can choose between a number of different screen calibrations including default, sRGB, DCI-P3 and Adaptive.The only area where I found myself wishing the OnePlus 6 would be better sunlight readability. It’s summer here and days are super-sunny. On most occasions I was forced to shield the screen with my palm in order to be able to read something.The back of the OnePlus 6 looks quite reminiscent of the Galaxy S9+. Both devices have a vertically stacked, centrally arranged dual-rear cameras and a candy bar-shaped fingerprint scanner below. Which is super fast, although I’m not such a big fan about the shape. I prefer circular.This is quite a departure from the OnePlus 5T that had a horizontally-aligned dual camera located in the top-left corner and a circular fingerprint reader position centrally.As you would expect, though, from a phone with such a glossy finish, it’s a dust and fingerprint magnet. On the bright side, I found it to be less slippery than the OnePlus 5T.In any case, you can easily slap a case on the back of the phone. I particularly liked the rugged Bumper case OnePlus provided in the box with the phone. It’s very stylish in nylon and gives your device the soft feel of fabric.Other detailsThere’s been a switch-up in other classic OnePlus design elements too. For example, the iconic alert slider has been moved to sit on the top right side. Regrettably, it’s a bit stiff and requires a firm grip on the phone to slide. But that’s just a minor detail.Beneath it sits the power button. On the left side, you get a volume rocker and the phone’s dual SIM card slot. At the bottom edge resides the USB Type-C connector, 3.5mm audio jack port and a sole speaker.Like on the 5T, the speaker is pretty basic, albeit it being enhanced by Dirac. You won’t find here a dual speaker setup or anything fancy like special audio chambers. If you’re an audiophile, you will have to look somewhere else. Perhaps in the direction of the LG V30 family.We should also note at this point that the phone is water resistant for “everyday use”, but does not carry an “official” IP67/IP68 rating.PerformanceThe OnePlus 6 is as good as any flagship launched in 2018. It includes Qualcomm’s top-of-the-line Snapdragon 845 in combination with 6GB or 8GB of RAM. For the first time, the company is offering a 256GB storage option, alongside the 64GB and 128GB one.This means that the phone is really fast and responsive, and games load quickly and reliably with minimal stutter or frame dropping. I’ve been using the device for a few weeks and I can’t say I’ve experienced any odd occurrences or random freezes. Our review variant has the 8GB RAM and 128GB storage configuration.On top of the pure power radiating from under the hood, the OnePlus 6 also gets the new capability to support two LTE connections simultaneously.Battery-wise, the OnePlus 6 is a winner. It still retains the same 3,300 mAh juice box of the OnePlus 5T, but it lasts just as long, in some occasions even longer!For example, I fully charged my phone Sunday morning and on Monday morning I still had 55% left.Yet, despite having a glass rear, the OnePlus 6 does not support wireless charging. Fortunately, it has Dash Charge which can take you from around 27% to 100% in an hour or so. However, I should note that Dash Charge is proprietary, so it won’t work with another USB-C cable. You must use the one that OnePlus provided.CameraThe camera performance was one of my main complains when I reviewed the OnePlus 5T. I hoped OnePlus would address the issue with the OnePlus 6 and it did.Yeah, the camera it’s still not as good as the Pixel 2’s or Huawei’s fancy P20 Pro, but it’s definitely a step up in the right direction.You might not believe this looking at the bare specs. On paper, the dual-cameras on the back are pretty much identical to the previous model. There’s the same 20-megapixel + 16-megapixel with f/1.7 combination. BUT, and there’s a big but, the main camera now has a 19% larger sensor.Which means the sensor is capable of capturing more light, which in turn translates into being able to take better low-light pictures. Oh, and we also get optical image stabilization.When compared to the OnePlus 5T, the OnePlus 6 is able to pick up more of the finer details, even in poorly lit environments. Sure, things aren’t amazingly sharp in low-light, but you will certainly be able to notice the improvements. Even as it falls behind phones with larger sensors and wider aperture like the beastly Huawei P20 Pro, the OnePlus 6 can take a decent bar or concert picture.Where the OnePlus 6 shines is in daylight photography, with Portraits looking particularly remarkable.Sure, there’s still work to be done. For instance, the second camera is only there to add depth data for the phone’s blurred background portrait mode. Which granted, works pretty well. Yet, the sensor doesn’t bring anything extra like optical zoom or the ability to capture monochrome images.OnePlus has also added a new slow-mo video mode which lets you shoot 720p video at 480fps or 1080p at 240fps. You can also shoot video in 4K resolution at 60fps with OIS enabled, which is pretty sweet.The selfie-camera remains a 16-megapixel sensor, but it seems to be able to take sharper selfies, as least as far as I can tell. A new selfie Portrait mode was also recently added via a software update.SoftwareThe OnePlus 6 comes running the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system, Android 8.1 Oreo with OxygenOS on top. Like always, you’ll get a smooth and clean experience, with only a handful pre-installed apps. Obviously, OnePlus has included a few software tweaks of its own.For example, a new gesture control system can replace the familiar Android on-screen nav button triad with an iPhone-X like swipe system. Which, unfortunately, need more perfecting because it’s often times unreliable and frustrating to use.Other features you’ll find on board the OnePlus 6:OnePlus’ home screen Shelf – lets you write a quick memo or view recent contacts and apps.Gaming Mode 2.0 – kicks in a do-not-disturb mode while gaming, but also boosts app loading speeds specifically for games. It also has improved app prioritization, so it will know to kill off apps in the background if they are affecting performanceReading Mode – creates a monochrome effect that’s conducive to reading.Schedule Do Not Disturb Mode – allows you to set up custom rules for Do Not Disturb and configure a preset time so it kicks in automatically. This way you won’t have to toggle the Alert Slider every time you go to bed in the evening.Finally, the OnePlus 6 is one of the phones on Google’s Android P beta list, so you can give the latest version of Android a try if you buy it.Final thoughtsWith the OnePlus 6, the Chinese company has delivered a suitable successor for the OnePlus 5T. Boasting a beautiful design, top-notch specs and much-improved camera, the new flagship should definitely be on your radar if you’re on the market for a new phone.Obviously, no phone is perfect and the OnePlus 6 is no different. It does lack a microSD card slot, waterproofing and despite having a glass back, it does not offer wireless charging. Which would have been nice.But none of these are actually deal breakers, especially at this price. Just think about it, you’d be getting a premium glass phone with a Snapdragon 845, great display and competitive dual-camera for only $529.If you’re not looking to spend more than $600 on the phone, then the OnePlus 6 is absolutely the best device you can get on this budget. Aside from the minimal issues we’ve outlined in this review, the OnePlus 6 is more than capable to compete head-to-head with the top flagships available on the market today. And in some respects even outdo them.However, there’s a caveat to be taken into account before buying the OnePlus 6. It does not work on Verizon or Sprint networks. Thankfully, it works just fine with GSM carriers like T-Mobile and AT&T. So if you’re already a subscriber, you should be good to go. If not, you might want to consider switching carriers. Or, you could take a look at the alternatives. The Honor 10 View and ASUS ZenFone 5Z (which is not yet available in the US) are the closest options right now.The OnePlus 6 is currently available in the following coloring options and configurations:Mirror Black with 6GB of RAM + 64GB of storage – $529.00Silk White with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage – $579.00Mirror Black with 8GB of RAM + 128GB of storage – $579.00Midnight Black with 8GB of RAM + 128GB of storage – $579.00Midnight Black with 8GB of RAM + 256GB of storage – $629.00Buy the OnePlus 6
Headphones are generally simple devices, with the purpose of intimately pumping tunes into our ears. In recent years, we’ve seen several updates to the traditional formula, such as wire-cut solutions and active noise-cancellation, but the general idea remains.However, if you’ve taken a deeper look, a couple cool developments have also risen to make the headphone more than what is dictated by its musical roots. The Nuheara IQbuds are one of these innovative selected few.They aren’t just truly wireless earbuds for convenient music listening on-the-go, but also pack intelligent noise adjustment, from canceling noise to amplifying ambient speech. We’ll cover the benefits of this neat system in our review.DesignOn the surface, the Nuheara IQbuds aren’t a big deviation from the slew of true wireless earbuds we’ve seen emerge as of late. That is, an entirely plastic construction and basic, pod-like shape. Nuheara has adopted a lot of what works for this type of headphone, such as a compact and ergonomic design. The earpieces have maybe a bit more girth than average, but this is expected from the extra technology packed in.You’ll also see the common series of electrical plates on their undersides. These match up with corresponding pins within carrying case for effortless charging. A note is that unlike many of the type, the silos for the buds don’t have a latching mechanism (i.e. magnetic or clip). You get a lack of finesse sense, as the buds easily wobble when seated. However, the tolerance is tight enough that the contact points reliably match up, and closing the lid locks the buds in place.In typical fashion, the case has its own battery pack, able to charge the IQbuds 4x over (at about 5 hours of playback at a time, that’s 20 hours from a full case). This is great, but if you care about slimness, the case may be a bit thick for your taste. It’s definitely pocket-able, but you’ll have a clear bulge (may be especially concerning for skinny jean wearers).Nuheara didn’t go easy on the case’s LED indicators. There are six sizable lights in total (which switch between red and green), and it can look like a light show when they’re all lit up.It’s not complicated; there are three indications shown. The two red interior lights are dedicated to the status of their corresponding earpieces (red for charging and green for fully charged). The four at the front display whether the case is open or not. They’re mainly used to show battery level of the case (they light up green from left to right per 25% of battery capacity). However, every time you place the buds in and close the lid, you’ll see a left and right flash of red (the buds are charging) or green (the buds are already fully charged).Also included in the box is a very generous selection of ear tips. There are no foam tips, but four different sizes of either round or oval silicone tips. We had no problem getting a secure and fully-sealing tip.FunctionThe IQbuds are top-notch when it comes to fit. The contour of the earpieces match up with the ear opening immaculately, and the angled and appropriately long nozzle (coupled with the various tip sizes) makes for an effortless insertion. You should even be able to work out with them; they stay in place as good as any true wireless earbud that we’ve tried.Packaging contents. Charging the case is done through a microUSB port on the back.Regarding water resistance, Nuheara claims that they’re waterproof but didn’t formally certify them with an IP ingress rating. The company says that the internal components are coated with nano-proof water protection tech that is plentiful, so take that as you will.The interface of the IQbuds is touch. Both earbuds have a touch panel on their outside surfaces. We’re a little wary of touch controls on true wireless earbuds due to past failed attempts, but it works pretty reliably on the IQbuds. Nuheara limits the number of functions (only within a single tap, double tap, or long tap), so there’s only a slight learning curve.The left bud just handles play/pause or answering/ending phone calls, while the right bud turns off or switches among the dynamic sound features. Double tapping on either bud toggles the phone’s virtual assistant. One other control is a longer-press, which puts the buds into Pairing mode.To unlock the capabilities of the IQbuds, you must install the company’s app. Within it, you’ll be able to select between presets to suit your current environment. Nuheara has options for settings we are often in, like the office, traveling, outdoor, etc. These specifically tune the earbuds transmission to be most beneficial in these situations.For instance, if you’re outdoors, you may want to still be able to hear cars approaching. A typical sound isolation system won’t pick and choose what to isolate (hence, the “intelligence” notion behind the IQbuds), and could potentially make for a dangerous situation if you’re walking about outdoors. You can adjust the audio as you desire (complete silence or more/less ambient noise).A big advantage of this system is that you can go about your day without having to take the earbuds out. Typically, you have to take your headphones off if someone starts talking to you. This can happen at any point if you continually listen at work. Well, with speech acknowledgment turned on, you can keep the IQ buds on and hear someone clearly (while also still hearing your music clearly). What’s more, you can even amplify speech. That is, magnify speech/noises around you – almost serving as a hearing aid if this would be helpful in a situation (like if you’re awaiting a PA announcement at an airport or train station, but want to keep listening to clear music).And the tech does work; it’s not just talk. It’s pretty startling at first because you hear music just like any other headphone (the output isn’t messed with). But then selected and amplified frequencies come through at the same time like you have an additional mic embedded. It’s a little trippy at first, but you immediately see the benefit.You can hear the music clearly but also people talking to you. The customizability is great because you can increase or decrease how much comes through, or just switch it off and use the IQbuds like normal headphones (single tapping the right earpiece turns the “World” setting on/off). Note that when the IQbuds close off the world, their system closes off more than what just passive isolation on a normal earbud would, but not as proficiently as active noise-cancellation tech.SoundIt’s easy to get caught up in the neat audio capabilities of the IQbuds, but being headphones first and foremost, it’s also super important that they sound good playing music. We see Nuheara advertise “high fidelity audio” with the IQbuds, but don’t see mention of the aptX wireless audio codec. So we were interested to see hear if they could deliver, or if Nuheara’s focus on other technologies would get the best of them.The IQbuds paired with the LG G7 ThinQ.Fortunately, they do sound pretty great. We were surprised to find a crisper and more open sound than expected. There’s a nice airy echo to the notes, as well as notable soundstage width and dynamics for a true wireless earbud. Detail retrieval isn’t high-end (we weren’t really expecting this), as there’s a slight looseness at general decay. We feel like Nuheara was more going for presentation, and they nailed an engaging experience.That said, some may find the bass a bit light. It’s plentifully bodied and has appreciable depth, but the punch (particularly, mid-bass) and extension are understated. This gives an impression of a forward mid-range, but we think it’s just a matter of perception. Speaking of the mids, vocals have a fullness that makes them more catching than instruments in the range. The quality is consistent up through the treble – not the highest detail, but notes hit with authority and dynamics.Final ThoughtsThe Nuheara IQbuds are a really cool and unique take on true wireless earbuds. We can’t praise the company enough for going above and beyond, and not just make a solid pair of completely wire-free buds, but also one that has a valuable functional use. We imagine the IQbud’s biggest challenge in the market being price. There’s a lot of decent solutions these days at the $150 range, so asking for roughly double that may be too much.That said, others don’t have the sweet tech that the IQbuds pack. It’ll be up to you if that’s worth the extra cost. What certainly helps is that Nuheara didn’t push back design, ergonomics, or sound quality to make way for the innovative features. This is a well-crafted headphone.
For years, BlackBerry was the best option for those in business. The physical keyboard and smart software made it a no-brainer for those who just needed to get the job done. But, as we all know, BlackBerry quickly began to fade. It stuck with its own operating system as Android and iOS dominated the landscape. A physical keyboard was no longer the draw that it once was.BlackBerry was going the way of the dodo.But, the Canadian company finally bottomed out and changed tactics. It made a great comeback with the Priv and KeyOne since late 2015 and it has embraced Android like few other companies. Using pure Android with some enterprise-focused features added on top made it a compelling option once again.Now, BlackBerry is back with another installment, the Key2. The device isn’t the showstopper that the Priv or KeyOne were when they hit the market, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The KeyOne was pretty damn good and BlackBerry got the message that it just needed to build on that solid base. And that it did.We’ve spent the last week with the BlackBerry Key2 and these are our thoughts.HardwareIf you’ve ever used a BlackBerry device before, you’ll feel at home here. Holding the device in your hands will take you back several years to when BlackBerry dominated the landscape. I initially wondered how I’d take to using the Key2 since I’ve used nothing but metal and glass slabs for the past few years, but it just feels right.The device is very solid. It features 7000 series aluminum around the edges, a soft touch rubber on the back and a display + keyboard on the front. Overall, it’s one of the best built phones I’ve ever used. It has a completely different feeling but reminds me a lot of the HTC One M7. Everything is where it should be, nothing moves, and I feel like it can take a beating if it needs to.EwThe soft touch backing makes life easy. The Key2 isn’t the most ergonomically perfect device, but it’s still pretty easy to hold onto because of that surface. Not only does it make it easier to hold onto but it looks and feels great too. Sure, it’ll still pick up some oils from your fingers, but it is far better than a glass-backed phone in that regard. Plus you don’t need to worry about it shattering if it takes a fall.The buttons on the side of the device are satisfyingly clicky. BlackBerry is following the trend of adding some texture to the power button and we love it here. Just under the volume rocker and power buttons is a quick action button. This allows you to open an app or perform an action with a simple press. I have mine set to open the camera, but the phone also supports double pressing the power button to open up the camera.Because it’s 2018 and we have to mention this now, yes, the Key2 does come with a headphone jack. It sits at the top of the device, the perfect place for such a thing. The bottom of the phone holds the USB type-C port and two machined speaker grills. Unfortunately only one of them puts out any sound.That brings us to one of the big disadvantages of the Key2. It’s just not great for consuming media. The 4.5-inch display is just fine with okay colors and decent brightness. It gets very dark on occasion and can really take you out of what you’re watching. Combined with a just okay display with subpar speakers and this isn’t the first phone we’d grab to watch a TV show or movie on a long flight. We know that this phone is designed for business people in mind, but we’d imagine that those who work in an office like to watch YouTube from time to time too.KeyboardSo, let’s quit beating around the bush. How’s the keyboard? Well, I wish I could give you a one-word answer but it’s not that simple. What you need to know is that the keyboard is larger on the Key2 than it was on the KeyOne. This makes much more comfortable to type on while only adding a small bit of height to the device. It was a great change.The keys are clicky and easy to press. We’d understand if they were a little stiffer out of the box, but were pleasantly surprised at how the device already felt broken in the moment we set it up.You have the full set of keys that you’d expect. But, you also have a Speed Key in the bottom right corner that lets you launch apps or actions by pressing it then a letter. It’s a really smart addition and I’ve found myself using it more and more as time goes on. No longer do I need to hit the multitasking button or go back to the homescreen to find my favorite apps. Two buttons presses and I’m there.The smart features don’t stop there. There’s a fingerprint scanner in the space bar that gets the job done. It’s not as good as something you’d find on a Huawei device, but it reads accurately and quickly most of the time. You can also set the currency key to perform actions like dropping the notification shade- something that can be quite the task if you have smaller hands.BlackBerry brought back some of its best keyboard features from the KeyOne too. You can easily scroll through web pages or lists by sliding your thumb up and down the keys in the middle of the keyboard. You can also double tap a key to open up directional keys and scroll through symbol keyboards on screen by tapping the SYM button next to the keyboard.I was initially annoyed with the onscreen keyboard when I started using the device, but I can see its usefulness. You’re not going to be able to pack everything you need into the physical keyboard even with long presses and alt keys. BlackBerry captured the best of both worlds here.SpecsIn a previous discussion in our Hot Take podcast, I made the point that it was going to be really hard to recommend the Key2 based on specs alone. The phone is supposed to be priced around $650 but runs a mid-range processor, a 1080p LCD display with an odd aspect ratio, and just didn’t seem very premium. When you have devices like the OnePlus 6 out there for cheaper, it just doesn’t seem like a good buy.But then I actually used the phone and I’m pretty blown away. We constantly ask ourselves here if we need flagship level processors and the Key2 proves that you don’t. It rocks a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660, a sold midrange processor. I’ve never once had this phone lag on me. Granted, I’ve only had it for about a week, but I’ve certainly put it through its paces in that week. I am in love with the performance.What I’m not in love with is the display. We touched on this a little bit earlier, but it’s just not great. BlackBerry stuck with the same panel as last year and I’m wondering why. It gets just bright enough to use on cloudy days and it feels like it stays too dark too long indoors. It also has an odd 3:2 aspect ratio to fit in the physical keyboard. Watching videos and playing games just aren’t satisfying like on other devices. It just gets the job done and is probably my least favorite thing about the device.But, my favorite thing about the device is how good the battery life is. Again, we’re taking this with a grain of salt due to our short testing period, but so far it has been fantastic. We’re getting about two days of usage with seven to eight hours of screen on time.The Key2 has an embedded 3,500 mAh battery that supports Quick Charge 3.0. That means you should get about 50% of your battery back from dead in 35 minutes or so. We’ve yet to be able to test this but will update this section when we’re able to.CameraCameras are another area where we haven’t had enough time to accurately access. We’ll continue our testing as time goes on and update this post as we come to a conclusion.But for now, we’ll tell you that the Key2 is the first BlackBerry device to feature a dual camera setup. The rear of the device sees a dual 12 MP (f/1.8) + 12 MP (f/2.6) setup. The second lens is used to zoom instead of a monochrome or wide-angle lens as we’ve seen on other devices.Early picture samples are just okay. There’s nothing too spectacular about the pictures here and we’d suggest looking elsewhere if you really want an out of this world camera. This will get the job done for those quick snaps you put up on social media or snapping a business card. Any more than that might be a bit of a struggle.SoftwareThe build quality is great and we enjoy the keyboard a lot, but where we really fall in love with the Key2 is the software. It ships with Android 8.1 out of the box with a planned upgrade to Android P. But, there’s no skin to be found. You just get stock Android 8.1 Oreo with a ton of really smart additions.My favorite of which is the Hub. I monitor a ton of email addresses and social media accounts here at AndroidGuys and I’m now able to keep those separate from my personal emails and messages through the hub. I can switch between Work and Personal profiles to get notifications from email, Slack, Facebook Messenger, Hangouts, and pretty much any other communications app you can imagine.BlackBerry also added two features I love to keep your content secure: Private Locker and Privacy Shade. Private Locker only works with a few apps like the camera or Firefox focus, and we’d love to see more added soon. Firefox Focus, for example, can only be accessed by using your fingerprint or password and then deletes your browsing history once you exit. You can also use the locker to store pictures you don’t want to be seen or downloaded files.Privacy Shade blacks out most of the screen except for where you’re scrolling. This keeps prying eyes off your important content and makes sure your work stays your work. The shade is great, but BlackBerry was smart enough to add quick access to it too. All you have to do is pull down your notification shade and click on the Privacy Shade icon. It’s a really smart implementation that saves time when it counts.ConclusionAnd that’s the story of BlackBerry’s software on the Key2. It’s just smart. You can tell engineers and designers actually sat down and thought about what they were doing here. BB didn’t cram in every single feature it could think of just to sell a few more phones. It picked what it thought would make life easier for someone who doesn’t have time to screw around with their phone during the day.I liken BlackBerry’s software to poker. It takes a minute to learn and forever to master. There are an insane amount of tricks and shortcuts that I’m still getting used to after a week of use and a reviewer’s guide sitting in front of me with all of them listed. Some are pretty standard like double clicking the power button to open the camera, but others aren’t. You can assign pretty much any physical key a shortcut. The notification shade drops with a press of the currency key. You can open up app widgets with just a swipe of an icon. And that’s just scratching the surface.The BlackBerry Key2 isn’t going to be the phone for everyone. BlackBerry knows this and it’s not trying to be. It is targetting a small segment of Android users that want a physical keyboard and smart software features to make their jobs easier. I love the laser focus on that goal. If you work in sales, marketing, or other related jobs, this is absolutely the phone for you.If you’re not that person, you might want to pass. The software additions will largely be lost on you and the media viewing experience is just not great. As we grow more and more attached to our phones each day, it’s important to have one that matches what you really want to do with it. If Netflix or YouTube are among your most used apps, maybe grab something else.But it’s a powerful too for those its designed for. I’m still asking myself if I’m a faster typer with a physical keyboard. While that’s up for debate, what isn’t is that I’m much more accurate. The feeling of physical keys is so satisfying that I absolutely love to type here. I will intentionally pick up my phone to respond to messages instead of using the keyboard on my desk. It’s that much fun.
If you’re looking for a premium smartphone in 2018, you have two choices. You can walk into a carrier store and throw down $800+ on a name you know like Samsung, LG, or Apple. Or, you can save a bit of dough, go with someone you may not have heard of and reap the rewards.Today, we’re talking about one of those less known phone companies, Huawei. Huawei is a Chinese company that produces some of the best phones in the world, even if you don’t know it. Huawei has a sub-brand, named Honor, that focuses on producing value devices. If Huawei is putting out the $800 flagship, Honor is putting out the $500 premium midrange device.That premium mid-range device is named the Honor View 10 and it can be picked up for about $499 here in the US and similar prices in the EU. It features flagship specs, performance, and features- which leaves us wondering why you’d want to grab anything else. Why donate $300 to a huge corporation?We spent the last four weeks with the Honor View 10 and here’s what we found out.Key SpecsDisplay: 5.99-inch 1080p IPS LCDProcessor: HiSilicon Kirin 970GPU: Mali-G72 MP12RAM: 6 GBStorage: 64/128 GB (expandable)Battery: 3,750 mAhCamera: Rear dual 16 MP (f/1.8) + 20 MP Monochrome, front 13 MP (f/2.0)Software: Android 8.1 with EMUI 8.1Headphone jack: Yes0HardwareThe Honor View 10 isn’t following a trend. If every phone out there today is a glass sandwich, the Honor View 10 is an aluminum beast. The back of the device is a anodized aluminum with antenna lines tracing the top and bottom. Two big cameras stick out near the top and that’s it besides some branding. While others are focused on the premium look and feel of glass, Honor went with a much more durable material and, for my money, it feels fantastic too. You’ll never need to worry about back glass shattering or dealing with fingerprints here. That gives peace of mind that we haven’t felt for a while.The front of the device houses a 5.99-inch 1080p IPS LCD panel. Notably, the panel that Honor used has an 18:9 aspect ratio like most phones released today. It gets incredibly bright while maintaining close to true colors. You’re not going to get the massive blown out colors like you’d see on something from Samsung. We do miss the AMOLED technology here, but if Honor is going to with an LCD display, we’re glad they went with a really good one.While some may lament the lack of a 2K display, I think Honor made the right choice here. Not only does the display look fantastic with no obvious pixels poking out, it saves power. Sure, an AMOLED panel would save more, but by dropping down to a 1080p resolution, the phone doesn’t have to work as hard to power the display. So, not only do you get a quality display, but there are some battery benefits too. That’s a win-win in my book.Just under the display is something we’re seeing less and less of today: a button. The fingerprint scanner resides just below the display in one of the only instances of an 18:9 display with a physical button on the front. We appreciate what Honor was trying to do here, but playing finger gymnastics to hit the scanner sometimes doesn’t feel great.That fingerprint scanner isn’t just a scanner, though. Through the software, you can turn on gestures that will allow you to get rid of the software keys and just swipe and tap the scanner to perform your back, home, and multitasking functions. We love it when OEMs add this into a device, but the long and tall nature of the Honor 10 can make it a bit difficult to use. I eventually went back to software keys.Here’s something that most reviews won’t point out, but the power button and volume keys are awesome. Not only are they placed in a perfect position, but they’re so clicky too. I just love pressing these things and Honor made the power button textured so it’s easy to tell what you’re pressing before you do. It’s a real turnoff when a phone comes with mushy, unsatisfying buttons. Sure, we’d never not recommend a phone for that reason, but it’s little details like this that make it easy to fall in love with this phone.InternalsThe biggest question I get when I tell people about this phone is, where did the cut corners? That’s a fair question because you can’t expect an $800 product for $500. When I tell people to take a guess, they ask if Honor used an older or underpowered processor, that it lacks the RAM and storage of a 2018 flagship, or perhaps doesn’t have great battery life.They’re always shocked to find out that, amazingly, every word of what they just said was wrong.The Honor View 10 has a HiSilicon Kirin 970 SoC. That’s another name that won’t be familiar to the vast majority of consumers out there. The Kirin 970 is Huawei’s own SoC produced in-house and it comes with a Neural Processing Unit (more on that later). It compares favorably to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC, 2017’s favorite processor.Now, sure, the Kirin 970 isn’t the most powerful SoC out there today, but ask yourself if you heard anyone complain about last years flagship processors. I didn’t think so. The story is the exact same thing here. In my day-to-day usage of the Honor View 10, I experienced almost no stuttering at all. That can be the death knell of a great smartphone experience, but interestingly the only time I had problems was in the Google pane to the left of your home screen. Everywhere else was perfect.We also see a healthy amount of RAM and storage here too. Our review unit has 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal storage. It also includes a hybrid SIM/microSD card tray that allows you to either use two SIM cards or one SIM and one microSD for up to an additional 256 GB of storage. In everyday usage, we saw excellent multitasking with apps that we opened days ago still being held in RAM. The storage obviously speaks for itself, but in a day and age where we’re pinning more music playlists to our phone and saving movies to local storage, it’s always excellent to have more storage than you need.Battery life is always a concern as we’re getting more demanding applications and always-on services. Luckily, Honor was able to stuff in a 3,750 mAh battery somehow. The phone is still incredibly thin. It measures in at .28 in, leading phones like the LG V30 (.29 in) and Google Pixel 2 XL (.31 in). But, Honor somehow managed to pack in one of the largest batteries on the market today.Not only is the battery huge, but it charges up quickly too. We depleted the battery on our review unit then charged it for 30 minutes to end up with an impressive 44% of our battery. We repeated this test three times and ended up with 44% twice and 43% once. While not the most scientifically rigorous test, it does indicate that even if you forget to charge your phone overnight, you can throw your phone on the charger while you’re getting ready for work and have enough juice to get through the workday.We can’t rave enough about how good the battery life on the Honor View 10 is. Battery life in phones has been getting better in the last few years, but this phone takes it to a new level. Instead of the standard full day of battery life and three to four hours of screen on time you can expect out of most phones, the Honor View 10 can easily get you two days of battery.Throughout our test period, there was only one day where I needed to charge up before the end of the day and that was because I was watching movies on it all day in the car. You should expect at least six hours of screen on time with decent usage.SoftwareThe Honor View 10 has a software has Android 8.1 with EMUI 8.1 atop. EMUI is one of the heaviest Android skins out there today and might make Android purists recoil a bit. While EMUI isn’t for everyone, it definitely has some strengths that I think get overlooked when people are looking for a new device.Yes, the skin does feel like Mountain View and Cupertino got drunk one night and had a baby, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Where in past iterations EMUI might have gotten the worst traits of this bastardization, we’ve seen a subtle shift and refinement recently. We still hate some things like the share menu, but there’s more to like here than dislike.You’ll find a please color pallet that doesn’t mirror stock Android but does incorporate some elements. We see lots of blues and whites here that look pleasing to the eye. If you don’t like what comes on the device, you can easily change it with the included theme app. It isn’t the most powerful theme engine we’ve seen on a device but it should get the job done for most.We were also pleased by some of the small but smart software additions. Actions like swiping up from the bottom of the lock screen to reveal a toolbar with the flashlight, a calculator and more that feels natural. Additionally, we appreciate the ability to run a second instance of some apps. This comes in handy for monitoring multiple social media accounts, among other things.Going back to the lockscreen, there’s one more thing we love, and one we miss. First off, we definitely miss the inclusion of an always-on display. The Honor View 10 has an IPS LCD display instead of an AMOLED, so we understand why Huawei might have omitted this here. But, we have seen others with LCD displays include this feature and so it might be something Huawei should consider adding later.Instead of an always-on display, you can enable raise-to-wake the device. Removing the phone from your pocket or picking it up off a table will activate the display and give you a rundown of your notifications and the time. It’s a nice consolation prize if we’re not going to get an always-on display.Face unlock is becoming a trendy feature with a ton of different device makers adding it into their devices. Huawei has included it with the View 10 and has done a great job with it. I generally have issues with Face Unlock with most devices but the Honor View 10 recognizes me and unlocks in less than a second.CameraWe’ve been trained to expect poor cameras on budget devices, but that’s not the case here. We loved our time with the Honor View 10 if for no other reason than the pictures we were able to snap.In well-lit conditions, the Honor View 10 can stand up to other cameras on much more expensive phones. While we did some blown out bright spots in extremely bright conditions like our day at the ballpark, these were few and far between. It’s always disappointing to take a bad picture, but even when the Honor View 10 fell behind other devices, it did a good job.Where the phone struggles is in very poorly lit situations. Low-light photography is a challenge for almost every device maker, but Huawei chose to not include optical image stabilization in the View 10. This hurts low-light performance and video camera stability and it showed in our low-light shots. You can still get usable pictures, and you’ll have more success if you know what you’re doing in Photoshop, but we were disappointed.We mentioned the Neural Processing Unit earlier, and the camera is where we see that used the most. Huawei says that the NPU helps capture pictures faster and create better pictures in the process. It also helps with real-time text translation in apps like the Microsoft Translator app. Since it’s impossible to turn the NPU off, we can’t test how it really functions, but it’s handy to have none-the-less.A.I. is a huge buzzword right now Huawei is solidly on that bandwagon. While we can’t remember a time where we picked up our phone and were wowed by the A.I. capabilities, we do have hope for the future. Right now this feels like an answer to a problem we never had, but we can definitely see the potential of the technology. Huawei might be in the driver seat by including the NPU in their SoC.Only time will tell.ConclusionThere’s a lot to love about the Honor View 10. It’s incredibly well built, there are some great software features, and camera performance is pretty decent. Sure, there are things we feel that are missing or could be improved but since there are no perfect phones on the market today, you could say that about anything.The Honor View 10 is one of the first phones that I don’t feel like I need a case for. The body is fantastic and I honestly feel like if I get some scrapes, dents, or scratches that it’ll add to the character of the phone. In an age where we try to keep something looking pristine and perfect, this is a fantastic departure from the norm.My big question is how the software will age over time. Huawei has been in the limelight in 2018 a few times and most of them weren’t positive. A potential carrier deal with AT&T and Verizon for the Mate 10 Pro fell through because of pressure from Congress. Even now, Capitol Hill is probing the relationship between Google and Huawei.To recommend this device is to go in knowing that Huawei may pull out of the country altogether at some point. While the US Government seems to favor protectionism in the new administration, Chinese companies could feel the heat more than ever. If you don’t think it could happen, just ask ZTE.What does that mean for the future of Chinese phones like the Honor View 10? We could see a future where the device sees no software updates because the mess going on right now.But for the device strictly by itself, we love it. It feels fantastic in the hand, performs like a champ, and you don’t have to pay flagship prices. If you’re comfortable with an uncertain future, we recommend it.Read next: HUAWEI Watch 2 Classic Review
While you can go out and spend a boatload of money on various pieces of equipment, you’ll always need accessories. This may range from just a single microphone, or flash for videos, but there’s always a need for something.Even after you purchase the big-ticket items, there are others that just help improve the general experience. That’s where the Maker Hart Just Mixer M comes into play, at least for videographers or podcasters.OverviewThe Maker Hart Just Mixer M is exactly that – a mixer. the Mixer M acts as a pre-amp and makes life easier for those who need more control over their volumes.There are are series of nobs and dials that can be adjusted from the Mixer M directly. Additionally, we have two microphone inputs, a line-in connector, and an auxiliary cable output.The interesting thing here is that this mixer works in a myriad of situations. Just Mixer claims that you can use the Mixer M in the following applicationsWebcast by smartphoneWebcast by Computer or NotebookWith an InstrumentOutdoors with Tablet or SmartphoneSpecificationsStereo Channels – 4 (2 x Mic, Line, Aux)USB Audio – IN / OUTSpecial Function – Phantom Power, MUTEPower Type – USB 5V/1AControl – Balance/GainStereo Outputs – 3.55mm/ 1/4-inch, Master USB AudioPhone Out – YesFader Length – 20mmAccessories – TRS > TRRS AdapterDimensions – 5-inches x 3.3-inches x 0.9-inches (12.6 x 8.5 x 2.3 cm)Weight – 120g / 4.2ozMixer M Key FeaturesAs is the case with any of these mixers and pre-amps, there are a few key features to look over. Here’s a list of what is offered by the Mixer M:Mic Preamp – Phantom Power and plug-in power provided by onboard microphone preamplifiers.USB Audio Interface – Stream 24-bit digital audio over USB from the mixer to any computers or mobile devices.Portability – Instead of worrying about being connected to a wall, you can use a portable charger to keep the Mixer M rolling for as long as you are.Ideal for webcasting – There are inputs for mics, USB audio, and auxiliary. These combined with the various outputs and Master/Channel volume faders combine for one of the best mixers.In the box, you get the Mixer M itself, along with a 3-foot auxiliary cable, 3 foot USB to microUSB cable, and wall-plug. While this isn’t a starter kit providing everything you need, the Mixer M can really help step up your production.You’ll need to find the right set of headphones and right microphone to connect to. But once those are in place, the Mixer M will help make you sound like a professional, regardless of what content is being created.For those looking to get everything in one package, you can pick up the Premium package. This includes all of the aforementioned pieces, but also features the following:XLR to 1/8-inch 3.5mm cable1/8-inch to 1/4-inch 3.5mm cableCombo Jack/Phone audio cable – 1/8-inch TRS to TRRSLavalier (Lapel) microphoneConclusionThe Mixer M really is one of the best options on the market for those looking to get started in the world of audio. It seems that Maker Hart has hit the nail on the head and provided quite an impressive microphone mixer for beginners and professionals alike.Now for the big question – price. You may be surprised by this, but the Mixer M starts at just $87.99. If you want to spring for the aforementioned Premium package, then you’ll be shelling out $109.99.However, similar products are priced anywhere from $100 to $300 and more. So you’ll be getting an outstanding value from the Maker Hart Just Mixer M.If you want to pick up one of these for yourself, hit the button below to head over to Amazon. Sound off in the comments and let us know what you think about the Just Mixer M from Maker Hart.Buy the Maker Hart Just Mixer M!
Wireless earbuds today take a lot of shapes and sizes. What started out as the around-the-neck form has turned into completely wireless earpieces. But, while the latter is more ergonomic and convenient, none have been able to really succeed, with considerable compromise to crucial aspects like battery life, connectivity reliability, and price. This is all while wired “wireless” alternative have gotten better and better, making their presence in the market still very relevant.In light of this, we’re checking out how well JBL’s new Reflect Contour 2 wireless earbuds perform. Their solid design, that could suit active and causal users alike, and reasonable price really stood out to us. And JBL, being a Harman Kardon brand, should mean some excellent acoustics. Let’s check out if they’re good enough to deter from the true wireless alternatives.DesignThe form of the JBL Contour 2 wireless earbuds aren’t a departure from others of its type. It’s essentially two earpieces, bridged by a free-hanging cable, with an in-line 3-button remote on one side. The differentiation is those slick ear-contouring (hence the name, “Contour”) guides shooting out and around from the earpieces.They look tight and really form-fitting. In-person you’ll see that they’re made from a soft, thick rubber material, which should equate to a secure and comfortable fit (more on usability later).The earpiece shape reminds us of the BackBeat Go 3 we reviewed a couple years ago. That is, a cylindrical chassis, ear fin, and angled nozzle. However, JBL has a clear edge on aesthetics. Their smooth silver finish and shiny chamfered top edge look just like metal (though, we’re not sure that it is). They’re topped with a color-matching cap (in our case, blue) and logo.The ear fins are a substantial piece of silicone that wraps around the transition point to the angled nozzle. The packaging comes with three different sizes for varying ears, as well as three different silicone tips. This is expected these days, but we would’ve liked the option of foam tips too. Many manufacturers are including these as well these days, as they superiorly isolate sound.We really like the Contour 2’s cable. We dislike when these around-the-neck cables are too thick, where you can really feel them rubbing as you move around. This cable is very thin and non-intrusive. This also means that the whole unit is effortless to wrap in your hand and stuff in your pocket; it takes up very little space for on-the-go, despite those sizeable ear guides.Note: if you don’t want the ear guides, JBL offers a vanilla “Reflect” model that omits them – Yay for options.We like how the blue/silver aesthetic is captured throughout the device. For instance, the base of the 3-button remote (located near the left earpiece) is blue but the top is silver. Additionally, the cable has alternating stripes of the two colors. JBL even cuts a slit into the ear guides and lines the cable so that the silver color shows through – nice touch.The packaging is fairly essential for a wireless earbud: silicone tips, charging cable, and a carrying case. The form of the case is unique; it’s this rubbery pouch cut open at the top. It doesn’t have a sealing mechanism (like a stiff wire lining or magnetics) but has lips to keep the contents in. It works alright, but smaller accessories could find their way out.FunctionIf you’re wondering how to charge the headphone, it’s via a microUSB port behind a flap on the side of the 3-button remote. The current USB standard, Type-C, would’ve been nice, but we’re not there yet on affordable earphones.Regarding how often you’ll have to charge, the Contour 2 promise about 10 hours of playback. This is above average for wired “wireless” earbuds, with most reaching around 8 hours. You’re getting a lot more life in one charge compared to true wireless earbuds, which usually land around 3-4 hours.The Contour 2 is marketed as a “Sport” earbud, which can be inferred from the substantial ear hooks. We can contend that they’re great for working out.The ear hooks hug the ear very tightly, and coupled with the ear fins, there’s no chance that the earpieces are going anywhere. However, the tight fit does make fatigue a concern. We could feel a slight ache after a long session, but not to an unusable point; YMMV. The sporty focus also means the Contour 2 have considerable sweat/water resistance – IPX5, to be exact.The Bluetooth function worked without fault in our experience. Hold the middle power button to shut them on/off, and they’ll be ready to pair at first boot-up. The volume up/down buttons double-up to switch tracks, and the middle button can play/pause, answer/end calls, and toggle the mobile device’s virtual assistant.The remote isn’t the easiest to use. It’s hard to know what you’re pressing, as there isn’t clear differentiation as you feel for them; the whole panel feels smooth. JBL should have a detectable texture on each, or raised separators.Sound QualityJBL is a highly-regarded audio manufacturer, that is backed by Harman Kardon, so we hold a higher expectation here than other, run-of-the-mill affordable earbuds. Overall, the Contour 2 don’t disappointment, but there’s some things to know.Firstly, we really like open and full the reproduction is. It’s a slightly mid-range forward sound signature. This makes the presentation lively and engaging. Vocals, in particular, stand out, not just because their presence but airy nature. The dynamics in the mids also comes through excellently for this price-point.The bass is somewhat a mixed bag. The sub-bass is subtlety captured, which may not be everyone’s flavor. However, we can say that it comes through with great definition when the track calls for it. Mid-bass has a nice, spacious punch but it doesn’t fair as well as the sub-bass, being a bit tubby and not as well defined. It’s fair and still enjoyable, just may be a letdown for more critical listeners.The treble is average to our ears, having a laid-back nature. That is, it’s audible and gets the job done, but slightly recessed and not notably detailed (you don’t get much of the crisp top-end notes). But not “bad” per-se, just fair.What the Contour 2 has going for it is a nicely balanced sound (ranges are even-leveled for the most part) and decent clarity. Our ears nitpick on the details, but we were glad to not find common issues like muddle, boomy bass, or a flat, unmoving signature. The Contour 2’s open and full sound makes it excel at this price-point.Final ThoughtsAt $99, the Contour 2 have some stiff competition to contend with. Affordable Bluetooth earbuds have come a long way, and there’s some even at the $30 range that can challenge the JBL’s solution. That said, if you want a little more “Sport” dexterity, these ear hooks and barely-there cable are hard to beat. The Contour 2 will also have an edge with overall sound quality compared to lower-priced options.
As we hit the middle of 2018, one of the most common words used to describe a phone is “premium”. But, what exactly does that mean, though? A few years back it was used to signal the difference between a plastic, polycarbonate phone from one that was built with a combination of glass and metal.Replaceable batteries went the way of the dodo bird as phones closed up tightly and incorporated waterproof protection. Indeed, the high end devices of 2015 looked strikingly more beautiful and more put together than a budget phone.Here we are today and everything smacks of ‘premium’. In other words, it’s not as easy to tell a top-tier flagship from an entry-level device. A $200 handset, at first blush, doesn’t look all that different from an $800 one.For most people, a basic smartphone is all that they need for a daily driver. Sure, the specs from a brand new model are drool-worthy; that is, if you care about the internals. But, when it comes down to it, many consumers don’t know what’s going inside of a phone. They just want it to work and they want it to wow them with cool features every so often.When it comes to the idea of a “budget phone”, we like to think that encompasses those which are $250 and below. It’s in this area where you find a lot of devices which feature the specifications from a generation or two back. Often you’ll get an older version of Android paired with hardware that’s similar to a flagship from about 18 months ago.Does a budget phone mean you’ll sacrifice performance? For many that answer is no. When you think about your daily needs and usage, it’s not all that different today than it was a a few years ago. Are you really doing that much more with your device that you demand more from it? If so, you’ve likely become an early adopter or one who watches the space more closely.A large amount of the people we know are content with buying something a little older in the name of saving a few bucks. This is probably why you see so many older Androids and iPhones running around. Not everyone is holding onto these phones for years and years; some are buying them a year after they come out. And why not? They hold up.Nuu Mobile G3This brings us to the Nuu Mobile G3. As a $200 smartphone, it’s an unlocked device that works with AT&T, T-Mobile, and other GSM carriers. On paper it has all the markings of a mid-range phone. In hand, it looks and feels like a Samsung Galaxy S8 clone.Nuu Mobile has been in the game for more than a few years but we’ve never got the sense that it wanted to play outside of the budget arena. Not that it’s previous models felt cheap or generic; they just weren’t all that glamorous. The G3 is a departure to be sure.Design & BuildWe were immediately impressed with the design, starting with the blue color choice. Taking the phone out and looking it over, we already felt like this was a different Nuu Mobile. Thanks to its glass, curves, and shiny aesthetics, the handset could pass for a much pricier phone at a glance.Peel the curtain back just a bit, though, and you’ll note that Nuu doesn’t use Corning Gorilla Glass or any sort of added protection. In other words, you’re likely one drop away from ruining that sexy design. The phone comes with a case, but it’s more for protection against scrapes and scratches, not outright drops.After those first few minutes with the G3 we realized that it was a fingerprint and oil magnet. You can’t touch this thing without leaving some trace behind. That’s the problem when you use materials like glass; but, it’s no different with any other brands. DisplayThe G3 offers up a 5.7-inch display with an 18:9 aspect ratio which is pretty much the standard for today’s mid and upper range of phones. The size no longer feels unwieldy thanks to thinner bezels and the more narrow approach. Don’t mistake the G3 as being bezel-free or bezel-less; there’s a little more here than what pricier competitors are doing. It’s certainly not bad, and we are happy to forgive based on price.The volume buttons and power button are on the right side of the phone, with power having its own pattern printed. Easy to identify in a hurry, it also helps when grabbing to check notifications in the dark.Around back you’ll see there’s a dual-camera system in place, with the LED flash off to the right. The fingerprint reader is just below the camera setup. You might want to keep an eye on the cameras for smudges or smears as you get familiar with the lay of the land. Those who have not used a rear fingerprint reader might take a couple of days to get acclimated.On the bottom of the device are the speakers and USB Type C charging port. Noticeably absent here is the 3.5mm headphone jack. Included in the box, though, you get a USB C to 3.5mm adapter so you’re not completely out if you have a preferred pair of wired headphones. On the other hand, you’ll not be able to charge and listen to music at the same time.Other ImpressionsGiven the phone has glass on the back we might have expected wireless charging. Most other device makers who opt for this material will include the nearly standard option. It’s interesting to us that Nuu decided to forgo the headphone jack and not go wireless for charging. One feels like an unnecessary “me too” move while the other would have made more sense.For a $200 phone the G3 comes with rather impressive hardware specifications on paper. The 2.3GHz MediaTek octa-core processor, paired with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage, are more than adequate for most users. Toss in the 13-megapixel and 5-megapixel rear camera setup and you’re looking at a great utilitarian experience.CameraThe most popular trend in phones over the last year is probably the advent of dual-cameras. Not one on the front and one on the back, mind you, but two on the rear. Today’s mid-range and upper-end phones routinely come with a secondary sensor. That’s the case with the Nuu Mobile G3.The primary lens on the back is 13-megapixels with the secondary shooter offering 5-megapixels of its own. The former does the heavy lifting while the latter helps to create bokeh effects and better portrait shots.When you have excellent lighting or are outside the photos captured feature a good amount of detail with admirable color. Pictures are captured pretty quickly and write to the phone in a fairly snappy manner.Get into lower lighting situations we found the camera experience suffered. With no image stabilization to be found, you’ll have to do your best to hold the phone still. Otherwise, you run the risk of blurry photos. This happened more times than we would have liked in our time with the phone.The camera app itself is much better than we expected at this price point. It’s pretty easy to cut corners and go with a generic camera app on a budget phone. A lot of people like their own camera apps or filters and spend their time editing and tweaking. We were pleased at the array of options to choose from in the G3.Among the choices available are Portrait Mode for better personal portraits and Beauty Filter for cleaning up imperfections and evening out skin tone.It will probably take you a good day or two to figure out what the phone is capable of capturing and what it’s not. It’s a pretty fine line, though, and we wish it were more in the direction of capable.PerformanceIn practice, however, you might start to notice the shortcomings. Admittedly, the drawbacks and differences we tend to find are often based on comparisons to other, more powerful daily usage phones.With that said, we found the G3 to be good at multi-tasking and hopping around apps and games. We never had an overwhelming or outright powerful sensation, but we didn’t feel slighted.The more time we spent with this phone the more we viewed it as good or moderately impressive. We didn’t quite get to “great”, but that’s likely because we spend most days with a Pixel 2 or something equivalent. We know great and we weren’t paying for it here.The 3,000mAh battery gets us through a day’s worth of usage with some left over at night. With support for fast charging, it does come with a 5 watt charger. It’s not quite as fast as what’s available from other phone makers, but if you’re charging overnight, you won’t know that. Starting from zero, though, it takes a good two and a half hours to fully charge up.AndroidIn terms of software, the Nuu Mobile G3 runs Android 7.1 Nougat out of the box. We’re torn on how we feel about this as Android 8.0 has been out for some time now and Android P is already getting tested.Nuu Mobile pitches this as a flagship device, not as a flagship killer. It doesn’t try to pass the phone off as something that would best your current handset or the next big thing. Instead, it represents the new look and feel, and direction, of the brand. It’s its own flagship experience; it happens to be at least one step behind in software.As we do with other phones, we care that we get the most current version of Android available. If that’s not feasible, we want updates or promises that one will soon follow. Moreover, we want to know that security is a priority. Are bug fixes and patches coming? It’s hard to say what we should expect with the Nuu Mobile G3.For what it’s worth, the G3 does ship with a pretty lean build of Android. There’s basically nothing added here save for a web browser that’s quite similar to Chrome. Another notably inclusion is the Face Lock feature which lets you unlock your device with a quick glance at the front-facing camera.ConclusionWhen viewing the G3 through the same lens as, say, a Blu phone of the same price point, it becomes tougher to poke the holes. What one might be guilty of, the other likely is, too. This means tempering expectations a little bit and trying to forget what your daily driver is like.Knowing that phones can range anywhere from about $100 up to $900, you have to keep in mind what the cost of a device is when reviewing it. It’s completely unfair to compare it to something that costs twice, or three times as much.With that in mind, we think the Nuu Mobile G3 is an excellent value proposition for the money. Sure, it’s got an older version of Android but that probably matters zero in the big scheme of things. Just because we know it’s outdated doesn’t mean that the typical user will. Moreover, the UI is largely the same, and we’re still pretty happy with it.If you have a GSM carrier such as AT&T or T-Mobile, or are considering switching to one of them, the G3 will be compatible. You’ve also got quite a few prepaid carriers that will support the device as well.For those of you who shop with budget in mind, and won’t be spreading the cost of a phone out over two years, this is a great starting point. You don’t have to get into $300-$500 phones to last you a couple of years. The G3 is proof that you can definitely get the job done cheaply and still look sharp doing it.
Making an animated GIF isn't as hard as you might expect. Check out some of our favorite desktop and mobile software, whether you want to record yourself, capture your screen, or pick a clip from the web.The post The best GIF-maker apps and websites appeared first on Digital Trends.
Making an animated GIF isn't as hard as you might expect. Check out some of our favorite desktop and mobile software, whether you want to record yourself, capture your screen, or pick a clip from the web.The post The best GIF-maker apps and websites appeared first on Digital Trends.
Don't embarrass yourself by playing Wonderwall on an out of tune guitar. We've tested some of the best guitar tuner apps, so you can stay in tune wherever you go (as long as you have a smartphone with you).The post The best guitar tuner apps appeared first on Digital Trends.
You may be looking to better track your dietary habits. Or even just check out what exactly your diet habits actually are, you have PLENTY of choices in the Play Store to get the job done. Some are old stalwarts of the Android market, and there is a constant arrival of new apps to check out.One option in the Play Store is Fooducate. It’s a freemium-type of nutritional tracker app. It’s designed to allow you count calories, track diet trends, and steer you to better weight management.The free part of Fooducate is a comprehensive food library, diary, and calorie tracker. You are probably well-aware of the premise here: Fooducate first establishes your caloric needs by having you input your basic bio metrics: height, age, sex, current weight, and goal weight. Using these, it calculates a target of daily calories for you to aim for.You aim for this by logging what you eat at each meal. This can be done a couple different ways. You can search the database of app-provided and user-uploaded food options, adjust the amount consumed, and add it to your diary.Another option is a visual scanner, where you can scan UPC codes to quickly gather nutritional stats and uploading to your diary.As you move through your day and multiple days, Fooducate tallies your calorie totals and shows your trending numbers both numerically and graphically.If you want to know more about the nutritional quality of your dietary choices, this unfortunately is the free road ends, my friend. Fooducate does offer several premium subscription options; the main one being the “Pro” version, which will give you insight on your intake of protein, carbs, fiber, vitamins, etc.You also get more specific training with specific/trending diets such as Paleo, non-GMO, low-sodium, and such. Pro also gives you space to log more specific metrics like body measurements, blood pressure, and others. Along with ad-free, of course.There’s also a few other subscriptions available, including gluten and food allergy tracking, a 10-day “Diet Kickstart” (coaching), and even a pet food tracker & guide (who knew?).If you choose to go with the premium options, they may be higher than you might be ready for. Example: the Pro version runs from $4.99 for a month-by-month plan, all the way to a lifetime subscription for $74.99 (!).Of course, the value of these features is arguable and highly dependent on how much you use it over the the length of your subscription time. Your mileage may vary, as they say.News feed.Back on the free side of the app, Fooducate also offers an active community of users who post and comment, a-la a mini social network. There is also “Diet Tidbits” section. This provides all kinds of news and tips-and-tricks articles for you to peruse and read to your heart’s content.You can also log into the companion website version (www.fooducate.com) to log in and find/track food intake, which can be helpful if you’re more comfortable with a bigger screen.ConclusionWith diet tracker apps, the two main factors that drive user experience are 1.) the size of the library/database, and 2.) the interface.The database in Fooducate is pretty good, almost great even. In my time with the app, there were a few misses in terms of food. But I could also find a pretty darn close substitute.The FAQ was refreshingly cute.The interface is okay –ust okay. This is admittedly hard to put into words. But as I was searching, entering, and reviewing my food choices, it just seemed like was was clicking a time or two more than I wanted to be. It wasn’t bad in any way at all; I just got a little impatient with my experience.Overall, if you’re looking for a food tracking app, you would do well in checking out Fooducate. It’s easy to use, and is coupled with a good interface and comprehensive database. This makes for a good basic & free experience. If you’re looking for more detailed features you can find them here, but be prepared to pay for the privilege.
Games that are based on riddles and puzzles have been around for centuries and are a way to keep the mind in shape. Whether it’s to focus at work, do better in school, or simply stay sharp, there are various reasons for wanting to boost your brainpower.See Also:Eight of the best word games you can play to boost your vocabularySeven best apps for meeting new peopleSeven language apps for when you want to learn to speak a new tongueThese days there are hundreds of apps and games available that claim to put the “smart” in smartphone and give you a cognitive boost. Smartphones provide the perfect medium for this stuff.Typically, game sessions are relatively short and can be done anywhere and whenever you have a few moments to spare. So, if you’re going to be staring at your screen, why not do something that could possibly make you smarter?In order to help you find the best logic games, here is a list of some of the best apps you’ll find for download in the Google Play Store.Blendoku 2What it is:Sudoku has been around for years and is no doubt one of the most famous math gamess around. Blendoku is sort of like Sudoku, but instead of numbers, you use colors to fill in the empty blocks.Why we like it:Become a color master by moving tiles of solid color into a hue- or shade-base spectrum, leading logically from one color to another.Putting colors in order may seem like an easy task at first, but soon you’ll realize that getting from Magenta to Lime requires some serious mental gymnastics.There’s a Painting Mode which shows the color schemes of famous paintings.You get up to 500 levels you can play for free.Install Blendoku 2Unblock MeWhat it is:Unblock Me is a game in which you need to figure out how to get the different colored blocks through the hole.Why we like it:The game is quite challenging, even if it starts off easy. Blocks on the board are positioned in either horizontal or vertical position. A horizontal block can only move right or left, while the verticals can move up and down. You will need to shift them around in a way that frees a path for the red block and that proves extremely difficult to do in some levels.There are over 14,5000 puzzles to solve. Stuck in one of them? There’s a hint system that helps player solve puzzles.The game has a rating system designed to motivate players to find the best solution.Install Unblock MeDreamcageWhat it is:Dreamcage is an escape game. These are games in which players try to solve a series of puzzles and riddles using their logic skills.Why we like it:The game has nice, immersive graphics.Interesting story-line set inside a strange world filled with different cages, where the Giant Caretaker has gone missing.Search all of the 15 beautiful room for clues and pick up a variety of tools and items. Use your logic to perform a variety of tasks and solve logic puzzles by employing the objects you’ve found.Install DreamcageBrain It On!What it is:Brain It On! is a game with a minimalist appearance which challenges you to complete a given objective. Do you think you have the logic skills to do so?Why we like it:It’s a unique logic game. Each level starts off with an objective written across the screen. It can be a simple “draw a shape” prompt. As you advance request get increasingly difficult such as “place the ball in the orange box”.The game dares you to think out of the box, as you construct shapes and solutions to solve the problem.You can compete with friends, as well as easily share your solution and compare it with the ones your buddies came up with.Install Brain It Out!That Level Again 1-3What it is:A small but cute logic game(s) where all the levels are the same, but the ways to conquer them are not.Why it’s fun:The main character in the game has only one desire: to leave the house and you have to help him find the key, so he can escape.Unique gameplay: once you get out of the room, you’ll find yourself in that room again, but the hint on how to play the game has changed. For example, gravity is now weak or you may have to tilt your phone to control your character.The third installment of the game is actually a love story with a few separate levels. Here you’ll team up with your crush to solve puzzles and find the exit.Install That Level AgainLogic PicWhat it is:A logic game developed by Tapps Games where you use logic to color blocks in a given grid and reveal a hidden picture.Why we like it:Use your deduction skills, solve puzzles and discover awesome colorful pixel art illustrations.You solve puzzles by placing black squares in the correct place according to the numerical patterns on the side of the grid. After the puzzle is complete, the black and white patterns reveal the pic underneath.The game includes a great range of puzzles, interactive tutorial and in-game tips. Extra daily challenges are also part of the bundle.Install Logic PicLogic Master 2What it is:Logic Master 2 is an unusual logic game in which you sometimes have to come up with strange, creative solutions.Why we like it:The game challenges users to think in unconventional, yet logical ways to come up with answers to the questions.Stuck at one of the trickiest levels? Not to worry, you can use hints. And there are also video solutions if you need more help.Logic Master 2 includes three different levels of difficulty and 120 questions packed inside 30 levels.Install Logic Master 2
Fiio has been killing it lately when it comes to performance for the price. Earlier in the year, the company gave us the chance to test drive two ends of their audio player spectrum, from the tiny $50 Bluetooth BTR1 DAC to the top-end $650 X7 Mark II Android-powered HiFi player. We were left impressed either way.But being that Fiio’s has beginnings in the mobile DAC market, the most promise is held in its latest flagship DAC, dubbed the Q5.Unboxing the Fiio Q5.Right from a glance, it’s apparent that Fiio is carrying over design cues from its metal-clad DAP (digital audio player) series. This is fine with us; we loved the brushed metal and chiseled aesthetics of the X7 II. We’ll examine what you get with the $350 Q5 DAC, and if it’s the right Fiio player for you.DesignWe’re tempted to sum up the Q5 DAC as a X7 II without a screen (especially with a brushed-metal panel on the front that looks like where a display should be). The two devices look very related, from their block-of-Aluminum form to that slit that glows an adjustable light.We loved the X7 II’s premium feel and attractive, angular aesthetics, so we’re glad to see the same build quality in a device half the cost. That said, there are plentiful differences around the Q5’s exterior that give it its own identity.For instance, turn it around and you’ll a substantial deviation – a classy-looking, black leather lining taking up most of the back. We love this contrast and break from the otherwise completely silver Aluminum look. The leather also helps the DAC stay still on a tabletop – a small contention of the smooth, relatively slippery X7 II. We also no longer have to worry about scratching the pristine metal surface.Maybe this is why Fiio did not include a case in the box, like it did with the X7 II (or maybe it’s because the Q5’s lower price). We would’ve still liked to see a case, as the rest of the chassis is vulnerable to the elements. At least there’s a quality, draw-string bag for transport.Speaking of the packaging, in typical Fiio-fashion, we get an array of accessories. Though, it’s not as extensive as we’ve seen before (like the omission of a protective case); basically what would be essentials for usability, like a charging cable and a couple I/O methods.We were disappointed to only see a Lightning-to-MicroUSB cable for passing through the digital signal. Fiio is ignoring Android users, making us get our own digital cable before being able to use the DAC with our phones. It’s not a big deal, as these cables are cheap. But for a device that’s mobile and depends on that cable, it should’ve been included.Back to the unit itself, we catch a lot of the same ports and controls around the perimeter as seen in its X7 II brother. The 3-button playback controls are on the left side, primarily consisting of back/forward track and play/pause in the middle button. This is also how you turn Bluetooth on and pair, by holding down the middle button.The Q5 has separate microUSB ports for charging and digital audio pass-through (Boo for no USB-C). You’ll see the charging port under the playback controls on the left side, and the digital out is on the bottom of the device, in between the two headphone output options, 3.5mm standard or 2.5mm Balanced. Yes, Fiio carries over the capability of Balanced audio as seen in the X7 II.On the right side, we see a rotary volume dial significantly larger than the one on the X7 II. There’s a dot indicator so you can see where the volume level is set. Right under that is the power button, with an LED at the center to indicate if the device is on or not.Volume dial firmly and smoothly rolls.FunctionOf course, the DAC can be used for better audio out of a computer (you can use the supplied USB-to-microUSB cable for this purpose, as well as charging the device).Fiio takes flexibility a step further by making the Q5 Bluetooth-capable, and it remembered about the aptX codec for transmitting a higher-fidelity signal. However, it’s our opinion that any “HiFi” player today shouldn’t be incorporating any less than aptX HD bandwidth (352 vs 576 kbps). Both standards are a far cry from “high res” but if you’re going to do Bluetooth in this kind of device, you should be using the best standard available.There’s plenty of affordable USB-C to microUSB OTG cable options on Amazon.However, first and foremost, the Q5 is meant for wired pairing with a mobile device. Once we got a USB-C to microUSB cable, getting the digital audio signal passed through from our Galaxy S9 worked like a charm.At the top of the unit, you’ll see a couple other I/O options. One port handles all of the other input support: optical (using the supplied adapter), coaxial, and aux line in. The other hole is simply a line out, for sending the audio signal to another system.The top of the Q5.This is also where the basic signal tweaks live. If you have higher impedance headphones and the volume level isn’t quite cutting it, you can toggle the gain to High. Similarly, if the bass isn’t tickling your fancy, there’s a one-setting boost.Speaking of which, another feature that the Q5 borrows from the X7 line is the ability to change out the amp. It uses the same design/form as on the X7, so you have access to all the modules available for that platform. Pretty neat.The removable amp module is located along the bottom. Fiio provides a screwdriver for the screws on both sides. The Q5 comes with the same AM3A module as the X7 II, which can power most headphones and has Balanced output.Via the presence of the X7 line, various different amp modules exist, providing different jack configurations and higher power output for more beastly headphones.Going back to that glowing light on the front, Fiio added some functionality this time around. It has RGB access, and uses color coding for different things. When the unit is turned on and connected (but not playing), it’ll show as White. Different signal inputs light different colors, and the color Blue is used when Bluetooth is running.Lastly, it will flash red when the battery is low or the device is charging. Though, we wish there was a way to know the battery status above that point.Red glow when charging.Speaking of battery life, the Q5 packs a 3,800mAh capacity that reaches about 10 hours of playback. This is either using the DAC in wired or wireless mode.AudioJudging by the rest, we were expecting audio quality and a sound signature from the Q5 like that of the X7 II. This would be a fine thing. We adored the well-rounded and lively audio from the X7 II, and we’d be getting that top-notch experience at half the price with the Q5.However, where the X7 II uses a SABRE ES9028Pro DAC for sound processing, Fiio opts for a solution from AKM for the Q5 – the AK4490EN, to be exact. Both mobile DACs are from trusted manufacturers (for instance, AKM is found in many of Astell & Kern’s high-end audio players). The AK4490EN is actually a dual-DAC chip, so we were really interested in how it sounded in comparison.The Shure SE846 have a gorgeous sound paired with the Fiio Q5.Despite hardware difference, Fiio’s excellent tuning can still be heard in the Q5. That is, an exceptionally balanced spectrum and authoritative mid-range. The Q5’s price isn’t “cheap” in the grand scheme of things, but when you hear the cleanness, articulation, separation, and detail that this DAC pumps out, the reality comes into focus. This is true audiophile-grade quality that usually costs closer to $1K.Like with the X7 II, we can’t say enough good things about the mid-range. Its in-your-face reproduction (in a good way) and exemplary airyness really enhances the listening experience.You get engaged with the music in a level not achieved by most. None of the ranges miss the opportunity to utilize the open soundstage. Dynamical play is free-game, and if you have a high-end headphone that can resolve depth, you’ll hear the dimensional sound it’s capable of with the Q5.Regarding specifics, the neutral sound signature may not suit bassheads. This is more true of sub-bass than mid-bass, of which there’s plentiful punch for us. The sub-bass is subtle, but you’ll hear its nicely rounded quality and rumble when the track dictates it. The mid-bass more tamed than what you may be used to, but it’s super clean in return (complimenting the mids perfectly rather than interfering with them). You have the bass boost option via the switch we talked about, but it bloats the low-end too much for us.The treble range shares the same cleanness and articulated kind of response that we’ve noted of the rest. With many reproductions, the treble can get pushed back when there’s a lot going on. Not so here; it’s as present as the rest. Actually, its spacious and high-reaching quality and pin-drop clarity many times captured our attention most of all. You’ll be able to pick up detail you may not have heard before in your favorite music.Ultimately, some folks may find that the Q5 is “light” in some ranges. But it’s apparent that that’s done for cleanness, detail, and balance, all of which is important for true, high-end audio. That said, the Q5’s overall sound is far from sterile. It’s very lively and pleasing. Fiio has become very skillful at this craft, and we’re glad that it is still standing by its “value” ideal, rather than continually upping its prices like its competitors do.Final ThoughtsSuffice to say, the Q5 is a winner. It’s not just that it’s solidly constructed with premium materials and is packed with features, but its biggest success is in what it’s ultimately meant for – stellar audio. At $330, it may not seem like a great value to those new to this field, but it really is when you look at the high-end portable DAC market. The Q5 can stand toe-to-toe with them at half the cost. We’re really glad that Fiio is continuing to show them how it’s done.
Mechanical keyboards are all the rage right now. Just about everywhere we turn we find someone sharing their new mechanical keyboard; so popular are they that there’s an active Reddit community of some 275,000 subscribers.We’re an Android site, and we talk about mobile tech. Why do we care about mechanical keyboards all of a sudden? Well, as it turns it, you can have a little bit of both worlds.We recently learned about the Rymek retro-style mechanical keyboard with Bluetooth capabilities. Designed to resemble old school, vintage typewriters, it supports both wired and wireless (Bluetooth) connectivity. Naturally, we asked to check one out.Upon opening the box we immediately fell in love with it. See, sometimes you find tech that looks great in photos and on paper only to learn in person that it’s not all that awesome. That’s not the case here. In the real world this thing looks, and feels, incredible.With a black base and rose gold color for the keys, the Rymek looks like something you’d find in your great-grandmother’s attic. Yet, somehow it would also not surprise us to see it in a Blade Runner or Black Mirror setting, too.You know that flat, quiet experience you often get with Bluetooth keyboards? Usually thin, minimalist, and otherwise boring? This isn’t it. No, this is a keyboard that’s not only clicky and a little noisy, but it’s a conversation starter, too.Multiple OS supportThey keyboard supports Windows and Mac OS as well as your mobile platforms of Android and iOS. In fact, although it’s not a portable unit that stows away in a bag, it works great with your tablets. This is partly due to the stent that snaps into the back of it. Where you might have previously feed a sheet of typing paper, now you can put your Galaxy Tab S3 in portrait or landscape mode.After having spent so much time with a simple Bluetooth keyboard at our desks, we have really come to like the Rymek. The saddle-shape to the keys gentle hug the finger and provide excellent response. The keyboard features Blue and Brown Switches, which is important to mechanical keyboard enthusiasts.Retro-style and FuturisticLet’s talk about the lighting effects. It wasn’t enough just to make this keyboard look like something out of the past. No, the dynamic lighting is where the futuristic aspect comes into play. The keys themselves are backlit, something you don’t often see in a wireless keyboard.The Rymek offers five brightness levels and seven light effects; four speeds let you fine-tune things to your liking. Some might be a little distracting at first, but they’re just so cool you can’t not have something going on.The keyboard pairs with up to three devices via Bluetooth and there are shortcut buttons to hop from one to the next. Moreover, the return handle that sits at the top left of the Rymek lets you toggle between Bluetooth and USB mode.Not Just Pretty, but PracticalSpeaking of functional aesthetics, the scroll knob on the right is how you adjust your media volume. It’s not just for looks or to remind you of how things used to be in a paper world; it’s practical.The internal battery on the keyboard is 2,000mAh, or way more than you’d normally expect from a simple Bluetooth unit. But, when you factor in various light effects and usage, it will have an impact. With that said, it’s estimated that you’ll get about 50 hours out of a single charge.Where to BuyCurrently available on Indiegogo, we’re huge fans of the Rymek. Prior to receiving our review unit we didn’t know half of what do about mechanical keyboards. We also learned it’s not the only one of its kind. But, looking through the crowdfunding page, and comparing to others, there’s an amazing amount of value packed into this kit.Given how much a physical keyboard increases productivity on a tablet, we’ve found that the Rymek has breathed new life into our Nexus 9. The pair have found a place in our home where it’s perfect for managing emails and other tasks in the evening.In addition to the black and gold version, you can also purchase it in a caramel and white option. The black has a gorgeous “piano” lacquer that really does mimic the finish of piano keys. If the caramel looks like we think it would, we’d have a hard time not wanting to eat them.The Rymek will normally retail for $199, which puts it right in the thick of things as compared to similar units. But, if you get in on the early bird deal, you’ll nab it for only $119. Go super early and it’s yours for just $99.
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The world cup is just around the corner and the hype is getting real. The biggest sporting event in the world is expected to draw in an audience in the billions and showcase some of the best athletes in the world.32 teams will head to Russia with the dream of raising the FIFA World Cup Trophy. From June 14 until July 15, they’ll battle it out to see who reigns supreme. Can Messi finally win the World Cup? Can Ronaldo power Portugal to the trophy or will Germany repeat? Only time will tell, but one is for sure, it’ll be fun to find out.It’s almost impossible to watch every match. The matches will take place in Russia this year so many of them will take place during the workday in the United States. Since we’ll need some help staying up on the games, we’ve put together this list of apps that’ll help you stay informed during the World CupFotMobFotMob is widely recognized as one of the best football apps in the Play Store. The app offers up live scoring so even if you can’t watch the games, you can follow live. Match reports give you real-time in-game reports like cards, substitutions, injuries, and goals. The app has a wonderful layout that makes it easy to see how your team is doing in its group and a handy schedule to see when they’ll play next. FotMob has a free version that contains ads and a paid version that removes them.Play Store link: FotMob Free | FotMob PaidThe Official FIFA World Cup 2018 AppWhat could be better than the official app, right? FIFA has published a fantastic app that allows you to select your favorite teams and stay up to date on everything you need to know. From news, match alerts, and schedules, the Official FIFA World Cup 2018 App is a perfect companion for the month-long tournament.Play Store link: Official FIFA World Cup 2018 AppGoogle TranslateIf you’re lucky enough to head over to Russia for the World Cup, Google Translate could be your best friend. Unless you speak Russian, there’s definitely going to be a language barrier at some point during your trip, so why not load up Google Translate and download a few languages now? It could save you some heartache in the future!Play Store link: Google TranslateFox Sports GoFox has the broadcasting rights to the World Cup in the United States this year. That means that it’ll be streaming all of the games on its app so you can watch on the go. The Fox Sports Go app also has casting built in so you can show the games on your Chromecast-enabled television! You will need a valid cable subscription to stream through the Fox Sports Go app, but if you don’t, check out our next entry.Play Store link: Fox Sports GoYouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, PlayStation Vue, or DirecTV NowCredit: cordcuttersnews.comWe all know that one of the downfalls of cutting the cord is losing out on live programming. But, when there are special events like the World Cup going on, you may want to consider signing up for one of these cordless services. All of the streaming services listed offer some sort of free trial before they’ll charge you. In fact, YouTube TV gives you an entire month which is just about long enough to stream the entire World Cup! Even if you don’t keep the service, you can use it in the meantime to log into apps like Fox Sports Go to stream games that aren’t on TV.Play Store link: YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, PlayStation Vue, DirecTV Now