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Device Reviewed With: iPhone 5, iPad mini, iPad 3
Hardware Design Rating:
Sound Quality Rating:
+ Incredibly comfortable
+ Great sound isolation
+ Brilliant clarity
- A bit ostentatious looking
- In-line mic needs volume/skip ability
Headphones are a funny thing. One listener’s sweet spot is another’s bass-heavy muddiness. The I-MEGO Throne headphones come in two flavors: Gold (bass heavy) and Poison (balanced clarity). I am reviewing the second model, which is a pretty purple linen underneath a silver-toned grille on each over-ear cup.
I prefer headphones that I can plug into my iPhone, use as a microphone, listen to music, and–of course–game with. To this end, the I-MEGO Throne Poison headset is ideal. These are by far the most comfortable headphones I’ve worn to date, with a soft, leather over-the-head band that never hurts, even after a couple of hours of use. Ditto the soft leather, sound-isolating ear cups, which only become uncomfortable after a long gaming session due to my upper ear piercings.
The clarity of the sound on these babies is something to experience. I dislike overly-bassy headphone like Beats as they tend to overpower the rest of the sound in the mid and high frequencies. Too high-frequency, however, leads to a tinny sound, and overly mid-range response makes things sound muddy. The I-MEGO Throne Poison headphones have an excellent, across-the-board clear sound, which makes all sorts of music delightful to listen to, including, acoustic, jazz, pop, and rock.
I was surprised by the excellent sound isolation properties of the headphones, as well. I took them on a plane recently, and figured I’d have to crank up the sound as I do with most other over-the-ear styles I’ve used. Not so, at all. I even left them on during the flight without music or games on, just to decrease the ambient noise of the jet engines. The music I listened to, Steve Martin’s banjo-tastic album, Rare Bird Alert, came through loud and clear, without having to crank up the iPhone volume beyond my usual loudness preference. These are fantastic headphones.
The only quibble I have is that the in-line mic only has one button, which lets me start and stop music playback, and answer and hand up the phone. There’s no way to use it to control volume or skip songs, like the Apple Earpods do. It’s a small thing, to be sure, but it would make an already great set of headphones even better. I also wish they came in a less “look at me” style, like a less ostentation solid black, or even white.
Bottom line, the I-MEGO Throne Poison headset is now my favorite set of phones to wear, in all sorts of settings where sound isolation and amazing clarity of sound is required. They’re well worth the price tag, and compete with much more expensive units that have a far less delightful audio response.
Device Reviewed With: iPhone 5, iPad mini
Hardware Design Rating:
Sound Quality Rating:
+ Innovative design
+ Louder than similar speakers
+ Charges Devices via USB
- Sounds a bit tinny
- Too easy to drain the battery
The RockSteady XS is a portable, micro Bluetooth speaker designed for use with any audio source that supports the Bluetooth 3.0 protocol, including iPads, iPhones, and other mobile or computing devices. It also includes a audio port for a line in, and a full-sized USB port for audio in and device charging, as well. There are a host of buttons on the front of the unit, which can be used to play, pause, forward, or reverse playback with many audio apps, like Pandora, Music, or Rdio.
The design of this mini speaker is interesting, in that the main speakers face out the two sides of the unit, one on each end of the rectangular casing. There are also holes in the top of the speaker, as well. Overall, this gives the RockSteady XS a distinct advantage over other speakers I’ve tried, with a 100db loudness that belies the diminutive size of the device. There’s a good deal of volume that can be applied before things get distorted, as well. The sound itself is fairly well-balanced, with a tendency for a brittle, tinny sound without some EQ from the sound source, especially at higher volumes.
The speaker itself is made of aluminum, making it both tough and light. There’s a removable battery on the bottom, and you can purchase more from Killer Concepts, making this a great option for someone who needs longer than one battery’s worth of life. In my use of the RockSteady XS, I found the battery life to be similar to that of the other devices I’ve used with an afternoon’s worth of listening at loud volume, on average.
My one big issue with the RockSteady XS is the battery on/off toggle. When I forgot to turn the unit off, which happened more than I’d like to admit, the battery continued to drain while the speaker sat on my desk, or in my bag. There really ought to be an auto-off feature to prevent typical user error like this, though it is nice to be able to definitively know if you’ve turned the speaker off, as well.
Bottom line, the RockSteady XS is a loud micro Bluetooth speaker with an innovative, rugged design that should meet the needs of many a listening environment, from outdoor picnics to dorm parties or hotel rooms. The great utility of the device is a bit offset by the sometimes tinny sound quality and the easily-forgotten toggle switch, but is still a great value considering the removable battery, the 100db sound volume, and the ability to charge a device from the back of the unit.
Device Reviewed With: New iPad
Integration with iPad/iPhone Rating:
Hardware Design Rating:
Re-Use Value Rating:
The new Logitech Solar Keyboard Folio is, without a doubt, my favorite iPad keyboard to date. It’s well-made, easy to type on, fairly protective, and – check it out – uses light energy! OK, the review is done. Move along.
Just kidding. Needless to say, my week with this iPad keyboard has been instructive, and while the Solar Keyboard Folio isn’t the “perfect” keyboard case for the iPad, it has a couple of features that sets it above the rest.
First up, there’s the solar power thing. Look, charging my keyboard with a mini USB cable is a serious hassle. It doesn’t charge my iPad (why not?), and it’s yet another device I need to make sure it powered up before I leave the house for serious writing. I already have to charge up an iPhone, an iPad and a laptop (sometimes), why do I want to have to plug in a keyboard? I don’t, that’s why. Keeping the Solar Keyboard Folio charged is a simple matter of setting it down in some decent light, indoor or outdoor, and letting it soak up the magic photons. That’s it! I haven’t had to consciously think about charging this thing since the day I got it. This is seriously brilliant.
Secondly, there’s the two viewing angles. The iPad is held in a solid protective grippy section, and snaps in fairly well. This holder has two little pegs on either sides of the bottom corners that fit into the bottom keyboard section, at a typing angle, and – omgyay – a viewing angle, as in the picture at the top of this review. I know of no other keyboard case that allows both of these angles, and it transforms the way I use my iPad with the keyboard. While other iPad keyboards force the typing angle, making things unwieldy when I want to just use the touchscreen. the Solar Keyboard Folio has found just the right mix of flexibility here. As long as I’m happy with landscape orientation, of course.
Which is one of two downsides of this product. There isn’t a way to use the keyboard with the iPad in portrait mode, making longer documents less usable. I’d like to be able to use the iPad in either orientation, depending on the task at hand, but the Solar Keyboard Folio just isn’t designed with that possibility.
The other issue here is the awkwardness of using an iPad in a folio-style case with a keyboard attached. It’s possible to flip the keyboard around to the rear of the iPad and hold it for touchscreen use, but it’s not comfy. I ended up pulling it out of the folio to use when I didn’t want the keyboard, which sort of defeats the purpose of an always-on folio, right?
Bottom line, though, this is the iPad keyboard to beat right now. The keys are solid and responsive. Typing on this thing is a joy, though as with any iPad-sized keyboard, the smaller size takes a bit of getting used to.
The award-winning Scosche MyTrek Pulse Monitor is an arm band that communicates wirelessly with the free myTREK health and fitness app. The app displays real-time pulse, target training zone, calories burned, distance and speed of run, total workout time and provides voice prompts during the workout. At $129.99, the pulse monitor works exlusively with the above mentioned app and seems to greatly reduce the bulkiness of the many chest and watch combinations.
With accurate pulse monitoring, the user can easily assess the intensity of their workout and adjust which training zone they’re in by using the five color coded options to quickly identify the desired intensity level. Based on personal health information, each workout zone is represented in a different color, including Resting Zone (White), Weight Loss Zone (Green), Fitness Zone (Yellow), Performance Zone (Orange) and Red Line Zone (Red). Each training session can be customized by adjusting the type of activity, target training zone and type of workout all within the app. It also includes motivational voice prompts to get the user to the finish line as well as makes it easy to control music via the integrated buttons on the Scosche myTREK Wireless Pulse Monitor.
Want a one stop solution for transforming an iOS device into an all-in-one fitness training partner? Then why not consider Wahoo Fitness’s Wahoo Run/Gym Pack?
For $119.99, it offers everything an exercise fan could want. Using ANT+ technology, the pack combines GPS, heart rate, music playing and phone facilities all into one package. Connect an iOS device up to heart rate monitors, foot pods and other fitness sensors all through this piece of kit.
As CEO of Wahoo Fitness, Chip Hawkins, puts it: “You no longer have to purchase a designated fitness watch. You’re already carrying your iPhone or iPod Touch with you for music and safety; might as well have it track your workout too.”
The Wahoo Run/Gym Pack includes a Wahoo Soft Heart Rate Strap and Wahoo Key which links the iOS device to the most popular heart rate monitors and other ANT+ sensors. It’s all compatible with over 100 of the most popular fitness apps like RunKeeper, MapMyRun+ and more, with the kit coming bundled with Wahoo Fitness’ own app.
The Wahoo Run/Gym Pack is available now for $129.99 at Best Buy stores across the country as well as on the Wahoo website.