Over the years we've seen an uptake in USB Type C. The Lumia 950/XL were in the vanguard, along with the Google Nexus devices of the time. From basic 5V/3A delivery through to multiple voltages in 2020, Type C has both come a long way and also gotten slightly more confusing. Here, providing a brief summary of the technicalities involved, I also want to (start to) review some of the commercially available USB Type C mains adapters. Don't worry, I'll add to this in time.
USB Type C cables, first required in the phone world around 2015 (the Lumia 950 was in the vanguard!), are fairly common these days, but not all cables are equal. The cheapest miss out data lines, many aren't officially rated for high charging currents, most aren't built to last - but I was sent this Volutz 5 pack (you'll see why '5') to review and I was really impressed.
The number one hassle with power banks on trips is that you also have to remember to take with you the right charging cable for each family device that you might need to rescue. For most of us, this means bringing along a power bank plus a Type C cable, a microUSB cable, and Lightning too, for family members with iPhone or iPads. This Aenkyo accessory is perhaps the ultimate swiss army knife in the power bank world, in that it can not only charge phones via Qi wireless, it has integral Type C, microUSB and Lightning cabling. So - quite literally - no extra wires are needed.
Back in June I reviewed a lesser variant of this RAVPower champion, plugging directly into a wall socket and only offering two output ports. This, the 'Pioneer' top of the line, has a standalone unit and flying mains lead, plus offers no less than four outputs, two PD and two 'smart' USB. In short, it's a complete (mobile) mains charging solution and I was impressed. This just jumped the pile into my gadget briefcase...
Modern ultra-light laptops and hybrids tend to come with one or (at most) two USB Type C ports - and that's your lot. Meaning that there's a whole market for USB 'hubs' (e.g. the one I reviewed here from Choetech) and 'docking stations', as here. When is an accessory a hub and when is it a docking station? I'm going by size and weight - the Vava docking station here is around a foot long, has 10 ports/jacks, plus a mains 100W power supply that's simply enormous. The implication being that you'd leave this in the office, plugged in to all your desktop 'stuff' and then plug your smartphone/hybrid/notebook in when you arrive.
Something of a triumph of design over materials, these Tribit ANC (Active Noise Cancelling) headphones were sent in for review and end up being terrific value for money, with a number of thoughtful touches. Given that many ANC headphone sets, including those best thought of, come in at well over £200, to have these in hand for £60 is rather impressive. Especially so since these charge via USB Type C, i.e. your usual phone charger and not cheaped-out microUSB. Add in being almost infinitely adjustable, being able to use the ANC without even powering on the main Bluetooth circuits, and even plug in ye olde 3.5mm cable, and these are definitely worth a review.
It's inevitable that technology will drop in price as time goes on - Apple introduced the original TWS (True Wireless Stereo) AirPods at around £150, but we now have vastly cheaper alternatives with better sound quality at under a fifth the price (or a seventh, compared to the in-ear AirPods Pro, which are a better comparison). I've been reviewing these with my Lumia 950 XL and my iPhone 11 Pro and was impressed. Obviously, the materials used are a cut below Apple's and there are less 'joined up' software bells and whistles, but the Realme Buds Q are £30. Cheap plastic, whatever, these are damned good value.
One of several mapping UWP apps for Windows 10 that I've been trying out on my Lumias, PocketMap is just that - a selection of bitmapped, vector and photo maps presented in a fast(ish) and logical interface. Built with a little bit of a Norway focus, it's nonetheless rather cool to play with anywhere else in the world, as you'll see below. If nothing else, it's an easy OpenStreetMap viewer!
I've no idea how this UWP application got missed on previous excursions into the Store, but let's put that right now. Outdoor Tracker is a simple but very useful mapping and tracking utility, with the sole caveat that you have to be online (obviously) to access the underlying Open Street Map err... maps. Happily, it's easy to preload areas and map tiles that you need, for when you venture onto footpaths in the wild and windy hills and out of contact with networks. It's also Open Source and completely free, which is always good.
Something a little different, but which has the potential to save your bacon when mobile - these have been around for a few years but rarely in UK mains format and rarely so polished. Essentially this is a 20000mAh power bank with full PD (Power Delivery) right up to Macbook levels, but which also includes a 240V inverter, i.e. it generates mains electricity from its stored charge. And that's pretty neat - I've been going round my tech and household working out what it can and can't do!