OK, pedal to the metal, what happens when you take everything about Bluetooth speakers and crank all the possible parameters 'up to 11'? 60W stereo output, twin amplifiers, three speaker cones, rugged and IPX5 waterproof, Bluetooth 5, twin 5000mAh batteries, with power bank mode, NFC for easy pairing, TWS stereo mode, LED strip lit controls. Put all of this together in a single accessory and you have the mother of all Bluetooth speakers. Tronsmart call this 'Portable', which it is - fine to cart from house to house or room to room, but way too heavy for that picnic or hike with the family! But wow, does it deliver.
Recent Reviews - General
Qi wireless charging is starting to make it into power banks now and this is a great example of the breed, sent in for review by Choetech. As you'll see below, you can even charge three smartphones or other devices at the same time, which is impressive, perhaps on a family day out. It's tough, it's capable, it's very pocketable, and it's not too expensive. It even supports pass-through charging, so you can use it as a desktop Qi charging pad when at home.
The original 'NexDock 2' (yes, yes, there was a original from a previous generation) lapdock was reviewed here in some detail and I was generally impressed, though let down a little by the screen bezels and the appallingly quiet speakers. The NexDock Touch manages to fix both of these, with bells on, then adds a full capacitive touchscreen and a much bigger internal battery. In theory compatible with the Lumia 950 and other Continuum-enabled Windows 10 Mobile phones, plus Samsung DeX-enabled Galaxy devices, I give this the full review treatment. Tldr; Windows 10 Mobile enthusiasts will want to stick with the NexDock 2, but Samsung owners can see this as full steam ahead into a touch lapdock world.
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.