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.
Recent Reviews - Accessories
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.
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!
When did power banks get so capacious and so cheap? A few years ago a 100Wh power bank would have been nigh-on science fiction and the best part of £100. Yet the Sense 8+ was sent in for review and it's £23 on Amazon UK. Yes, you read that right. Supporting multiple inputs and outputs, including Type C, of course, for Android and (here) Windows phones, this is a super value 'glove box' power bank to keep you and the family charged up day to day. If we're ever allowed out on trips again in these COVID-19 days, that is... [Updated]
Guest reviewer Simon Browne brings us a short write-up of a new Lumia 950 battery replacement. After market batteries have often been of low quality and with disappointing capacity (see my own Kamal Star experience), but this newish Taeozi brand seems trustworthy.
You'll have already browsed our NexDock 2 unboxing gallery for this new 'super' smartphone accessory, plus you'll have read part one of our review, looking at the NexDock 2's hardware and operation in detail. In this, part two, I look at more examples of the NexDock 2 in use, in both a Windows 10 Mobile and Android context - what exactly is the use case proposition? Why and when would this be a better option than a Bluetooth keyboard (on one end of the accessory spectrum) or a Windows laptop (at the other)?
Last featured in our unboxing and first impressions Gallery, the NexDock 2 is an accessory par excellence for Windows 10 Mobile Continuum-compatible smartphones. Arriving way too late in the day really, the NexDock 2 easily redeems itself by also working with a large number of Samsung and Huawei Android phones. But let's start with general operation: what's involved in plugging in (e.g.) a Lumia 950 XL and getting going?
Apple's success with Airpods has spawned a number of 'true wireless' copies - furthermore, copies with higher quality audio, in-ear-canal operation and even (here) USB Type C charging. A couple of months ago I reviewed the waterproof SoundLiberty 53, similar but with microUSB charging. Now Apple has finally gone 'in ear' and waterproof too, with the AirPods Pro, though at a crazy £250. These 'Rimor' headphones come in at almost £90, which is also too expensive, I contend...
With Apple's AirPods inventing the 'True Wireless' earbud market but at extravagant cost, there have been a number of far cheaper alternatives of gradually increasing quality. Working with Windows phones, Android and iOS, the TaoTronics 'SoundLiberty 53' are the best I've tested so far - and they come in at under £30, compared to over five times that for Apple's offering. Plus these sound far, far better. And they're waterproof. What's not to love?