Continuing our Surface Duo 2 coverage - a possible next step for Microsoft-loving Lumia enthusiasts and also a refreshing 'something different' for Android fans - we have a £82* leather case from premium accessory maker Noreve. In summary, beautifully made (though perhaps go for a different colour?) but there are some design and usability issues that you need to be aware of.
Recent Reviews - Accessories
Leaving aside the whole 'started on Windows' back story (hence 'Surface Phone', its longed-for name for so long), the Surface Duo arrived with Android on board and we now have the Android 11-running Surface Duo 2, which I reviewed here two months ago. With a Duo 2 now permanently at 'All About' Towers, and in addition to software features, I'm going to be reviewing some of the accessories available for this unique dual-screened smartphone/tablet. Starting with the crazily priced but ultimately, dare I say, essential, official Duo 2 Bumper. Oh, and... Happy New Year!
You'll have seen my unboxing and first impressions of the new NexDock 360 - a lapdock? A portable monitor? A fancy screen-enabled USB hub? Well, just as with the previous NexDocks ('2' and Touch), the NexDock 360 is all of these. Slightly smaller than its predecessor, the '360' adds a twist in being able to fold back from laptop to tent to tablet. Which is pretty cool, even if the bezels and speaker situation mean that you might not do this very often. The highlight for 'All About' fans is, of course, that this can expand your Windows 10 Mobile or Android* smartphone to a desktop experience. Plus it's a flexible HDMI monitor for everything else. Including iPhones and games consoles.
Reviewing smartphone accessories in the modern age is a frustrating business - as fast as something is reviewed then it seems to go out of production. This happened twice to my previous mobile power bank, the Aenkyo (née Ponsinc) 10000mAh with flying leads - and I can't find it for love nor money still for sale. But I cheered up a bit when this Soaraise alternative popped up as a lightning deal in my Amazon last week - with more then double the capacity and yet still two flying leads (saving having to carry cables around), this looked like it could fill a gap in my family's day to day facilities.
When questioned by me about the $70 (£50) price of the BLOCK 30 power bank, Tegic was unapologetic, this accessory is an attempt to make power banks 'sexy', with CNC-machined aluminium shell/edges, and with see-through tempered glass window, showing some of the circuitage and the status LEDs. And, with the caveat that this was a review sample and that I didn't have to buy it with my own money(!), I think I'm won over. This is indeed a premium bit of technology and instantly wins a place in my gadget bag.
What a great idea and implementation. One high current braided (non tangle) cable to suit everyone. USB-A or Type C to Lightning or (again Type C) - a few of these in your gadget bag and it really doesn't matter which one you pull out, since you just adjust the ends as needed. Supporting up to 60W power transfer, at under £20 this is a cable that thoroughly tickles my gadget brain!
Wireless charging continues to grow and grow in popularity. Anecdotally I've only plugged a smartphone in to charge about twice in 2021 - everything else has been wireless. And, although we've been used to trickle charge power ratings from Qi in the past, 'fast wireless charging' (15W and higher) is now almost ubiquitous in smartphone flagships. Meaning that many old pads really need replacing in order to get higher wireless charging speeds. Even my beloved 5-coil Choetech pad maxes out at 10W per device, while generic pads from before 2020 will likely top out at 5W or 7.5W. Enter the Moshi Sette Q, promising dual 15W charging, as well as premium materials and bonus USB-A 'daisy chain' power out.
I think this is the highest score I/we've ever given a product on the All About sites - simply because this is both mightily impressive and just about a perfect product. I honestly can't think many ways in which the Marshall Major IV Bluetooth headphones could be made better. It does everything it claims and then goes a few steps further, to delight and entertain. Since it arrived at the start of the week it has quickly become my favourite 'thing' (after my smartphones!)
Yes, yes, it's a confusing situation. I blame Apple, for taking away the 3.5mm headphone jack from their flagships (to boost sales of their new AirPods) and then I blame other companies for copying Apple. Happily, most phones under about £400 still come with jacks, but for anyone wanting an Android flagship for the last two years and who isn't all-in on Bluetooth, some way of getting wired audio out of a Type C jack is worth researching. Online, you can get 'adapters' from £1 to £100, which means that you might like some guidance from AAWP. Here, I test two candidates and am blown away by one in particular!
Following on from my feature on adding a Qi charging coil to a generic smartphone that doesn't have Qi built-in - and following on from my earlier Flow story of a 1000mA (1A) coil that utterly failed to work with the Alcatel IDOL 4 Pro - I've bought in the upgraded 2000mA (2A) coil, to see how that changes things. The bad news (AAM) is that compatibility with Android phones is patchy, but the good news (AAWP) is that it reverses its predecessors failings by working with the Alcatel IDOL 4 Pro and adding a whole new feature to this otherwise forgotten faux-flagship on Windows 10 Mobile...