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?
Recent Reviews - Accessories
There's one small issue with most Qi wireless charging pads... We all love them, charging our Lumias, Galaxies, iPhones, whatever, but the vast majority of them are horizontal, meaning that there's limited visibility of stuff arriving on the phone screen and limited interaction possible with the device. Pads are usually horizontal because then the user can align the phone's Qi coils with the pad precisely, whatever the model. Happily the new Choetech T555 is vertical and yet has multiple Qi coils so that most/all phones would still work with it, at up to 15W.
It's a fair cop, this new accessory from Xiaomi doesn't connect (anymore) with Windows Phone or Windows 10 Mobile. But it's a good data point as to where the wearables market is going and will be of special interest to any fans of the old Microsoft Band, since this is very similar in many ways - except that it runs for a month on a charge and only costs £30! It's something of a technological miracle, saved from perfection only by holes in the Xiaomi integration into Android's notifications system - and in my phone's battery each day.
I make no apologies for another Bluetooth speaker review - the last was back in February, looking at the original Tronsmart Element Force - super sound and super ruggedised. This is a sister product with much the same audio capabilities - but there are a couple of new and significant USPs. Not least that this also functions as a power bank, so two accessories in one! UPDATED: with promo code/saving.
Quite a few power banks get pitched at me here at AAWP, but I do like to cherry pick the best for highlighting here, in illustrated review form. In this case a whopping 20,000mAh in a form factor no larger in plan than a small phone, though obviously a lot thicker. The real USP here (well, rare, if not actually unique) is a digital readout of remaining capacity, so no more guessing based on the illumination of a handful of 25% LEDs... [Update: promo code below now too!]
With just about the hottest summer sun in the UK since records began over the last few days, what better time to review this, the Choetech 19W Solar Charger, offering twin USB output at (up to) 2.4A per port? Free charging from the sun for all your USB-charging gadgets, especially your smartphone(s), with an IDOL 4 Pro and Galaxy S9+ shown below, to prove it works with both Windows and Android(!) Summary? You don't quite get what you expect, but what you do get is superbly designed and the energy is as advertised - completely free!
It's not often that one can say that an accessory has changed the way you use technology, but this Choetech gadget is one such. Prior to this, I'd been pretty happy with the heavy duty sprung dash clip reviewed here. But, while very secure in my Renault, you had to keep faffing about finding the charging lead and inserting in manually, usually at full arm's stretch. This Choetech mount uses Qi charging and that means that it's a simple 'drop in and go' operation. And it's just as well made, with industrial design. Plus we've got over a third off with a special offer (before June 23)! [Update: new code]
Bluetooth speakers have come on a way in the last couple of years, with some serious speaker cones being fitted to modest enclosures and for modest (sub £50) prices too. A couple of months I reviewed the state of the art, the Tronsmart Element Force, but audio specialists Tribit now have the MaxSound Plus, matching the Element Force in price, dimensions, ambitions, and (almost) sound output, but with a caveat over legacy charging.
It's all very well me going on about great headphones to use with your 3.5mm-jack-equipped smartphones, it's also great to chat about using a Type C super-DAC for even louder and clearer music. But what if you want to go wireless*? Regular readers will know that I've been experimenting a lot with Bluetooth options and - I think - we have a winner. Conjoined? Check. Long battery life? Check. Type C recharging? Check. Sweat and shower proof? Check. Sound great? Check. The ROCKJAW T5 'Ultra Connect' isn't perfect, but it's an awful lot of wireless headphone capability for £70.
Now here's an interesting accessory that, at first glance, isn't needed at all. At least by most smartphones owned by AAWP readers. Audio comes out of your phone via a 3.5mm jack, right? Powered by an internal DAC and amplifier, and all should be well - it certainly is with the IDOL 4 Pro, with a pro-rated DAC. But what if, for example, you have a Lumia with average output and you want to take your music to the next level? Or, perhaps more topically, what if you want to move to a new Android-powered smartphone that doesn't have (boo!) a 3.5mm jack at all? Enter this well thought of and intriguingly customisable USB Type C accessory, which takes digital output from your phone and provides a high resolution audio power amplifier.