I have one beef with quality smartphone headsets like the Rock Jaw ALFA - they've ruined a lot of my music collection. I'll go into more detail below, but once you've heard all the defects in your compressed files, the defects that are masked by deficiencies in cheaper headsets, including those shipped with many Windows Phones, it's hard to 'un-hear' them. Which means more work, re-encoding the culprits! This is the new, redesigned ALFA from the UK company and it's top notch in every regard.
Recent Reviews - Accessories - Page 4
This review will have to remain relatively short for a very good reason - the unique selling point of the 'Choetech Portable Power Bank' here is that it's 'Quick Charge 2.0'-compliant. And we don't yet have any Windows Phones that work with this intelligent charging standard (though the rumoured Lumia 950 devices will come with it for sure). However, you may well have someone in your family with a suitable device, plus you can use this in traditional fashion to supply charge into any smartphones or tablets up to a whopping 2.4A.
Having played with 'solar charging' accessories for smartphones a decade ago, I'd kind of written them off for serious use, but it seems that the technology has improved markedly in the intervening years. The needs of a smartphone (or tablet) have risen too, though matched here by the size of the panels themselves in this hard-wearing polyester, tri-fold, waterproof design. Provided you're guaranteed some sun, this is a terrific greetings card-sized accessory (when folded) and worked brilliantly in my tests.
There are quite a few Qi charging pads on the market these days - it takes something different to get my attention. And, more the point, to tear my Lumias away from their beloved Nokia DT-900 pad, which has served me faithfully for well over a year now. But the Choetech pad here did just that, albeit with a quirk or two. It's a premium accessory at a modest price (£18) and comes recommended.
Bluetooth keyboards have gone into and out of fashion over the years, but they're definitely in vogue at the moment, thanks to the use of tablets and 'phablet'-style large-screened smartphones, where a wireless full size keyboard can turn the device into a mini-laptop. Microsoft's new offering is ultra-premium and rather quirky, not least because of the early state of Windows 10 Mobile, but has a few unique features and is worth a look if the price doesn't put you off.
The search has been on for several years for a replacement for the (now no longer produced) Proporta Pocket Power, an all in one, no cables needed, truly credit card sized emergency charger - and, right up at the premium end of the market we now have a candidate, offering full 2A output and able to deliver around 700mAh at 5V in about 20 minutes. While only around a one third charge for today's smartphones, that this fits unobtrusively in your wallet in a card slot makes this a terrific (if slightly pricey) accessory to get you to the end of a long day. Coming in deluxe packaging, with extras, it's also just about the perfect gift for a smartphone owner, as I explore below.
Yes, yes, I know I just reviewed the equivalent product for the Lumia 640, but a) this is in black, b) it's Friday, and c) there's a chance to have a dig at Microsoft over Qi charging again... This is the black official back cover replacement and it's for the larger device, the Lumia 640 XL, transforming my 'consumer' white 640 XL phablet into a mean black business machine...
I have to admit that I gulped a little at the price (£20) for this, the official Microsoft 'cover' for the Lumia 640, but I take it all back. When handing it round friends and family, physically melded with the phone, the general reaction was incredibly positive, turning a non-descript budget (in this case, black) Lumia into something of a blue leather object of desire. Really. It's that nice.
Even if you do the usual 3.7V/5V maths to calculate the actual power available at the voltage your smartphone needs it (i.e. the 5V level), you still end up with well over 15,000mAh of useable charge from this new 'Executive' power bank. Add in a unique backlit LED readout, triple output jacks and a torch function and you've got a really, really interesting mobile accessory.
Microsoft's own reviewer's guide for this, the Band, talks about it being 'the first device powered by Microsoft Health', and this is the key to understanding the accessory itself. Introduced initially in the USA at the end of last year, there was a feeling that it might never reach the rest of the world in that form, since the Band was quite clearly a 'version 1' and with many flaws. That it has made it to the UK in late April 2015 is handy because it means we get to play with it - and appreciate it, but don't be fooled that the Band is attempting to be a serious mass market product yet. Wait for 'Band 2', slimmer, lighter, tougher and cheaper.