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!
Recent Reviews - Hardware
We get sent quite a wide variety of accessories for review! In this case, an all-purpose accessory for your Surface Pro or similar laptop or hybrid - it's a leather and canvas backpack with dedicated pouch for the important hardware, plus enough space in the main body for all your adapters, cables, chargers, Bluetooth speakers, err... sandwiches, Thermos flask, whatever you need with you at all times on your travels. So yes, a little generic as a review item, but site owner Rafe is a backpack fan too, plus this is a rather nicely done mobile accessory and worth writing up.
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.
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. [UPDATE: Now compatible with Lumias via a workaround]
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.
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 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!
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?