Amazon's Echo success took me a little by surprise. It seemed like we went overnight from questioning the idea of a voice assistant in a speaker to almost everyone owning an Echo and companies rushing to add Alexa support for their services and products. Part of what seemed like a quick success is due to the Echo Dot, the smaller cheaper version that you can sprinkle around the house in places where you don't care about excellent sound quality.
The second generation Echo Dot builds on that. Unlike the first one, you can order it directly from Amazon without having to use another Echo. Read More
Google's Daydream is what I would call the most travel-friendly VR solution yet. Its simple but elegant pointer-style Bluetooth controller means you aren't reaching all over the place to work the VR interface, its comfortable fabric design is tolerable for long periods of wear, and sliding the phone into the viewer is a simple no buttons, no switches affair.
So, I decided to put these qualities to test on a five-hour flight from Los Angeles to New York last week. I had a variety of games (I didn't play any), interactive experiences (many require an active internet connection), and a few movies I'd downloaded from Play Movies to watch. Read More
Google's Daydream View serves as the gateway into Google's mobile VR platform, Daydream. The viewer itself, though, is what has received the lion's share of attention thus far, likely owing to our fascination with its genuinely charming design and unique wireless controller (well, unique-ish). It is, I wager, all but impossible not to love the fabric-wrapped, gentle curves and elegantly blended material aesthetic of the View headset. I hope Google wins some kind of award for it, because they deserve one - the Daydream View is Google industrial design at its most endearing. But enough about the way it looks: what's it do? Read More
Automatic is a company that makes small plastic dongles that plug into your vehicle's OBDII port to analyze your driving style and efficiency in the cloud through an app and web interface. We reviewed the original Automatic some time ago. Based on Bertel's experience, I found the original product a bit impractical for one reason: Bluetooth. I don't like Bluetooth. Bluetooth is unreliable, slow, buggy, and finicky in general. The idea of having to sync vehicle data from a dongle over a Bluetooth connection had zero appeal to me - I wanted something that was utterly seamless. And now, Automatic has done just that with the new Automatic Pro. Read More
My arsenal of smart health and activity trackers has been missing a body composition weight scale. The Fitbit Aria always looked appealing to me because I've been wearing a Fitbit for more than 3 years, but it's getting a little outdated. Several months ago, I was looking at the Polar Balance Scale, the Withings WS-50, the Garmin Index Smart Scale, and a few others. Eventually, I settled on the QardioBase because I already had a good experience with the QardioArm and liked the company's no-nonsense approach to design and health. However, I was unlucky enough to get the first generation, which turned out to be a complete failure from the get-go. Read More
Motorola launched the Moto Z on Verizon a few weeks back with three optional Mods—a battery, speaker, and pico-projector. Before that was all announced, there were rumors of a camera Mod with optical zoom. It wasn't available at launch, but now the Hasselblad True Zoom Mod is official, and it costs $300. I've been snapping photos with the Hasselblad Mod for a few days, and here are a whole bunch of them. Spoiler: they're kind of disappointing. Read More
A $60 smartphone (or rather, $50 - but hold on) is basically a headline unto itself. It is a novelty solely because of its cost. And that makes talking about it in a way that doesn’t always use “yeah, but it’s only $60” as a reflexive crutch difficult. (Which is not to say I won't do that, because I will. Probably even in this post. Several times.)
BLU’s Amazon-supported R1 HD is far from the cheapest smartphone ever. And it’s far from being a revolutionary product - the only thing interesting about it is, frankly, the business model. And in particular, Amazon’s proposition that it being a nag on your lockscreen and in your app drawer is worth $50 if you’re already a Prime member. Read More
When I published my review of the LG G5, my personal take on the device itself was positive and divergent from David's more criticizing review. However, there is one aspect both David and I agree on almost to the letter: the Friends. They are, in my opinion, fun to try, but you can tell they were rushed, with a poorly executed mechanism, and some highly doubtful usefulness factor. Well, all but the 360 Cam. That one is pure awesome bundled in magic and wrapped in 360 degrees of cool.
Here's how some of the modules work. The G5's bottom chin can be removed with a small button/latch on the side of the device. Read More
I've owned, used, and abused a lot of USB car chargers over the years. They all do more or less the same thing, and most look nearly identical to every other car charger on the market. When Nonda contacted me asking if I was interested in taking a look at their ZUS dual port car charger ($30), I almost deleted the message.
With a max output of 2.4A per outlet (ideal for Apple products), the charger sports decent charging speeds, but with no Qualcomm Quick Charge technology or Nexus Rapid Charge support, I didn't think it was worth my time to review. Read More