In the personal assistance arms race, the two real options for Android users are Google's Assistant and Amazon's Alexa, and both companies have realized that victory will require ubiquity—not as the final result, but as the means. To that end, each has opened its platform up for third-party hardware, and Sony's (un)imaginatively named LF-S50G takes advantage of Google's Assistant in the same way the first party Google Home does, seasoned with a few unique features like gesture controls and a clock.
At around $200, though, I don't think Sony's speaker is worth the extra cash for most people over the $130 Google Home, unless you have particular requirements. Read More
Back at CES, Asus showed off a follow-up to the not-so-old Zenfone 4 Max, which was a phone that ultimately disappointed me. Attempting to capitalize on the love for big batteries, the Taiwanese company decided to spin off the Zenfone Max line into its own device family. These phones will offer large batteries and many of the latest smartphone trends for budget prices. Read More
Last year, mobile accessory company Anker released its first portable projector, the Nebula Mars. It was roughly the size of a lunch box, with powerful JBL speakers, great video quality, and Android built-in. The hardware was great, but the ancient version of Android (4.4.4, to be precise), lack of Play Store support, and high price made the product hard to recommend.
Not long after, Anker announced a smaller version, called the Nebula Capsule. It's roughly the size of a soda can, and works as both a projector and a Bluetooth speaker. It's almost certainly the best portable projector you can buy, but it commands a high price. Read More
Taking a step away from fitness-oriented audio, I have recently spent some time with Phiaton's BT 150 NC noise canceling earphones. This is aimed at traveling professionals who want to have great noise canceling without breaking the bank. Phiaton manages that with the $150 BT 150 NC, all while providing very good sound quality and comfort. Read More
I've never been a fan of buying expensive laptops, even once I could actually afford them. Just like with smartphones, there's a certain point where the added features can't justify the $1,000+ prices, unless you are doing heavy productivity or gaming. My first laptop was the ASUS Eee PC 1001PXD netbook, which I was pretty happy with at the time (now the 1024x600 screen sounds atrocious), but the casing eventually started to crack apart. I later switched to the original Dell Chromebook 13, but the limitations of the browser-only environment were too much to bear, so I bought a Surface Pro 2. Read More
When you travel, you get a good idea of the stuff it takes to keep your lifestyle going. It's one thing to be surrounded by all the things you need at home, but it's another to selectively pack them into a limited space with the expectation of maintaining the same standards. For me, the limiting factor has always been power: charging all my stuff means toting a pile of cables and bricks around. In fact, that's one of the biggest advantages of the growing ubiquity of USB-C and the PD spec.
So when I saw Satechi's 75W Travel Charger, with one USB-C PD and three USB-A ports, I knew I was interested, and it didn't disappoint. Read More
The thought of having a personal assistant right in your ears is an exciting prospect, which is why many of us were so hopeful for the Pixel Buds and even Bose's QC 35 II. Ahead of both of those, however, was the OnVocal OV, a pair of neckbuds that came equipped with Alexa. If you're tied into the Amazon ecosystem, then this would be quite appealing. Read More
When Samsung announced the Galaxy S9, “that’s it?” wasn’t exactly an uncommon reaction. The Galaxy S9 is, frankly, kind of boring. But when you’re the most successful manufacturer of premium Android phones in the world by a wide margin, you can afford to be a little boring every once in a while.
Samsung knows this. As such, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ don’t represent a sea change. Rather, they’re an affirmation of success. Everything that made the Galaxy S8 and S8+ great phones is still to be found here. Wireless charging, Samsung Pay, headphone jacks, brilliant displays, extremely refined industrial design, and IP68 waterproofing make these phones extremely feature-rich. Read More
The Android tablet market is a proverbial scarce wasteland these days. It has been quite some time since we saw something from Samsung or Asus, two of the last major stalwart players in this space (excluding Amazon, obviously). Tablets are not what they were in years past, though I personally still find having one useful for certain situations, despite Android leaving much to be desired in this aspect. Read More
Truly wireless earbuds are fast becoming a crowded space, and it's getting tougher to discern who the big players really are, and who's just the latest to try and cash in on the next trend in personal audio. Enter the Zolo Liberty+.
Zolo is the audio sub-brand of Anker, the company famous for its battery packs, chargers, and mobile accessories. The Liberty+ are its second true wireless earbud, following up on the original Liberty. The Liberty+ feature a charging case with a larger battery (up to 48 hours of additional playback), an uprated wireless radio with support for Bluetooth 5.0 (though Bluetooth 5.0 doesn't really do anything to improve the experience), and "graphene-coated" drivers, which I'm going to take Zolo at its word on being a desirable product feature. Read More