Thursday, February 15, 2024

An 8-port GaN II charger

There's a lot to like about this charging base. Like most other newer (and more expensive)  chargers, it uses gallium nitride rather than silicon. That means it can deliver a more powerful charge to multiple devices and do the job much faster.

The charger has eight ports, four with the standard USB-A connections and four for USB-C. It can refuel more devices simultaneously than any other charging stations that I've encountered.

The charger has one port rated at 65 watts, a typical rating for charging devices designed for computers. Power ratings for the other ports range from 15 to 30 watts. Using the high-powered USB-C port, I recharged my MacBook Air from doornail dead to 100 percent in 100 minutes while also charging my iPhone 15.

And I really like being able to charge all my devices - Airpods, iPads, Bluetooth speakers and other gadgets - all from the same power source and without paying a premium price. 

And hey, the green color is pretty nice as well. Check it out on Amazon.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Cable offers 3-in-1 convenience

I've tried a couple of these multi-headed charging cables in the past and none of them performed very well. The typical issue is they don't have enough capacity to charge three devices at once. 

The Cugunu charging cable seems to be capable of doing the job. It three connectors with tips for USB-C and Lightning plus a disc to charge the Apple Watch. That's what I needed for my iPhone 15, my iPad and watch. All three lit up and promptly began refueling.

The business end of the cable offers a nice touch of convenience. The full-sized USB-A slides up to reveal a USB-C plug so it can be used with either an A or C outlet.

The center part of the cable is coiled like those old-time wall phone cables and I'm not sure why that was done. In its coiled state, the cable is too short to connect to an AC outlet that's more than two feet away - like one at floor level, the most common location. Stretch the cable out to three feet and it will try to collapse like a spring, pulling your gadgets along with it. 

Whatever the idea was behind the coil, this cable does what I wanted it to do: eliminate the need to pack several cables and charging blocks in my travel bag. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Snap-on adapter brings Bluetooth to Bose QC3

Bose set the standard for noise-reducing headphones in 1989 when it developed created a noise-cancelling headset for pilots. By 2006, Bose was selling a $349 consumer version that was widely regarded as the best noise-killing headphone available. 

That was the year that I got the Bose QuietComfort 3 and I've given those phones plenty of use ever since. They travel with me every time I fly and I often use them when I mow my lawn. They get so much use that the leather-like surface of the ear pads has completely worn away.

I own Apple's AirPods Pro, which also promises to filter out ambient noise, but the 18-year-old Bose still does a better job. I would use them more often except for that pesky cable that's required to connect to mobile phone or other audio source. 

This Bluetooth adapter from Yocowoco is bringing new life to my old favorite. The adapter plugs into the cable port on the left ear pad and makes a tight grip onto the frame around the pad's indented listening port. 

The device has a trio of buttons to turn the gadget on or off, play or pause incoming audio and raise or lower sound volume. The buttons are super small and not easy to use, but they're available if you need them. It also has a built-in battery can be recharged with a USB-C cable without removing the adapter from the ear pad. 

I had no trouble pairing the device with my iPhone and I thought the quality of the sound it delivered was very good, comparable to what I got using the Bose cable. And even if I  have to give up a little fidelity to have Bose-quality sound and noise cancellation, that's okay with me.

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Mini power bank has a spot for Apple Watch

Over the years I've collected several charging cables and devices that were designed for travel convenience. Most of them served me well enough, but that was before I acquired an iPhone 15 with its new USB-C charging port.    

The RORRY Mini Portable Charger looked like a good option to replace my chargers and their Lightning connection. In addition to its pop-out USB-C plug, this charger has two features that caught my attention. 

First, it doubles as power bank. It has a 5000mAh 15-watt battery pack that can refuel my phone without having to connect to an AC outlet. That feature was quite handy when I stayed for a couple of nights in a room where outlets were either already taken or well hidden.

Second, it will recharge my Apple Watch at the same time it charges my phone. The charger is advertised to deliver one full charge to an iPhone 8 times to a watch. My phone wasn't fully drained, so I got two overnight charges for both phone and watch.

That was enough for the RORRY charger to earn a permanent spot in my travel backpack.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Good watchbands, great price

If imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery, then the people who made these bands are clearly making goo-goo eyes at Apple. 

The bands in this five-pack look almost exactly like two of Apple newest styles. Three of them feature a G-hook and nylon loops, just like Apple's Alpine bands. 

Two others have what Apple calls a Trail Loop. It has a fabric pull-tab that lets you adjust the elastic band to grip exactly where you want it to be.

The differences are in the details. The stitching on the knock-off bands isn't as smooth and clean as the Apple bands. And, to my eye, the Apple bands have more attractive colors. 

But here's the biggest difference: Apple wants $99 for each of its bands while this five-pack of Aupcdbe watchbands sells for less than $20. I'm a pretty frugal guy, so the price makes it a no-brainer for me.

And I'm pretty happy with what I got. I'm wearing one of the pull-tab versions and it's been very comfortable. I found the loops on the Alpine bands to be a little stiff and I had to fumble a bit to get the hook into the loop. The Trail band was just less bother and a more solid fit.     

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Dual wireless mics offer easy setup and crisp audio

I've made dozens of video interviews using my iPhone and I'm always looking for ways to improve their sound quality. My work took a big step up after I started using a lavalier microphone.

I've used four set-ups over the past few years and this Zahyeo wireless kit has been by far the best. My first wireless kit required a transmitter dongle that I had to be hidden under my subject's clothing. This one has the transmitter built into the clip-on mic - no wires needed. The earlier kit also had only had one mic while this one has two. Now I can interview two people or capture my questions with the same clarity as the subject's answers. 

While both microphone-transmitters have to be charged, I can now do that with a single cable while the mics are resting in their storage case. The mics were super easy to pair with my iPhone, with minimal signal lights and button presses, and the resulting audio quality was superior to anything I had captured with previous mics.

My only complaint involves the receiver. It has a USB-C plug to connect to the recording device. That's great if you're using an Android phone but a real annoyance if you have an iPhone. Zahyeo thoughtfully provided a tiny USB-C-to-Lightning adapter which worked perfectly for my recordings. But the company would have been even more thoughtful if it had made room in the charging case to stash the adapter. 

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Travel charger refuels everything

I’ve been caught too many time being away from home with a charger that would power up my iPhone but balked at refueling my Macbook or iPad. The GONEO charger is going to be the solution to that problem. 

First, it has enough power ports to charge all of my travel devices: computer, phone, tablet, Airpods and Bluetooth speaker. The charger has three USB-C ports plus two for USB-A cables. 

Using a single USB-C outlet, the charger delivers up to 87 watts of power, which great for larger devices like a computer. That drops to 45 watts when you're using multiple outlets - sufficient for power a laptop, just not as fast.

The second thing I like about this charger is its five-foot AC cord. That's long enough to find the ever-elusive wall outlet in hotel rooms or guest bedrooms. And it's more convenient and dependable than some of the multi-chargers I've used that have pop-out prongs. They ofter won't stay in the outlet and one was rendered useless because the prong broke.

Traveling with one GONEO charger is far better that hauling a bag full of cables and power blocks.     

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

A pro-level rig for phone videography

A few years ago, I ordered an inexpensive cage-style phone video rig after my iPhone slipped out of my hand several times during a video shoot. The rectangular holder provided side grips that put an end to the dropsies and I expanded it using velcro strips and twisty wires to add a charging block, a light box and a microphone. 

It was an ugly kludge, but it worked.

I would have much preferred this this ULANZI Universal Phone Video Rig Kit if it had been available back then. It's made of aluminum with threaded holes for standard attachments like lights and mics plus a second set of jaws to hold a USB charger. No velcro or rubber bands required. 

And just about everything on this rig is adjustable. There are 12 threaded holes and four cold shoe slots on all four sides of the center cage, giving you a variety of location options to mount  multiple gadgets above below the cage with more holes and shoes on the handles. You can build your own custom rig with the phone mounted for horizontal or vertical shooting. 

While the handles let you chase the action, a fully-loaded rig will weigh almost 3 lbs. That's enough to wear out both arms and put one-handed use out of reach for most people. I think it's a better fit for use with a tripod where it could hold larger light bars and a heavier mic.  

My other concern is the clip for the charging block. I have several chargers and only one will work with this rig. The others are too small or too wide. But that's a minor gripe and one that won't stop me from consistently using what is clearly a professional-level cage.

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