Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Anker PowerLine III - PowerLine III USB-A to Lightning Connector

Hello Everyone, today I am going to talk about latest released PowerLine III series of cables from Anker, specifically PowerLine III USB-A to Lightning Connector 3ft White Cable which I received from Anker for the "We Love Testing" event.

Let me get started with the package, PowerLine III cable came in signature Anker Blue Box, with the PowerLine III cable along with Anker Velcro tie, happy card and regulation slip.



















Have been using this cable for last 7 days, and tested with multiple bends towards the USB-A connector as well as Lightening connector, so far looks good.





















Used it at my office work desk, Home work area as well as my car.




Cable itself look of good quality, construction. The cable is very flexible which tends to protect the cable in the long run. While using in the car, the cable gets twisted multiple times, on various areas, so continued use in the car would really be a good test for the cable. PowerLine III cable mentions of 25000 bends in its life span, so will write a follow-up in next 4-5 months time how this cable holds up.

From Cable thickness perspective, it is slightly thicker than the original cable which comes with iPhones, almost the same thickness as the Anker's 3-in-1 Cable.

The lightening connector itself looks pretty sturdy and shiny, quotes as built with latest Lightening connector and being a MFi Certified, it promises to be faster, safer cable.




The cable outer covering has a firm smooth finish, and for testing the easy clean mentioned by Anker, applied washable school glue along with color and let it dry to sort of simulate the removal of dirt and grime. Though this may be bit extreme way of testing, wanted to give it a try and was easy to wipe it off  (watch the video)



From Charging perspective, used the app on iPhone to check the current and voltage passed, it consistently showed 3.6V at 1473mA/h ~ 1468mA/h connected to PowerPort Atom 4 PD.




After using it for a week, and all the twists and bends, seeing some cable bumps (check the pictures with red circle), charging & file transfer works well, there is no cable heating or any issue with it, just the bump. Not sure if others have observed this. Apart from this, the cable looks great,





Testing the file transfer speed, copied 300Mb video file from iPhone 8 to PC in exactly 10 seconds, Copying same file from Windows PC to iPhone8 took me about 14 seconds using iTunes. So the transfer speeds look OK to me.

Some feedback to Anker Product / marketing team -- Google+ has long been decommissioned for regular users and mentioned to Anker Team



Final Thoughts..

Anker PowerLine III - USB-A to Lightening Cable promises to solve the regular cables issues such as low-quality construction, discoloration, rust & corrosion, very thick & inflexible cables. From my usage so far, it fairs pretty well, and definitely a cable anyone should plan to get if replacing the OEM cable. Will have a follow-up review in sometime, so keep watching this space.



PowerLine III Cables are available for purchase (plus 20% discount codes below)








Thursday, September 5, 2019

Soundcore Icon Mini (Orange)


Review for Soundcore Icon Mini (Orange). 
This is my review for Soundcore Icon Mini, from the Icon Series, Soundcore Icon Mini initially came in 2 colors - Black and Orange, now these are also available on Blue and Red.

The package was in a plastic stiff case with Icon Mini, quick start guide, Micro USB cable, safety guide, Happy card with Soundcore support. 

Icon Mini has a size of a fist or more like a flat fish or a medium sized pebble with soft rubberized feel main body and  metallic front. 



The buttons are at the top-side edge, have a nice feel.(OnOff, Vol +-, Soundcore Icon button). 



Paired this with my iPhone, it with initial battery charge of 60%, charged it to 100% before my testing and use ( I usually charge new products before I put them to use - pro tip). 

Soundcore mentions mini has a battery life for 8hrs of music playback, I used it for a week with about an hour worth everyday, had to recharge it on 8th day. Full recharge took about 2:45 hours. One good power saving feature is Mini will auto turn off in 30 minutes when there is no audio input to it.


The power port is at one corner with a stiff cap for water protection, comes with IP67 rating, can be fully submerged into water. There is a physical audio input in the form of a 3.5mm AUX jack.



The music sounds good with lot of punch and bass, due to improved drivers implemented by Soundcore. For testing, had a heavy bass song playing and submerged in to a small fish bowl :) could see the thumping. 


Icon Mini also has built-in microphone which doubles as Hands-free speakerphone. Tested 2-3 voice calls via Bluetooth to iPhone, call quality was excellent, use it from time to time for calls.


Some scope for improvement in terms of reduce plastic usage, change the power charging to USB-C, Soundcore App support and let this Icon Mini stereo pair with other Soundcore Products such as Flare, Flare Mini, Zero, headsets ...



Overall this a nice portable, mini speaker with lot of punch and bass, with Aux 3.5mm input which helps to couple with older devices which support audio jack output. Lot of power packed into the mini fist sized device.


Finally, below is the Picture of Soundcore Icon Mini for which I won the Photography award on Anker Community - check it here






Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Soundcore Flare Mini Review

Soundcore Flare Mini Review 

This is the review for Anker Soundcore Flare Mini.

Soundcore Flare Mini is the smallest member in the Flare Family (Flare, Flare+, FlareS+, Flare Mini), each with its unique niche set of features.

Let me get started with the unboxing / packaging, as I usually start with it.

Unboxing / Packaging:

I have included detailed unboxing video for more information.
Flare Mini came packaged in a box with a thin plastic bag. Box had the Soundcore Flare Mini Speaker, Micro USB to USB-A charging cable, User Manual, Product Safety Guide and Happy Card (Warranty Card).


Considering this is my first Flare (mini) speaker, this was an average sized speaker, however this may change when i get other Flare speakers. Simple good packaging, though some plastic could be eliminated and retain only the cardboard box. User Manual is pretty simple and easy to understand.

Look and Feel:

Flare Mini is a cylindrical shaped speaker for 360 degrees sound with broader base for lightshow with halo of LED. Exterior on the sides has Dark Grey Fabric-Mesh finish - great grip for holding in one hand, with top and bottom faces with smooth touch rubber cover with the buttons engraved / infused on the top, and bottom has the Soundcore Logo etched on it. Charging port is covered with a firm rubber cover, protecting it from water/spills with its IPX7 waterproof protection.







Control Buttons are Power, Light Mode Control, Bluetooth, Volume Up, Volume Down and Soundcore Icon which acts as Multi-Function button to play/pause/next song/previous song/answer call/end call and other functions. I have used these only for next song, play/pause and answer/end call as these are the heavy/extensively used features and easy to remember without having to ruin the overall experience.

Initial setup / Charging

Flare Mini came charged to about 80% as seen from my iPhone. Charged it to 100% before using it.

Bluetooth Pairing :

After Charging fully, powered ON the speaker, the pairing required pressing the Bluetooth Button, would have liked it to show-up instantly for Pairing since this is the first time I or any user would be pairing it. Once this was done, pairing completed, pretty smooth and straight.
Also tested pairing Soundcore Flare Mini with Asus Chromebit (Chrome OS) and my Windows 10 laptop, was fairly easy.

Battery Life :

Tested the battery by playing continuous music with lightshow ON, with audio at 65-70%, Flare mini indicated low battery after 8 hours and completely powered off after 8hours 10min. When the battery is low, the Power Button glows Red and starts blinking.
Recharged the Flare Mini back to 100%, took 3hours 40min, charged using Anker PowerPort+ Atom III (2 ports).

Using Flare Mini at the Pool - testing in water:

Used Flare Mini at the Pool, completely immersing it in the pool lot of times. Threw it into the pool for my daughter to catch, it survived multiple throws.
The fabric cover absorbs little water, or rather put it as less water absorbent. After these drops, throws & immersion into the pool, removed it out and played back the music, the sound was bit muffled as it was immersed, but with the music playing, audio got better, could see the water come out of the fabric cover, and audio output was back to normal without any wiping in about 20 minutes at the pool, though it still looked wet. Being hot summer day, the flare mini completely dried in about an hour in shade.


Answering / Making Phone Calls:

Using it with iPhone for phone calls was pretty good, considering Flare Mini more of a party animal. Voice quality was great, reception and mic pickup of my voice was good. While being paired to iPhone, to answer an incoming call, had to single press the Soundcore Icon, and press it again to hang-up / end the call. While Placing outbound call from iPhone, the LED lights glow-up for each number press on the phone, this was kind of cool!

Playing Music:

Music played great, tested with some Instrumentals, Music with Bass to test the BassUp along with equalizer with Boom app. With regular audio, the sound quality was extremely good, could feel the thump / punch coming out of this Mini. However with increased bass, sound had cracking sound, I hit the limits of bass-up mode. Shown in the video.
While using the equalizer, on higher bass / mid range / treble saw there was a bit of tearing up, sound blow-up or cracking sounds.
However with pre-tuned equalizer setting such as vocals or loudness, the sound is extremely well.
Music Punch is evident in this video , you can actually see the sound pumping which makes the Flare Mini pop and dance, Flare Mini dancing to its tunes :wink: Tested Flare Mini’s beat-driven light modes M-Sync, Fusion, Breathe, Pulse and Glow in this video.

Bluetooth 4.2 Connectivity:

I used Flare Mini with my iPhone, and moved around the house with iPhone in my living room, did not see any drop in connection across the apartment, moving between bedrooms from one end to other. Tested the same with S9 as well, with same brilliant results - Solid BT connection.

Inactivity Auto Shutoff -

When Flare Mini is connected via Bluetooth to phone and there is no activity, it shutdown down after 30 minutes, however if the Flare Mini detects no BT device connected / phone connected, shuts off in 10 min. Would have loved if the inactivity timer would have been 10 minutes whether or not device was connected, would save the battery life.

Pairing to other Soundcore devices:

Flare Mini can only be paired with Flare Family such Flare, but cannot be paired with Soundcore Icon Mini, tested this by trying to pair my Soundcore Icon Mini.
Based on my overall usage and experience of Soundcore Flare Mini, here are some positives and areas of improvement:
Positives:
  1. Waterproof IPX7, great companion in the pool parties and water splashes!
  2. Great light works or as Soundcore says it Audio Fireworks, lights up a dark room to the beat!
  3. Compact, portable and easy to hold in one hand
  4. Strong Bluetooth connection across the home. YMMV, I live in a single floor place.
Area for improvement, shortcomings:
  1. No feature to operate with Soundcore app.
  2. The buttons need to be colored for easy access or have more protruding feature. Initially takes some time to learn the buttons, but as you get used to it, the usage is intuitive over time.
  3. No Aux port, would have been good to use it, save some battery life on both phone as well as speaker with BT disabled or even plug laptop output, but this is not a deal breaker since most smartphones do not have 3.5mm audio jacks.
  4. Audio quality suffers on High Bass / Treble or on High Audio volume.
  5. Can be paired only with same family, example Flare Mini with Flare. Cannot pair with any other Speaker such as Soundcore Icon Mini
  6. Plastic usage can be reduced / completely be eliminated, retaining only cardboard packaging. After opening the package, only speaker and charging cable is retained, rest everything is trashed.

Conclusion

Soundcore Flare Mini is a great portal device to have by side for casual music with Waterproof features and Audio Lightshows with 360 degree sound, packs a punch in the small size and battery life for a day. The saying “Great Things Come In Small Packages” holds good and true in case of Flare Mini. My kids just love it and we always carry it to the pool.
Finally… my Soundcore Icon Mini has a friend, and it is Soundcore Flare Mini :+1: !!!


Thursday, July 18, 2019

Anker Alkaline 24-Count AA Batteries

Anker Alkaline 24-Count AA Batteries

Though I was not planning on getting these Anker Alkaline batteries, since I anyway needed to buy some for home, and after reading some of highlights in the community - decided to buy these. Bought Anker AA 24-Pack batteries from Amazon during a deal for $8.47 with 47% off coupon, with regular price being $15.99.
This is simple review, more of layman terms, understandable by anyone looking for AA / Double AA batteries for devices such as Remotes, Clocks, Toys.

Packaging

The batteries came in signature Anker Packaging in White-Blue composure with 24 Anker Batteries paired in small packs of 2 each, Happy Card with Anker support details (been included since almost the first Anker products.


The best part from observation of un-boxing is the packs of 2 batteries, so that we open the packs only when needed, rather than opening the entire stack / seal of batteries… makes it easier to store stack the batteries in the Anker box in which it came or battery stash at home.

Price

Anker Alkaline AA 24-count batteries are priced at $15.99 on Amazon (with 47% discount available as of writing this review). I bought these for the discounted price at $8.50, with the discount, this is good deal.
In market, however there are other brands sold at wholesale such as Duracell AA Alkaline 40-count batteries at $16.99, Kirkland AA Alkaline 72-count batteries at $19.99. However considering the features implemented in Anker Batteries, it is worth investing in Anker Brand. Now that I got the 24-count pack, will not be going for more batteries for at least next 9 to 12 months.

Features

The main killer feature highlighted on Anker AA / AAA batteries is the 10-year shelf life, meaning Anker Alkaline batteries can sit on the shelf for up to 10 years without losing their power. In the past, I have bought these disposable battery packs and since these were not used for more than a year of so, have seen some leak, die out soon.
Only way to test the 10 year shelf life, is to keep these batteries (will make sure to keep at least 1) for 10 years, I will write a follow-up review in 10 years from now :wink:
The other 2 features I was interested are Adaptive Power & PowerLock
Anker has built Adaptive Power, into these Alkaline batteries delivering only the power that the device requires, received positive / satisfactory response from Anker on my query how these worked, which prompted me to go for these batteries (you can read here),
PowerLock is the other feature which prevents any leaks and secures power inside the battery case.
Other listed features can be found here

Testing

For now have used the batteries for my home clocks (3 clocks with 1 battery each), Roku 2XS Bluetooth remote (2 count), since these are considered as low-drain devices, these should drain little power and should last longer.
Have also put 2 of these into Logitech Harmony Remote (replaced the rechargeable batteries with Anker AA batteries) since this remote is heavily used. I usually recharge the Logitech remote once in 15 days, so should be able to find out how long Anker AA batteries last.
Will post updates in this space.

Expectation, Final Lines

Coming from Anker brand known for great powerbanks and leader in charging technology (wired / wireless), I had expected Rechargeable batteries, however there are small steps to be taken before bigger ones, hopefully Anker comes up with rechargeable AA / AAA batteries with options of recharging via Micro-USB, USB-C,… (or Wireless charging… Anker can always surprise us :slight_smile: )
I strongly suggest buying these Anker AA batteries from Amazon for the discount deals going on for AA (47% discount coupon) / AAA (50% discount coupon) batteries

Purchase


Anker PowerLine III - PowerLine III USB-A to Lightning Connector

Hello Everyone, today I am going to talk about latest released PowerLine III series of cables from Anker, specifically  PowerLine III USB-A...