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


Monday, July 1, 2019

Anker PowerLine II 3-in-1 Cable Lightning/Type C/Micro USB Cable

Anker came-up with the One for All Cable - greatly helps reducing clutter and need for 3 separate cables. The product (White or Black cable) comes packed in a small box with Signature Anker packaging in blue color with happy (Warranty card), have the White cable for review here.




Have been using the Anker 3-in-1 White Cable for for almost a year, and it is still going strong, with the connector heads changed from / to Lightening to USB-C. Main cable lead is a Micro USB head, with the other Lightening and USB-C connectors attached with durable connectors. 

 


I use the cable to charge iPhone and Samsung S8/S9, as well as Bluetooth Headsets (used Anker Soundbuds Rise Wireless headset here) interchanging multiple times during the day, and not see cable or cable connectors showing any fatigue after many bends and pulls. Cable itself is 3 ft in length and good for carrying in laptop carry-case / back packs for commutes, and also on office desks charging devices, usually iPhone, wireless headsets and battery power packs, and a great companion with PowerCore 5000 portable power bank.




For connecting the lightning or USB-C heads, it important to make sure the "Anker" Logo faces you, with connector attachment coming from the right hand side, this is designed and aligned in a way to ease the connections. Note that only 1 device can be charged at any time, based on the connector head attached (iOS / USB-C devices) or using the Micro USB head. 





Cable with Lightening connector can be used to charge the iOS device as well as Data transfer, i use it with iTunes to transfer data / media. Same with Samsung S8/S9, charges the device as well as assists in data transfer. There is a Velcro Anker cable strap, ties the cable together. 

                                       


Have used other PowerLine series cables from Anker, and this is an addition to the list with an exceptional quality, reducing the cable clutter!

Anker Powerline II 3-in-1 Cable, Lightning/Type C/Micro USB Cable is available on Amazon in Black and White colors.


Thursday, June 27, 2019

Anker #OneCharger #UseAnkerInstead Contest (Chance to Win All New USB-C Gear)


Lot of microusb, usb, miniusb cables and more, power adapter, chargers, ... just too much! Time to let go and go sleek with Anker Solutions for charging!!



Go here for a chance to win from Anker!

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Review: Anker PowerPort+ Atom III (2 ports)

This is my review for Anker PowerPort+ Atom III (2 Ports), will go over packaging, un-boxing, Wall charger looks / appearance, usage and testing in next few lines.


Package / Unboxing:

Package came in a Signature Blue Anker Box with Power Port+ Atom III (Two Ports) charger, welcome guide, Happy Card (warranty card).









PowerPort+ Atom III Wall Charger :

Its a Small form factor wall charger with USB-A Port and USB-C, which combined provide 60W. Anker has mentioned to use the GaN technology which reduces the size from similar Anker earlier. The charger has fold-able Plug and I really like this feature along with the small size, making it travel friendly. Plugs are firm and do not easily collapse. There is a faint blue light indicator, which comes up if the charger is in use.




The USB-A port provides PowerIQ 2.0, Anker's fast charging providing upto 18W -- Used this to charge my iPhone 8 and Samsung S8. The USB-C Port provides PowerIQ 3.0 - universal full-speed with support for Qualcomm Quick Charge and USB-C Power Delivery with a maximum output of 45W -- used this to charge my Lenovo Laptop T470S at home / T480 at work(used it with an Apple USB-C cable). Will not talk much on this topic and GaN technology, you may read more on this link on Anker


Usage:

Have been using this charger extensively during my recently concluded trip to San Diego for a networking conference, right from the airport to the Hotel Room to conference breakout Sessions, used PowerPort Atom III to charge my laptop as well as iPhone at the same time. Also, used this charger to connect to the PowerWave+ Pad with Apple Watch Holder at hotel to charge iPhone and Apple watch.



Testing:

During the testing, found the Laptop pulled only 18.96W from USB-C with / without the USB-A port being used and maximum 9.11W from USB-A port for charging iPhone as well as S8.











I will plan to get the Anker PowerLine Series USB-C & USB-C Cable with Lightning Connector to see if it makes any difference to the charging and power output and update this post at a later time.

One observation for single port used at a time (USB-C / USB-A), the charger was not getting warm, but using both ports for charging at the same time, got the charger a bit warm, and this is expected, and YMMV based on usage.


Charging Times:

For the testing / checking on charging time, drained my laptop T470s and iPhone 8 completely to have them die down completely and started charging using the PowerPort+ Atom III.

Laptop took around 2hr 45min to full charge, charging at 18.96W (though I feel this should be 18W maximum), iPhone 8 took 1hr 45min to 100% charge, with battery iPhone Battery charged to 15% in 5min, 35% in 30min :)



Laptop Charging






iPhone Charging Time




Devices used for Testing:
Lenovo T470s / T480
iPhone 8
Samsung S8
Apple USB-C Cable
Anker 3-in-1 PowerLine II Cable with Lightening / USB-C Cable.


Final Lines:

PowerPort+ Atom III (2 ports) has been a great addition to my list of chargers, providing maximum flexibility and helped reduce the weight in my laptop backpack, effectively replacing my regular laptop charger and mobile charger / watch charger to a single charger. Overall, this is a good portal charger and ideal for on-the-go travel users.

If you are interested in PowerPort+ Atom III, below are the product link

Anker Link

Amazon Link




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...