Hands On: Belkin FastFit Slim iPad Keyboard

Belkin FastFit Slim iPad KeyboardSince the day the iPad came out, I have always been a big fan. However I have never really been able to get on with the on-screen keyboard. I think typing on the screen feels somewhat ‘numb’, and typing large volumes of text is almost out of the question. Which is why I am a big fan (and owner of many) bluetooth iPad keyboards.

In a previous review I wrote about the Kensington KeyFolio, which had taken pride of place in my laptop back… That was until the Belkin one came on offer on Groupon.

I had nothing against the Kensington one, asides from the fact the case was a little bulky and it added a bit of weight to the iPad. The Belkin one on the other hand couldn’t really be much smaller or lighter.

The keyboard features a whole raft of function keys, which gives quick and easy access to some of iOS’s harder to find controls.

It also features a magnetic strip, which keeps they keyboard neatly attached to the iPad and wakes the iPad when the screen is lifted. So the keyboard also acts as a screen protector of sorts.

The next feature may divide the masses, as the keys on the keyboard provide that reassuring ‘click’ as they are pressed. Most other bluetooth keyboards seem to stick to a rubberized key, meaning less noise.. After spending several hours using both, I think I actually prefer the click of a plastic key!

The good:

  • The click of a plastic key
  • The multiple screen positions
  • The quick access function keys
  • The magnetic strip
  • Supports AutoWake

The bad:

  •  The click of a plastic key (if that bothers you)

The bottom line:

This keyboard is perfect if you are an infrequent iPad traveller, who just needs something to ease the pain of on-screen typing. If you are a more frequent traveller, you may want to consider something slightly more robust, perhaps the Kensington Keyfolio

Rating:

Rating: 4

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Hands on: AfterShokz Sportz 2

Bone Conduction Sport Headphones
AfterShokz Sportz 2 – Bone Conduction Sport Headphones

AfterShokz Sportz 2 Review

AfterShokz Sportz 2 are a pretty impressive set of bone conducting sport headphones, which differ from normal in ear headphones as they actually sit in front of the ear, and deliver sound via your cheek bones.

These headphones have been designed with the open air sports fanatic in mind, leaving the ear canal unobstructed the user is not at risk of not hearing on coming traffic etc. The build quality is good, and the headphones claim to be sweat resistant which is important when using during exercise.

However, I do feel the sound quality suffers from not being a complete in ear solution. They are certainly not a patch on my Sennheiser PMX 685i Sports In-Ear Neckband Headphones.  As one of my colleagues Philip Gardham pointed out they do sound a little like holding a normal in-ear earbud to your cheek and turning the volume up. On more base intense tracks the headset actually vibrates on your cheek bone, this headset is actually better with a medium volume track. They do also seem to suffer from quite a bit of sound leak too, which is another reason not to have them too loud.

The headphones use a lithium ion battery to power their bone conduction technology, and boast a massive 12 hours of constant use between charges. Headset charging is via the included micro USB cable, and takes approximately 2 hours before fully charged.

The headphones also have an ‘inline’ volume/play/pause/power functionality, which you can see below, the black box with the orange power button.

AfterShokz Sportz 2

The box also contains a ‘tough’ storage case for keeping your headset and charge cable neat and tidy. However, the case is quite bulky in size – so would take up a considerable amount of space in your gym bag.

So to recap:

The good:

I am a big fan of up and coming technology, and think bone conduction is quite frankly amazing, although the sound quality wouldn’t satisfy the most savvy audiophile, I’m sure day to day users would be more then happy. They are also reasonably priced at £59.95.

The bad:

I am not a big fan of standing out from the crowd, and think that the look of these on your head will turn heads in the wrong way.. They look a little like either I’ve missed my ears trying to put on normal headphones, or I should be wearing a star trek outfit.

The sound quality leaves a lot to be desired, and they are not as comfy as you might think.

The bottom line:

Although I certainly wouldn’t rush out and buy a set (I won my set) I do like the concept, and hope they pave the way for many more advancements around bone conduction. Until then, I’ll stick with my Sennheiser’s

Rating:

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[Hands On] A month with Energenie ChargeGenie 50

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For as long as I can remember, I (much like many others) have suffered at the hands of a dead battery in my tech. More so now since smartphones have been such a large part of my life.

I’m no way going to blame manufacturers for the capacity or drain of device batteries… I’m a heavy user… In that I doubt 10 minutes go by when I’m not using it! Unless I’m asleep of course!

This has obviously created a gap in the market. When that has steadily filled up with all manner of devices, in all shapes and sizes. Each device is not without its pitfalls, equally each device suits a certain type of user more.

I think over the last 4 years I’ve pretty much tried every type on the market; from AA battery-powered key rings to solar panels. I’ve also endured my fair share of smart phone case batteries… Non of these devices has proved successful in truly giving me that extra charge I need when I’m out and about..

That was until this year (2013) … When in the excited build up the yearly Gadget Show at the NEC, I can across a manufacturer’s name on the programme. Energenie… It’s one I’d never heard of, and never seen any products from before. So I made my way over to their website, and was amazed by the variety and the spec of some of the devices!

This is when I spotted the Energenie ChargeGenie 50, a 5,000 MaH external battery pack.. My school boy maths suggested I should get at least 2 full charges of my iPhone 4S from this, and what’s more it would even give my iPad (thanks to FreeVirtualServers) a boost. So I got in touch with Energenie, and excitedly asked them to reserve me a fully charged ChargeGenie 50 at the Gadget Show.

Once I’d made my way around the show, battery now flagging at 20% I headed over to their stand, and collected what was soon to become my phones new best friend! I carefully opened the packaging and plugged in my phone.. Slowly but surely my device made its way back up to 100%

But wait… It didn’t stop there!! As I was taking many pictures at the show, my device was soon back at 10%.. So of it went again, and charged straight back up to 100!!! Perfect! Just what I needed…

Now, I know external batteries arent to everyone’s taste, and some people prefer cases.. But until someone comes up with a case that can pack the punch of the Energenie 50 whilst adding little to no bulk I’m happy!

Nearly a full month on since purchasing it, and it still travels faithfully in my laptop bag.. In its own compartment no less, and I can rest in the knowledge that this little unit has got my back!

So…. Thanks Energenie, for your fantastic ChargeGenie 50! Here’s looking forward to the future, when my Energenie ChargeGenie ?100? Drops through the letterbox!

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Kensington KeyFolio ‘hands on’

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What’s it all about….?
So… With thanks to Free Virtual Servers, I recently became the happy owner of a brand new Apple iPad. Something I have toyed with the idea of purchasing for sometime now. Thos who know me will know just how much of an Apple fan I am. With a home that represents the store-room of a local Apple dealer.

Would Steve like it….?
Despite my love of the design an build of the iPad, I’ve never truly bought into its on-screen keyboard. An yes, I have an iPhone, typing on which is natural. Holding the iPad and typing for extended periods of time just leads to aching hands. Don’t get me wrong, in the right environment, the iPad on-screen keyboard holds its own.. However, I am a sucker for a hardware keyboard.

Let the shopping begin….
So out I went into the marketplace, looking for something which would protect my shiny new Apple device, whilst increasing its usability all in one purchase. Now, there are many variants of iPad case with built-in bluetooth keyboard on the market. Ranging from the entry-level £20 unit’s, to the insane £170 top of the range models.

As I already knew my iPad keyboard would not get immense amounts of use, I wanted something that worked well, and didn’t look like I’d made it myself. Which is when I started looking into the Kensington range.

Kensington sit in the mid to top of the range price bracket. With cases between £30 to £70. Each of the cases with keyboards are designed to look like portfolio type books, loved among businessmen the world over.

The KeyFolio has a couple of variations in its range, which include angle adjustable screen rests and more keyboard features etc.

The winner….
I opted for the original KeyFolio, which sports a soft to touch moulded rubber keyboard. With a synthetic leather outer case.

The keyboard took a little getting used to at first, some of the keys are not where you expect them to be, but then I am sure I will get used to that..

The divider….
One thing is for sure, it the case truly does divide the crowds. Much like Marmite, some of my friends like it and the idea of it, where others hate it and everything it’s about.. I for one love it, and think it’s going to serve me well for many a blog post to come..

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Ted Baker Charging Kit (USB-MDCTB-E18)

My portable charging unit arrived today from Clove Technology. With my impending Rising Sun weekend I knew that my HTC Touch battery really wouldn’t cut the mustard. It tends to last a couple of days if it’s barely used.. However, no doubt it will get some heavy webemail and camera usage over the weekend. So I knew I had to call for backup!!

I accessed the market, and the Power Monkey’s where suggested by many of my friends. However I didn’t want to relie on sunlight, with this being the UK and also having to leave my phone in sight of the sun, and other unwanted attention didn’t really float my boat..

So here it is, it’s basically a 3400 mAH battery packed into a Compact, slim and lightweight body (measures just 100 x 62 x 15mm or 3.9 x 2.4 x 0.6 inches and weighs 120g or 4.2 oz). It ships with a 12v adapter so you can charge it in your car. It also comes with a range of adapters to fit most devices.. Two ports on the body of device, one normal usb for plugging into your device, and one mini usb for charging for a wide range of sources, including PCLaptop etc.

I have not yet had the chance to charge my phone from it, as I am currently charging the device from my laptop, but judging by the spec’s and reviews on other sites it should be perfect for the job! Check back on Monday for a completed review of how I got on with it.

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