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Author Archive for Steve Holt

Rocki Play WiFi streaming audio adapter review


Many people would agree with me if I said that the Sonos wireless speaker system is the gold standard if you want to play music wirelessly in your home or business.  The feature set and options for Sonos are pretty extensive and performance is great. But it comes at a ‘gold standard’ price in my opinion.  And my budget lately hasn’t been in the range of ‘gold standard’.  So I have looked hard for wireless speaker systems that fit my budget, and didn’t require Bluetooth to work.  I have reviewed several Bluetooth speakers here on The Gadgeteer, and still use several of them.  But Bluetooth speakers won’t get you a truly wireless system for your house.  Enter: Rocki Play.  Wireless music to any speaker for $49. Is it all that?  Let’s find out.

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Bolse 4-port USB desktop charger review


In my never-ending quest for power, with thirst-hungry gadgets all over my house, my car, and my office, one of the biggest problems I have is being able to charge multiple devices at once.  For example, when you travel and stay in hotel rooms, if you are lucky you have one of those lamps beside your bed that has a power outlet in the base so you can easily charge your phone at night. And maybe you’ll have a power outlet on the room desk.  If not, then you have to do the dance of moving furniture and crawling around the floor to find an empty power outlet.  Or better yet, plug up your phone in the bathroom.  Yeah baby.  So I was excited to test the Bolse 4-port USB desktop charger to see if perhaps it could solve one of my biggest problems.  Let’s find out.

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Kenu Airframe+ portable car mount review


Back in March I reviewed the Kenu Airframe portable car mount.  To say I love the device is probably an understatement.  It goes with me everywhere.  Everyone I have shown it to has envied it.  And I have to keep a close watch on my wife for fear that she will steal it.  So when I heard word that a new version of the Kenu was coming out called the Airframe+, I was ‘chomping at the bit’ to review it.  Luckily, they sent me the new Kenu prior to it coming out so that I could review it.  So how does it compare to the original?  Would I still need to hide it from my wife?  Let’s find out!

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RCE External Battery Carbon Fiber Edition review


Portable battery packs are hitting their stride nowadays, with so many great options available to you that it will surely make your head spin.  I have reviewed many of them here on the Gadgeteer, and I still use most of them.  But I am always in search of better batteries… bigger capacity, faster charging, smaller footprints!  So next up to bat is the RCE External Battery – Carbon Fiber Edition from Brando.  With a 10,200 mAh capacity and dual charging ports, how will the RCE measure up to my stable of power packs?  Who will win the race and take home the roses? (Sorry, couldn’t resist. The Kentucky Derby was this past weekend).  Let’s find out!

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Ztylus Revolver Smartphone Camera Kit review


Torn. Conflicted. Confused. Verklempt.  Ok, maybe not verklempt, but conflicted, yes.  I am one of those people who gave up the traditional digital camera and exclusively use my Samsung Galaxy S4 as my digital camera.  It’s with me all the time, right?  And like many of you I have struggled to take good pictures consistently because, let’s face it, no matter how good the smartphone cameras get they still aren’t good enough.  And like most of you, I don’t know enough about picture-taking to alter all the ISO settings, exposure, and whatever else is on there, every time I want to take a picture. Oy vey. I just snap away.  So when I saw the Ztylus Revolver Smartphone Camera Kit (pronounced just like ‘stylus’), a gadget that you attach to your Samsung Galaxy S4 to improve the camera and your pictures, I jumped. So why I am so torn, conflicted, and confused? Read on.

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Kenu Airframe portable car mount review


“Slip sliding away.  Slip sliding away. You know the nearer your destination, the more you’re slip sliding away.”  Paul Simon wasn’t singing those words about how your cellphone acts inside your car when you are driving, but they couldn’t be more apropos.  I have lost track of the number of times I have placed my cellphone in my lap, on the passenger seat, or on the dash, only to perform the moves of an Olympic snowboard jumper to grab it when I turn the corner.  I have tried many suction cup cellphone holders and struggled to get my arm to bend in the unnatural convulsions it takes to attach the power cord to it and actually get it to stay on the dang windshield, not to mention getting the phone in and out of the thing. So when the Kenu Airframe came along, I was of course intrigued. Could this little device solve my Olympic sized problem?  Let’s find out!

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Booq Boa Shift Laptop Backpack review


My wife told me I had to get rid of it.  I have used this one backpack for every family vacation for the past 10 years and more trips than I can recall.  Half the zippers don’t work anymore, and there are holes in several of the pockets.  But it was my go-to bag, with a plethora of pockets, padded shoulder straps, and loads of memories. But it had to go… she had spoken. So I was looking for a replacement.  In comes the Booq Boa Shift Laptop Backpack. It was designed for laptops, but could I use the Boa Shift as an all-around backpack in addition to toting my laptop? Could it be a worthy replacement to hold all the stuff that my wife and my kids don’t want to carry around the theme park?  Let’s find out!

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VidaBox OpenSqueeze Solo music player review


I have been looking for a solution for some time to play music throughout my whole house. Spending time and money to run wires throughout the whole house is not an option in my current house, so of course I looked to wireless solutions. I don’t have a sophisticated stereo or audio system of any kind, so I suppose I would consider myself just an average consumer when it comes to that aspect. I have numerous computers throughout the house and a few of those wireless/Bluetooth speakers, but they don’t all connect together and enable me to play the same music throughout the whole house. Sonos has several products that I have experienced and coveted for some time, but they seemed pricey to me. So when the VidaBox OpenSqueeze Solo came around it caught my eye. Was this the device that I could afford and would solve my problem? Would it perform as solidly as the Sonos players I have seen and experienced? Let’s find out!

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Roving Power Professional Power Pack review


I have become a huge fan of the portable battery backup solutions.  I have reviewed numerous ones here on the Gadgeteer and purchased numerous ones for family members.  In fact I have 3 backup battery solutions right now among the items in my daily gear, so I am a fan.  But all those solutions only work with my portable gadgets like cellphones, tablets, and Bluetooth gear.  I have never had one that was designed to provide my laptop a backup battery because all those other solutions aren’t beefy enough to handle a true laptop.  Until now.  Enter the Roving Power Professional Power Pack (herein after referred to as the ‘Roving’). So how did the Roving handle it when my laptop battery died? Let’s find out! Read More →

Braven BRV-1 Bluetooth Speaker review


In my search for awesome portable speakers, I have had some luck as of late.  I have done a few reviews here on The Gadgeteer for portable Bluetooth speakers that are solid choices for the audiophile looking to untether take his or her tunes from the confines of the living room.  But until now, I have never tried one that was truly meant for the wild, with water-, dust-, and shock-absorbing protection.  Enter the Braven BRV-1 Bluetooth Speaker.  What Braven has done is pack a ton of features into a small package that begs to brave the elements.  So how did it perform?  Would MacGyver pack this in his travel bag?  Let’s find out! Read More →

Lenmar Helix Power Pack review


The portable battery market is heating up.  You can find these portable batteries in all shapes and sizes, in varying capacities, and in just about every store you come across.  I even saw some for sale in a gas station. And the prices of these portable backup batteries keeps surprising me, because you can buy quite a bit of backup power for very little compared with just a few years ago. So every product that comes out needs something that sets them apart from the others. The Helix Power Pack from Lenmar offers just such a feature, but is it enough to impress a guy who has a half dozen backup batteries in his gadget bag?  Let’s find out!

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Mophie Juice Pack Universal Powerstation Pro review


If a superhero needed a portable charger to make sure that he (or she) always had backup power for his (or her) smartphone and gadgets, I imagine the Mophie Juice Pack Universal Powerstation Pro would be their go-to charger of choice.  With rugged looks and a rock-solid feel the Powerstation Pro is intimidating just to look at, but would the performance be something that even Superman could be proud of?  Let’s find out!

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M.Craftsman Breathe – Luxury Portable Charger review


I have a confession to make. When I am on the go, I live in constant fear of running out of juice, and I love being able to charge my multiple gadgets almost as much as owning my multiple gadgets.  I get a slight thrill by seeing that ‘100%’ in the status bar.  I admit it.  So sue me.  But when I saw the M.Craftsman Breathe – Luxury Portable Charger, I was intrigued more by how it looked than by the fact that it was a portable charger.  Is outer beauty the only thing it has going for it?  Could there be more lurking just beyond the surface?  Brando sent us one so we could find out!

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RAVPower Dynamo-On-the-Go RP-PB07 10,400mAh Power Bank review

I have a problem.  It’s a personal problem, but I can admit it publicly.  I need power.  Lot’s of it.  I crave it all day (or, at least my gadgets do), and I have a fear of being without it.  So I have chargers everywhere – my house, my vehicles, my computer bag, my office.  I have reviewed several portable battery gadgets here on The Gadgeteer, and I liked them all because they did what they were supposed to do.  But just 2 years ago, I reviewed one that was a good charger but the capacity was only 1,000 mAh, which couldn’t even charge my cellphone one time.  For the same money, you can now get a battery that has 10 times that capacity.   The Dynamo-on-the-Go RP-PB07 10400mAh Portable External Battery Pack from RAVPower  has 10,400 mAh of power.  Is that enough to make me happy?  Let’s find out! Read More →

Daily use apps – Steve Holt

Trying to select my top 5 Android apps is a bit like choosing your favorite child.  I use my phone all day long every day for just about everything… email, calendaring, music, texting, searching for information, surfing, gaming, processing credit cards, social media engagement, taking pictures, video chatting, navigation, and everything in between. So as of this moment, here are my top 5 Android apps.  But if I don’t post this soon, this list is going to change! 
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Iron Man Power Pack review


I am a gadget guy, so I am always in need of a power source.  I have gadgets of all shapes and sizes which of course need to be charged.  So my eyes are always peeled for a portable power source.  So when I spotted the Iron Man Power Pack (hereafter referred to as the IMPP) from Brando I was a little taken aback.  What is this?  Is that Iron Man’s suit in a box the size of a deck of cards?  Surely not.  It looks like his suit, but is that really a power pack or a toy? Say what?  The round chest thingy lights up and makes the iron man sound?  I had to have it.  Of course.  But would the performance match the coolness?  Let’s find out!

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Everyday Carry Gear – Steve Holt


A little late to the EDC party, but then again I was busy cleaning out my bag for spring cleaning!   I regularly carry a laptop bag with me on a daily basis since my laptop is my daily work computer as well as my work-at-home computer.  Not pictured are a couple of ink pens, some chapstick, and a rubber-banded stack of business cards.  Other than that, this is what is in my bag on a daily basis.   Read More →

Kinivo BTX450 Bluetooth Speaker review


I have reviewed other speakers here on the Gadgeteer, and recently found an incredible little Bluetooth powerhouse called The Phoenix by Beacon. It has some awesome features and sound.  But when I saw the Kinivo BTX450 Bluetooth Speaker with its sleek, sexy profile (can a speaker be sexy??) I wondered if that larger size packed enough magic to steal my heart away from the Phoenix. Let’s find out!

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Beacon The Phoenix Portable Bluetooth Speaker review


I have owned a bunch of portable speakers over the years.  Ever since my first boombox in high school my love affair with portable music has led me on the quest for the perfect portable audio companion.  My ideal companion must be small, have big sound, crazy battery life, cheap, high quality workmanship, and multiple ways to connect to my music sources. You can see now why I have been searching for years.  Portable speakers have come and gone for one reason or another, but the bottom line is that most of them are crap.  Cheap materials, grainy sound, and no durability.  I did review a great portable speaker last year in the Boats-To-Go Boombox, and I still use that. The price and features are awesome, but the battery life isn’t great and there is no Bluetooth. So when I saw The Phoenix Portable Bluetooth Speaker by Beacon, I saw some hope. The specs look great, but could good things come in small packages?  Let’s find out!

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MobileFun Ultimate Nexus 7 Accessory Pack review


With the exception of my cellphone, no other gadget spends more time in my hand than my Nexus 7. I use it for gaming, email, web surfing, social media engagement, music, videos, RSS reader, Skyping, and as a bedtime alarm clock. I am always looking for accessories for it.  Kinda like those people who are always buying clothes for their poodle. That’s me with my Nexus.  Sortof.  Well, anyway, when I spotted the Ultimate Nexus 7 Accessory Pack from MobileFun, I jumped.  How can you pass up something labeled as “ultimate”? So was it ultimate? Let’s find out!

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GearZap Nexus 7 Case-Compatible Desktop Sync and Charge Cradle review


My favorite gadget right now is my Nexus 7 tablet.  I don’t go too many places without it, because it has become a natural extension of my work and my leisure. And so, I am always on the lookout for accessories for it.  But all accessories are not created equal, as you know.  When GearZap released the Nexus 7 Case-Compatible Desktop Sync and Charge Cradle, it piqued my interest because I have been looking for a cradle for my bedside table and for my desk at work. I have different needs at home and work, so I was curious to see if this cradle fit either need.  Let’s find out!

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Pinnacle Studio 16 Ultimate Review

The other day a friend of mine showed me their new cellphone.  I couldn’t tell a difference between their old one and the new one. The new version looked exactly like the old one.  This has happened to me before with various things, like software programs for example. Sometimes the new version simply doesn’t provide enough reason to upgrade.   Avid bought the Pinnacle software line a couple years back and turned Pinnacle Studio into Avid Studio, which I reviewed in the summer of 2011.  It was a serious, fundamental change from the Pinnacle Studio I had grown to love, but my review was favorable.  And now Avid recently sold the software line to Corel who decided to return to the Pinnacle brand loved by so many. So with the new release of Pinnacle Studio 16 Ultimate, would version 16 live up to the Pinnacle brand I had known and loved? Would it best Avid Studio? Would it again be another complete departure from previous packages? Let’s find out!

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HSTi Wireless Media Stick review

Last year I bought 2 new TVs for my house. I got a great price on both of them, and the HD picture looks great on both of them.  And being the tech guy that I am, I immediately started looking for ways to take advantage of that gorgeous HD screen.  The TVs were not top of the line models, so there are  no wireless capabilities built into the TVs.  So when I started looking at ways to get the media (audio, video, and pictures) scattered throughout my house in various places onto this TV, most of the solutions were a bit ‘techy’, if you will.  I am an admitted ‘tech guy’ as I said, and even some of these solutions turned me off because it seemed like you had to jump through 7 hoops to make it happen. I wanted something cheap and simple. So the Wireless Media Stick from HSTi claiming to stream your media to your TV intrigued me. Surely it couldn’t be this simple?  Let’s find out.

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Codgigo Cube Review

I love to play games. And I love technology. So when I saw the Codigo Cube, I just had to try it.  What is this cube? Why are there QR codes on all sides?  What happens if I scan one of those QR codes? How can this be a game?  Would it be fun?? So many questions.  Let’s find out what I discovered.  Read More →

Boats-To-Go MP3 Boombox Review

Back in 1984 (geesh, I’m old) I received a wonderful Christmas present.  It was my very first boom box, and it had dual tape decks and a radio, and a line-in jack to plug up a microphone.  I didn’t want one of those single tape deck boom boxes, no sir. I wanted to be big time. I wanted the ability to copy tapes and maybe record stuff, and I was the envy of the other kids on the block, let me tell you. It was big, heavy, and oh so cool. And my parents shelled out several hundred dollars to get it. Looking back now, it’s sort of laughable, but then again, so were the clothes we wore! Boom boxes were part of the lexicon of my youth, and apparently a lasting part, because you can still buy one today at your local Walmart. Fast forward to 2012 and enter the Boats To Go MP3 Boom Box.  A mere fraction of the size and cost of its former brethren, but still big on cool.

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