I provide honest ratings and reviews on tech, toys, and consumer home goods that I've purchased and used. Reviews are based on hands-on testing and personal observations. All opinions and comments are my own.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Brightech DoublePlay Bluetooth Audio Splitter Transmitter Review

Brightech DoublePlay Bluetooth Audio Splitter Transmitter Review

Buy it at Amazon: Brightech DoublePlay Bluetooth Audio Splitter Transmitter [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: This device lets you add bluetooth functionality to any speaker system with ease.

It's pretty much plug and play when you have an NFC enabled device to transmit from. Just plug everything in, tap your NFC device to the receiver and you're ready to start streaming audio. Even if you don't have NFC and just have regular ol' bluetooth, it's trivial to pair via bluetooth by going into your device's bluetooth settings and selecting the receiver. In most cases, you won't even have to enter a PIN number. The device can remember up to 8 paired devices and automatically connect with them when they come into range.

It's nice that the AC adapter AND audio cable are both 6 ft long. This gives you a lot of distance to work with if you need to go behind furniture or under a desk to place the receiver in a convenient location (for NFC tap access). It does however, make you question how "wireless" these wireless devices really are; it's only to certain point I suppose :-). If you're not going to use the NFC feature, you can put it anywhere and connect to it via bluetooth as long as you're within about 30 feet from it. So long as you're within range, the receiver will continue to receive audio signals from your device.

You can control the volume using both the device streaming the music and the device outputting the sound (if applicable). It might be hard to tell from the video, but for me, the audio is clear with no digital distortion, lagging or stuttering. I am impressed with the sound integrity that was maintained as you typically get some "boxiness" with wireless streaming due to compression. However the new BT standard seems to have resolved a lot of that. Just note that the sound quality will be limited by the speakers you attach to the receiver.

This device makes it easy to add wireless bluetooth streaming to all your devices. Even if your audio source doesn't have bluetooth, you can use Brightech's compatible bluetooth transmitter with this receiver and get wireless streaming between the two devices.

Amazon Affiliate Product Links:
DoublePlay Transmitter - http://geni.us/10vNs
Nintendo Gameboy - http://geni.us/oXgREt
NFC BT Receiver - http://geni.us/UkRmS
Stereo Capsule Speakers - http://geni.us/GywzuK

Buy it at Amazon: Brightech DoublePlay Bluetooth Audio Splitter Transmitter [Affiliate Link]
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Thursday, April 16, 2015

TaoTronics Bluetooth Hands Free Car Kit (TT-BR03) Review

TaoTronics Bluetooth Hands Free Car Kit (TT-BR03) Review

Buy it at Amazon: TaoTronics Bluetooth Hands Free Car Kit (TT-BR03) [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: The base is magnetic so I can stick it to my dash where there's metal underneath vs typical suction cup or sticky mounts.

The unit on a whole was smaller than I anticipated, about the size of a tic-tac container. There are only 3 buttons but they allow you to power on, pair, change the volume, skip tracks in a playlist, answer calls, mute, and redial the last phone number. The drawback here is that you have to remember how to do all those things when you want to use them, but it makes the interface a lot simpler allowing the unit to look minimalist, clean, and stylish.

The paired quickly to my phone using bluetooth discovery mode and NFC connection. The connection and sound quality was clear and smooth. I had no problem with stuttering, digital noise or dropped connections when in range of the receiver. Like most bluetooth devices, once paired, the receiver remembers the last device it was paired with. You can store up to two devices in its memory so it will pair automatically when it detects those devices again. You can also pair two devices with the unit at the same time which is interesting. Not sure how useful that is since only one person can stream audio at the same time, but I guess it'll make for some interesting playlist battles. I appreciate the fact that the power adapter that came with it has two USB ports, so that you can charge your phone at the same time the receiver is operating.

The main drawback to this product is that with older cars, you probably won't have an audio-in AUX jack, so you cannot use this product... at least not in your car. However, since the USB cable can be plugged into any standard 1000 mAh USB power adapter, you could still use this as a bluetooth receiver with any speaker system that DOES have an audio-in jack or combine it with an appropriate adapter.

Buy it at Amazon: TaoTronics Bluetooth Hands Free Car Kit (TT-BR03) [Affiliate Link]
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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Bestek Cigarette Lighter Converter Power Adapter Review

Bestek Cigarette Lighter Converter Power Adapter Review

Buy it at Amazon: Bestek Cigarette Lighter Converter Power Adapter [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Convert car accessories that use cigarette lighter adapters for use at home.

This device is pretty straight forward. It's an adapter for you to use car accessories that plug into the cigarette lighter in a standard wall outlet. It is solidly constructed out of a hard plastic shell and has thick power cables. It accepts an input voltage of 90-265V AC power and output to an attached cigarette lighter port. The plug for the wall outlet is interchangeable so you can use a different cable cord for other style outlets while traveling. It also has two USB ports so you can power/charge other USB devices at the same time. The top USB port has variable current output of 0-2.4A and will automatically detect what your device needs. The bottom USB port outputs a constant 2.4A. When the converter is powered on and ready to use, the LED indicator light will be a solid green. If there is a short or surge, it will flash.

It's a bit heavy at 13 oz so not exactly something you would to carry around a lot, but it's small enough for the glove box in case of emergencies. For me, this device has limited uses since all my adapters these days are USB cables, and I have few dedicated car chargers. While I could use just simply the included USB ports, this device is much larger than your average USB charging brick and isn't worth the extra weight and size if that's all you are going to use it for. If you only have a cigarette charger for a particular device, this will enable you to use those devices in the home and works just fine. Be aware that this adapter will warm up when in operation, so make sure it has plenty of ventilation and don't use it on flammable fabrics like a rug or sofa.

Buy it at Amazon: Bestek Cigarette Lighter Converter Power Adapter [Affiliate Link]
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Bestek Modified Sine 400W Power Inverter MRI4011UI Review

Bestek Modified Sine 400W Power Inverter MRI4011UI Review

Buy it at Amazon: Bestek Modified Sine 400W Power Inverter MRI4011UI [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: There are plenty of ports, 4 USB and 2 three-prong plug sockets and you can use all of them at the same time with no decrease in power.

The body of this inverter is made of a hard shell plastic and has a cool octagonal shape and contrasting black and red colors. It is fairly light, weighing 1 lb 2 oz.

I like that the fuses are replaceable. Sometimes you don't remember what the power requirements are of a device before plugging it in and it blows the fuse by accident so at least you can replace them easily without opening the unit up. To be on the safe side stick with small electronics and things without high powered motors (like a blender).

I tried this out with a 12V 35 Amp-hour battery charged using a solar panel using the clip cables. The first time I connected the battery a small spark was generated at the terminal, so make sure nothing flammable is nearby and your fuel lines in your car are secure. I also used the cigarette lighter cable and adapter with no issues. I was able to power my cell phone and chargers using both the USB ports and plug sockets. Just note that the cigarette lighter cable is not recommended if your total watt usage will be over 150.

Other users have noted that the fan that runs constantly can be loud, but I didn't find it noisy or distracting; more like a gentle hum. This inverter is great for road trips, camping, or to have in the car for emergencies when you have access to a charged battery. When using this in the car, you'll have overheating, overload and short circuit protection in both directions for both your devices and your car. It's compact, lightweight, has a decent wattage capacity and has plenty of powering options.

Buy it at Amazon: Bestek Modified Sine 400W Power Inverter MRI4011UI [Affiliate Link]
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