Category: Android Accessories Review

iClever Adjustable Stand – Simple but Effective Design

Like many accessories for Android phones and tablets, desktop stands are, as they say, a dime a dozen.  Everyone it seems makes one but like so many things, you do get what you pay for in most cases.  I say most because the team over at iClever have made an excellent stand that is certainly a good value for this type of accessory.  The iClever Adjustable Stand, as the name suggests, is not just a fixed stand for your phone or tablet.  Rather, it has an adjustable plane where you phone rests that can be rotated 270-degrees.  It makes the stand easy to use no matter if you are viewing your device in portrait or landscape mode.  Plus, it is made of aluminum so it looks great and is rugged enough to handle a drop from your desk to the floor.  Backed with a lifetime warranty, this $13 stand is well worth the consideration if you like desktop stands for your devices.

I recently picked up two of the IC-CS01 stands on Amazon to replace two aging stands that had lost their ability to hold my devices securely.  What appealed to me was first the iClever name (I’ve reviewed many of their products and have always found them to be excellent in price and performance) but also the non-skip pads on the stand’s base and phone plane to hold my Nexus 6P and Nexus 9 securely.  That do that and do it well.

iClever Portable Bluetooth Speaker – Great Performance and Design

Portable Bluetooth speakers are widely available in a wide range of prices.  With some you are buying the brand while others you are buying the audio performance but the two are not mutually exclusive.  iClever has been around for a few years now and have been making accessories for Android and iOS devices ranging from charging options to said Bluetooth speakers.  Their latest speaker option, the BTS04, is arguably one of the better values out there for this type of accessory.  The problem with many of these types of devices is that you end up with poor bass quality or poor treble quality.  Neither is the case in this affordably priced speaker and to top that, it looks nice and is even splash resistant.  That means you should have no worries about taking it out by the pool on a summer day.

Recently the team over at iClever sent me the BTS04 to review and I have to say I’m not disappointed.  While I do find the button combination of short presses and long presses a little confusing, overall I can’t fault the performance, size and sound quality from the speaker.  Here is my review.

Review – SUPCASE Premium Hybrid Bumper Case for The Nexus 6P

When it comes to cases for your Android phone, the selection is vast.  That’s a good thing.  It means you have a lot of choices and can probably find the case that fits your particular need.  In my case, I need a case that will help my Nexus 6P survive the bumps and bangs that come with skiing and hiking.  For me, the SUPCASE Premium Hybrid bumper case fits the need.  A case that has a rubberized shell to hold your phone with a hard plastic back, the SUPCASE gives great protection against bumps, bangs and knocks while not adding a huge amount of size to the 6P.  It’s offered in a nice range of colors to match your phone or personal style.  Here’s my review of this nice, sub-$20 case.

Microsoft Band 2 – A Solid Alternative to Fitbit

I’ll be honest: I have an on again/off again relationship with Fitbit.  I’ve been using their trackers for 6 years now and while my first tracker (the Ultra) was rock solid, the two subsequent models (the One and the Flex) have been less than stellar.  I found neither of these tracked exceptionally well and with the One in particular, I was constantly fighting to keep it connected to my Nexus 6 or 6P as the Bluetooth was just not reliable.

Initially, in an effort to find a tracking alternative, I started using Google Fit and my Moto 360 smartwatch to track my activities.  It was, shall we say, painful.  Syncing was not accurate nor were step and exercise tracking.  While Fit has grown up a lot, it still has some growing up to do.  That experiment lasted about three weeks and that was all I could really handle.

Finally I had enough and I decided to step way out of the bounds of what most people consider for a fitness tracker.  I picked up an Microsoft Band 2 and I have to say, it is a solid performing device that is very accurate in tracking your fitness information.  In fact, after two weeks of using it, my Fitbit One is now quietly sitting connected to its charging cable on my desk – untouched and likely not being touched for a while.  I’ve deleted the app from my 6P and moved to Microsoft Health for my exercise and step tracking.

To be sure, the Microsoft Band 2 is not perfect.  It has some things that need improvements, most notably how it tracks stairs and the overall weight of the device.  That said, I’m comfortable in recommending it.  It integrates nicely with Android thanks to the Microsoft Health app (and there is one for Windows 10 users too).  It ties in with other services and apps like Lose It!, MFitnessPal, RunKeeper and Strava, and it has a battery life of a couple of days.  That’s better than most smartwatches today which, in a limited way, the Band 2 can perform for you.

Here is my review of the Band 2 and the companion Microsoft Health app.

Review of Coocheer Mobile Power Battery Pack – Good Performance in a Hardened Package

When it comes to external battery packs to charge your devices, the options are endless when it comes to size and performance.  Many of these battery packs, however, are not necessarily hardened to withstand the elements.  Enter the Coocheer Mobile Power pack CH-242.  This 7500mAh pack has an aluminum chassis and body surrounded by a rubber edge.  More importantly, the CH-242 has a rubber cover over its 2 USB ports to help keep water and dirt out while you are using it in the outdoors.  While it certainly is not the most powerful pack you can get, for a price of just under $21, it is a great value.  Here is my review.

Review of The Coocheer CH-080 Bluetooth Speaker – Excellent Sound in A Small Package

When it comes to Bluetooth speakers that you can connect to your Android phone, the field of choices is bountiful.  You can spend a little money and not get a lot of sound or you can spend a lot of money and, well, get great sound at a high dollar-per-decibel rate.  Then enters Coocheer.  The little company based in the Silicon Valley area has what may be the best compromise of price, performance and functionality.  At only $11.99, the CH-080 Bluetooth Speaker is an outstanding value for what you get in this compact, well designed, easy to use and excellent sounding speaker.  Recently the company sent me the CH-080 to review I have to say, it is pretty darn impressive.

Nexus 9 Folio Keyboard Review

One of the accessories that really makes the Nexus 9 a productivity powerhouse is the Folio Keyboard for the tablet. Priced at $60, nearly $100 less than what it was a debut, this magnetically attaching keyboard and cover gives you a great feeling and functional keyboard while providing protection for your tablet at the same time.  I have been using the Folio Keyboard over the course of the last several weeks and I have to say that I am impressed with the performance and ease-of-use.  While not everyone needs a keyboard for their tablet, if you have a Nexus 9 and need one, this is not a bad option to consider.

Review of Anker Wireless Charger – Excellent Performance For an Excellent Price

Wireless charging is one of those technologies that seems to have a love-hate relationship.  Some people, me included, love it and find it handy to not have to plus in my devices to charge them.  Others find the slower charging and sometimes positioning your device Just. Exactly. Right. on the pad to be too much of a pain.  I won’t be spending this review trying to convince anyone to use wireless charging but for those who do, or want to try it, and have a Qi (pronounced “Chee”) compatible device, the Anker Wireless Charger is an excellent option for your charging needs.  At only $12.99 on Amazon (regularly $59.99), it is an excellent value and performs exceptionally well.

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