Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Magellan RoadMate 6320-LM DashCam Navigator Review

Magellan gives more functionality then ever before. If you need a GPS in your car, Magellan has you covered. If you want to be able to record what you see on your road trips, a dash cam will do the trick. But why clutter your dash? What will work even better is the Magellan RoadMate 6230-LM, DashCam Navigator. It is a GPS and dash cam all-in-one.

Features and specs:

  • 5” High-Resolution Touchscreen
  • Integrated Dash Camera
  • Free Lifetime Map Updates
  • Junction View
  • Best Parking
  • OneTouchTM Favorites Menu
  • Speed Limit Warnings
  • Traffic Camera Alerts by PhantomALERT
  • Landmark Guidance
  • QuickSpell® with SmartCity Search
  • Multi-destination Routing
  • 7 Million Points of Interest

The Magellan RoadMate 6230-LM DashCam Navigator came in a very nice printed box with photos and specs on the box. Opening the box showed the well protected receiver. Also included was the owner's manual, mount, and power cable. The receiver was mostly plastic, but the quality of materials in the construction of it was very good. The fit and finish was also very good. It felt well put together.

The Magellan RoadMate 6230-LM DashCam Navigator is a premium product that is safe to use. In regards to it's GPS functionality, I love it! So many of us will just pull out our cellphone to help us get around. But that can be an accident waiting to happen. The larger 5" display can be mounted on the dash, is easier to see, and allow for hands free use. Safety is therefore much improved.

I also really love all of it's features!  It has all of the standard GPS features you are used to. The Magellan RoadMate 6230-LM DashCam Navigator however is not a standard GPs receiver. It is a premium device, with premium features. These features include Landmark Guidance, Traffic Camera alerts, Best Parking, Multi Destination routing, and Free Lifetime Updates.

Using the GPS features on the Magellan 6230-LM was very simple. The user interface was very easy to learn, and made sense. The one touch favorites menu made it easy to save your favorite locations. Need to make multiple stops? Magellan has you covered there as well. The 7 million points of interest helps you find the gas stations, restaurants, or other services you are looking for. And the Highway POI's make it even more convenient for you. The Junction View made it simple to show you which lane you should be in when you come to junctions in the road. And Landmark Guidance, such as "turn right after the McDonalds" helps make navigation that much simpler. If you don't like traffic tickets, the Traffic Camera Alerts will alert you to red light and speed cameras.

Having the DashCam built-in is very cool. When the Magellan RoadMate 6320-LM DashCam Navigator is on, it is also automatically recording video of the road on the microSD card. The DashCam lens has a wide 120 degree vision to be able to record everything on the road in front of you. So now scenes from those scenic road trips can be kept. And if you previously missed catching the Elk crossing the road because you couldn't pull out your cellphone in time. Or even more important, ever get into an accident and the other driver would not admit they were in the wrong? Now you will automatically have it on video?  Even better, it has a G-Shock feature: if it senses a sharp movement, such as an accident, the Magellan 6230-LM will automatically lock the footage, so it will not get erased on recorded over. You can watch recorded video either on the device, or on a windows based computer.

When it came to testing the Magellan 6320-LM DashCam Navigator, I loved the functionality. It is a prime example of synergy at work. There are a ton of features, and once you get on the road they all come together to not only help you get where you need to go, but to also find those pit stops along the way. The display was crisp and clear with good brightness, even in daylight. The speakers were sufficiently loud to help me keep my eyes on the road.

I really liked the Junction View, Lane Guidance, and Highway Exit POI's. And the traffic Camera Alerts also really came in handy. The Magellan RoadMate 6230-LM DashCam Navigator not only got me to all my destinations correctly, it got me to all my destinations correctly, it got me there unharmed, and helped me find some pit stops along the way. It functioned as advertised, and sometimes that's the best compliment you can give. As a premium GPS, it is excellent. Add in the built-in DashCam, and the 6230-LM is a game changer!  I was skeptical about the performance of the DashCam at dusk and at night, but I was pleasantly surprised.  During daylight hours it did well, and at dusk I was pleasantly that it did very well under low light.  At night it also did better than expected.

Magellan has a great product in their RoadMate 6230-LM DashCam Navigator. If you are either looking for a GPS for your vehicle, or maybe looking for a holiday gift for a loved one, their 6230-LM deserves to be on your short list. Based on it's design, features, quality and performance, the Magellan RoadMate 6230-LM DashCam Navigator has earned our Editor's Choice Award. Kudos to Magellan for a great product. For more info and complete specs check out their website at

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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Eton Rugged Rukus Wireless Sound System

When it comes to gift ideas, gadgets that can be used on the go can be a big hit. The Eton Rugged Ruckus is just that. It gives great functionality to those on the go. While it is a portable wireless speaker system, it is a charger as well.

Features and specs:
• Rugged and IPX4 splashproof

• Wirelessly connect to any Bluetooth® enabled device

• USB cell phone charger

• Loops for strapping to backpack

• Lithium battery plays music for 8 hours

• Solar panel charging

• Fully charges in less than 5 hours in direct sunlight

• Micro USB takes 2.5 hours to

charge1 via AC power

• Aux-in for use with

non-Bluetooth devices

(cable not included)

• Blue LED indicates

Bluetooth on

• Red LED indicates
• Weight: 1.2 lbs (0.53 kg)

• Dimensions:

6.5” x 5.9” x 1.8”

(16.3 x 15.1 x 4.6 cm)

The Eton Rugged Ruckus came shipped in a nice printed box with photos of the device and specs. Opening the box showed it wrapped in plastic and held in place by custom formed cardboard. Taking off the plastic revealed the Eton Rugged Ruckus. The black Ruckus was mostly made of plastic, and it had a soft finish on it. Quality of materials used was good, and the same was true for the fit and finish. It felt very solid and well built in hand, better then expected at the $100 MSRP price point.

Functionality was very good for the Eton Rugged Ruckus. It's primary design is as a wireless Bluetooth speaker, with two small speakers on the front of the device. It has a built-in 1500mah Lithium battery. The top of the device is made up entirely of solar panels. The rear of the device has usb, micro usb, and 3.5 mm jacks. To charge the Ruckus, you can always charge it through the usb port. But if you are out and around, you can charge it with the solar panels. It also has the standard 3.5 mm port. So while it works with Bluetooth, it will also work with standard mp3 players, or anything with a standard headphone jack output.

When it comes to performance, one of the greatest complements you can give is that it worked as it was supposed to.  And that is exactly what the Eton Rugged Ruckus did. By using the top control panel, I was able to connect it to my cell phone via Bluetooth very easily. Volume control was easy. After I was done listening, I plugged in my cellphone and charged it. The Ruckus did not play really loud, but for a small device, I wasn't expecting more than it did. It played much louder than my cellphone, that's for sure! Sound quality was sufficiently good as well. Bass had some depth to it, and vocals sounded clear, natural, and smooth.

Bluetooth performance was more hit than miss. Sometimes being able to go up to 30 feet with multiple walls between me and the Rugged Ruckus. While worse case scenario was just under 25 feet, that is still on par for portable Bluetooth devices. So I would say that Bluetooth performance was also very good.

I really liked the performance of the Eton Rugged Ruckus. It is built well, and gives a lot of functionality. And it also performed well. It is a product that can be used outdoors, so being water resistant helps to be worry free incase you find yourself out in the rain.  I am starting to like more and more the products that Eton has to offer. Based on its design, features, quality and performance, the Eton Rugged Ruckus has earned our Value Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at

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Alps Mountaineering Zion External Frame Backpack Review

When I go outdoors, I tend to like to bring my gadgets with me. And I want them to be protected. I also like lots of pockets. So a quality backpacking bag is important to me. Up for review today is the Alps Mountaineering Zion backpacking external frame backpack.


  • Hydration Compatible
  • Top Loading
  • Sleeping Bag Compartment
  • Lower Door - #10 Zipper
  • Hold-open bar
  • Large Front Pocket
  • Multiple Zippered Side Pockets
  • Mesh Pocket on Lower Side Pockets
  • Large Mesh Water Bottle Pocket
  • Spindrift Collar with Draw Cord
  • Top Lid Lash Tabs
  • Ice-axe Loop
  • Daisy Chain with Carry Handle
  • Multiple Shoulder Strap Positions
  • Padded Mesh Waist Belt
  • Padded Shoulder Straps
  • Vented Lumbar Support


Color: Olive
Fabric: Polyester Ripstop
Capacity: 3900 cubic inches
Weight: 4 lbs. 15 oz.
Torso Range: 17" to 24"
Waist Belt Range: 28" to 40"

The Alps Mountaineering Zion came in a standard box, wrapped in plastic. Materials used was mostly what appeared to be nylon for the fabric, and aluminum for the external frame. For the fabric and aluminum for the external frame, the fabric appeared fairly strong and lightweight, with large quality zippers. The aluminum in the external frame was also very good. Fit and finish and build quality was also very good.  It seemed to be able to take years of outdoor use, as it should.

I really liked the design of the Alps Mountaineering Zion. The frame was easy to adjust for your height and size. I loved all the external pockets. There was also a separate sleeping bag compartment at the bottom. The main pocket had an internal aluminum hinge, so to speak, to hold open the main compartment for easy access, making it easy to put in or take out gear.

Then it came time to put it to the test. Packing all my gear was very easy. All of the pockets really came in handy. I really liked the handle on the middle of the large outer pocket, and the one on the top of the shoulder straps, which gave extra carrying options without having to put the pack on your back. The frame, being external, can also be removed and you can use it as luggage so to speak. Thanks to it's adjustability, using it for it's primary design: backpacking was sufficiently comfortable. The large padded hip strap was easy to adjust, kept it's length/size, and was comfortable for long treks. There are only a few improvements I would like to see it to be able to extend out further to be able to secure larger items on top I would have also liked to have seen a small pocket on each side on the large waist/hips pads.  Being hydration pack compatible, as well as having a large mesh water bottle pocket, really came in handy!

The Alps Mountaineering Zion proved to be a great backpack that was designed with use in mind. The quality of the materials and construction were good enough to give years of use. And at an MSRP of only $169.99, it's also a good value. Alps Mountaineering Zion is one that deserves to be on your short list. And it is from a company that stands behind it's products. Based on it's design, features, quality and performance, the Alps Mountaineering Zion has earned our Recommended Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sigma Siggi Red and Sigma HeadLed Lights Review

When it comes to electronics and outdoors, Sigma makes some great ones! They are probably best known for their bicycle products as well, such as lights. Up for review today are two of their lights, one is a bicycle light in the Sigma Siggi Red, and the other is a head lamp for outdoors, in the HEADLED.

Features and specs:
Siggi Red:
USB rechargeable LED front light with MICRO-USB charging port
Integrated lithium-ion rechargeable battery
0.5 W power LED
3 modes: power, standard and flashing
Burn time: 5 h (Power-), 9 h (Standard-), 8 h (Flashing mode)
2-stage battery / charge status indicator
During usage:
- battery capacity < 85% = green LED
- battery capacity < 15% = red LED
During recharge:
- red LED during charging process
- green LED when the battery is fully charged
Fully charged in 3 hours
Tool-free installation with integrated silicone strap
Click switch with tactile ON/OFF response
Water resistant
Weight: 40 g

5 super bright white LEDs
Extremely lightweight (37g without batteries)
Long burn time (up to 60 h)
Up to 15 m viewing distance
3 modes: Standard, energy-saving mode and flashing
Tool-free battery change (3 x AAA incl.)
Water resistant
Weight: 75 g

Both the Sigma Siggi Red and Sigma HEADLED came packed in plastic housing and printed paper with its features and specs. Construction was plastic for both, but was of high quality. Fit and finish of both were very good. They seemed to be well put together. The Sigma Red bicycle light came with the light, USB charging cable, and manual. The Sigma HEADLED came with the light with attached headband. Also included were the owners manual, and 3AAA batteries.

When it came to performance, the Sigma HEADLED did very well. I loved the headlamp design. Just turn it on, put it on your head, and you now have hands free light! The lamp is also adjustable to difference angles. It also has difference settings of low, high, flashing and off. It worked well, and gave great functionality. I would have liked, however for it to be even brighter. But it's brightness did appear to meet it's specs.

For the Sigma Red bicycle light, I absolutely LOVED the design! There are no wires involved. You change the light with the included cable. There is a red LED that glows red until it is fully charged. Once charged, attaching it to the bike was extremely simple. There is a notch/hook built into the housing at the bottom. And at the bottom there is also a rubber stamp with a small hole for the hook. So mounting it on your handle bar was as simple as setting it on your handlebar, and pulling it around the handle bar and attaching it to the hook. Less than 5 seconds and it is mounted securely.

It also performed very well. There was just one button on the top. It cycled through low, high, flashing and off. It's low setting provided a sufficient amount of light. Changing it to high, gave even a further distance that you can see at night. It's a pure white light, is rated at 9 hours on low or 5 hours on high. It lasted to those ratings easily.  I also liked the built-in LED on the top that would turn on green when you were down to 70% of a charge, and then turn red when you are down to 30% of a charge.

Sigma has a history of making great bicycle computers. I'm glad to see that tradition continue in their lights. With an MSRP of $29.99 for the Sigma Siggi Red, and $19.99 for the HEADLED, they are fairly priced as well. If you are in the market, you can't go wrong with Sigma. For more info and complete specs check out their website at

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Friday, November 28, 2014

Kingston SDCA 10 64GB Review

Kingston SDCA 10 64GB Review

Storage for phones, tablets cameras or any other device often is measured in capacity. As the demands for more and more storage increase, the need for faster storage also increases. A phone or camera that can record videos at 120 frames per second will not only need greater storage to record the videos to, it will demand a faster write speed of that storage.

As you shop this holiday season looking for the perfect gifts, we're sure there will be some shiny new toys in there that will fall into the category we've described. Did you just purchase a shiny new Galaxy Note 4? Do you have a new GoPro 4? To get the best performance out of your new toys, the quality of your storage will be important and not all micro sd cards are created equal.


Capacities1 16GB, 32GB, 64GB
Performance2 90MB/s read and 45MB/s write, UHS-I Speed Class 1 (U1)
microSDHC/SDXC Card Dimensions 11mm x 15mm x 1mm
SD Adapter Dimensions 24mm x 32mm x 2.1mm
Operating Temperature -25°C to 85°C
Storage Temperature -40°C to 85°C
Voltage 3.3V

The card comes in sizes with current market prices ranging from $10.99 up to $52.90 on Amazon. If you are unfamiliar with UHS Speed class, it was introduced with SDHC and SDXC. It's another class that identifies the minimum performance of the card. If you take a look at the chart on wikipedia you can see that it has the same minimum speed as a Class 10 drive would have.


If 10 MB/s is the minimum performance of a Class 10 and UHS Speed Class 1 (U1), then how does the SDCA 10 stack up in real world performance? For our tests, we used a USB 3.0 card reader to put the card through the ropes. After that we used the card in a Note 3 plugged in to a USB 3.0 port on our computer to test transfer speeds between computer and phone (more on that later).

From our first test with ATTO we can see right away a couple of interesting things. First off, the jump from the 32 KB speed test up to the 64 KB speed test is extreme to say the least. I was expecting a slightly more gradual increase in speed but that massive jump is nice to see. Another point of interest is that once we get to 256 KB sizes the card levels out in performance with write speeds reaching up around 62 MB/s and read speeds hitting a solid 83 MB/s (Each MB being 1024 KB).

Our real world testing showed signs of write speeds around 70 MB/s and read speeds of 85 MB/s. These numbers were pleasantly on par with the ATTO benchmark in every way.


After using such a fast drive in my smart devices and seeing real world performance gains I don't think I could ever go back to a cheap SD card with slower speeds. There are devices on the market now that demand more from our SD cards. If you're an owner of a new GoPro Hero 4 or a phone/camera that shoots 120 frames a second of video then you will need an SD card that can deliver the speeds required for that much data. We recommend the Kingston SDCA 10 for the job. Of course if you're shooting raw HD videos you will need something capable of writing closer to 100 MB/s; however, most consumer products will be shooting compressed HD video and th Kingston SDCA will be more than capable for the job.

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Harman Kardon Nova 2.0 Portable Wireless Speaker System Review

Our portable devices are getting more and more capable of handling multimedia, and this includes audio. Taking advantage of this so many take their music with them on their smartphone. To access the music, we use portable media players. One such player is the Harman Kardon Nova 2.0 Wireless Speaker System.

Features and specs:
• Power supply: 19V DC, 3A

• Power consumption: 57W maximum, <0 .5w="" eco-standby="" mode="" p="">
• Speaker channel number: 2

• Transducers: 2.5’’(63mm) for woofer, 1.25’’(35mm) for tweeter.

• Amplifier power: 2*20W woofer+2*20W tweeter

• Frequency response: 70Hz - 20KHz

• Signal-to-noise ratio: 85dB at rated power (A-weighting)
• Bluetooth® transmitter frequency range: 2.402 - 2.480gHz
• Bluetooth® transmitter power: Max. 4dBm
• Bluetooth® transmitter modulation: GFSK, π/4 DQPSK, 8DPSK

The Harman Kardon Nova came packaged in a good looking box, with photos and specs. Included was the owners manual, power cable, and 3.5 mm cable for a portable device. Materials used in it's construction were mostly plastic, but very high quality. Fit and finish and build quality was very good.

I really liked the design and look of the Harman Kardon Nova. They are simply just two orbs, that connect together. One of them has the connections on the back, with an output connector to connect it to and power the 2nd orb. The connections on the back of the front orb are for the power cord, output for the 2nd orb, and two inputs that consist of 3.5 mm input and optical input. Other connection options are to connect wirelessly through Bluetooth or NFC.

I also really like their look. The front of the speaker has black cloth to cover the dual drivers, and at the rear of each is the passive radiator. I really like the touch controls and the clear plastic that gives a modern look and design. The touch controls include power, source, and volume control, with white LED's on the top to show the volume level. The clear plastic on the top and sides show the internal turbine look that I think is pretty cool.

To test the sound of the Harman Kardon Nova, I turned to tracks from various difference genre and was impressed with the overall sound, especially bass. Highs were crisp and clear, mids were sufficiently smooth, and the lows were deeper than expected and played with good impact. With how good it sounded, I had to verify that it was indeed just a passive radiator at the back, and not an active woofer at the back.

I was very impressed with the sound overall. A lot of is was due to the custom DSP used to tune the two active drivers in each speaker, and the passive radiator in the rear. The highs, such as percussion, was pleasantly crisp and not overly bright. The mids had good detail. For their size, the bass also had good extension and output. The output in volume was also fairly good for it's size. Only when I cranked the volume up all the way did the sound seem a tad stretched with a small discernible amount of distortion.

The Harman Kardon Nova gives a lot of functionality. I can see them being used in the kitchen, den, or bedroom, where you could hook them up to a CD player via optical connector, MP3 player/cellphone/computer via the 3.5 mm cable, or cellphone via the Bluetooth or NFC. I also love the modern look of the round speakers with clear plastic all around that shows off the internal turbine design.

Harman Kardon delivered well on the Nova. With great looks and good sound, the excellent looks provide a synergy that sum up to a great product. Based on it's design, features, quality and performance, the Harmon Kardon Nova 2.0 Speaker System has earned our Editor's Choice Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at

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