Sunday, May 22, 2016

Prepper's Segment Part 2: Eton FRX5 All Purpose Quad Power Charging Radio Review

When it comes to making the Swiss Army Knife of portable radios, it doesn’t get much better than the Eton FRX5. Eton is known for making these high quality radios. And the Eton FRX5 is definitely cut out of that mold. With a light, radio, and multiple charging options, it seems to do it all.


Features and specs:
• AM/FM/NOAA weatherband
• S.A.M.E. and NOAA Weather Alerts
 • 2000 mAh Rechargeable lithium battery
 • Digital tuner and display
 • Rechargeable lithium battery
 • 5V 2.1A USB output
 • High efficiency solar panel charging
 • Hand crank power
 • Rugged and IPX4 splashproof
 • Bright, long-lasting LED flashlight
 • Red emergency beacon
 • Ambient light with dimmer
 • DC power input via included micro-USB cable
 • Glow-in-the-dark locator
 • Illuminated buttons
 • AUX-IN jack
• Headphone jack
• Alarm clock

The Eton FRX5 came in a nice looking box with photos of the product and specs. Materials used in the construction was mostly plastic, and the quality of the materials was good. Build quality and fit and finish was also good. It felt like a well made product, which is a very good quality to have, especially for an outdoor product. Also included was the owner's manual, and a micro USB charging cable.

Having previously reviewed Eton products, we were excited for the opportunity to do more for them. The Eton FRX5 did everything well, and the owner's manual was easy to follow. The built-in flashlight was sufficiently bright. And I liked the fact that it had 2, one standard flashlight mounted on the side, and a dome/ambient light on the top.  Pressing the light button cycled it from the dome light to the flashlight, to off.  Both of the lights also had glow in the dark trip around the light.  Holding onto the light button will also allow you to change the brightness of the flashlight or dome light.  There is even a red emergency beacon that can be activate.

The tuner was also easy to use, being able to change from AM to FM to Weather Band.  The digital display makes it easy to see the tuning frequency, and the tuning knob and volume knob make it easy to tune and adjust the volume.  The antenna stores flush into the body of the unit, and is easy to pull out and rotate to pull in the best signal.  The built-in tuner worked well, and was able to pull in AM, FM, and Weather band stations fairly simply.  The built-in speaker worked well and sounded as good as expected. 

One the side of the unit is where you find the connection ports.  This is where you would connect a power cord to the unit to charge the internal lithium ion battery.  Below that microUSB connector is a standard USB connector, where you would attach a cable to charge a cell phone with the unit.  Next to these connections are also two 3.5mm jacks.  These allow you to connect a mp3 player to the unit to listen to your tunes thru the FRX5, or to listen to the radio or your connected mp3 player thru some headphones.   

And I love the multiple charge options!  If you are charging the device, whether be from the charge cord provided, the solar panel, or the hand crank, the display will show the charging indicator is lit.  This tells you that the FRX5 is charging.  And no matter your environment, you will be able to charge the device thanks to the hand crank!  If you have some AAA batteries, that would be a simpler option.  But remember that dreaded feeling you feel when your cell phone battery dies, and you realize you don't have your charger cable with you?  Yeah, you won't have to worry about getting that feeling with the Eton FRX5.  You will always have a source of power.


Some products appear so great, they seem too good to be true.  The Eton FRX5 provides that same feeling, only it is true!  Not only that, it is well made, and performed very well!  If you do any camping, or just want to be prepared for potential emergencies, the Eton FRX5 is a must have.  And being water resistant, there is no concern for having it outdoors. With an MSRP of $150, it is priced right and will be money well spent.  Based on its design, features, quality, and performance, the Eton FRX5 has earned our Editor's Choice Award.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.etoncorp.com.


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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Preppers Segment Part 1: Nite Ize Inova T4R High Power LED Rechargeable Flashlight

As an Eagle Scout, I still try to always “Be Prepared.” Now days, there’s another group of people that also follow the same motto. They are called Preppers. With their increase in popularity, we decided to do a Preppers Segment this spring. And we wanted to do it on some gear we all could use. Gear that Preppers would want to have in their “bug out” bag. So if crap hits the fan, you can just grab your bag and bug out.

The products that we received are a high power flashlight from Nite Ize, a compact all in one radio, from Eton, a larger field radio from Eton, and a large 10000 mAh power bank from Enerplex. The flashlight is the Nite Ize Inova T4R, an LED lithion ion high powered flashlight.  The portable all-in-one is the Eton FRX5. It’s a radio with weather band and a built-in flashlight, and can be changed via cord, batteries, solar, and hand crank. It can also be used to charge your cellphone. The Eton Field Radio is a larger radio, that does not have all of the charging options, but includes a shortwave radio. Last but not least is the Enerplex Jumpr Slate Power Bank. It is a large 10,000 mAh battery pack. This will be able to charge your phone multiple times. So if you find yourself off the grid for a couple weeks, you’re still covered for your communication.

We will start with the review of the Nite Ize Inova T4R flashlight. Next will be the Eton FRX5, followed by the Eton Field Radio. Last, but not least, will be the review of the Enerplex Jumpr Slate Power Bank. So make sure to check back over the next couple of weeks for the rest of the reviews.

The Nite Ize Inova T4R is a great high power LED Lithion Ion flashlight. Rated at up to 571 lumens, it’s definitely bright! The hard aluminum is very durable. It’s water resistant. And it has multiple brightness settings.  MSRP is a reasonable $149.

Features and specs:
·         LED Color: White
·         Lumens: High - 571 | Medium - 178 | Low - 27
·         Run Time: High 1 hour 50 minutes | Medium 7 hours | Low 50 hours
·         Effective Range (up to): 728ft (222m)
·         Battery Type: 1 Rechargeable INOVA Lithium Ion battery included - rechargeable hundreds of times
·         Recharging Time: 3 hours for full recharge
·         Tactical Mid-Body Switch activates High, Medium, Low, Strobe, and Momentary High Modes
·         T4R Kit Includes:
o    T4R LED Flashlight
o    INOVA Lithium Ion Rechargeable Battery
o    Low-Profile Charger - Spring loaded rollers hold flashlight securely while offering ease of removal and insertion - with 2 mounting fasteners
o    Quality AC Power Supply - 100v - 240v / Interchangeable International Plug compatible (Click here for more details)
o    DC / Vehicle Power Supply - ensures secure connection to DC vehicle receptacles. Built-in fuse provides electronic protection.
·         Individually laser engraved with a serial number for identification
·         Impact-Resistant Head protects optical system
·         Mineral Glass optical window has a double-sided anti-reflective coating and a Teflon® seal to withstand environmental pressures
·         High-powered energy efficient 33,700 hour LED
·         Electronically controlled for uniform light output
·         Patented optical system - machined aluminum reflector for optimal thermal management and beam projection.
·         Uniform focused spot with flood beam pattern
·         Aerospace-Grade Aluminum Body from solid bar stock with military-spec, Type III hard coat anodized finish
·         Aggressive knurling for positive grip
·         Color Available: Black
·         Shockproof, crushproof, and water-resistant construction
·         O-Ring ensures seal integrity and threads are anodized for reliability
·         Dimensions (Length x Diameter): 7.90" (20.32cm) x 1.10" (2.80cm) | 1.40" (3.56cm) Head Diameter
·         Weight: 8.81oz | 250g
·         Limited Lifetime Warranty USA



The Nite Ize T4R High-Powered LED Flashlight came in a nice looking printed box with photos of the product with its features and specs. Materials used in the construction is mostly aluminum. Quality of materials was excellent, as was the fit and finish. Also included was the wall and car charger.

The Nite Ize T4R was easy to get charged. I loved the design of the charger. Just slide in the T4R and the two contact points on the base make contact with the two contact points on the flashlight. And the indicator light will let you know when it’s fully charged. Using it was just as simple. The rubber power button will turn on the power as well as take you through the difference power settings and strobe.

The Nite Ize T4R is made from a solid bar stock, and it shows. It is one serious flashlight. It feels very solid in hand and well made. Unscrewing the rear cap gives access to the user replaceable battery. I saw there is also a rubber ring around the end of the threads to seal water out of the battery compartment.

And this is where my confusion lies. According to the specs, the Nite Ize T4R is only IPX4 rated for water resistance. This means it is only rated water safe with splashes. While being built like a tank, the water rating would be its weak link. Being rated against splashes is all that’s really needed. I just expected a bit more with its superb build quality. And I’m surprised it isn’t rated higher, especially with the rear rubber seal ring. Thanks to the rubber sear ring, I personally would not have any concerns with using it in foul weather or around water.


Using the Nite Ize T4R was a joy. The flashlight was easy to cycle through the brightness settings. And boy was it bright! I was also glad to see that the battery life was better than its rated times. I actually got 2 hours and 26 minutes on the highest brightness setting!  I would have no problems relying on the Nite Ize T4R on a daily basis, or in my bug out bag. Based on its design, features, quality and performance, the Nite Ize Inova T4R has earned our Highly Recommended Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.niteize.com.


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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Monster Elements Black Slate Wireless Over The Ear Headphones

Monster has a new soon to be released product in the Monster Elements Black Slate Over The Ear headphones. They already have the 24K, but Monster has expanded it. They created the elements series with the addition of the other colors, namely the Black Slate, Gold, Rose Gold, Platinum and Black Platinum. And they are now wireless with each color available in over the ear, on the ear, in ear, or floating speaker. They are scheduled to be available in June, but wanting to be included in our annual shootout, Monster sent over a pair of the Black Slate over the ear, with a MSRP of $400.

Features and specs:
Not yet on their website, but will be soon.

In Monster fashion, the Black Slate came shipped in a great looking color box with photos of the headphones and their specs. They were well protected, being shipped in their soft zippered carry case, that was held in a molded plastic insert. Materials used in the construction was mostly plastic with some metal and were excellent. The fit and finish are also excellent. The monster Elements are a top of the line series for Monster and it shows! They felt very well made in hand. I LOVE the metallic sparkle look of the Black Slate! And the memory foam earcups make them comfortable to wear.


Following the instructions was easy, and in no time at all I had the Monster Elements Black Slate charged and paired to my HTC One M9.  And as usual they also came with a separate audio cable.  So if the batteries die or you are wanting to listen to a non-wireless device, Monster has you covered.  The wireless performance was also very good.  I was able to go over 50 feet away with multiple walls between me and my HTC One M9, and the sound was perfectly clear.  I also really liked the touch sensitive Swipe Control, being able to control the music by moving my finger across the top of the earcup! It worked very well! Of course being able to listen to high res audio thru the USB Audio connection is also very cool. But how did they sound?

David Bowie: Let's Dance, kick drum was deep and played with very good authority and impact. Wood knocker was very woody and revealed a very wide soundstage. Percussion was nice and crisp. Vocals were the way Bowie should sound with excellent resolution in the timbre. Journey:Don't Stop Believing, piano sounded very natural, vocals were smooth like honey, with excellent resolution and texture. Kick drum had great depth, impact, and played with authority. Also Sprach Zarathustra: revealed a very nice rumble that was really deep and with really nice authority. Trumpets were really clean and silky smooth throwing a really wide soundstage. Imaging was excellent. Tympani played with excellent dynamics, impact and detail from the pad of the drum. Junior Wells: Why Are People Like That, the vocals had excellent resolution and texture.  Bass had excellent depth and authority. Piano sounded natural. Percussion was crisp, with nice dynamics and impact. Harmonica had excellent dynamics and harmonics. Gershwin: Rhapsody In Blue, the clarinet had excellent resolution, woodiness and air. You could hear the breathing technique. Piano sounded very natural. Cymbals were very dynamic and crisp. Horns were smooth like honey and not brassy, with excellent harmonics. Bassoon had excellent texture and low end extension. Soundstage was wide with depth. Imaging was also very good.   
The Monster Elements Black Slate are an amazing product, with the excellent Monster sound!  They are very well made, very durable, and in true Monster fashion, provide an excellent sound with excellent performance of its other features. Monster continues to solidify its place in the headphone industry.  If you don't know headphones, with a purchase of a Monster product, you will get a great sounding product.  And with their excellent build quality, they will last a long time.  based on their design, features, quality, and performance, the Monster Elements Black Slate Wireless Over The Ear Headphones have earned our Editor's Choice Award.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.monstercable.com.


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JBL Everest Elite 700 Wireless Active Noise Cancelling Headphones Review

JBL has a great pair of headphones in their JBL Everest Elite 700.  They are JBL's top of the line wireless headphone, and it shows. Not only are they wireless, they are also active noise cancelling. JBL also includes some top shelf technology in them. Their NextGen Technology allows them to control the level of outside noise. And TruNote is an Auto sound calibration so you can calibrate it to your personal sound preference. There's even a JBL Headphones App.

Features and specs:
Rated power input

30mW
Music play time with ANC and BT on

up to 15 hours
Battery type

(3.7V, 850mAh)
Music play time with ANC on and Bluetooth off

up to 19 hours
Music play time with BT on

up to 19 hours
Maximum SPL

114dB
Microphone sensitivity

-42dBV/Pa
Dynamic frequency response range (kHz)

10 - 22k Hz
Driver sensitivity

99dB@1kHz, 1mW
Driver size (mm)

40
Weight (g)

305
Bluetooth spec

4.0
Bluetooth profiles

A2DP V1.2, AVRCP V1.4, HFP V1.6
Bluetooth transmitted power

<4dbm o:p="">

The JBL Everest Elite 700 came in a great looking foil colored box with photos of the headphones and it's specs. They were well protected, sitting in a molded plastic insert. Materials used in the construction was mostly plastic, with some metal, such as in the hinges. The quality of materials used was very good, as was the fit and finish. They felt well made in hand. This is JBL's top of the line headphones, and it shows.

There are some great features in the JBL Everest Elite 700, so you will want to reference the user manual for them.  Following the manual was very easy, and was able to get them charged and paired rather quickly.   I liked the included audio cable, so they could be used when the battery dies or you want to listed to a non-wireless source.  The Active Noise Cancellation worked out very well, blocking out most of the low frequency noise.  And the TruNote Auto Calibration also worked very well, giving a better sound for me. Following the instructions I had them charged and paired in short order.  The Bluetooth performance was amazing, the best of all the devices, being able to go well over 50 feet and thru multiple walls.  I had my HTC One M9 in one corner of the first floor of my house, and was able to go all over downstairs as well as all over upstairs without even a hickup!  I was anxious to hear how they sounded!

David Bowie: Let's Dance, the kick drum had really nice low end extension and played with very good authority and impact. Wood knockers showed really nice woodiness, and a wide soundstage. Vocals were pleasantly natural with very good timbre and texture. Journey: Don't Stop Believing, piano sounded extremely natural, vocals were silky smooth with very good texture. Soundstage was nice and wide. Kick drum had depth and impact. Also Sprach Zarathustra, had nice depth of the rumble and good output. Trumpets were silky smooth and really clean with excellent harmonics, throwing a wide soundstage. Tympani had really nice impact and dynamics. Junior Wells: Why Are People Like That, vocals were silky smooth with very good, timbre and texture. Bass had good low end extension and output. Piano sounded natural. Percussion had excellent resolution with crisp cymbals and snare. Harmonica was really clean and very good dynamics. Gershwin: Rhapsody In Blue, cymbals had very good dynamics. Horns were warm and smooth yet not brassy. Bassoon had nice harmonics with good depth and texture. Soundstage was big with depth and imaging also very good.    
JBL has it all in their top of the line JBL Everest Elite 700 Wireless Headphones.  They are wireless, active noise cancelling, have an auto calibration to calibrate them to you, and even a cool app to control them.  Add to that their great fit, and excellent sound, JBL has an award winning product.  Based on their design, features, quality, and performance, the JBL Everest Elite 700 Wireless Headphones have earned our Editor's Choice Award.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.jbl.com.


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JBL UA Headphones Wireless

JBL partnered with Under Armour for their UA Headphones Wireless. If you have an active lifestyle, these could be for you. Whether it is just running, or playing basketball, they are designed to stay in your ears. They are wireless IEM with built-in controls, so you can also use them with your smart phone, and link to it with Bluetooth.
Features and specs:
With a proven ergonomic ear tip designed specifically for athletes, twist and lock them into place – they’re guaranteed never to hurt or fall out.
Internal and external strain reliefs along with IPX5 sweat proof construction provide the ultimate durability.
Premium 5.8mm dynamic drivers deliver big sound in a compact size. JBL’s legendary Pure Bass Performance will keep you driven to finish strong.
Bluetooth connectivity to iOS and Android devices allows for a wire free, distraction free workout
Control tracks, volume and calls easily with a inline 3-button mic.
Get a week’s worth of workouts with 8 hours of battery life per charge.
With a membership to to MapMyFitness Premium you can precisely monitor your health and track progress.
Frequency Response

10Hz–22kHz
Driver

Premium 5.8mm Dynamic Driver
Connector

Micro USB cable for charging



The JBL UA Headphones Wireless came in a nice red box, and were well protected being held in foam molding. Construction was mostly plastic and soft plastic rubber. And I can see by their design how they would give a solid fit and not fall out. Quality of materials used was good, as was the fit and finish. Also included was the owners' manual, additional set of ear tips, charging cable and soft carry case.

The manual was easy to follow, with how to charge them and get them to pair with my HTC One M9 smartphone.  Charging them was very easy. Getting them paired with my smartphone was very simple as well.  And their Bluetooth performance was good.  I was able to have good quality crystal clear sound up to 40 feet away from my phone, and with a wall between me and the phone.  The design of the IEM's definitely made for a secure fit.  I tried shaking my head and they held a firm fit.  They were not going to fall out!  I was able to get a great fit with one of the tips as well.  SO while they were not going to fall out, I also had a good seal for the tunes as well.  Now it was time to test their sound performance.

David Bowie: Let's Dance, bass from kick drum had good depth with authority. The wood knockers revealed a fairly wide soundstage. Percussion had good dynamics, vocals were natural sounding.  Journey: Don't Stop Believing, piano sounded very natural. Vocals were very natural with good resolution. Kick drum had nice impact and depth. Imaging was good for their price point.  Also Sprach Zarathustra, low end rumble had good depth and played with authority. Trumpets were smooth and not too brassy. Tympani had nice dynamics and impact.  Junior Wells: Why Are People Like That, vocals were very natural with really good resolution. Bass had nice low end extension and output. Piano sounded very natural. Harmonica had nice harmonics with very good dynamics.  Gershwin: Rhapsody In Blue, clarinet sounded very natural and clean with some woodiness. Horns were really smooth. Piano sounded more natural than expected. Bassoon had good depth and texture.  

If you like to be outdoors and have an active lifestyle, these JBL UA Headphones Wireless could be for you.  Whether it is be jogging, basketball, or raquetball, you won't need to worry about them falling out.  And you can get your game on with some great sound!  Based on their design, features, quality, and performance, the JBL UA Headphones Wireless has earned our Recommended Award.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.jbl.com



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