Wednesday, September 24, 2014

iblazr is the phone flash accessory I didn't know I needed

Next up we have the iblazr, a unique accessory for the smart phone camera junky, in the form of a 4 LED flash for Android and iOS devices. The thumb sized flash plugs into a phone or tablet via 33.5mm jack, includes it's own internal battery, and has multiple light modes for those low light shots and videos. The four powerful LEDs are topped with 70-degree optics to provide enough light for just about any situation. Features aside, it's time to see how this simple beast performs.
The iblazr was more functional than I was expecting as it could be used as a laptop lamp by way of a flexible charger or audio extension cable and a light source for personal camera from the included cold shoe mount. I was worried about the battery life due to the small stature, but the internal battery outlasts my phone. The iblazr is easy to use with a push of the button and additional presses for various steady light levels. Using the flash requires use of the iblazr app, which is on par with the iOS 7 camera app, unfortunately after upgrading to iOS 8, it does not offer the same features but offers a lot more lighting than the LED flash on the phone.

I enjoyed the iblazr for its' portability and night shots it was able to capture, but was ultimately surprised by the functionality it provided. My only complaint is the app required to use the flash function, but after a week of use it was quickly overlooked by the amount of time I used for the steady lighting and the multiple light levels. I have a soft spot for phone camera accessories, such as the iblazr and lenses for the capabilities they are able to provide to the devices most of us cannot be without. The iblazr is available now in white or black for $49.99 and aluminum for $69.99.

Divoom Voombox Ongo: A Bluetooth For Bikes

The latest in the Divoom lineup has arrived, this go round is dubbed Ongo. The Ongo is a part of the Voombox product line, so it sports the portable and rugged, dual driver build. What's fresh with the Ongo, is that it is built to go more place by including a bike mount and built in loop to clip to. Now that the temperature is about to drop going into fall, let's see if it's up to the challenge of never leaving your side.
The Ongo is a great little speaker, with a super sturdy build, but the new design is where it really shines. The addition of the loop to clip a caribiner to is nice and the compact build makes it really easy to get around without a lot of bulk. The included bike mount is the best part of the Ongo for those that commute around town or cruise the local bike trails on weekends when the Arizona temperatures drop below 100. The sound is good providing that extra oomph when the phone's speakers can't cut without being so loud that it's offensive to those nearby.

The Voombox Ongo is a strong fit for anyone with an active lifestyle or looking for great portability. The durability and eight hour battery life will bring your playlist along on most any day trip, wet or dry. The bike mount is easy to put on the handlebars and stays in place even on rough trails, and a nice side note, it uses the same threading as cameras and can mount to tripods. The Voombox Ongo brought to us by Divoom is available now in a variety of five colors.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Metro Redux | Review

If you're like me, you may have a backlogged list of games you always intend to go back and play.  If you're also like me, you may eventually forget, or get too busy and just focus on looking forward.  Luckily, 4A, the developers behind the highly underrated Metro 2033/Metro: Last Light Series, have found it in the goodness of their hearts to take the time to re-package these two titles in an entirely new package.

Metro Redux aims to take a shot at the recent trend of "last-gen" games being re-mastered, and re-launched for the new/current systems.  Like Tomb Raider, and The Last of US before it, Metro: Redux is more of a revisioning, and less a money-grab.  This isn't just a slight polish on the last gen, re-packaged as a two-for-one special, no.  Although, even if that's all they did, it would still be a great deal (at $50 retail, two solid games, you cannot go wrong).

However, 4A has gone back to the source, and re-built the title using the latest game engine enhancements, increasing the visual fidelity, improving the gameplay, (giving options to choose your play-style), and even including all DLC released, this is truly the only version of the Metro series you need to own, and is a great time killer before the onslaught of this holiday's upcoming gaming season.

So, say you're one who hasn't played these games when they were on Xbox/PS3.  Say you don't know much about them...well, I'm glad you're here.  In Metro 2033, the year is (obviously) 2033, the bulk of the game takes place in the Metro system of Moscow.  There was a cataclysmic event that has driven the surviving humans into the city's metro system (following so far?).  You play our hero Artyom as you fight along side a small resistance against both humans, and mutated creatures.  The original version of Metro 2033 focused on the "survival horror" aspect, in that healing and ammunition was scarce, so you had to strategically conserve to survive...and even the easiest setting was highly unforgiving.  The Redux version gives you the ability to play the more "action-like" Spartan mode featured as a differentiator of the Metro Last Light title.  Bullets, skills, healing items are more readily available so you can focus more on the action, instead of worrying about merely surviving.

Play it the original way, play it the new way - the choice is yours just play it!

Metro 2033 starts off as a pretty traditional shooter, but soon you'll be encountering more frightening elements that will make you want to play with the lights on.  It's not a true horror game per se, but it does have some "scare" moments.

When it comes to the second half of this Metro sandwich, we actually had a chance to review Last Light back in May of 2013 (see here) and even though we praised the title for it's visuals back then, the new version looks even better!  Controls are about the same (in the sense that they aren't quite as fluid as your AAA titles, but it just takes a little getting used to.  We didn't experience the same glitches we remember from the last-gen version here, so it looks like they've been able to squash a lot of the bugs that were a minor grievance last time.

All in all, you have two very solid games that should tide you over till the onslaught of the holiday gaming season begins, and for a great price, you cannot go wrong to finally go underneath the surface to the Metro.