Sunday, December 20, 2015

Polk Audio's Striker Pro P1: One headset for multiple platforms

Hot on the heels of the small handheld keyboard, we have a gaming headset to put through the gauntlet and these come courtesy of Polk Audio, the Striker Pro P1. This headset is built to work across platforms that include the PS4, Wii U, PC, Mac, tablets, and smartphones. As you recall, we previously reviewed the Polk 4 Shot shortly after the release of the next gen consoles and while they are a decent headset, the retractable microphone needed some work. Luckily the Striker Pro’s use a newly designed removable microphone that has a push button mute. Three detachable cables are included for use across multiple devices and both the headband and ear cups are wrapped in a leatherette material for comfort during extended play times. Let's see how they perform.
The Striker Pro P1 is a great gaming headset and could easy the only headphones one could need. I will start with the lay flat pivoting cups, they make this large headset quite a bit more compact to take on the go and the durable build quality did not feel flimsy at all, even the cables were pretty thick. The removable flexible microphone works great, without changing any settings, those in my party were able to hear me clearly without feedback, even picking up my dog playing in the background. The sound is equally amazing, from movies and music to games, these can deliver in spades at any volume, I would have just preferred a bit more bass. The Striker Pro's packaging emphasizes the tuning of the drivers with Polk Optimized Electro-Acoustic Tuning (POET) so I figured I would use Battlefront to give them a beating and they sounded beautiful with crisp and clear sound, making the a fully immersive gaming experience.
A few things that I was not so fond of out of the box was the overly snug fit, the optional in line remote, and the inability to hear myself speak. In regards to the snug fit, the headband is made up of sturdy metal, so firm use of thumbs at the top and a few test fittings and it no longer felt like they had a Kung Fu grip on my dome. The over the ear for do such a good job at blocking out so much noise, such as yourself speaking at higher volumes so it was often times hard to hear myself speak or other party members in the middle of loud firefights. At lower to medium volume, I did not have this problem at all. Lastly, the OPTIONAL in line remote, mine may have been defective as I got constant feedback and would not recognize the microphone. Like I said it is optional, so it did not take away from my experience.
I love the Polk Striker Pro P1's as there are no one trick pony. They now go with me just about everywhere thanks to the fold flat design and I even use them while working to take and lead conference calls. Even using on plane, the headset does a great job at blocking out engine noise, chatty neighbors, and crying babies. When using them for what they are made for, online gaming, is where I truly appreciate what they had to offer, as I got immersive sound with party chat without the loss of sound quality from using a cheap headset so I could talk with teammates. Polk's Striker Pro P1 is available now and priced at $129.95 but at the time of this review, they are modestly priced at $99.95 with free shipping from Polk's site.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Brydge Keyboard turns the iPad mini into a notebook

We have another Bluetooth keyboard for the multiple iPad Mini’s out there. This one is similar to the Zagg Folio Keyboard reviewed previously but rather than snapping into a clamshell that was damn near impossible to keep clean, the iPad Mini slides into two hinges. The Brydge Keyboard also come packing other neat features like aluminum case, Bluetooth connection, function keys specific to the iPad, and the keyboard goes into a sleep status when closed. The sleek metal body matches the design of the apple iPad mini well with the quality of that found in apple-licensed accessories. It took a minute to get the mini into the clamps, so it is time to sync to the keyboard and complete my impressions. 
The Brydge Keyboard has a nice solid feel to it without the added girth of having to put the iPad into a case that is attached to a keyboard. I have always been a fan of turning the tablet into a smaller, more portable keyboard, and this small keyboard does well at accomplishing this. In my week of use, I did not have to recharge the device at all and it appears after looking at the box that the battery life is up to 3 months, this is based on usage types of course. The keys are also backlit, which was not of much use to me but I know of some that prefer this feature. The keys felt natural and had a decent resistance reducing mistyping due to clumsy fingers. Getting the clamp fit just right took a few attempts though, as it is built to house the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generations, pinching and resetting was necessary to get a tight fit. 

I was pleasantly surprised with the Brydge Keyboard from it’s solid build and long battery life. I had previously preferred Zagg’s attempt at turning the small tablet into notebook, but this keyboard has since removed it from it’s pedestal. My only complaint came from the clamp design, but did not take long to grow on me. The look of the keyboard also matches the design of the iPad, looking like the two were made for each other while also providing protection to the screen on the go when the hinges are closed. Brydge’s Keyboard is available now in silver, gold, and my preference, space grey; all of which are priced at $129.99.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

MashButtons goes nostalgic with Transformers:Devastation

It is time for another game review and this time around we have the latest from Platinum Games and Activision a provided us a complimentary copy of Transformers: Devastation. Like previous games in their lineup we have another visceral, lightning fast action title which will bring back memories to us 80's babies as its inspiration comes straight out of Generations. Devastation comes in a bright cell shaded look and with the ability to play as a handful of your favorite Autobots, voiced by actors of the original tv series, so let's see if it is a trip down memory lane.
From the start, I immediately felt a strong sense of nostalgia with Peter Cullen's distinctive voice of Optimus Prime and once I got past the tutorial is where the fun really started. On top of being a strong action game, the vast customizations that come with the gameplay is what had me coming back for more. Each level is fast and action filled, making it incredibly easy to both pick up and play for short amount or to play for extended periods with varying types of Decepticons and bosses. I was a bit apprehensive with how the gameplay between vehicle and ass-kicking robot would feel but after the tutorial and a few missions under my belt, it felt like it was always meant to be.
There were a few items in which took away from my experience and the first would have to be the linear level designs and the invisible walls. The majority of the level structure is making your way from point A to point B and killing everything between. There is also a lot of repetition in the levels while making your way to the big boss fights, and while they big battles are very satisfying, they are far between. 
All in all, I had a great time with Tranformers: Devastation, nuances aside. My entertainment came largely from the nostalgia value in which PlatinumGames and Activision delivered in spades by focusing on Generations in which most of us grew up watching as children. My satisfaction came from playing as my favorite Autobot in which the movies destroyed, Grimlock, and he along with the rest of the playable Autobots were very very satisfying to play as. Transformers:Devastation is available now for $29.99.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Pace, the latest wireless earbuds in the Jabra Sport lineup

Next we have another wireless sports headset from our friends over at Jabra and this time around, they have provided us with the Sport Pace. The Sport Pace, following the recent releases of the active lifestyle inspired lineup, which includes the Pulse and Coach, was designed to keep you on track. The Pace wireless ear buds provide in ear updates, workout tips, and motivational guidance for training through the Jabra Sports Life app. Unboxed and app installed, it is time to see how the Pace stands against it’s Jabra Sport siblings.
I didn’t know what to think of the supportive arms that go behind my ears, but after wearing a short time, it was hardly noticeable unless while wearing a hat. What is particularly enjoyed was how light they were, weighing in at less than an ounce, while still being capable of delivering six hour of playback and the ability to take a hit. They take a few hours to fully charge but like a lot of new electronic devices being released, the Sport Pace offers a rapid charge ability, which allows an hour’s worth of music and monitoring in only 15 minutes of charge.
In terms of sound quality, Pace performs much a lot like the Pulse or Coach, with bass heavy delivery paired with clarity that didn’t disappoint regardless to genre or volume. The accompanying app, which delivers the feature that sets Pace apart from other wireless headphones was easy to use and was pretty convenient and delivered with just a touch of a button. Along with tracking my workout history, the Sport Life App also integrates with other sports applications preventing having to prioritize between apps.

After my time spent with Jabra’s Sport Pace, there is a lot of bang for your buck in this featherweight package. Being so light that they were hardly there to the lightning fast charge to get me through a workout when I forgot to recharge, I was hard pressed to come up with any downside, outside of not providing a travel case or enough playback time to tune out noisy neighbors on long trips. The Jabra Sport Pace is available now in three reflective colors for the price of $99.99.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Phantom Pain - $39.99 on Amazon TODAY ONLY

Get it while it's hot...literally.  I wouldn't expect a price like this again until maybe Black Friday in a few weeks.  Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain is only $39.99 on Amazon today only get it here, here or even HERE!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Turcom unveils their new rugged portable speaker, the Titan

We are at it again with another Bluetooth speaker review and this time around we have a smaller, more portable audio device with Turcom’s TS-455 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker. This little speaker come equipped with two speakers packing 5 watts of power each and wrapped in and smooth looking Aluminum casing. Along with the sleek design, this speaker is not built to be babied as it is rated at IPX5 standards so it water resistant to boot. In terms of the other technical internal specs, we have a Bluetooth 4.0 chip and 1800 mAh battery to allow 12 hours of playback between charges. Sounds good on paper, so lets see how it performs out of the box. 
For starters, this little speaker looks smooth and aluminum shell is a great complement to the MacBook while being slim enough to fit in my laptop bag without excessive bulk. The battery life is also surprising as most of the compact, or even the larger speakers I have reviewed, do not come with lengthy 12 hours standby. What good is the long battery life if you are like myself and forget to turn off before stowing away, well Turcom thought of this as well by including an auto-sleep function. In terms of the sound, it was not great, but it was not bad either as it was just enough to fill a room with clear sound with good highs but the mid and low range were nothing to write home about. 

Is this a bad thing, not at all when you see how slim and compact the durable aluminum wrapped speaker is. The internals and features are also some of the speaker’s stand out features over other portable wireless speakers in it’s class. The incorporation of the Bluetooth 4.0 chip allows this speaker to sync up with any Bluetooth compatible device such as computer, tablet, or phone. Now for the price tag, Turcom has the speaker priced at $55.99 which is a fitting price for it, but at the time of this review, the speaker was marked down to $37.99, which is great price point for this little beast. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Emotiva provides us with their new Bluetooth Speakers, the Airmotiv 3B

From personal audio and onto room filling sound, we move onto a pair of palm sized Bluetooth stereo speakers. Emotiva has provided me with the Airmotiv 3B, a pair of 2 way speakers measuring in at only 4 inches by 5 inches that have thirty watts of power going to each channel. These powered speakers provide real two way sound, by way of 3/4-inch tweeter and 3 inch woofer, while the enclosure comes with a tuned port design. I threw my pair up on my desktop, but they would fit in equally well on a nightstand or shelf, so it is time to see how they perform. 
My first thought after removing from the large box, was that of apprehension due to the small stature. However, once linked and streaming I was more than pleasantly surprised as there was so much sound, easily filling just about every room in my house. I was able to crank these speakers all the way up without distortion, although I would not suggest it as they get louder than most would think. On top of being loud, the Airmotiv 3B’s are clear with most music genres, I did notice that bass heavy hip hop gave these compact speakers a run for their money trying to hit the lower ranges of bass sometimes sounding a bit flat. But most importantly, a high bit rate playback provides a great listening experience, which is rarely found in Bluetooth speakers, especially those similar in size. 
With a number of HiFi Bluetooth speaker reviews under my belt, and I have come to the conclusion that speakers that come wrapped in fabric, never disappoint. If I could change anything, it would be the ability to add a subwoofer to get some more depth in the mix. Aside from the lack of depth, the clarity and the small footprint greatly overshadow the small complaint as they can fill a room with sound and were up to the beating, regardless of the playlist. Emotiva's Airmotiv 3B Bluetooth speakers are available now for $199.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Jabra's new Sport Coach: Made with the Cross Trainer in mind

Jabra has done it again and released a new wireless headset for the active minded, with the Sport Coach. The new earbuds are similar to the Sport Pulse, released last year, but with another trick up it’s sleeve as these headphones become your workout coach for a variety of different workouts. This is made possible through the Jabra Sport app and the TrackFit motion sensor housed within these compact buds to monitor distance, steps, calories burned, and more. As someone that still suggests the Jabra Sport Pulse as my favorite wireless buds, I am excited to see if these will take the throne. 
Out of the box, the Sport Coach looks strikingly similar to the Pulse as the color was the difference in which stands out. What’s inside on the other hand is significantly different as the TrackFit communicates well with the Jabra Sport app in tracking my activity, but the Coach function of the headphones were great. It is easy to customize or start your workout and select your music source so that you just put down your phone and get moving. The variety of included workouts is nice as well and the ease of use made me want to use the app more for tracking and goal setting, which I anticipated getting forgotten after just a few uses…I was wrong. 

The battery life is a bit short running five and a half to six hours between charges, but luckily they charge quickly. I do see that the silicon ear form that covers the charger port getting stretched out and needing replacement quickly depending on how often you go between charges. In terms of the sound quality, my biggest deciding factor in choosing headphones, these earbuds are bass heavy and perform clearly at high volumes with little sound bleeding, I would have just liked a longer battery life to use on the plane while traveling. This workout coach is available now in a variety of three colors for the price $149.99.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

MashButtons reviews Phiaton's new Bluetooth Active Noise Cancelling buds, the BT 220 NC

Phiaton, one of my personal favorite headphone headphone companies for making sleek and stylish headphones with sound quality as strong as their designs, has provided me with their latest Bluetooth Active Noise Cancelling earbuds the BT 220 NC. This new model takes the previous PS 210 BTNC and updates the designs, internals, connection, battery and more. These little dongle connected wireless earbuds are equipped with Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC connections, Active Noise Canceling, Multi-Point Connection and a long battery. Lets see how they perform after improving and already great set of earbuds. 
The first thing I noticed out of the box is the design and material change from the smoothed edged plastic dongle with a spring loaded clip to the hard edged and more narrow design that used metal instead of plastic and uses a stationary clip to attach to your wardrobe. These changes are vast improvements as I felt that the 210’s had a cheaper feel in comparison to the sturdy feeling new 220's. On top of the more durable feel, the buds fit comfortably for extended listening by way of the included various sized ear tips and comply foam tips.
The sound and noise canceling during the extended use is great thanks to the 14.3 MM drivers, which provides clear highs and a nice range for a variety of genres. The noise canceling is not really noticeable while listening to music, but if you are using to drown out ambient noises on a flight or trying to fall asleep in a large city, they work great by canceling out 95% of ambient noises. I have a work phone and a personal phone so the connection abilities provided are what impressed me the most. The Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC connection options are fast if not instant to set up and start listening to music or attending conference calls and the Multi-point connection to two devices simultaneously.
In the end, the BT 220 NC is a damn near excellent set of earbuds. Why not perfect, that has to do with the weight of the hanging dongle that clips to my short collar or sleeve which is no slouch felt awkward using while active. The battery life is no slouch either as they tout 16-17 hours of talk or music or 300 hours of standby time to go longer between forget to recharge before use. Phiaton's new Bluetooth Noise Cancelling ear buds are available now for $179.00.