Monday, April 29, 2013
Worth the hype?
The beats by Dre headphones caught my attention as soon as they came out; I tough they looked cool. Their marketing sure did a great job promoting them in various music videos and public appearances by famous athletes and artists. But good marketing doesn’t necessarily mean good product right? I decided to test them out myself to see if they were really worth it.
The Solo HD are very aesthetically pleasing (let’s face it, they look good). They offer a simple foldable design which allows you to bring them with you virtually anywhere. They are equipped with ControlTalk technology that allows you to answer calls and have conversations while they are plugged to a cellular device.
The box specifies that the Beats Solo HD are made for Iphones, Ipods and Ipads, which in a sense is true. When I tried it, my iPhones did not instantly recognize the ControlTalk. After searching true forums regarding the issue, I finally found the problem: the cable that came with my headphones was defective. Luckily the headphones came with two cables, so I simply used the other one. Also the L shape audio jack makes it difficult to use with phone cases; but. A straight 3.5mm audio jack can be bought separately.
Style, Quality and performance
As I said earlier, they appeal to so many because they look stylish. They are slightly different in style from the regular beats Solo as the HDs have a glossy exterior instead of matte. They also made the HD sturdier because a lot of costumers were complaining about broken Solos. As for sturdiness, I have had no problems with these head headphones. They survived multiples falls from head height and many stretching due to accidents.
On the other side, the detachable ear cushions can be a problem. They come off rather easily and can be a pain to reattach. As for comfort, I found that it’s best not to use them for a long period of time because after an hour of listening to anything with them, my ears started to hurt.
In no way shape or form do I consider myself a true headphones connoisseur, but as a regular consumer, I felt let down by the sound quality. In my opinion, the only difference with other headphones is the bass-boosting, which a lot of people confuse for sounds quality. Also, there is no noise-cancelling and music can easily be heard by people around.
The Bottom Line
All in all, I would define the Beats Solo HD as an overpriced fashion accessory. They look good, but that’s pretty much all they have going for them. They cost twice as much as a decent quality pair of Sennheiser for an overall painful and unpleasant experience.
Friday, April 26, 2013
Many features.. you don't really need
I am a big call of duty fan, other than the occasional Mortal Kombat match that`s all I play. So when I came across and controller that would give me a small edge in the game I got it right away. Turns out it wasn't that simple.
There are many features so let's jump right in...
- ILLUMINATION : Ok, so the buttons are lit up, but if you are a seasoned gaming you know exactly where and what the buttons are so that was not a major selling point for me. But ya always give it to your cousin Daniel who has no sweet clue how to play, it might help him out a bit when you are telling him what button does what.
- DISPLAY : A LED screen allows players to visually adjust shots per seconds in real time. Now this is a bit more useful. Every gun, in most games, has a maximum fire rate. This screen allows you to switch and test the fire rates on the go. It`s not super simple, but it is at least possible.
- RAPID FIRE : This is the main reason I purchased this controller. I wanted to be able to use my COD points on other things than getting my weapon fully automatic. It is the one aspect of the controller that works extremely well, but only when you can find the exact fire rate that suits the weapon in question and that is a task you have to start over every time you change guns. There are 10 memory locations to save your favorite weapon which helps a little bit. The rapid fire button allows you to quickly toggle rapid fire on and off.
- SHOT PER SEC : Unlike other rapid fire controllers the MINDFORCE PS3 allows for customized fire rates of up to 99.9 shots per second. 999 different fire rates seems a bit over the top, but I does give you the ability to find the exact fire rate you need.
- BARRAGE : This unleash your full arsenal. This button is placed on the underbelly of the controller which makes it awkward to press at time and, to be honest, the only time I used it was by accident. To me this feature is useless because it is like panicking on demand, not accurate and a waste of ammo. It is also only compatible with the call of duty series (excluding MW3)
- QUICK SCOPE : The QUICK SCOPE feature instantly zooms in and takes the shot in one fluent motion. A good attribute if you like quickscoping, but I didn't find it very accurate. To be fair, I didn't spend much time using this feature. Also only compatible with the Call of Duty series.
- DROP SHOT :
With the press of the Modify button and the D-pad based Drop Shot, you drop to the ground and engage rapid fire, but by the time you react and press both buttons you've been shot multiple times. Again, only compatible with the Call of Duty series.
- STEADY SCOPE
With steady scope activated the moment you zoom in your aim becomes steady. Good feature, but I tend to turn it off because I look for long amount of times down sight. Again, only compatible with the Call of Duty series.
There are nine usable layouts on the Call of Duty Series and with the REMAP feature all the controller's features can be usable no matter what the setting. Again, only compatible with the Call of Duty series. ( I feel like I'm repeating myself )
And this is where it all falls apart. The concept is great, a controller with many features you regularly use while playing the game. The only problem is that it is very counter intuitive. It might be because I've played first person shooters with the original controller all those years but it just doesn't feel 'right'. But this controllers downfall is its lack in precision. The two control sticks are just not as accurate as I wish they would be and because of that, the gameplay suffers.
The Bottom line
The bottom line is you have to make a choice. Do you want to sacrifice accuracy for features or not? If so, then this controller is for you. If not, I would save my money.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Stuck Between a Pebble and a Hard place
Notice: I used the watch with an iPhone 5
When I backed the Pebble project about a year ago on Kickstarter, I never expected the watch to take this long to finalize and ship to the backers. Nonetheless, I waited patiently for it to arrive to my doorstep and finally, my prayers were answered a few weeks ago. Having used it for about 3 weeks now, here is my review of this new and innovative product.
To be honest, to the average person the features are pretty limited for now. You can receive texts, emails and phone calls to your watch and control your phone's music if you feel like it. Now those features (although limited) are pretty impressive. Being a physical education teacher, I move a lot with the kids and don't wait to carry my phone with me all day, so now I can leave it in my office and if someone sends me a message, a small vibration on my wrist will alert me and I can go on teaching.
Our school gym also has a Bluetooth enabled boombox that is also linked to my phone so while teaching I can control the music from anywhere in the gym. Those two features where enough for me to want the pebble and I am glad I got it.
Now being the geek that I am, my phone is also jailbroken which allows me to receive other notifications to my watch (facebook, twitter, etc.) Also, as of last week, a primary watch face sdk was released which allows third parties to also create watch faces for pebble.
Pebble promises many upgrades to come such as high efficiency Bluetooth, runkeeper integration and an all out App sdk but we do not have a precise time frame for those features.
Style and Quality
Pebble has managed to make somewhat of a stylish watch. The watch band can be replaced by practically any other one that might fit your style. The all plastic and rubber combo does however make it look and feel a little cheap. The watch does not feel particularly sturdy, all four buttons feel a bit flimsy and wiggle a bit if not pressed fully. Its screen has been reported as being very scratchable but mine is still intact (note that I have applied a skinomi screen protector on mine).
The watch works great... most of the time. Now I don`t know if the following is typical to all watches but here are some problems I've had with mine. First off, the charger cable. It is a usb cable that magnetically attaches to the watch to charge it. The problem is that it is very sensitive to movement and I always have to jiggle it for at least ten seconds for the watch to register it's attachment it start charging, As far as longevity of the charge, it varies. The official website states that it should last a week but I've gotten a low battery indicator after using it moderately for less than 2 days.
The watch faces are easy to install. Simply find the one you want on a website and tap on it. Then, chose open with the pebble app and voila! You now have a new watch face. Sadly, many are very buggy and cause my watch to crash and restart multiple times. Some also drain the battery extremely fast.
The Bottom Line
It's the best of its kind but mostly because it's the only of its kind. Pebble is paving the way for other companies to improve on the concept. In other words my pebble is pretty much a placeholder for my iWatch. I love my pebble but it is lacking in many departments. I wish it was sturdier and more stable, but primarily, I wish it had more features. The pebble is a great product that has yet to reach its full potential and I doubt it will in time to compete with the multitude of watches that are about to flood the market.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
The texture of a Rhino without the weight
Being a gym teacher, I have seen equipment come and go but I think these dodge-balls are here to stay. Before acquiring those balls my students used pink rubber balls to play dodge ball They were easy to throw but getting hit by them was painful (especially for the younger kids). Now even my kindergartners can get hit without fear of getting hurt.
These balls are soft enough to to hit a child without fearing injury, yet dense enough to be thrown across the gym. Filled with foam and air, they can be squashed to a pancake and take back their forms without a few seconds. The texture of the calls makes it easy for even the tiniest hands to grab firmly.
They come in six different colors including yellow, red, green, blue, purple and orange (a black version of the ball can be ordered on it's own). I have about 30 6 1/4 inch ones and 6 of the super special series that are about twice the size of the dodge-balls. Other than the weight and size the balls are pretty much the same (See picture bellow).
I use the balls mainly for dodge ball but also when practicing manipulation with the kids (one of the 8 main themes evaluated for phys. ed in my province) that way they can all have material without me fearing them getting hurt.
Even tho I use and enjoy them, they are not perfect. After having the smaller balls for over a year now, some of the ones we use regularly are starting to loose some firmness. It is like the foam inside some of the balls has shrunken slightly while the outer skin has not. Nothing major as only a select few balls are affected but still a minor incontinence. A few balls have also been pierced but that doesn't seem to affect the usability of the balls (as long as the students don't start picking at them that is).
The Price Tag
Reasonably priced, the dodge balls go for about 9.99$ a ball or 64.99$ for a set of 6 colors and I believe I paid 126.99 for a set of 6 of the bigger ones. Not to bad considering I will be using them for quite a few years and on a weekly basis.
The Bottom LineThose pieces of equipment are essential to my teaching and I haven't found any other balls that could come close to the quality of these ones. If you are a teacher and have the budget, I strongly suggest you look into acquiring then. If you are parent, get a few and your kids will thank you for it.
Monday, April 22, 2013
A little box with a lot of boom
The school where I work recently gave me the task to find a new sound system for the gym. I was looking for something small and durable but also something powerful that would fit my needs for when I teach to the kids and for extracurricular activities.
This sound system is fairly simple. It has an iPod dock for any apple device with a 16 pin connector (not iPhone 5 compatible yet) and an audio input at the back. You can also connect wireless devices via Bluetooth.
In terms of looks it look very sleek. The one I got is all black with a red beats by Dre logo on the front (There is also a white and grey version available). Both side of the device are equipped with handles for easy portability. The system can be plugged to a power outlet or, if you want to use it on the go, you will need six D-cell batteries (Seems like a little much doesn't it?) that can be place in a latch under the boombox.
Like most products made by the company, this one delivers a good sound quality. I can easily project sounds through the whole gym without any problems. The sounds does become a little distorted at a higher volume but nothing really major. The reach of the system when connected to Bluetooth is far better than I ever could of expected. I can leave my phone in my office (which is at the other end of the gym) and still get agreat connection. The remote control that came with the device on the other can not reach that far.
The beats by Dre Beatbox is also very sturdy. It received quite a few hits in the last month and there is no sign of malfunctions yet.
The Price Tag
The price tag is a little high (399.99 on sale when i got it) but the quality is there so it is worth it. Can you get something similar for a lower price? Probably, the features are basic and pretty much standard on every recent model.
The Bottom Line
Powerful, durable and great looking, this product is reliable and a great acquisition for any music lover as long as you don't mind a small jab to the wallet.
Monday, April 8, 2013
|My brother Marc (left) and Myself (right)|
Welcome everyone to the Tester Brothers website, a review blog put in place by myself and my brother Marc. We are located in New-Brunswick Canada. Here you will find reviews on product we had the chance of testing. It will range from gadgets to sports equipment.
I will soon become a father so you can expect baby products reviews on here as well! I am a PE teacher and my brother is studying to become one so the health aspect of products reviews on this page will be explored in depth.
You might be asking yourself what categories of products we will be reviewing here. To be honest, all of them. If we use it we review it but we will primarily review gadgets (as we are self proclaimed geeks), sports equipment (as we both work in the health a sports field) and baby and kids items (as I am going to be a father in October and my brother an uncle... and it does hurt that we are both kids at heart)
If you have any questions or if you would like us to review your product(s) you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org . Have a great day and we hope to see you back soon for many in depth reviews!