Soundcore Motion Boom Review (30W, Bluetooth 5, USB-C)

Today I have one of Anker’s newer larger bluetooth speakers with the Soundcore Motion Boom. This thing reminds me of an old school boom box, and sorry if I just dated myself for knowing what a boom box is. The Motion boom has 30 watts of power, and a 10,000mAh internal battery to keep the tunes going for up to 24 hours. Thanks to Anker for sending this to me to take a listen and tell you more about it.

 

Pickup the Soundcore Motion Boom at Amazon at https://amazon.com/dp/B08LQNL42Z?tag=liquidretro0a-20 

 

Watch this review on YouTube: 

Follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/liquidretro/ 

Join the Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/LiquidretroReviews/ 

Enjoy this review? Buy me a Coffee/Beer: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/Liquidretro

 

Packaging & Accessories

Packaging here is basic,  It’s a retail box with quite a bit of information on the outside about the specs, features, and it gives pictures and ideas of possible uses of the speaker. Inside accessories are pretty minimal, you get the speaker, a small manual, and a 3ft USB-A to C cable. 

 

Physical Description

The speaker itself is larger, I measured it at about 11.5” long, 6.5” tall and about 4” wide. It has a large handle on top thats molded into it’s overall shape, with a piece of branded rubber grip in the top. I found this handle super nice when moving the speaker around my house. Weight was 54.38oz so it’s got a bit of heft to it. That said one of the neat feature is that it’s IPX7 water rated and floats on water, so this could be a nice addition to your boat, beach parties, or backyard pool sessions too. It sounds decent when wet but it seems to want to balance face down in water so it would be best to keep it on shore. 

The front features a large traditional speaker grill with metal mesh, inside you can see the two 2.5” silver colored titanium speakers that do the bulk of the sound output. On the sides of the speaker you have the two bass reflectors, now when playing these move a decent amount but there is little protection for them. I would like to see grills here for added protection from sharp objects, or kids fingers as a hole here would affect the sound quality.

Internally there is a 10,000mAh battery that allows for up to 24 hours of playback time, depending on the volume being used and if the baseup sound enhancement feature is turned on. You can also charge your phone or other device from the USB-A port on the back of the unit when it’s turned on. The port cover in the rear is large, and fits quite tightly. USB-C is power in, USB-A is power out. Anker says the charge time is about 4 hours which I can confirm. 

 

Sound

The Motion Boom features 2 decently sized titanium drivers, I would guess they are about 3” in size along with 2 bass reflectors on each end of the speaker. Anker quotes it as having 30W of total power. This is a speaker designed for outdoors and I did some brief testing outdoors but the weather here has been below zero Fahrenheit for the past 2 weeks so it was minimal. I had no trouble with sound out on my deck, and it was plenty loud to hear in my moderately sized yard. 

 

Inside the sound quality was more than enough for a large sized room for music or youtube content. I didn’t notice any delay when synced up to video on my Ipad,l thanks to the Bluetooth 5 technology. The speaker can also pair to another Motion Boom to provide true stereo sound which I think would be really cool in a party situation. 

 

Personally I left the bassUP technology turned on, and noticed a difference in sound quality especially when playing music or a movie. It’s not as good as a real subwoofer but it’s better than most similarly sized bluetooth speakers. 

 

You do want to download and use the soundcore app with this speaker. It has 4 built in EQ settings, Soundcore Signature, Voice, Treble Boost and balanced, as well as Custom EQ settings that you can adjust and setup yourself. See my video for more on the app. 

 

Pro’s 

  • Pretty loud and decent bass with no distoration
  • Customized EQ settings via the Soundcore App
  • Handle is nice

 

Con’s

  • No Auxiliary port for connecting to an outdoor projector or laptop easily.
  • Bass reflectors lack protection on the sides.

 

Conclusion

My conclusion on the Soundcore Motion Boom is that it’s a nice speaker for both indoor and outdoor use. Sound quality was better then I expected, and the BassUP feature worked better then I expected. Mids and Highs are clear, and bass was decent for it’s size. I think it’s my best sounding Anker speaker to date. 

 

It has very solid construction, the handle was more useful than I expected. While the speaker does float, it tips forward putting the speakers in the water so it’s not practical to use while floating. This is ok, at least it doesn’t sink if it was to go into the water. 

 

Battery life here is great, I have no doubts it would last 24 hours. I do wish the USB-C port could be used for power out as well and that the speaker could be used as a powerbank when off but those are pretty minor issues.

 

Let me know what you think of the Anker Soundcore Motion Boom in the comments below! 

Nitecore NB10000 Review (10,000mAh, 18W USB-C, Carbon Fiber, Powerbank)

Today I have Nitecore’s newest powerbank the Carbon Fiber NB10000. It’s made from Carbon Fiber, all around, features 10,000mAh capacity, along with USB-C and A, and is capable of 18W input and output. Thanks to NitecoreStore for sending this to me to check out and review. 

 

Watch this review on YouTube: 

**Follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/liquidretro/ 

Join the Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/LiquidretroReviews/ 

 

Packaging & Accessories

Packaging here is quite nice it’s a box that looks like it’s made of carbon fiber and it’s a pull out tray that has the powerbank, included USB-A to C cable, and the paperwork inside. 

 

 

Construction

This powerbank is made from a carbon fiber reinforced plastic case, this is a more expensive stronger material then you find in most power banks. It feels a lot like a high quality tool that’s using a glass reinforced plastic. As for the carbon fiber on the top and bottom, I have my doubts here on it’s authenticity. When I hold it up at a certain angle and press near the front I can get it to deflect easily, there is also no texture in the weave that I can feel. At best it’s a peel and ply carbon fiber, at worst it’s a printed and stuck on. Other then that it’s quite stiff and feels well built. On one side all the inputs and outputs are laser engraved and easily read.

At the front you have one USB-A port for output only, up to 18W, then you have a USB-C port that can be used for In or out at 18W each. Next to it you have the single button on the powerbank with 3 blue LED underneath for power indication.

Oh and it’s water rated at IPX5 which is rare for a powerbank. It means it can sustain a low pressure jet of water or splashes, so it’s perfect for adventuring. Even though it’s not officially rated for it, I did submerge it briefly and it survived. 

 

Size and Weight

I measured it as 122mm long, 59mm wide, and 10.5mm thick. This is nice and thin and slides behind most modern smartphones in a pocket while charging which is convenient when traveling. At 151.2 Grams it’s pretty light too thanks to that use of carbon fiber.

When I compare it to my Aukey 10,000mAh powerbank the Aukey is wider, longer, and 43g heavier. The 10,000mAh Anker powerbank I have is shorter but significantly thicker, I suspect it’s using cylindrical cells (21700?) and is 41 grams heavier. 

 

Performance

As mentioned the NB10000 has one USB-A port for output only, up to 18W, then you have a USB-C port that can be used for In or out at 18W each.

I did my charging tests with my 65W Aukey GaN chargers that I previously reviewed on this channel and had no issues. Total charge time was 3:13:00. Peak charge I saw was 8.9V at 2.0A, or right at 18W. My CT-2 Meter recorded a total of 43.44Wh went into the battery. 

 

Official Specs are as follows

Input – USB-C: 5V @ 2.4A or 9V @ 2A

Output – USB-C: 5V @ 3A or 9V @ 2A or 12V @ 1.5A

  USB-A: 5V @ 3A or 9V @ 2A or 12V @ 1.5A

I ran 3 discharge tests, 5V at 3A, 9V at 2A, and 12V at 1.5A each performed as expected with power being pretty stable. 

 

At 5V at 3A, I measured total energy at 31.29Wh, and average voltage at 5.18V and a total discharge time of 2:01:05.

 

At 9V at 2A, I measured total energy at 29.16Wh, and average voltage at 9.14V and a total discharge time of 1:35:58.

 

At 12V at 1.5A, I measured total energy at 29.71Wh, and average voltage at 12.02V and a total discharge time of 1:38:58, with a bit of voltage step down the last 20 minutes.

 

The NB10000 also offers Passthrough Charging meaning you can connect it to your charger, via USB-C and then charge your phone or other device (Flashlight) via the USB-A port, and both will charge at once. It’s not the full 18W speed but for me both my phone and the powerbank were full in the morning, making this great for backpacking or travel.

 

I charged my good old Note 8 from 15% to 100% in 1:51:00 via USB-C with 2/3 lights lit on the powerbank. I charged my phone again from 50% to 100% and the powerbank was still showing ? full. 

 

It’s nice that the powerbank has a low power mode that you can activate by pressing and holding the single button until a white LED comes on underneath. This is perfect for charging an increasing number of low power devices like wireless headphones, smart watches and other wearables. 

 

Pro’s

  • Carbon Fiber! I am a sucker for carbon, real or fake it doesn’t matter.
  • Really small and compact
  • Supports 18W in or out, and charging via USB-C PD.
  • Low power mode

 

Con’s

  • The indicator LEDs are too close together to easily read.
  • Passthrough charging works but is fairly slow.  
  • On the pricey side these days, but it is a premium build quality.

 

Conclusion

The NB10000 is a small, well built powerbank with a great size to performance ratio. It has the features I am looking for in a powerbank in 2020, like PD support, 9 and 12V, and a low power mode. It doesn’t hurt it’s made of carbon fiber too since I am a sucker for it. That said you pay for these more premium features and this isn’t a cheap powerbank.

 

That said it’s my new travel charger since it’s so easy to put in a pocket and charge on the go. It also fits nicely in my camera bag which is also a plus. The traditional powerbank brands better watch out because Nitecore has them in their sights. 

Pick up The Nitecore NB10000 Carbon Fiber Powerbank at NitecoreStore at https://bit.ly/3lssOiO

VapCell S4 Plus Charger Review (12A of Speed! + Other Features)

Today I have a newer charger from Vapcell, the S4 Plus. This is truly a fast charger as it can charge all 4 bays at a maximum of 3A for a total of 12A. Speed is selectable too. It charges lithium ion batteries including protected 21700 sized, as well as NiHM cells as has a few other features I will talk about further on in the review. Thanks to VapCell for sending this to me to take a look at and review. 

 

Watch this review on YouTube: 

**Follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/liquidretro/ 

Join the Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/LiquidretroReviews/ 

 

Packaging & Accessories

This is the updated charger that came out earlier this year. The changes are that the display is always on, the battery capacity in mAH is showend when fully charged, the cutoff voltage for lithium ion batteries is now 50mA when charging at 250mA or 500mA (good for small cells), The testing capacity feature for NiHM charges the battery, discharges and then recharges instead of leaving it discharged. 

The package is a nice bifold box with printing on the outside showing the charge, showing what size batteries it charges, chemistry etc. Inside the charger was wrapped in bubble wrap and a generic 12V power adapter was included with a US plug in my case and a 5.3mm barrel inside.

 

Construction and Specs

Design and construction here are pretty standard for a charger, it’s pretty utilitarian in design. Construction seems solid with no creeks or cracks when twisted. I measured the length at 172mm, width at 115mm and depth at 36mm. Max charger expand size was 76.2mm which is great this means your protected 21700 batteries should fit, and there are not a lot of chargers that can say this. The spring loaded bays are pretty smooth too. There is no fan in the charger but there are some vents, when charging at max speed it gets warm but nothing to be concerned about. The screen here is fairly large at 78mm x 32mm. It’s a dark blue LCD with backlit silver white numerals. 

 

 

 

My findings/UI

The charger has 4 main modes Charging, Discharge, Capacity Test, and Repair.

 

I am going to focus on the charging function and talk briefly about the others. Charging has 2 modes manual and auto. In Auto mode the charger picks the most appropriate charging rate for the cells measured resistance. You can override this to a degree if you press and hold the current button for 5 seconds, although there is some margin of safety built in for smaller cells so you can’t pump them full of power too quickly.  In manual mode you click the current button to increase the charging rate in 250mAh and 500mAh increments. In my tests the charger stopped charging a lithium ion battery at 4.185V and a NiHM at 1.495v. When fully charged the charger plays and audible tone.

To switch between charging bays hit the display button, same with the modes. The display shows the battery charger percentage, current voltage, internal resistance, amount of power that’s gone into the cell, time elapsed, temperature, and total power in watt hour. 

Discharge allows the cells to discharge down to 3.0V  Capacity test mode will charge the cell up to full, discharge, and recharge measuring the power going in and out each time to get a good measurement of the cells capacity. Repair is useful for batteries that have gone lower then what’s safe, it very slowly and carefully applies power to the cell to try and bring it back to life. 

There is also a USB out port on the top of the charger that can be used as a powerbank to draw off the cells when inserted. This works when you insert a lithium ion battery in cell 1 and there isn’t AC power plugged in. What I wish is when AC Power was plugged in it did output the same 5V 1A of power so you could say plug in and charge your phone or a light that had built in or magnetic usb recharging. 

 

Pro’s

  • Auto and Manual switch
  • Ability to choose charging current during charge cycle in both modes
  • Speed!

 

Con’s

  • Manual could be more clear, but it’s not overly hard to use.
  • One feature I would like to see on a higher end charger is a storage feature
  • It would be nice to be able to turn the tone off when fully charged for overnight charging.

 

Conclusion

Overall this is a nice charger that does almost everything I want in a charger for flashlights and other electronic devices. It allows me to charge my NiHM and Lithium ion batteries and select the charge rate in 250mAh steps, up to 3A per bay. It has an automatic and manual mode too. It will charge all 4 bays at 3A if I am in a hurry and have batteries that support that. It can discharge batteries fully, it will run capacity tests to help me judge if a battery is healthy or needs replaced. It supports long cells too which is important for those protected 21700 sized batteries that are increasingly popular in the flashlight world.

The one thing I wish it had a storage mode, this is one thing I like to do on my lithium ion cells when I know I won’t be using them for a while, it drains the cells down to around 75-80% as that’s where they are the most stable for long periods of time. 

I have no hesitation recommending the Vapcell S4 Plus V2 charger here. It’s fast if you want that, it’s slow if you want control, and it fits all the most common flashlight sized batteries in use today as well as the common household sizes too. 

Pick up the Vapcell S4 Plus on AliExpress at https://www.aliexpress.com/i/4000249374391.html

Xtar BC4 Battery Charger Review (1.5V Liion and NiHM Charger, USB-C)

Today I have a bit of a speciality charger from Xtar the BC4. It’s a charger that’s designed for use with 1.5V lithium ion batteries and NiHM rechargeable batteries. It fits both AA and AAA sizes, has 4 bays and features USB-C as an input. Thanks to Xtar for sending this too me to take a look at and review. 

I am trying to grow my instagram followers so I can share links to things in my stories so if you’re not a follower please go follow me @Liquidretro and as always I appreciate you liking this video and giving that bell icon a click if you like these videos on YouTube too. 

 

Watch this review on YouTube:

Follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/liquidretro/ 

Join the Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/LiquidretroReviews/ 

 

Packaging & Versions

Packaging here is a basic hanging retail package with clear front showing you everything you get. The standard unit comes with the charger, charger cover, and a USB-A to USB-C Cable. The manual is quite simple and available in several languages.

It’s worth noting there was an older model of charger that Xtar sold under their Allmaybe brand, that’s also called the BC4. That was a 4 Bay charger that charged 4.2V lithium batteries and isn’t at all like the charger we see here. It’s confusing and I wish Xtar would have chosen a different name for the charger we are looking at here today. 

 

Recharging

I tested the charging of this light with primarily large AA sized batteries although it will charge AAA sized batteries too. The charge will only charge NiMH and 1.5v Lithium Ion chemistries. 4.2V Lithium Batteries of either size are not supported. 

All the usual Xtar technologies are supported here, 0V activation, 3 Stage charging to maximize battery lifespan, Precise cut off when charged, Reverse polarity protection, short circuit, overheat etc. I started with charging the 1.5v Liion battery and as you can see from the graph here it took 2 hours and 16 minutes at a maximum of .3A. The batteries stopped charging at 1.54V.  

For my NiMH charge the total charge took 2 hours and 7 minutes, so slightly faster and you can see that it was a more pulsed charge with voltage remaining very consistent. 

 

For the last test I charged 2 nimh, and 2 liion batteries at the same time, and the total charge time was 2hrs 40 minutes. Here we saw a total charging rate peak at 1.5A spread across all 4 batteries. 

Uses for 1.5V Li Ion batteries

One thing I wanted to touch on is where and why you might choose a 1.5V lithium ion battery over a NiHM or standard alkaline. The very basics of how they work are, it’s using your standard 4.2V lithium ion cell and then has circuitry to step down the power to 1.5V. The ones here I tested Xtar provided, and since you use an external charger they have a larger capacity then  Lithium ion batteries have a better power density and lighter weight then their comparable alkaline cells, and you don’t have the one time use either. In terms of power these 1.5V batteries don’t suffer a voltage sag as they discharge like Alkaline and NiHM do, so your high drain devices like camera flashes won’t slow down during use. The bad side is the built in power meters in some devices won’t be accurate as they count on that voltage sag to estimate the amount of life left. There is also no memory effect when compared to NiHM.

 

I did run a quick runtime comparison with the Olight i5T CU with the Xtar 1.5v Lithium ion battery they rate at 3300mAh, and an Amazon Basics High Capacity NiMH (2400mAh) I previously had tested this light with. You can see here in the graph the outputs are identical except for the very end. The Liion cell has a very sharp drop off when the internal protection circuit kicks in on the battery and stops all current. The NiMH battery on the other hand has some gradual decline as voltage drops at the end of it’s lifecycle. Runtimes were within just a few minutes difference with the Nimh having the slight advantage on this light. Not sure how Xtar is calculating their cell rating on this one. 

 

Conclusion

This is a basic charger from a brand with a good track record. I am not sure it has a ton of applications in the current flashlight market for enthusiasts but it has applications elsewhere in the home. It’s a nice charger for photographers looking to recharge their eneloop batteries for flashes or those who switch over to 1.5V lithium cells which would work quite well, for anyone with kids to recharge batteries for the endless number of toys, and other household tasks. Yes there are flashlights still using AA sized batteries that use Nihm batteries where this and the 1.5V lithium batteries would work just fine, I just personally use 4.2V 14500’s in all my lights where I am able to due to more performance and good runtimes generally. 

 

I think this would be a little more useful charger if it also charged the more conventional 4.2V lithium ion batteries like 14500’s as then it would make a great travel charger to take care of 2 physical sizes, and 3 chemistries/voltages in a small package, and able to use USB-C to C natively. The onboard flashlight does light up but it’s a standard 5mm LED, nothing to write home about but better than nothing in an emergency. The charger also has a USB-A out that’s rated for 5V at 1A, so you could use it to charge your phone in a pinch. Overall this is a specialty charger for a niche market but it does a good basic job for what it’s designed for and I can recommend it if you fall into that niche. 

Find the the Xtar BC4 https://www.xtar.cc/product/BC4-135.html

AVHzY CT-2 USB Power Meter Review

Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/2PFDmX1

The bare CT-2 Meter https://amzn.to/2Wkcqaz
The CNC Cased CT-2 Meter https://amzn.to/3bm3rcS

Check out all the offical specs at https://www.avhzy.com/html/product-detail/avhzy-ct-2-usb-power-meter-cnc-aluminum-alloy-casing

Xtar MC4S Review (USB-C Inexpensive 4 bay simple battery charger)

Xtar has updated version of the MC4 charger out with the new MC4s. It’s a basic 4 bay charger, utilizing USB-C for input power for charging various lithium ion and nickel metal hydride batteries. Thanks to Xtar for sending this out to take a look at. 

 

See this review on YouTube:

Join the Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/LiquidretroReviews/ 

Follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/liquidretro/ 

 

Physically

The package it comes in is small retail style box with specs and battery sizes it supports listed on it. In the box is the charger itself, a simple manual, and a USB-A (Blue  to USB-C cable. 

 

The MC4S is a simple black flame retardant black plastic charger. It features 4 bays with spring loaded clips and a pad for the positive contact. This allows it to expand to fit most battery sizes. 10440-21700 (Non protected). For Ni-Mh and Ni-CD batteries it can do AAAA through C sized batteries. The outside 2 bays are designed for the larger diameter batteries like 26650’s and C sized cells. 

The MC4s features 4 LED’s on the front, one for each bay that tells you what’s going on. When you plug the charger in at first get a self check and each bay will show green for standby. They go when charging, and then turn green when charged. 

The back features a small vent for heat control, a large sticker showing input/Output power, as well as what all cells it supports. 

I measured the charger at 100mm x 97mm by 26mm. Empty weight is 95.2g.

 

Charging

This is a simple charger, and there isn’t anything to do or options to set. The LED status on each bay tells you what you need to know if the battery is charging (red) or if it’s charged (Green). I tested 4 LG HG2 batteries that started at 2.95V and put them into all 4 bays, and started charging. Terminal voltage was 4.125V and it did this is in 6.8 hours with the maximum charge rate combined at 1.8A or roughly 0.45A per bay. For smaller batteries like 10440 which this charger officially supports this may be a bit high of charge rate but for larger cells it’s just fine. It’s worth noting that slots 1 & 4 have faster charging rates of 1A each, if used by themselves, while inner 2 & 3 have slower rates at 0.5A if used by themselves.

I also tested some AA eneloop batteries across all 4 bays, starting at 1.12V and charging to completion at 1.46V. Charge rate here started off slow but gained in speed. This wan’t a constant current charge and seemed a little spiky on my equipment but ok overall. 

Lastly this charge will charge via USB-C to C cable and charger. I used my Aukey BA-B4 I recently reviewed and had no complaints. I have seen some people suggest this doesn’t have real PD triggering but it doesn’t really need it with these power level draws. 

 

Pro’s

  • Inexpensive with current prices being around $12
  • Basic, safe, get’s the job done.
  • USB-C to C support

 

Con’s

  • A bit agressive for the smaller sized cells it technically supports such as 10440, AAAA, etc. 
  • Not going to win any speed races for your larger cells.

 

Conclusion

What you see is what you get here, this is a dead simple battery charger that does what it says in a simple yet effective manner. If your new to the flashlight hobby and want a simple charger to get you going that will support the most common sizes of batteries you will see in most lights, for a low price, the MC4s does the job. 

 

This isn’t going to be the most appropriate charge for everyone but it’s a good place to get started for many. It’s nice to see USB-C here as the primary power input but in this case it’s all about the cable and connector of convenience if your life revolves around USB-C. It’s not taking advantage of the larger amount of power that could be delivered to speed charging times.

 

Overall the MC4s is a good basic, safe, and affordable charger. I can recommend it for your basic charging needs. 

 

Full Image Gallery https://imgur.com/a/toH1zXv

Pickup the Xtar MC4S 4 bay charger on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2RfdpFY 

Anker Soundcore Flare 2 Review (20W, USB-C & A Water Test!)

Anker has a new portable Bluetooth speaker out with the Soundcore Flare 2. This is a reasonably large speaker that features 360 degrees of sound, 20W of power, Sound reactive LED light rings, USB-C, it’s waterproof and linkable to up to 100 other Flare 2 Speakers. Thanks to Anker for sending this to me to look at, I have been enjoying it during these long stay at home times. For the best version of this review check out the video version for the water test, sound test, and light demonstration.

 

Watch this review on YouTube:

Join the Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/LiquidretroReviews/ 

Follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/liquidretro/ 

 

Packaging

Anker always does a great job with it’s packaging and the Flare 2 is no different. The outer sleeve is where all the pictures and information are, and it has the hanger tag so maybe we will see these in retail too. Inside is a blue box where the speaker is nicely nestled along with the manual, happy/not happy card and a standard Anker USB-A to USB-C Cable that’s about 3ft long. 

Physical Descriptions

The speaker itself is an attractive design. It’s a cylinder shape that tapers out at the bottom a bit. The middle has a cloth mesh fabric covering it that’s black but with little flecks of gray woven in. At the top and bottom are 2 RGB LED light rings that are super smooth when they color change and are very evenly diffused. On the bottom there is a rubber pad to keep the speaker firmly in place, and at the top, it’s concave a bit. There is a power button, volume up and down, a button to change the LED modes, and then a multifunction button in the center that I use for play and pause. On the rear of the speaker there is a bluetooth pairing button, a bass up button and the cover for the USB-C port used for charging the speaker.

Physically the speaker is larger then a standard US pop can, at 3.4” at it’s widest, 2.9” at it’s narrowest, and 6.3” tall. I measured the weight at 1.33lbs. The speaker is IPX7 water rated, meaning it won’t be harmed by splashes or rain. It can even withstand complete submersion to shallow depths. I did test this and can agree but sound quality does suffer till the speaker dries out a bit. As a bonus the speaker does float.

It features a 5,200mAh batter inside which is good for 12 hours of playback time and in my testing I got at least this if not more. From empty to full the speaker took 3.5 hours to charge, and is capable of charging via USB-C to C and or with a USB-C PD charger which is great to see. 

 

The App & Lights

You wouldn’t think that a bluetooth speaker needs an app, but to get the most out of the Flare 2 you really do want to download the Soundcore app, available both on iOS and Android. The app can be used to change any of the defaults for the 5 preset equalizers, including making your own via the custom setting, turn the bass boost, on or off, as well as changing all the lights. You can also use it to adjust the volume, turn the speaker off, pair it to other Flare 2’s and even do firmware updates. I demonstrate this is the YouTube version of this review so make sure you check that out. 

 

There are 5 different light modes that are all sound reactive when the speaker is playing sound, within each you can further define the colors you want to use to better suit your mood or content. Imagine watching your favorite sporting event on your tablet and making your teams colors come through the speaker, Or having a party where you connect multiple Flare 2 speakers together to create a light show. 

 

Depending on what I was using the speaker for I found the LED’s to be a little distracting and annoying. For a party or out by the pool I think they make a lot of sense and there are a number of options in the app to change the colors and patterns for your liking. However when I was at home during quarantine and using the speaker for more volume of podcasts or watching netflix and YouTube while cooking it was a little distracting and I mostly turned them off. 

 

Sound

So how is the sound quality of the Flare 2? First it truly is 360 degree, I used this a lot in my kitchen while listing to YouTube and Netflix while cooking and one of the things i hate about other bluetooth speakers I have is when I would move around to maybe go get something in the pantry I would miss dialog because I was off axis of the speakers. The Flare 2 totally solves this. The same principle applies to music too. Here is a little demo I did walking around my dining room table trying to capture that there are no dead spots.

 

I did notice a small amount of delay when watching YouTube and Netflix with this speaker on my iPad, more so then my Android phone, not a major deal but definitely something to mention. Hopefully future firmware updates continue to improve this. 

 

Using the soundcore app to get the right sound for you is important I feel like as well. I enjoyed the default setting with the Bass Up feature turned on and thought it was great. I used the voice mode a bit for some podcasts, it turns up higher frequencies and minimizes bass. There is custom too where you can create your own.

 

I also listened to it out on my deck and it gets plenty loud enough here but I did notice on especially bass heavy music at high volumes the bass was tuned out a bit and it made more of a splat instead of being clean. That said this is a small speaker and I don’t expect subwoofer level performance. Here is a clip I took of it outside as well.

 

Pro’s

  • Great sound quality at reasonable volumes for its size.
  • True 360 degree sound 
  • Impressive water resistance (IPX7) and battery life (12 hr)
  • Great integration and customization with the Soundcore app

 

Con’s

  • Doesn’t always seem to remember the last LED setting you used like Off.
  • No 3.5mm jack which I am ok with.
  • Bass does fade and get muddy at higher volumes.
  • I did notice a little delay on some youtube/netflix content but it was small.

 

Conclusion

Overall the sound quality here exceeded my expectations for the size of the Flare 2. I wish I could have tried the feature allowing you to link up to 100 speakers as I think that could really be impressive surround sound and light show capabilities. For me the lights are not a feature I was needing in a bluetooth speaker but given this is designed for parties, out at the pool etc I could see it being a feature people would like.

 

I was impressed with the Soundcore App’s integration with the Flare 2, it’s a must have for any Flare 2 owner to dial in the sound profile and light patterns that you want, and to get those important firmware updates over time.Overall I am impressed with the Flare 2 and look forward to using it for many more years.

 

Pickup the Anker Soundcore Flare 2 on Amazon at https://amzn.to/3dIUsoL 

View the full image gallery: https://imgur.com/a/khqzDR9

Xtar PB2C Review (18650 Battery Charger & Powerbank)

Xtar has an update for the original PB2 18650 charger and powerbank. As the name implices (PB2C) the new model adds USB-C but only for charging. The XTar PB2 lineup is a little confusing in naming. The Larger PBS can fit larger 21700 batteries, charge and discharge via USB-C and has a screen. The new PB2S is smaller in size, can only take 18650 batteries, and doesn’t have a screen. Thanks to Xtar for sending this to me to take a look at and review.

 

YouTube Version of this Review:

Join the Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/LiquidretroReviews/ 

Follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/liquidretro/ 

 

Packaging & Accessories

The Xtar PB2C packaging is very simple, it’s a clear plastic shell with a cardboard back with most of the information on the rear of the package. There is a simple multi language manual included in the package. Inside you get the PB2C itself and a USB-A(3) to USB-C cable.

 

Construction

The Xtar PB2C is made from hard plastic with some texture. The body and color of mine happens to be a sky blue with black accents. It’s a great look in my opinion and feels well built. The lid is held on with magnets at the center that are reasonably strong. There are nail nicks to make removal easier. On the inside you have the input and output specs as well as the units model and serial numbers.  

Inside the cells are held in place with pretty robust springs on one end and tabs on the other. This allows all 18650’s from flat top unprotected cells to protected button tops to fit. There is a ribbon to make removal easier which is a nice. Polarity and charging rates are molded into the base too. 

The only indicators that’s available are a series of 4 small white LED at the top, that are used for charge/discharge status, on/off status, and any errors (All blinking). Four lights building one by one means it’s charging, if all 4 lights are on charging is done. 

 

Size and Weight

The PB2C is smaller then it’s larger more advanced PB2S brother because it only fits 18650 batteries and doesn’t have a display. I measured the length at 109mm, width at 50mm and depth at 24mm. Weight with 2 18650 batteries came in at 150g.

As a Powerbank

As a Powerbank the Xtar PB2C is a little disappointing because it only works via the USB-A slot. The USB-C connector is an input only. Then I remember the price here, about $12 and given that it comes with a USB-A to USB-C cable, I will give it a pass. As much as I love USB-C it’s still not as universal especially world wide as the Western World thinks it is. USB-A is the most compatible with the largest market yet.

 

I tested the PB2C with some 2600mAh Xtar batteries and was able to easily discharge at 2.25A for 1 hour 34 minutes. The voltage did sag some when running this hard, and wasn’t quite as stable as you see from most of my Anker and Aukey power banks but it was fine with an average voltage of 4.89V.. Capacity came in at a measured 3115mAh, which seems a little low but is roughly 80% efficiency assuming the labels on the batteries are correct. Higher capacity batteries will yield more capacity to recharge your devices. LVP on the cells kicked in at 3.23V and 3.40V. The powerbank function can be used while the charger is charging batteries, with it primarily powering the device off the USB input rather then discharging the batteries.

 

As a Charger

As a charger the Xtar PB2C combines all the features from Xtar that are proven and well respected such as zero volt activation, reverse polarity protection, safe charging rates, over discharge protection, etc. If one battery is inserted, into the 2 slot charger, charging speed will be 1A, if 2 batteries are installed it will be upto 2A. If the batteries inserted have different power levels, the lower voltage cell will charge first till they are equal and then it will charge both batteries. 

 

In my testing I charged 2 2600mAh cells to full in 3 hours and 7 minutes mostly at 1.9A of speed. Terminal voltage on both cells was 4.17V which is good. I had no trouble fitting protected, unprotected, and all manner of button top cells on the charger. Your luck may vary with custom cells from brands like Olight. 

 

Pro’s

  • Very Affordable
  • Can take protected or unprotected 18650’s
  • Blue and Orange Color Options

 

Con’s

  • USB-C is only used for charging here, it would be better if it was bidirectional.

 

Conclusion

This is a nice little battery charger and powerbank combination if all you need to charge are 18650 sized batteries. It has most cases for those covered. It’s a nice update to see USB-C included but I wish it was in and out instead of just used for input power only. That said the included USB-A to C cable does help with this, and for the price I can’t fault it much. Overall this is a good basic charger and powerbank combo from Xtar at a very affordable price. 

 

Full Image Gallery https://imgur.com/a/2ovOuC0

Find more on the Xtar PB2C at http://www.xtar.cc/product/XTAR-PB2C-Charger-131.html

AliExpress Global – http://bit.ly/2IUcV3l