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 

Aukey 65W Omnia Chargers (GaN, 2x USB-C, USB-A)

Aukey has released a new line of chargers called the Omnia. Today we are going to take a look at 2 of these models as well as some high quality USB-C and Lightning cables they now offer as well. Thanks to Aukey for sending these to me to take a look at and review. 

 

View this review on YouTube: 

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

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

 

Packaging and Accessories

A quick few words on the packaging that everything comes in. The chargers come in cardboard boxes with simple line drawings of each charger on them, and the color that each is, with minimal other information. Inside the charges come with a simple manual, warranty card and that’s it. No cables are included with either.

The two cables come in more retail looking boxes, printed in full color and more descriptive information on each. The USB-C to Lightning cable came wrapped around a reel. Which helped it keep it’s length in check. The USB-C cables came wrapped in their own bags. Each included a warranty card as well. 

 

Charger Construction & Performance

Both chargers I am looking at today are part of their new Omnia Power charging lineup. Omnia power is a term for all the latest charging technology rolled into a one chip solution. In the 2 charges I am looking at today that’s GaN (Gallium Nitride) technology, allowing more power to be smaller and lighter weight, USB-C PD technology for Power Delivery support meaning it can increase and decrease power as the device needs it, Dynamic Detect technology to ensure the power is distributed efficiently between the different ports. 

 

Let’s start by looking at the PA-B4 which is the charger I have been using most since it’s dual USB-C ports. These are quite small in size for being capable of delivering 65W. Here it is compared with the Anker charger I reviewed a few weeks back that didn’t have GaN technology, and only provided 30W or so. Here it is compared with a dollar bill and standard household key. It also has folding prongs which is nice to keep it compact when not in use.

On the front of this charger there is a small white LED that lets you know when it’s in use, it’s not too bright which is good. The top port has a little computer next to it to let you know this is the highest power port that’s available. This can deliver the full 65W if your devices support it. When both ports are in use the top port delivers up to 45w and the bottom port delivers 12W. My laptop requires a max of 45W so for me this was a good fit, in the photo you can see here it did 43W and I plugged in my ipad at the top and it was charging at 8W speed since it was over half full. For me this makes a great travel charger since I can charge my laptop at full speed and charge my phone or ipad all with one compact charger. 

 

 

Specs the BA-B4 supports for output are 

Port 1 65W via PD 3.0

  • 20V @ 3.25A
  • 15V @ 3A
  • 12V @ 3A
  • 9V @ 3A
  • 5V @ 3A

 

Port 2 18W via PD 3.0

  • 12V @ 1.5A
  • 9V @ 3A
  • 5V @ 2.4A

 

The PA-B3 is the same size as the PA-B4 and features 1 USB-C port with all the same specs, capable of 65W. The big difference is instead of a second USB-C port this charger has a USB-A port. Unfortunately the USB-A port doesn’t support any of the Qualcomm quick charge standards and it’s just a standard 5V 2.4A port. When both are in use the top port reduces from 65W to 45W.

 

 

Specs the PA-B3 supports for output are 

Port 1 65W via PD 3.0

  • 20V @ 3.25A
  • 15V @ 3A
  • 12V @ 3A
  • 9V @ 3A
  • 5V @ 3A

Port 2 

  • 5V @ 2.4A

 

Cable Construction and Performance

A few quick words about Aukey’s braided cables. I have enjoyed my time with them and have no complaints about them. Both come with velcro organization loops to help keep everything organized and helps keep things looking nice during travel and use. I have found the right angle USB-C cables really nice to use when I am using my phone and charging it at the same time, I think it’s less stress than a traditional cable. It fit fine over my case but if you have a larger case it may not have the clearance for you. Quality wise it’s very comparable to my Anker cables and I like the red color.

 

The USB-C to lightning cable is great too as it allows me to charge faster then the standard cable and charger that came with my ipad. The 6.6ft length is great here, if you don’t have a longer cable your really missing out, as the stock is pretty limiting. When combined with the Omnia chargers both my devices were able to charge as fast as they are capable of with these cables. No complaints. 

Pro’s

  •  Compact size, and delivered the performance it stated.
  • LED’s are not super bright, great for charging at night.
  • 45W is just enough to charge my Dell laptop and phone at the same time.

 

  • Great build quality on the cables, on par with other braided cables I have from Anker. 
  • Right angle cables are pretty useful especially when holding a phone while charging.

 

Con’s

  • Little bit of weird behavior when charging high watt devices and plugging in a low wattage device on the PA-B3, it sometimes wanted to stop charging on the first and and I had to replug it to get it going again.
  • I wish Aukey offered a longer right angle USB-C cable.

 

Conclusion

Aukey’s latest Omnia chargers are the real deal. They combine the technology you should be looking for with high wattage chargers, with GaN, USB-C PD, and have the dynamic delivery technology to make sure you can charge each of your devices as fast as the charger and device will allow. 

 

I can recommend these chargers if your looking for multiple port, high wattage chargers. If you don’t have one yet, you really should pick up one. They are smaller, faster, and just as safe as what your device came with. If you travel a lot it’s a must have, and for most people they will enjoy the added speed of recharging in every day use too. Make sure to check them out in links below. 

 

Pick up any of the chargers or cables with the links below.

PA-B3 (USB-C & USB-A Version) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0841V6LR5 

PA-B4 (Dual USB-C) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0841VBW8H 

USB-C to Lightning https://amzn.to/2PZ5fRs  (Make sure to save $4 by clicking the coupon)

Right angle USB-C Cables https://amzn.to/2PZ5fRs  (Make sure to save $2 by clicking the coupon)

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

Anker PowerPort III Duo Review (2 Port USB-C PD, 36W Total)

Anker has a new charger out on the market with the PowerPort III Duo. This is charger has 2 USB-C PD Ports and outputs total of 18W per port or 36W in total. It features Ankers PowerIQ 3.0 technology meaning it optimizes charging rates for your devices for maximum speed. Thanks to Anker for sending this to me to check out and do a review on.

 

YouTube Version of this Review:

 

Packaging & Accessories

Packaging consists of a rectangular Anker box, that’s white and embossed wither an artistic Anker device pattern, the sides are a nice blue. The back doesn’t have many details about the charger itself, just the model number model name and customer support numbers for the most part. Inside the charger is held in place with a blue cardboard holder, with the manual and happy/no happy card. No cables are included in the package which is a little frustrating.

 

Specs And Power

As mentioned before this charger features dual 18W USB-C PD ports with Ankers PowerIQ 3.0 technology for a total of 36W. 

 

Input Power is 110-240V and is 50-60Hz capable meaning it’s a good world travel charger.

  • Output Spec: 5V @ 2.4A
  • 9V @ 2A
  • 12V @ 1.5A

PowerIQ 3.0 allows for universal fast charging compatible up to 100W (Should your device and charger support them). This allows the charger to wok to whatever your device supports, Apple Fast Charge, Samsung Fast Charge, and USB PD. 

I only have 1 USB-C to C meter right now and tested it by plugging in a 20,000mAh Anker Powerbank to charge and right away it started charging at 17.46W (8.90v @ 1.96V). I then plugged in my ipad via USB-C to Lightning cable and the ipad was happily charging. There was no change in the powerbank charging so each port is indeed separate. The charger gets a little warm (105F in the warmest spot I could find) while charging both devices at the same time but nothing to worry about.

On a recent trip with this charger I did have 1 complaint while I charged my smartphone and iPad at night and that was the LED in the front was just too bright in my room. Due to how the hotel was configured this unfortunately faced my bed. I was able to easily fix this by a bit of electrical tape though. 

 

Conclusion

I have been using the PowerPort III Duo as a bedside travel charger for my mobile devices and for that it does pretty well. At 18W per port this isn’t enough to charge most laptops but works well for smartphones, tablets, gaming systems and power banks. 

It’s a little disappointing to see the lack of gallium nitride charging tech on this charger to make it smaller and or deliver more wattage. That said that technology is still somewhat new and on the more expensive end and this charger is priced more on the budget side. Ankers charger and powerbank naming system is currently a little confusing on the naming structure in my opinion, and it’s a little hard to find the product you need without looking at them all. Some simplification or a different naming system would be appreciated in my opinion. 

 

My conclusion is this is a good charger and if you should buy it really depends on what devices you have and what they support. This is a good general charger for me, it charges my Note 8 phone and iPad as fast as they need. I don’t have a Nintendo Switch and it’s not the fastest charger for one of those if you have one but still will charge it while playing games if needed. There are less expensive higher wattage chargers on the market but they tend to be single port. So this is a good mix of reasonable charge rate, 2 ports, in a still fairly small package (2.5” x 2.5” x 1”). It does also come with Ankers 18 month warranty too should something go wrong. 

 

Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/DPX7d9M

Anker PowerCore 10000 PD Redux Review

Anker has a relatively new powerbank on the market with the PowerCore 10000 PD Redux powerbank. This powerbank supports has a premium feel and a cross hatch texture on top. It supports USB-C in and out at a maximum of 18W, as well as USB-A out, and a low power trickle charging mode as well. Thanks to Anker for sending this to me to take a quick look at. 

 

The YouTube Version of this Review

 

Packaging & Accessories

The packaging was standard blue and white and as a compact premium feel. In the box you get the powerbank, a mesh bag, and a USB-C to C cable that’s approximately 3ft long. Everything is covered by Ankers 18 month warranty too.

 

Power

Let’s talk about the specs of the powerbank here and then I will go into a few more details.

 

Specs

Total Output Power 18W

USB-C Input (PD): DC 5V=3A, 9V=2A, 15V=1.2A

USB-C Output (PD): DC 5V=3A, 9V=2A, 15V=1.2A

USB Output : DC 5V=2.4A

 

On first glance 18W of total power is a good thing. Given the capacity this will charge most smartphones twice and I have to agree. In charging my Note 8 which recognizes it as fast charging I got 2 charges from between 15-100% no problem. It charges my iPad as well with a USB-C to Lightning cable, and if the charger is above 2 bars, it does so at AC wall speeds. However when the powerbank drops below 2 bars charging speed will decrease down to a much slower rate.

 

While I don’t have a Nintendo switch to test this myself, this powerbank will charge one, but isn’t compatible with the Switches Charge and Play TV setting. Unfortunately the PowerCore 10000 PD Redux doesn’t have enough wattage to charge most laptops. 

 

Trickle charge mode here is a nice touch. Often times on low power devices like some wireless headphones, fitness tracker, and some small low power keychain style flashlights. Some powerbanks will interpret the small power draw on these devices as the battery being full and shutting off prematurely. This is easy to turn on, just long press on the button before plugging in your device and you will get a green LED light up on the powerbank. Repeat this process to turn it off.

 

While I don’t have a way to take apart the powerbank I believe what’s inside is 2x 21700 5000mAh batteries. The size is just about right for that. Measured Capacity 5956mAh @ 5v 2A load using my EB Tester for a total of 30.64Wh energy. The stated 10,000mAh capacity doesn’t take into account the losses due to voltage step up or battery sag which really means under absolute idea conditions the capacity would be around an actual 7,500mAh of real energy assuming it’s one battery at a nominal voltage of 3.7V. I am not sure how 2 batteries in series changes that calculation.

 

Recharging the Powerbank.

You have 1 option to charge the Powerbank and that’s via USB-C. That said it supports input of power via USB-A to C cable (not included) at a rather slow rate of speed of 9 hours, or what I recommend is recharging via a charger that supports USB-C PD and doing so gets you a full powerbank in about 3 hours 23 minutes. During this time I saw the charging speed of 15v @ 1.2A for a total of 18W. While it’s nice to see the backwards compatibility of non PD supported, 9 hours is crazy long time for 10k capacity. I have reviewed a few USB-C chargers with PD support, make sure to check those reviews out if you need one.

 

Pro’s

  • Low Power Device Mode (Great for charging up devices pulling small amounts of current like wireless headphones)
  • 15V mode here is hard to find on a 10k mAh powerbank but works here
  • Makes a great travel package with the Anker PowerPort Atom III Slim

 

Con’s

  • Slightly less efficient when compared with other 10k mAh powerbanks I have.
  • Rather expensive for 10,000mAh in late 2019.
  • No Qualcomm 3 support for the latest model Android phones.

 

Conclusion

The PowerCore 10000 PD Redux is a good powerbank and is one of the few that market that supports 15V needed for faster charging of the Nintendo Switch and some laptops. While this isn’t super practical for laptops it’s a much better fit for your smartphones, tablets, and other smaller portable devices. Full and primary support for USB-C here is a nice touch. 

 

Anker has made an update to improve compatibility with some Anker chargers in May so now that thats fixed you should have pretty good compatibility other than Qualcom QC 3 support. This does pair perfectly with the Anker PowerPort Atom III Slim that I reviewed earlier, both fit in the powebanks bag and make a perfect traveling pair. 

 

Value here isn’t what I typically expect from Anker unfortunately. This updated model has a significant premium over the older model without a ton of change. If your using it for a Laptop or Nintendo Switch then it’s worth the premium, but if your charging your smartphone or tablet while out on the go, I would struggle with paying the premium. That said I can recommend this charger with reservations. 

 

Pickup this charger on Amazon at https://amzn.to/3686eVB

 

Anker PowerPort Atom III Slim (30W USB-C)

Today I am looking at the Anker PowerPort Atom III Slim charger, while that’s a mouthful this seriously small charger can output 30W of power using GaN (Gallium Nitride) technology. This is a one port USB-C charger that I have found great through a few recent travels. Thanks to Anker for sending it to me to take a look at and review.  

 

YouTube Version of this review:

Pickup the Anker PowerPort Atom III Slim at Amazon at https://amzn.to/2Pkn7Fg 

 

Packaging

Packaging here is a white cardboard box with blue sides. It has texture embossed into the box and looks nice. Inside is a pull out paper tray holds the charger and happy/not happy card. No cable is included with the charger which is a little disappointing. 

Looks and Exterior Construction

This is a seriously small charger, it’s smaller than I imagined. It’s footprint is less than a credit card. Exact measurements are 77mm by 46mm, and only 16mm thick. Weight is only 57.8g. So this ranks in at the smallest overall footprint and lightest charger I have per watt, considering this can output 30W. All the edges are rounded so there are no 90 degree corners. 

It’s made of a semi gloss plastic and feels solid, no cracks or creaks. It has an almost fabric like texture on top that gives it a more premium feel and looks nice in my opinion. The plug on the back folds into the design which keeps the small compact profile when not in use. This also has the benefit that it only covers one us plug when on the wall or in an airport. On the front is a blue LED on top near the port. It’s a little bright when being used in a dark hotel room, so I put a small piece of electrical tape over it. 

 

Interior Construction and Specs

Let’s talk about the technical specs a bit of this charger. Total max wattage is 30 watts, for input voltage it’s capable of 100-240V at 50/60Hz meaning it’s a world capable charger. This features Ankers Power IQ 3.0 technology which is the latest version, this optimizes charging to be as fast as possible with all different devices. While not exactly the same as Qualcomm Quick Charge or Samsung’s Fast Charge, or Apple fast charge or various other manufactures version, it’s compatible with all of those and you should generally get as fast of charging as you would with a charger that supports these technologies natively according to Anker. My testing agrees with this. It’s also capable of upto 100W which will be coming in future chargers.  

 

I am still learning my USB-C test equipment, but have been playing a lot with it. I can confirm the charger is capable of 30W, actually slightly more. Anker lists the different modes as the following outputs that it’s capable of. 

5V ? 2.4A

9V ? 3A

15V ? 2A

20V ? 1.5A

It does not have USB-C PD. 

 

Pro’s

  • Big power for such a Small Size, Heat isn’t an issue
  • Great for travel
  • Supports all the needed standards

 

Con’s

  • No USB-C Cable is included, which is a little disappointing.
  • Blue LED is a bit too bright in a dark hotel room. 
  • No USB-C PD support

 

Conclusion

The Anker PowerPort Atrom III Slim, is a very long name for such a small and capable charger. It may have only one port, but that one port is capable of 30W, combine that with Ankers Power IQ 3 technology and that means it will change almost any device as fast as the device allows. I have been using it on some recent travels, combined with an Anker PowerCore 10000 PD Redux powerbank, and it’s a great small combo, especially for quick airport or airplane top ups of my Note, or iPad. GaN chargers are here to stay, so if you don’t have one I definitely recommend the Atom III Slim as a great way to get into a reasonably high power charger for a low price to charge your USB-C devices. 

 

Pickup the Anker PowerPort Atom III Slim at Amazon at https://amzn.to/2Pkn7Fg 

Jetbeam PL-190R Review (Full Color Photography & Video Light, USB-C)

Today I have the JetBeam PL-190R on my review table. It’s a photography and video fill light that’s capable of full spectrum colored light as well as white light. The fill light also features a 5000mAh battery that can be as a power bank as well. Thanks to Jetbeam for sending this to me to take a look at and review.

YouTube Version of this Review:

Packaging

Packaging here is pretty minimal, it’s a clear folded plastic box, the light sits inside a try, and the only accessories that are included are the manual, and a USB OTG cable for allowing you to plug in another cable to use the fill light as a battery power bank as well. 

 

Construction

The PL-190R reminds me in shape and build quality to a modern smartphone but thicker. On the front you have a diffused plastic panel with some orange peel to help diffuse each LED. Around the edges you have a metal frame, it has ¼ 20 threads that enable you to mount the light in the portrait or landscape profiles. When mounted in a landscape format your jog wheels are on the left, and your mode and power button end up on the top right. In the lower right hand corner on the bezel you have the USB-A and USB-C connections. The back is made of glass and has a fairly small OLED screen in the top left corner.

Size & Weight

I measured the length at 129mm, width at 72mm, and thickness at 15.5mm. Weight was 216.4g. It’s roughly the same footprint as the previous model but thicker. 

LED | Runtime

The PL-190R has a lot of LED’s onboard, 220 to be exact. 120 of those are for the white light, with 60 being a warm white, and 60 being a cool white LED. When combined together you get a tint of between 2500k and 8500k. The remaining 100 LED’s are larger RGB LED’s used for the color.

 

The screen has a built in runtime estimator on it but I found it to not be very accurate. I did a test where I set the light to 4000k and 100% brightness. The estimate showed about 2 minutes 50 second, but the light goes on for significantly longer. My only guess is that estimate is before any change in brightness. Total runtime in this mode was right at 200 minutes. The first 50 minutes or so are at 90% relative output, and 170 minutes are above 80%. After the 50 minute the mark output becomes a little unstable with it stepping up and down slightly. This isn’t noticeable to the eye but could be in photo and video settings probably.

 

UI & Modes

Instead of buttons to change modes, and brightnesses the PL-190R is using dials which I prefer. It’s easier and quicker to use the dials then a button, once you understand the UI it’s pretty induative. The brightness wheel rotates continuously where as the mode dial allows you to rock the wheel up and down and click. I only had problems here with the brightness wheel at very low power, it’s sensitive enough to make the light almost flicker when down at 1-2% if shaken or vibrated too hard. 

This light has 3 modes of operation.

 

In white light mode, the light uses it’s 60 warm and 60 cold LED’s to make a mix of light to reach the desired tint. IT ranges from 2500k to 8500k in 100k increments. Brightness is controllable in 1% increments and the light is rated for up to 650 lumens at 8500k, and 570 lumens at 2500k. 

RGB mode is similar, but using the 50 RGB LED’s. It’s measuring tint in degrees of color gamut, and isn’t quite as fluid as as the white LED’s since everything is being done on each die vs a combination of 2 or more LEDs. It’s also adjustable for 0-100% intensity. The other rocker allows you to adjust the color, and then saturation level as well. Think of color as the course adjustment and saturation as the fine adjustment. I don’t have the equipment needed to give a lumen level for colored light, but generally RGB’s don’t put out as much light as the equivalently sized white LED. Personally I see this as being more of a photography or video fill light to light a tabletop scene and you will see in my night shots it puts out a decent amount of light.

The light also features a couple of modes that are programmed in. Practically for a filming/photography reason I don’t see these being super useful but it didn’t take any more space to do and it’s a seperate mode so I guess no harm is done including it. There are a total of 9 scene mode available including Lightning I, Lightning II, SOS mode, Club simulation, Color chase, Candlelight, Police car, Red and green flashing, and Blue and green flashing. These are fixed modes and its’ not capable of speeding up or slowing down the change, but you can control the brightness.

 

Recharging & Powerbank Functions

The PL-190R has a 5000mAh battery built inside. This is used to power the light but can also be used as a power bank. Impressively the light is capable of delivering upto 18W in powerbank mode, up to 12V or 3A appropriately. Unfortunately it doesn’t charge via a USB-C to C cable, so a A to C cable is required for modern devices. 

Charge time via the USB-C input was just under 3 hours and it charged at 2A no problem. 

 

Conclusion

The Jetbeam PL-190R is an interesting take on a photography fill light with the addition of color it becomes more capable as a video fill light as well. While not the only name in the game, it’s probably one of the better known flashlight companies doing this. There are other similar products from some other Chinese companies but none quite as bright or as many features.

For me I will probably use this as a photography fill light, for some supplemental lighting. If you don’t follow my instagram make sure you follow because this is where you will probably see this in use first. I will keep my original Jetbeam fill light as my video light since it’s smaller and I don’t need the color features for video work like this review. 

 

If you are interested I will have a link below to where you can find it on Jetbeam’s website and for a few US retailers I can find. 

 

Full Image Gallery https://imgur.com/a/wySE6Md

 

Purchase the Jetbeam PL-190R at BatteryJunction at https://www.batteryjunction.com/jetbeam-pl-190r-photography-light.html 

See more information on Jetbeams website at http://www.jetbeamlight.com/products_show308.html

Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro Review (Wireless, Balanced Armature. USB-C, Qi Recharging)

Soundcore (an Anker company) has a new set of higher end truly wireless earbuds with the Soundcore LIberty Pro 2. These are an upmarket product for Soundcore, and feature a balanced armature and a dynamic driver. They feature a neat case and pretty impressive battery life in my testing. Thanks to Soundcore for sending these too me to review and tell you guys about.

 

YouTube Version of this Review:

Pickup the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2Wk2sE8

 

Packaging & Accessories

Soundcore products have always had nice packaging but the Liberty Pro 2’s is above and beyond. It’s clear to me this package was designed with retail stores in mind. It’s textured in places and has a sharp eye catching design and lots of useful information to the consumer on the outside with all the stats and big features of the headphones. It’s a magnetic latch box so the consumer can look inside as well. Accessories include 3 sizes of ear wings, to help the fit in your ear, and then 3 sizes of each ear tip with duplicates of each. You also get a USB-A to USB-C cable for recharging the storage case. 

 

 

Construction

The Soundcore case is vital to the operation of these headphones as it’s how you recharge the headphones. It’s made of a soft touch plastic and the door on the top has an addictive slide mechanism. If you like to fidget with things you will find yourself sliding this back and forth. The case itself allows the headphones to turn on and off via magnetic retention. As far as recharging the case has USB-C on the back, and is able to charge on a horizontal QI charging pad. You have 3 LED’s on the front that give you  the battery status of the case. 

Battery life of the LIberty Pro 2’s is good, Anker rates it at 8 hours and at least in my testing that’s pretty accurate. I recently took these on a business trip this week and wore them for hours at a time through airports and never had them get close to 50% and even if they do get low a 10 minute recharge in the case gives you an impressive 2 hours of additional playback time. Overall the 500mAh battery in the case is good for 32 hours of playback time. Size wise the case is a little on the large size for me. In my front jeans pocket it worked but if I was in shorts or had smaller pockets I could see it being a little too big. Other brands have more compact solutions if that’s an important factor for you.

Sound Quality Comfort & Software

Soundcore has developed their own set of drivers for the Liberty Pro 2’s called the Astria Coaxial Acoustic Architecture.. For the mid’s and high they a customly developed Knowles (Well known in the audio industry) balanced armature combined with an 11mm dynamic driver for the lows. These are placed inside each other allowing for the sound to not have to be routed within the body of the headphones so that you have the best possible sound quality. This is a somewhat unique design that your not seeing on a ton of true wireless ear buds right not. 

Soundcore has then teamed up with 10 “Grammy Award Winning” audio producers to further tune and refine the sound profile of these headphones. Combine this with the soundcore app on your Android or Apple device and you have a choice of several audio profiles for your specific type of music. The app also has a customized hearing test where it analyzes each of your ears ability to hear a range of frequencies and builds a profile for you. See the video for how this works. 

 

So what’s my experience with these? Well as with any in ear headphone fit is key to sound quality, and I took my time here to find what works best for me, a balance of comfort, sound quality, and retention. I settled with medium sized ear wings, and small ear tips. Comfort was pretty good with this combo and fatigue after 5 hours straight was minimal. Retention was great, and I had no problem at the gym working on AMT’s and other machines, and I would feel comfortable running with these as well. 

 

Sound quality was impressive for a wireless headphone. Your music source is very important here, heavily compressed music, such as most streaming services you might not notice a difference, but I had some lossless files on my phone and on these I could tell the larger sound stage, clarity and accuracy. Bass was pretty good as well, with it being almost too powerful on some of the presets. So if you like Rap or EDM these should work pretty well for you at this price point. These do feature Bluetooth 5 asd aptX which both improve sound quality.

 

One disappointing thing is at this price point there is no audio passthrough which means for conversations you have to pause your audio and take out an ear bud to talk to someone. This proved a little frustrating in an airport until I reprogrammed the button on the top of the headphone to allow me to pause my audio.

 

These do feature Qualcomm’s cVc 8.0 noise reduction technology when making calls, combine that with a total of 4 microphones and at least in my experience call quality was surprisingly good. I have read some other reviews that not everyone had the same experience I had. This is a feature I rarely use because who makes calls anyways.

 

Pro’s

  • Great Sound Quality
  • Long Battery Life
  • USB-C and Wireless recharging
  • Built in Sound profiles are good and make a difference in audio quality.

 

Con’s

  • The earbuds themselves are a little big but retention is good for me
  • Case is on the larger side
  • IPX4 Water rated, while enough for sweat
  • No passthrough audio for conversations and you must use both earbuds at the same time.

 

Conclusion

For me these are by far my best pair of wireless headphones, especially earbud style ones. Sound quality wise they live up to their price point for me. Bass was impressive, while still maintaining crisp mids and highs. Music quality matters here more than most normal headphones. You might not notice the difference on your average streaming service. I was impressed with the battery life here as well, of the headphones themselves and the case. Not many people are going to be listening for 8 continuous hours, and even if you are 10 minutes in the case gives the headphones 2 hours of use. In my travels this week I never came close to needing to recharge. 

 

These only have minor disappointments, for me the lack of passthrough audio was unfortunate at this price point as well as these are just a little big. They are not something I want to lay down with if you are laying on your side. 

 

All this said these get a solid recommend from me if you’re looking for a more high end sound, and a premium wireless ear bud for most situations to work with all your devices. 

 

Full image gallery at: https://imgur.com/a/7pH27eM

Pickup the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2Wk2sE8