Alice Bonasio VR Consultancy MR Tom Atkinson Tech Trends Review AR Mixed Virtual Reality Augmented catalyst case s9 aukey ragu usb c inatech hub usb-c
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July 2018 Tech Trends Product Reviews

 

Another batch of cutting-edge gadgets and accessories for your consideration.

Aukey SK-M30 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

After a positive review of their SK-S1 BT Speaker a few months ago I was excited to get my hands on the Aukey SK-M30 model that although less sturdy, looks much more stylish and comes with the more advanced BT 4.2.

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After a positive review of their SK-S1 BT Speaker I was excited to get my hands on the Aukey SK-M30 that although less sturdy, looks more stylish and comes with the more advanced BT 4.2 Click To Tweet

Like its cheaper brother, the SK-M30 is super simple to use. Charge the 4000mAh battery via the supplied micro USB cable and you’ll get up to 12 hours of portable music. Instantly connect and wirelessly stream music from your device at a range of up to 10m (33ft) via BT 4.2 or use the included 3.5mm audio cable to connect pretty much anything else and you have a lightweight and super-useful speaker with enough grunt to fill a good-sized room.

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Charge up the 4000mAh battery via the supplied micro USB cable and you will get up to 12 hours of portable music Click To Tweet

The sound quality is excellent and I couldn’t fault it when testing out talky radio and music of all types. For its small size the dual 10W drivers and subwoofers put out a really nice sound and for the money, the SK-M30 is a steal and highly recommended. Five simple buttons control power, play, track skipping (back/forward), volume, and even calls with the built-in mic.

Retails at: £43.99 on Amazon in the UK

 

Catalyst Impact Protection cases for Galaxy S9 & S9+

Only last month I gave Catalyst’s Apple device cases deservedly excellent reviews and wished they would make a case for my Samsung Galaxy S9+, well blow me down, now they do! This month Catalyst announced these brand new S9 & S9+ Impact Protection cases and I am very happy to report that my S9+ is now snuggly protected by the bright but pleasing blue and orange version.

This month Catalyst announced these brand new S9 & S9+ Impact Protection cases and I am very happy to report that my S9+ is now snuggly protected by the bright but pleasing blue and orange version Click To Tweet

They also come in black and clear rubber that forms a protective bumper around the phone’s edge but also cushions and protects around the cameras with a sloped rubber seal that provides easy and smooth access to the fingerprint sensor.

The two S9 cases also come in black and clear rubber that forms a protective bumper around the phone’s edge but also cushions and protects around the cameras Click To Tweet

Alice Bonasio VR Consultancy MR Tom Atkinson Tech Trends Review AR Mixed Virtual Reality Augmented catalyst case s9 aukey ragu usb c inatech hub usb-c

The back is clear plastic to facilitate wireless charging and as a whole, the cases are sturdy and comfortable to hold. Catalyst’s innovative ‘truss cushioning system’ combined with a proprietary rubber polymer blend provides drop protection up to 3m (9.9ft).

Catalyst’s innovative ‘truss cushioning system’ combined with a proprietary rubber polymer blend provides drop protection up to 3m (9.9ft) Click To Tweet

Alice Bonasio VR Consultancy MR Tom Atkinson Tech Trends Review AR Mixed Virtual Reality Augmented catalyst case s9 aukey ragu usb c inatech hub usb-c

The ports are a generous size that should fit pretty much any size headphone and charging cable and in the hand, it feels grippy and secure. They really are excellent cases and are a pleasure to pick up and hold.

Retail for: $39.99

 

USB C Multi Adaptor Hubs from Aukey & Inateck

If you have bought an Apple Mac in the last few years you will be living the nightmare that is USB-C. Last month we reviewed a load of cables & adaptors that might make living with USB-C a little less hellish and this month we are looking at Multi Adaptor Hubs, one from Aukey and one from Inateck, two budget accessory specialists.

If you have bought an Apple Mac in the last few years you will be living the nightmare that is USB-C Click To Tweet

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How Apple has convinced large parts of the planet’s population that less is more and that you should pay a premium price for a computer without the connections you need then pay more to add those connections with shitty adaptors is a trick on par with the Devil convincing us he doesn’t exist. He does though, and his name is ignorance!

Alice Bonasio VR Consultancy MR Tom Atkinson Tech Trends Review AR Mixed Virtual Reality Augmented catalyst case s9 aukey ragu usb c inatech hub usb-c

For those of you suffering loss of connectivity on your Mac the best solution is a Multi Adaptor Hub like the Inateck 9-in-1 USB C Hub with PD Type C Ports, 4K HDMI, VGA, RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet Ports, Micro SD/SD Card Reader or the Aukey USB C Hub with HDMI 4k, VGA, SD & Micro SD Card Slots, Ethernet up to 1K Mbps, 2 USB 3 Ports and 60W USB C PD Throughput. Amongst all that jargon you might have spotted that they are almost identical, with the Inatech offering one extra USB C port for data.

Alice Bonasio VR Consultancy MR Tom Atkinson Tech Trends Review AR Mixed Virtual Reality Augmented catalyst case s9 aukey ragu usb c inatech hub usb-c

The prices are actually identical, both selling for £59.99 on Amazon in the UK. That is £59.99 of connections that anyone with a brain should expect a computer costing multiple thousands of £/$ to include, right? Hint, buy Microsoft, or anyone else. Enough Apple bashing and onto the Hubs.

The prices are actually identical, both selling for £59.99 on Amazon in the UK. That is £59.99 of connections that anyone with a brain should expect a computer costing multiple thousands of £/$ to include, right? Click To Tweet

Alice Bonasio VR Consultancy MR Tom Atkinson Tech Trends Review AR Mixed Virtual Reality Augmented catalyst case s9 aukey ragu usb c inatech hub usb-c

Both provide USB C PD (Power Delivery) throughput but where Aukey’s single USB C port handles both data and power the Inateck has two ports, one for data and one for power. This is a small but key difference and I think the Inateck is more flexible in this area. 4K via HDMI was excellent with both hubs and I had no issues there. I will admit to not trying the VGA out on either hub because… I don’t have a VGA monitor anymore, but if you regularly walk into conference rooms and need to hook up with legacy (shit) old projection kit then this will be a life saver.

Alice Bonasio VR Consultancy MR Tom Atkinson Tech Trends Review AR Mixed Virtual Reality Augmented catalyst case s9 aukey ragu usb c inatech hub usb-c

I didn’t find anything wrong with either hub but they both felt more flimsy than I had hoped, rattling if tapped or shaken Click To Tweet

As a photographer, an SD slot is a must for me, and both hubs performed perfectly in my tests, transferring video and images very quickly indeed. Both Ethernet ports worked well when connected directly to my router, no complaints there either. The Type A USB 3.0 ports did exactly what they needed to and were quick at transferring data and great for connecting external mice and keyboards. I didn’t find anything wrong with either hub but would observe that they were both more flimsy feeling than I had hoped for. They both also rattled if tapped or shaken. For the price, I would like a more solidly built device that might last a bit longer, but Hey Ho.

Alice Bonasio VR Consultancy MR Tom Atkinson Tech Trends Review AR Mixed Virtual Reality Augmented catalyst case s9 aukey ragu usb c inatech hub usb-c

If I had to pick one of the two it would be the Inateck because the cable folds neatly into the hub and for the extra USB C data port. The Aukey looks a bit better I think but for the cash, the Inateck just beats it.

Retail at: Aukey Hub £59.99 on Amazon UK – Inatech Hub £59.99 on Amazon UK

 

Ragu Z400 Mini Projector

Thankfully the Ragu Z400 Mini Projector is not in any way related to the cheap and quite disgusting pasta sauce of the same name and is far more enjoyable in every way. Similar to the DBPower RD-810 we recently reviewed the Z400 is a pocket rocket. However it is also not a full HD capable device, it will accept up to 1080p input but will output only 800 x 480 pixels. Remember that it is 7x7x4” however and that seems to matter less than it might.
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Like all these budget projectors it makes claims to support its excellent brightness and cooling but in reality, it is what it is, which doesn’t stop it being a bargain and suitable for 80% of people out there living in a normal sized house with a normal sized wallet! I found the picture quality (scaled down from 1080p to be vivid, bright and generally great. You do need to use it in a very dark room to get the most out of the images it produces but to me, that is a basic prerequisite and if you have an issue with that buy a cheap TV.
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The main drawback to the Z400 is the built-in speaker which is not powerful enough to drown out the cooling fan, so I recommend you connect the audio out to your home stereo which is a doddle using the included AV adaptor. It also comes with an HDMI cable which was an unexpected bonus as you’re ready to rock straight out of the box. You’ll need to buy an MHL HDMI cable if you want to connect your phone, but that worked very well.
Alice Bonasio VR Consultancy MR Tom Atkinson Tech Trends Review AR Mixed Virtual Reality Augmented catalyst case s9 aukey ragu usb c inatech hub usb-c
The supplied remote is surprisingly attractive and lets you safely mount and control the Z400 on the ceiling or anywhere else out of your reach. This is good bang for your buck and gives you a projected image up to 130”, more than you ever need I hope!

 

Tom Atkinson is a Digital Producer & Photographer at R3Digital and Reviews & Dept. Editor at Tech Trends. Connect on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter @R3Digital