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OnePlus 8 Pro review

Maybe it’s the ongoing pandemic getting to me, but I think that spring of 2020 has produced some of the most exciting phones to date. It has been a long time since I looked at so many devices, thinking, “wow, that’s really cool and/or interesting.”The OnePlus 8 Pro, now available, is perhaps the most fun I’ve had with a phone in some time. Why? What’s so special about it? Well, you’ll just have to read on to find out.What is the OnePlus 8 Pro?Simply put, it’s the biggest and best phone that OnePlus has produced thus far. And with it comes its most expensive price tag. At $899.99 it’s a fair amount less than $1,000 and a few hundred cheaper than the competition; however, it’s nowhere near the half-priced “flagship killer” alternative it once was.Based on Android 10, the phone runs OxygenOS which is more or less a stock version of Android — with a few custom tweaks and settings. And as much as I like the lean and clean Android experience, I love the extras present in the UI. More on that in a bit.Hardware-wise, the OnePlus 8 Pro has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor with at least 8GB RAM and a minimum or 128GB storage. A 12GB/256GB variant is priced $999.99.The screen measure 6.78 inches with a hole-punch cutout for the front-facing camera; the resolution is 3,168 x 1,440 pixels with a 19.8:9 aspect ratio and all of it is protected by Gorilla Glass. Oh, and there’s an in-display fingerprint reader, too.There are four rear cameras (Sony IMX689 48-megapixel main, 48-megapixel ultra-wide (120 degree), a 5-megapixel color filter, and an 8-megapixel hybrid camera with digital zoom and optical image stabilization. Around front you’ll find a 16-megapixel camera with Face Unlock capabilities.Other noteworthy features include a 4510mAh battery with wireless charging support – a first for OnePlus, an IP68 rating against water and dust, and support for a whole array of 4G and 5G bands. There’s also Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, Wi-Fi 6, and every other type of connection you can think up.All of this is to say that the OnePlus 8 Pro has what it takes to go toe-to-toe with any other phone on the market. It’s big, it’s beautiful, and it’s as powerful as the day is long.DesignWe’ve reviewed our fair share of OnePlus phones over the years but it has been some time since I personally spent time with one. The last time I had one as a daily driver was the OnePlus 3. Suffice it to say, I fell fast in love with the OnePlus 8 Pro.Removing it from the box, powering it up, and going through the initial steps of setup were fun for me. I might describe it akin to waiting for video game to go through the loading screens on Christmas morning so I can play it.Although it’s rather heavy, there’s no unnecessary bulk. The battery is generous at 4,510mAh and that’s likely a huge chunk of the weight. The screen wraps around to the side edges and it wastes no space with bezels or buttons. It’s all screen. All gorgeous, high resolution, screen that moves at incredibly stunning 120Hz refresh rate.Buttons are a little different for me in that the volume are on the left side while most handsets keep them on the right. Present on the right with the power button is a switch that lets users move between silent, vibrate, and ring modes.The OnePlus 8 Pro is curved, modish, and looks every bit what you’d expect from a flagship phone in 2020. The Glacial Green in our review unit catches light and provides a very muted gradient effect. It might as well vibrate and hum in bright environments for how much it gleams.I’m not wild about the pronounced camera module down the spine as I am always worried about scratching and scuffing them. But, place it in a case and the problem is easily solved.It’s worth mentioning that there is no headphone jack present. If that matters to you, I can’t help you. I’ve slowly come around to the idea that it’s not going to be there in most cases and if it is, it’s a bonus.SoftwareI had forgotten how much I appreciate what OnePlus does for the software experience. While it resembles what you might get from a Pixel phone, you can go a layer deeper with custom enhancements and tools.Users can define settings right out of the box with things like choosing gestures versus buttons or how you want to power button to behave if you hold it down. Instead of the normal menu you can opt to make it trigger Google Assistant, for instance.Play around and you’ll find that you can create a theme that has the precise colors you want for icons and menus, replace the icons, and more. And that’s just the beginning. But, lest you feel like this leads to unwanted bloatware and things that get in the way, I’ll share that it’s all voluntary stuff that’s tucked away in the settings.The OnePlus 8 Pro has a number of cool features that enhance the experience visually, including Adaptive Display, Motion Graphics Smoothing, and Vibrant Color Effect Pro. Each does its part to make pictures and videos look even better with higher contrast and more rich detail.There is very little installed on the OnePlus 8 Pro that isn’t in the standard suite of Google software. Our device came with Netflix and Facebook but that was essentially it. And really, they’re far and away some of the most popular titles that users install on day one.There are a couple of OnePlus apps and settings present but they do serve practical purposes. The Game Space, for example, tunes the phone’s settings to get the best performance possible out of games and keeps notifications from bothering you during gameplay.PerformanceCome on, really? What do you expect when you pair the latest version of Android with the best processor on the market and the most efficient memory available? To say that the OnePlus 8 Pro hums would be selling it short.I’ve thrown everything I can at the phone in my two weeks with it and I’ve yet to see it stutter. And the more I use it, the more I see how it runs circles around my daily driver.Even little things like screen rotation seem to be much smoother and faster. Hopping from app to app? I can’t move quick enough with the navigation and gestures to begin to test it.I’m the first to admit that I don’t game too heavily on phones and often prefer to install casual titles that I can pick up and drop any time. Even those apps install quicker, boot up faster, and look better.Playing a driving game like Asphalt 9 it’s easy to see why people love it so much and why gaming-centric phones are taking off. When you have a screen this big, with a 120Hz refresh rate, and more than enough hardware, it’s a blast.I’ve been a big advocate for Google’s Pixel line since it launched and also carried a few Nexus phones for my day-to-day. I love the simplicity of the UI, the lack of unnecessary software, and the downright best-in-class camera experience.The camera alone is why I have had such a tough time transitioning away from Google’s phones. What it was able to do with its single lens was mind-blowing to say the least. The Pixel 4 took things to a new place with an improved experience but the battery always gave me a bit of pause.The OnePlus 8 Pro is among the first phones in some time where I was content to use it as my daily phone. Normally, I carry my Pixel 4 as my main phone in the event I want to capture something on the fly. The phone I am reviewing usually comes out for sample pictures, but I am usually a bit hesitant to rely on it for candid stuff or action shots.It took me all of a few days to confidently switch my SIM card out and lean on the OnePlus 8 Pro for my needs. As far as the camera goes, I’ve been more than impressed with the results thus far. And in all transparency, I sort of dig the numerous options available and the way in which they’re presented. OnePlus 8 Pro Camera Samples 1 of 6 I also want to call attention to the in-display fingerprint reader. It’s incredibly fast and accurate; it’s how I envisioned it working when the tech was first introduced. Having the thumb symbol and the animation are fun and helpful.ConclusionThe OnePlus 8 Pro is the best phone it has offered up so far. It excites me. Not because it necessarily does something better than others, but because it does what other flagships do at a cheaper price.I need to clarify my position here – I am not advocating for this as the phone solution for all consumers. Many readers do not need this much hardware and they certainly can get away with a much lower-priced and lesser-powered experience. But for those who do want the “latest and greatest”, I submit the OnePlus 8 Pro.If you’ve ever seen the OnePlus brand and wondered if it’s worth looking into, now’s the time. It’s the perfect option for someone who felt burned by the Pixel 4 and doesn’t much care to wait for the successor.If you’ve spent a few years floating around the Samsung galaxy and want to try something new, here’s your chance.I’ve convinced more than a few people to consider the OnePlus line over the years and it seems to get easier with time. It took me very little time to warm to this handset; I’ve already talked friends into it as the next device for their carrier.The OnePlus 8 Pro is available as an unlocked phone for $899.99 or $999.99, depending on the memory and storage, at OnePlus website. Amazon also offers the handset for the same price.

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Ultimate Ears 18+ CSX review: $1,500 Bluetooth earbuds?

Before we begin this review, I want to start with a disclaimer: I am not an audiophile. While these earphones are most certainly pointed at audiophiles and those with far more expendable cash than I have, I’m going to bring you my thoughts as a someone who absolutely loves music, but also suffers from tinnitus and cannot pick up on the little things that most audio reviewers rave about.All of that being said, I think this review will come across far more useful for the common users interested in a very high-class pair of earphones.If you really want to boil down the Ultimate Ears 18+ CSX, you could easily say they’re a $1,500 pair of Bluetooth earphones. That’s a massive oversimplification, of course, but you wouldn’t be wrong either.Backing up a bit, Ultimate Ears (UE) is one of the leading companies in high-end audio today. The company has been around for a few decades and was recently acquired by Logitech. Its history of audio excellence, however, extends back to the early days of Custom In-Ear Monitors (ciems).Ciems are earphones that are custom molded to your ear and provide a flat, real representation of what you’re listening to, rather than exaggerated EQs that make music almost unrecognizable.Ciems are not cheap, though you can find far more inexpensive products than the $1,500 18+ CSX. The question is, do you get what you pay for? In a word, yes. The 18+ CSX are the most enjoyable audio experience I have had in the years that I’ve been reviewing audio products. Let me tell you why.Custom Moldingvia UltimateEars.comFirst off, we’re going to start with the “C” in ciems. The UE 18+ CSX are custom molded to your ear canals through a “Fitkit” that the company sends when you order your earphones. The package arrives, you go through the molding process and send it back to the company. Within a few weeks, you have your earphones.The process is quick and, for me, was generally painless. In the Fitkit, you get two sets of molds (small and large), a mirror, and a power adapter.Why the power adapter? Well, the mold you place in your ear is actually going to heat up so it can form to the shape of your ear canal. It doesn’t get too hot, but it does get warm enough to produce an interesting sensation. Once it’s done, it cools down and you now have a custom mold of your ear!The process is guided by an app that you can download for either Android or iOS. I had trouble with the Android app so I used my wife’s iPhone and it worked like a charm. The entire process only took about 20 minutes and I was ready to send the molds off to UE for them to construct my IEMs.Mine took about ten days to get to me after I sent the Fitkit back to UE, which I think is an appropriate turnaround for a high-quality product like this. When you’re dropping this kind of cash, you want it to be perfect the first time.FitIf you’ve never experienced Custom In-Ear Monitors, there’s not a fantastic comparison out there to convey exactly what they feel like. I suppose they’re like a pair of gloves that hold tight to your hands, but don’t restrict your movement.While other earphones may extend further into the ear canal, the UE 18+ CSX are only moderately deep. This is great for comfort and sound quality, but there were times when I did feel like I could shake them out of my ears.If you’re looking for something to take to the gym for an intense workout, you may want to consider a different product or a third party clip to make sure they don’t go flying. During my relaxed exercise, they were perfectly fine.If you have sensitive ears, you may get some fatigue during long listening sessions. I think most people will be fine because I am one of those people with sensitive ears and it took three to four hours of continuous listening before I felt anything remotely close to that.An underappreciated but important-to-me feature about these earphones is that they’re basically flush with my ears. Why would that be important? I love listening to music when I’m laying down. It helps me drift off to sleep and I often read laying on my side with music on. There was no extra pressure on my ears because of the size and shape of the UE 18+ CSX which was an unexpected but wonderful surprise.ConnectivityRemember when I said calling these $1,500 Bluetooth earphones was a massive oversimplification? Well, it definitely is. They’re definitely not just Bluetooth earphones because they’re wired too.The UE 18+ CSX come with a braided 48-inch cable that quickly snaps into place to provide a 3.5 headphone jack plug for your phones that still have a headphone jack. And, yeah, I guess computers, amps and other things that you can plug one of those things into. But, we all listen to music on our phones now right?Unfortunately, the braided cable doesn’t include any inline controls, but it is one of the better cables I’ve come across. It’s very workable and never sticks to a shape, which can be pretty annoying with wires. It’s long enough to reach down into my pocket when plugged into my phone or into my computer when I’m at my desk. Is it the best? No. But, it does the job. You can make the case that if you’re dropping this much money you want something more than “just does the job” and that’d be pretty fair.As for Bluetooth connectivity, there’s an entirely separate wire you plug in for that. It connects to the buds and goes behind your neck like many other Bluetooth earphones out there. It does include an inline control unit that has three buttons and a battery that should get you about four hours of playback from our testing. A battery unit that charges via micro USB attaches via pogo pins to recharge the unit.The battery gives you an additional charge (so about eight hours total) and can be used either as just a battery or while it’s charging as well. More than once I’ve attached the battery unit to the 18+ CSX and left the house. You can also throw it in your pocket and just charge up when you need. Then, when you get home, throw the battery on the charger or the whole unit. It’s pretty flexible, which I really enjoy.SoundAll that’s great, but how do they sound?The first thing you need to keep in mind about In-Ear Monitors are that they’re monitors. Monitors are supposed to give the truest representation of the music you’re listening to without introducing artificial EQ. If you want booming, overemphasized bass, there are other products that will make you much happier. If you want to listen to your music the way the artist intended, you’re on the right path.I have a hard time really explaining the joy that listening to music with these earphones really brings me. I’ve dabbled with some high-end audio products but mostly stay in the shallow end with the Apple Airpods Pro and Sony wh-1000xm3‘s of the world. These are expensive products, but they don’t touch the UE 18+ CSXs.I can only describe the sound stage as broad and wide. You truly have a more natural sense of what the music is supposed to sound like. These don’t invent bass or treble that wasn’t supposed to be there in the first place which makes vocals sound absolutely brilliant. Bass still booms, but its because it’s supposed to boom. Clear instrument separation is a joy and you’ll definitely pick up details in your favorite songs you’ve been missing all these years.There’s no active noise cancellation here, but you really don’t need it. Noise cancellation introduces artifacts through the process of filtering out sound and can negatively affect the audio or give a sense of your head being in a vacuum. The seal in your ears due to the custom molding provides the same noise-cancellation results without any of the negative aspects of ANC.If you’re not terribly impressed with how your earphones sound or you just want to tinker, the UE Custom app has an advanced EQ that will let you dial your sound signature exactly where you want it.You can save custom profiles, but these profiles will only work in Bluetooth mode, unfortunately. We’d love to see UE expand the option to work in wired mode here, but you’re stuck with Android’s EQ settings for now.ConclusionIt’s not hard to say you absolutely get what you pay for here. If you’re slotting these on scale with the $10 earbuds you can get that the corner store and these near the top, you will get diminishing returns once you pass that $300 price but that’s not to say there aren’t value in the UE 18+ CSX.Most people are going to be fine with Airpods; that’s largely why Apple has been so successful with them. We’ve profiled a ton of audio products here on AndroidGuys that will do the job just fine. But, if you’re looking to up your game, these are an excellent place to start.I really love how these sound, and I know that’s a rather bland statement, but it’s true to the feeling. It’s easy to exaggerate when reviewing products, but the word “love” is accurate here. Accurate, much like how these sound. No booming bass that rattles my head for no reason, no cymbals piercing through the vocals to ruin the moment. Just clear, clean, warm music at all times. Wired or wireless.Indeed, $1,500 is a lot of money, and I’m not suggesting everyone run out and buy these. If you’re serious about audio, I think you start your search here and branch out. UE is incredibly successful in the audio game because their products are simply among the best. The UE 18+ CSX are a prime example of the quality of the company and I fully recommend them if you have the money to spare.

VIVIMAGE Explore 2 Projector review

Being stuck at home presents many challenges. And no matter how big your house is, sometimes it feels entirely too small.How does one binge watch their favorite shows when someone else already occupies the TV? What about watching in rooms that don’t have a TV? Or, what happens when the weather gets nice and we want to be outside on the back patio or in the driveway?The LED projector market is poised to capitalize on the ongoing stay-at-home lifestyle we’re all living though. Although it has been around for many years, it’s now hitting a new stride, thanks to lower prices and higher quality.Vivimage is one brand who manufactures LED projectors with prices that range from as low as $70 up to about $230. Designed for casual home entertainment, its devices are a great way to add a screen wherever you have a flat surface.We were able to get a review unit of the Explore 2, one of its middle of the pack, projectors. And after spending a couple of weeks with it, we’re able to share our impressions and review of the device.What is the VIVIMAGE Explore 2?Technically speaking, the brand terms this as a mini Wi-Fi projector. Weighing in at about two pounds, its roughly 8″ x 6″ x 3″ in size.It’s an HD (720p native/supports 1080p) projector with up to 4200 Lux brightness and a 3000:1 contrast. With six ports (HDMI, USB, VGA, AV, TF, and Audio output), it can be easily connected to a smartphone, game console, or laptop.Depending on how far away you can get from your wall, the Explore 2 can provide an image of 38-inches up to 200-inches. There are built-in dual stereo speakers with SRS technology to provide a quality well-balanced sound experience.What is it like to use the VIVIMAGE Explore 2?To be honest, I was a little skeptical at first, but I quickly came to appreciate the value offered here. Vivimage has shown that it’s possible to get a high quality LED projector that is great for pretty much anywhere you want to explore.Included in the box are the projector, HDMI and RCA cable, power cable, cleaning kit, remote, tripod, instructions, and a lens cap. Understanding we often get what we pay for, the build quality is pretty good for a projector in this price range.So does it look good? Short answer, absolutely! I was pleasantly surprised by the image quality. To start off testing my family sat down to watch Onward and we found the picture to be crystal clear.It only took a few seconds to get the screen sized properly and the picture focused. The provided tripod has a ball head so that made it very simple to dial in the screen and get the keystone correct for the viewing angle.One downside I have is that while built-in speakers sound good the fan noise is pretty loud in comparison. I would suggest an extra sound source when viewing if possible. Also, he focus ring feels good and solidly constructed however, the keystone ring feels a little loose.All in all this is a solid choice for mobile viewing and easy enough for those impromptu family movie nights!Where to BuyYou can purchase the VIVIMAGE Explore 2 mini Wi-Fi projector from Amazon for as low as $129.99 right now. VIVIMAGE Explore 2 1 of 9

Tronsmart Onyx Ace wireless earbuds review

Tronsmart is a name many may not immediately recognize; however, the China-based company has been churning out solid wireless smartphone accessories for years. As someone familiar with the brand, I was eager to try out Tronsmart’s newest audio model,  the Onyx Ace earbuds.DesignIt’s hard to ignore the influence of Apple’s Airpod design when you open the packaging of the Onyx Ace headset. The earbuds and the case for the device also have the same resemblance. Is this a ripoff, or just validation of good design?Personally, I like the look and fit of the Onyx Ace. The earbuds are light with a sleek design. Ear-fit is different for each user, but I find they fit very well in my ears.AudioThe overall sound quality of the Tronsmart Onyx Ace is quite good. While it’s a little bass-heavy, the mix is decent. Lows, mids, and highs come in for a really good listening experience.This is no surprise with Qualcomm aptX chipset onboard. Combined with 13mm driver, you receive lossless audio that pops from the small buds.The Onyx Ace isn’t going to supplant your over-ear cans anytime soon but, for casual listening, you won’t be disappointed. It’s also worth mentioning the light weight of the earbuds attributes to comfort for extended listening as well.ControlsThe Onyx Ace earbuds are accompanied by a responsive set of touch controls via the silver strips on the sides. A single tap on the right earpiece will raise the volume, while the same to the left side will lower the track audio. Double-tap on either will pause the currently playing track or answer/end a phone call.Holding the right Ace for two seconds will advance to the next track in a playlist and the left will predictably go to the previously played item. A three-second timed press will manually turn the units on and off.Lastly, a triple-tap will activate your favorite voice assistant. Google Assistant works as well as you’d expect with this function. I will say it’s the only interaction that I struggled to get right every time. I got better with practice but three well-timed taps are just not a great way to initiate a result at times.Battery LifeThe other feature that allows for long podcast marathons is the battery life. Each Onyx Ace lasts around five hours per charge and the included case can recharge it four times. This results in a full 24 hours of up time away from a wall outlet.When you do need a charge, it’s great to see USB-C charging available. Whether charging the case or the case recharging the earbuds, both take around one and a half hours to a full tank. I’d love to have also seen wireless charging but at the price point of $35, it’s just fine.ConclusionI enjoyed my time with the Tronsmart Onyx Ace truly wireless earbuds. With the compact design, audio backed with aptX, and good playback times, the Onyx Ace headset has some really solid offerings. Pair that will a modest $35 price tag and you have a great option for potential buyers.

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myCharge Hub Turbo review

Thanks to the near-universal approach that most phone makers take today, a lot of devices employ USB Type-C for charging.The tech is not just phones, either as headphones and other accessories are turning to the standard. On the other hand, there’s a sizable segment of the market that has iPhone. In short, there are currently two major ways to keep devices charged.Occasionally, you’ll also find something that works just as well with Android as it does for iPhones. Such is the case with the myCharge Hub Turbo.MyCharge has been one of my favorite brands in the charging space over the last few years. Its chargers get bigger and better all the time and at prices that stay competitive. As the newest model in its portfolio, the Hub Turbo is another testament to its powerful and flexible charging solutions.Packing some 10,050mAh worth of battery, this portable charger is designed to power up your average smartphone at least three times over. Depending on how old your handset is, or what the battery is like, it could go even higher.READ: Consider myCharge’s wireless charging and Nintendo Switch solutionsIf you’re not dealing with a flagship phone, or a model that specifically boasts a two-day battery, you’ll likely get four charges.One of the features I  appreciate about this model is that it features an integrated Apple Lightning cable as well as an integrated USB Type-C cable. While I won’t necessarily use the former cable, it’s nice to have on hand for whenever my friends with an iPhone might need some extra power.The built-in cords are roughly 4-inches long and rest inside of a track, and snap into place when not in use. After a few weeks of use I’ve yet recognize any giving or slack in the part that keeps the cable locked in. I’ve seen this feature in a variety of myCharge models along the way and they’ve always held up well.READ: myCharge portable chargers are perfect for Pokemon Go huntsAlso present and convenient, there’s a battery level indicator at the top right edge, just above where the cables pull out. It’s a convenient spot as you can quickly see  how much power is left before pulling out a cable.Specs:Battery: 10050mAh Lithium IonProduct Dimensions: 4.6 in x 2.8 in x 0.9 inProduct Weight: 0.6 lbs.Output: 3.4A sharedOn the bottom of the unit you’ll find a USB port which can be used to charge any device. Just be sure to bring your own cable.As a hallmark of the series of chargers, this ones comes with prongs that lets plug it directly into a wall. It’s perfect for packing for overnight trips; it’s an all-in-one device that requires no cables.I’ve had a chance to review other myCharge devices over the years and have always found them to be among the best in the space. The same goes this time around.The Hub Turbo looks nearly identical to its predecessors, but does have a slightly darker finish. It’s more of a dark slate color instead of a silver finish. myCharge Hub Turbo 1 of 9 AvailabilityYou can purchase a myCharge Hub Turbo 10050 for $110 directly from the myCharge website. A smaller, 6700mAh version is also available for about $90, but I definitely think it’s worth the extra money for that extra 50% capacity.Amazon also offers a variety of myCharge solutions, including the Hub Turbo 10050. Currently it’s listed at just $100, a savings of 10% as compared to myCharge’s website. Similarly, the 6700mAh model is just $80 at Amazon.

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Anker SoundCore Flare 2 speaker review

Soundcore, as some readers may know, is Anker’s premium level audio branding. Over the past few years, the company has started pumping out some really great products that offer value-based awesome musical experiences. We were big fans of the original Flare last year and Anker has returned with the Soundcore Flare 2.DesignThe Soundcore Flare 2 doesn’t stray too far from the original. You have an angled-cylinder speaker with a nice fabric covering. There’s also a heft and sturdiness to the Flare 2 that signals it’s well-made.I have no reservations taking this one just about anywhere. That’s a good thing because Anker wants this thing to be available everywhere you go. The Flare 2 is IPX7 waterproof and has a silicone anti-skid layer on the bottom. The canvas covering also makes it capable of taking a fall or being tossed in a bag without looking beat to hell.There are no real standout features of the design other than the Soundcore logo on the bottom front of the Flare 2. Around the rear, you find the USB-C power port and a Bluetooth button for pairing multiple Flare speakers together.ControlsThe main controls of the Flare 2 are very familiar to anyone that’s used a Bluetooth speaker. They are located on the top of the Flare 2 in a traditional D-pad style layout. Here you’ll find a power button, volume up/down, LED illumination control, and a Soundcore logo for activating voice controls on the connected device.Most of the controls are pretty self-explanatory. You press and hold the power button to turn the Flare 2 on and off. Pressing the volume up and down once will change the audio levels. Long-pressing the same will skip forward or to the previous track in your playlist.The Soundcore and LED buttons are where things get a little interesting. Pressing the Soundcore button activates the voice assistant of your choice. Google Assistant, Bixby, and Siri are all supported.The LED button controls the illuminated rings at the top and bottom of the Flare 2. Pressing the button once to turn the lighting effects on and single presses afterward will rotate through the color profiles. Press and hold the button for 2 seconds will turn off the LED options.I personally don’t care much for audio light shows, but younger folks like my teenage daughter seem to enjoy it. While I consider it a gimmick, it’s nice to see Anker include it. I’m glad that I am able to turn the feature off.SoundSound on the Soundcore Flare 2 speaker is really good. The 360-degree sound legitimately fills a room with a rich playback experience. You can even adjust the bass on the fly with the dedicated button on the back of the Flare 2.And if you want to tweak the sound even more, you can always jump into the Soundcore mobile app. This gives you an on-demand equalizer and tutorials on how to use Anker’s audio branded devices.Now, let’s talk about the best part of the Flare 2 speaker. You can sync multiple Flare 2 units together for stereo sound. You can actually daisy-chain up over 100 speakers together if you’re a true lunatic or have an endless supply of money.To set this up you can pull up the tutorial on the Soundcore app, but you hold the Bluetooth button also found on the back of each speaker. This puts it in sync mode as the “master” speaker in the chain.You then hold the same button on each sequential Flare 2. Once they are linked up, you get an extended, rich stereo experience. I know that the Flare 2 isn’t the only device that does this, but Anker really has an impressive iteration here with these.ConclusionThe Soundcore Flare 2 by Anker offers a compelling Bluetooth speaker with good 360-degree sound, waterproofing, and the ability to create a stereo cluster for your music playback. The only thing I think is genuinely missing is Chromecast. I really wish Anker would offer another option with this feature.You can snag a Flare 2 speaker, or 100 of them, at Amazon now for $80. I was truly impressed by this portable unit and I think you will be too.

SOTKA review

We live in an interesting time. More specifically, we’re in a very interesting moment. What with the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe and all, we face new and difficult challenges.Many of us are forced to work from home, or have been sent home with nothing to do. Some will take the time to get caught up on housework and chores. Others might start a new hobby or chase a passion. Then there are others who will use the time to get in shape or stay in shape.We can’t leave the house to get in some time at the gym. Getting in a workout can prove challenging if you don’t have equipment. What’s more, there’s nobody around to ask about a particular routine or exercise.How does one get started with working out alone? Consider SOTKA, the first “edufitness” app to show up in the Play Store. Designed for beginners or those out of shape and looking to get toned, it’s a free title that walks you through the process over 100 days.Upon your first installation you’ll be greeted by a number of handy tutorials, descriptions, and videos. These will prove handy in helping you develop good form and habits. You’ll be asked to take before/after photos and set a couple of goals, but you can skip ahead and get started if you don’t feel ready to do those things.The whole point of SOTKA is to educate you in your fitness journey. This includes reviewing your diet, help in planning meals, and answering your common questions. It’s the perfect companion to the stay-at-home lifestyle that keeps us all isolated.You can’t really go any further in the experience than you’ve unlocked. That is to say you cannot jump ahead to day 60 and do the challenges and lessons.There’s a strategic approach to SOTKA in that it doesn’t give you more than you’re ready to handle. Further, it’s a nice way to ensure you move at a smart pace and not one where you may assume you’re further along.The first 49 days, for instance, help you get going with bodyweight exercises that don’t require any extra hardware or equipment. You’ll also come to understand proper breathing techniques, how to improve your flexibility, and other instrumental basics.Once you’re halfway in you’ll get into more advanced exercises and begin to focus on muscles. The techniques start to ramp up and you’ll find new things to do on a regular basis. After all, you’ve developed the good habits and put the foundation in place. Now, you’ll build on those fundamentals.In the final stretch (days 92-98) you’ll really dial things up with seven different routines. Each day is a little different, but nothing you can’t handle.Given it could be a few months before things are back to normal, you could find yourself re-entering the real world a different person. It’s not just about bulking up or toning, but more of a smarter approach to life, including eating the right foods and doing the right things by your body.SOTKA does a solid job of walking you through things, educating, and tracking progress. It’s not overly polished looking but that’s not why you use it. It’s helpful, keeps you accountable, and doesn’t get in your way. In other words, it’s the sort of gym partner you deserve.We like the educational approach presented here because it’s not all in your face at one time. Instead, it’s presented to you piecemeal, and in a fairly organic order. We also appreciate that you can pick the time that best works for you with the gentle nudge that comes from a notification.SOTKA is available as a free application in the Google Play Store.

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