If you like to pass the time reading on your commute, an e-reader is the most portable way to do that. This'll allow you to back up important documents when you're traveling or giving a presentation out of the office on the cheap. SanDisk's USB stick is capable of holding anywhere from 4 to 64GB of files, and it's tiny, even by flash drive standards. When it comes to cheap Bluetooth speakers, you have to take what you can get. Sound quality is almost inherently limited at or under the £35 range ó you really have to double that, at the least, before you can consistently find devices with the equipment capable of producing commendable audio. And even then, youíll never get that much in the way of bass or general fullness.At the same time, you donít have to spend too long perusing Amazonís best sellers chart to see that the cheap stuff is popular. That allows it to keep putting out okay (at best) sound, which means that those on a budget need to look for small victories. In some cases, thatís waterproofing. In others, itís supreme portability. In the Anker SoundCoreís, itís tremendous battery life.
Anker is best known for its portable batteries and charging products, some of which weíve highlighted before, but itís hung around this budget speaker market for the past few years. The £30 SoundCore is one of its newest models, and while we canít say it sounds great, it does enough right to be worth considering if you just want a straightforward, not-annoying personal speaker thatíll add volume around the house without breaking the bank. The SoundCore itself is a mostly no-frills affair. Itís not water-resistant in any way, itís not particularly flashy, and its on-device controls are largely limited to the basics. That said, its bar-shaped build is tightly put together, and its soft plastic feels smooth to the touch, even if it does attract a little finger grease. The whole thing pairs quickly and reliably over Bluetooth 4.0, and automatically connects to the last device you used. It works fine as a simple speakerphone when needed. And while we donít think Anker has enough clout to get away with plastering its logo across the SoundCoreís front, itís not ugly either.
As noted above, itís hard to find much fullness or fidelity among affordable speakers. The SoundCore doesnít change that ó it lacks some edge, it struggles to separate more complex tracks, and its bass, while at least present, is often anemic and imprecise. Compared to our favorite sub-£35 speaker right now, the JBL Clip+, itís neither as loud nor as well-defined. But thatís about par for the course with these things. For what it is, and for the money, the SoundCore is a largely smooth and pleasant listen. It very clearly emphasizes the midrange, but it doesnít feel outright unbalanced or overly thin. Vocals often come through cleanly, especially with less intense music. It also gets a good amount of volume without becoming explicitly harsh. Itís a warmer profile, so if you often listen to podcasts or more laid-back, acoustic stuff, itíll serve you well. Just try to avoid hip-hop or more chaotic rock.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the SoundCoreís saving grace is battery life. Anker rates the speaker as lasting 24 hours with average use, and based on our testing, itís not far off. We tested the device at moderate to high volumes for about a week before needing to find an outlet, coming close to 20 hours in total. For £30, thatís fantastic. If cash is tight and you care at all about sound quality, weíd still recommend the aforementioned Clip+, or doing what you can to save up for something like the Logitech X300 or JBL Flip 3. If youíre in the market for a £30 Bluetooth speaker, though, thereís a good chance youíre not the most critical listener. In that case, the SoundCore is an easy-to-use, long-lasting way to boost the noise coming from your smartphone or laptop.Lenovo has a new, giant, 27-inch all-in-one touchscreen desktop PC that doubles as a huge tablet ó and Lenovo wants you and your family to gather around it for game night.The Lenovo Home 500, with a price tag of $1549, is your pretty standard PC, at first blush.
But plug in a mouse and keyboard, or connect Bluetooth versions of the same, and it's a fully-functional Windows 10 PC. It was officially announced at a special event in San Francisco.All of the computing guts are contained in that massive screen, right next to a battery with a promised 3 hours of computing life.But if you take it off the kickstand, it becomes an endtable-sized tablet.Lenovo says that it's perfect for getting the whole family around for game time, collaborative research, or whatever else. Lenovo has its own app store, called "Aura," that it says is full of apps that are made for two people to use the tablet together. It also comes with a custom menu interface system on top of Windows 10 to make it easier to launch those Aura apps. But in my brief tests, the touchscreen wasn't quick or responsive enough to keep up with an impromptu game of air hockey on the Lenovo Home 500.And it's a neat novelty, but how many really compelling games are going to come out for a huge device with such limited appeal? Probably not many.lenovo home 500
The Lenovo Home 500 with the kickstand up, showing off the Windows 10 Groove Music app.Matt WeinbergerThis is actually the second time Lenovo has tried the concept: 2013's Lenovo Horizon had a similar concept, but failed to set the world on fire. Apparently, it did well enough that it felt justified in releasing the Horizon 2.
It's weird, no doubt about it. Which is why Lenovo's official marketing slogan for the Home 500 ó and the Yoga 300 superlight laptop/tablet convertible also announced today ó is "Good Weird."Your smart devices are miraculous things, but having to refill their batteries every day is an antiquated annoyance. However, if you live the high-tech life and use multiple gadgets on a regular basis, you can make the charging process much more convenient by investing in a good USB wall charger.For the unfamiliar, these things let you charge multiple USB-based devices at once, whether itís smartphone, tablet, Bluetooth speaker, portable battery pack, or even some newer laptops. They spare you from spreading your dead gear across the house, and since theyíre so compact, they make for great travel companions too.Anker is one of the most popular names in this market, and its newest PowerPort wall chargers should only further that. The PowerPort 4, for instance, plugs directly into an outlet (many others come tied to a cable), has four USB ports, and comes with 40 watts of juice (more than many similarly-sized chargers).
This particular model is too small to reliably charge four big tablets like the iPad Air, but if youíre like most people and have a mix of large and small gadgets, itíll refill them with superb speed and power. If you arenít using all four ports simultaneously, it can also charge at 2.4A, meaning itíll put out the most power possible to a given device.Beyond that, it uses Ankerís ďPowerIQĒ tech, which automatically recognizes which devices are plugged in and smartly delivers only as much juice as each one needs. It also comes with a built-in surge protector and temperature control tech to keep the whole thing from overheating.At $27, the PowerPort 4 isnít the cheapest of its kind, but itís hardly expensive, it comes from a trusted name, and itís both faster and more compact than most of its competition. If you want something a little more heavy duty, though, try the 60-watt, 10-port PowerPort 10. Either way, grabbing a gadget like this should make your day-to-day charging needs a little less of a hassle.Whether for work or pleasure, traveling shouldnít be stressful. But if youíre the type who canít stop using things with screens ó i.e., if youíre a human in 2015 ó you may have no choice but to lug along an overflow of gadgets. That might not only include your basic smartphone, tablet, or laptop, but also a handful of accessories needed to keep them up and running.
If that sounds like a problem youíve had before, the HooToo TripMate Elite should help you pack a little lighter. Priced at $38, itís an all-in-one device that simultaneously serves as a portable battery, USB wall charger, travel WiFi router, and a network-attached storage (or NAS). It packs all this into something the size of a glossy black MacBook charger.Considering how many mini routers, NAS devices, and chargers there are that canít do their one job right, itís easy to be skeptical of something that claims to replicate all of them at once. The TripMate, however, actually does work. It isnít the best at any one of its functions, but itís serviceable enough at each to come in handy on the go.As a battery and wall charger, it works fine. It has a foldable AC plug and two USB ports built-in ó one at 1A, the other at 1/2.1A ó and carries a 6,000mAh capacity. Thatís enough to charge most smartphones about twice, and most tablets around halfway. When you need to charge the TripMate itself, you just plug it into an outlet.