Features may be on hold, but it seems that I can post reviews. Not there's a huge amount to tackle at 'All About Towers' right now, but for the sake of completeness, here's a look at two of my favourite new skins for the Microsoft/Android flagship, the Surface Duo 2, quite transforming its look...
Recent Reviews - Windows Phone 8
You'll have seen my unboxing and first impressions of the new NexDock 360 - a lapdock? A portable monitor? A fancy screen-enabled USB hub? Well, just as with the previous NexDocks ('2' and Touch), the NexDock 360 is all of these. Slightly smaller than its predecessor, the '360' adds a twist in being able to fold back from laptop to tent to tablet. Which is pretty cool, even if the bezels and speaker situation mean that you might not do this very often. The highlight for 'All About' fans is, of course, that this can expand your Windows 10 Mobile or Android* smartphone to a desktop experience. Plus it's a flexible HDMI monitor for everything else. Including iPhones and games consoles.
Wireless charging continues to grow and grow in popularity. Anecdotally I've only plugged a smartphone in to charge about twice in 2021 - everything else has been wireless. And, although we've been used to trickle charge power ratings from Qi in the past, 'fast wireless charging' (15W and higher) is now almost ubiquitous in smartphone flagships. Meaning that many old pads really need replacing in order to get higher wireless charging speeds. Even my beloved 5-coil Choetech pad maxes out at 10W per device, while generic pads from before 2020 will likely top out at 5W or 7.5W. Enter the Moshi Sette Q, promising dual 15W charging, as well as premium materials and bonus USB-A 'daisy chain' power out.
Qi wireless charging is starting to make it into power banks now and this is a great example of the breed, sent in for review by Choetech. As you'll see below, you can even charge three smartphones or other devices at the same time, which is impressive, perhaps on a family day out. It's tough, it's capable, it's very pocketable, and it's not too expensive. It even supports pass-through charging, so you can use it as a desktop Qi charging pad when at home.
The original 'NexDock 2' (yes, yes, there was a original from a previous generation) lapdock was reviewed here in some detail and I was generally impressed, though let down a little by the screen bezels and the appallingly quiet speakers. The NexDock Touch manages to fix both of these, with bells on, then adds a full capacitive touchscreen and a much bigger internal battery. In theory compatible with the Lumia 950 and other Continuum-enabled Windows 10 Mobile phones, plus Samsung DeX-enabled Galaxy devices, I give this the full review treatment. Tldr; Windows 10 Mobile enthusiasts will want to stick with the NexDock 2, but Samsung owners can see this as full steam ahead into a touch lapdock world. [UPDATE: Now compatible with Lumias via a workaround]
The number one hassle with power banks on trips is that you also have to remember to take with you the right charging cable for each family device that you might need to rescue. For most of us, this means bringing along a power bank plus a Type C cable, a microUSB cable, and Lightning too, for family members with iPhone or iPads. This Aenkyo accessory is perhaps the ultimate swiss army knife in the power bank world, in that it can not only charge phones via Qi wireless, it has integral Type C, microUSB and Lightning cabling. So - quite literally - no extra wires are needed.
It's inevitable that technology will drop in price as time goes on - Apple introduced the original TWS (True Wireless Stereo) AirPods at around £150, but we now have vastly cheaper alternatives with better sound quality at under a fifth the price (or a seventh, compared to the in-ear AirPods Pro, which are a better comparison). I've been reviewing these with my Lumia 950 XL and my iPhone 11 Pro and was impressed. Obviously, the materials used are a cut below Apple's and there are less 'joined up' software bells and whistles, but the Realme Buds Q are £30. Cheap plastic, whatever, these are damned good value.
When did power banks get so capacious and so cheap? A few years ago a 100Wh power bank would have been nigh-on science fiction and the best part of £100. Yet the Sense 8+ was sent in for review and it's £23 on Amazon UK. Yes, you read that right. Supporting multiple inputs and outputs, including Type C, of course, for Android and (here) Windows phones, this is a super value 'glove box' power bank to keep you and the family charged up day to day. If we're ever allowed out on trips again in these COVID-19 days, that is... [Updated]
Apple's success with Airpods has spawned a number of 'true wireless' copies - furthermore, copies with higher quality audio, in-ear-canal operation and even (here) USB Type C charging. A couple of months ago I reviewed the waterproof SoundLiberty 53, similar but with microUSB charging. Now Apple has finally gone 'in ear' and waterproof too, with the AirPods Pro, though at a crazy £250. These 'Rimor' headphones come in at almost £90, which is also too expensive, I contend...
There's one small issue with most Qi wireless charging pads... We all love them, charging our Lumias, Galaxies, iPhones, whatever, but the vast majority of them are horizontal, meaning that there's limited visibility of stuff arriving on the phone screen and limited interaction possible with the device. Pads are usually horizontal because then the user can align the phone's Qi coils with the pad precisely, whatever the model. Happily the new Choetech T555 is vertical and yet has multiple Qi coils so that most/all phones would still work with it, at up to 15W.