The March installment of "Best Tech." Which device is your favorite? While we typically focus on smartphones, our "Best Tech" series expands our scope of interest and lets us to take a look at the various devices our smartphones can control. Which device is your favorite?
Best Tech is a series on PhoneDog that allows us to reflect on some of the best accessories on the market that interact with our smartphones in some way, shape or form. Whether it’s a Bluetooth speaker or handheld Gimbal, accessories work to add or enhance the functionality of our smartphones-- the smartphones that pretty much all of us have in our pockets at all times. Some of these devices are expensive, others are a bargain. But all of them are worthy of your consideration.
Feiyu SPG Live Gimbal
This is the Feiyu SPG Live 360 degrees smartphone Gimbal that works with both iPhones and Android phones. We featured the Feiyu Tech G4 Pro Gimbal in a previous Best Tech video but this is a newer product of theirs that does something the G4 Pro doesn’t do. You’ll see that in addition to landscape orientation, it can also hold your phone in portrait mode, which is perfect for Snapchat or Periscope, or various other social media apps. This gives you a ton of flexibility when you are shooting. There’s also a 360-degree slip ring motor inside the stabilized Gimbal to let you pan your smartphone 360 degrees, adding even more functionality and flexibility when filming.
The Gimbal itself is motorized and will balance itself with a press of a button. There are some included counterweights that can be used and added, depending on the smartphone you are using with this device. The bigger the smartphone is, probably the more counterweight you will need to add. But unless you’re switching phones frequently, you can just leave the counterweight in place. You don’t need to really mess with these too often.
But best of all, the footage I captured with this Gimbal is incredibly smooth considering how small and portable this Gimbal is. This is one of those products that I think every filmmaker should have in their inventory.
The Headphone by Bragi
The Headphone by Bragi are probably the best wireless earbuds in the market. First, the sound quality is actually really good for wireless earbuds that doesn’t have a lot of space for the drivers and speaker cavity, which is necessary to produce a very rich sound. In fact, it’s pretty impressive to think about all the technology cramped inside each of these earbuds. There’s a battery capable of 6 hours of wireless playtime per charge, a microphone to allow phone calls and voice commands, and a trio of physical, multi-functional controls. These controls are really nice to have but I will note that they can be a bit hard to press and can actually hurt your ears a little bit as you’re pressing the earbud further into your ear canal when you’re actually pressing these buttons.
There’s no heart rate monitor or noise cancellation. But given the inner ear design of these earphones, they do work to block out a lot of background noise just with how securely they fit in your ears. And there’s plenty of different size ear tips to allow for a comfortable fit as well. There is a pretty neat “Audio Transparency” mode that will amplify the background noise around you while you are listening to music. So what that allows you to do is it will let you interact with people around you without ever having to require you to take the earphones out of your ears. It’s pretty neat. It doesn’t work flawlessly but it works well enough to be a worthy feature.
Overall, these aren’t flawless wireless earbuds but they are some of the best on the market and should be seriously considered over the Apple AirPods as they offer many unique features, many similar features but cost $10 less.
Glyph Atom RAID 1TB SSD
This is the Atom RAID SSD from Glyph. What’s special about this solid state drive is that it supports USB-C 3.1, USB 3.0, and Thunderbolt 3. That means it’ll work with the latest MacBook Pro without the need for any sort of adapter. USB-C is being used more and more frequently in consumer products nowadays and USB-C is so versatile as it’s able to provide power and data through one cable. This drive, I think, is future-proof. It should last you for a long time. The connectors and employs are future-proof, and the drive itself is as well. The model I have features 1TB of storage that is small enough to actually fit in your pocket. There’s no fans, the drive uses fan-less heat dissipation to cool its inside bits. The Atom RAID SSD is also Glyph’s fastest SSD on the market, with speeds up to 800 MB per second.
So you add in the fact that it’s wrapped in a rugged, aluminum enclosure; it becomes all the more tempting of a purchase. I’ve been using this as my mobile drive for the past couple of months now. I can throw it in my backpack or slip it in my pocket. I don’t really have to worry about how rough I treat it as there are no moving parts that will make the drive fail over time. It also works with my daily driver laptop, the 2015 MacBook.
The drive isn’t cheap as it comes in at around $420 but I found little wrong with it in my test.
The Plane by Fluidstance
The Plane by Fluidstance is a balance board that helps you stay more active while at a standing desk. So I picked up a standing desk late last year. It was my first one. Fluidstance saw that and sent me The Plane. I’ve been using it every single day for the past couple of months or so and to be honest, I love it. I’m a fidgety person so having something that I can slide around on and pivot while I type scripts and articles is really nice. I also feel it has strengthened my core muscles a bit and it provides more movement to my core than if I were to just stand still on a carpet.
The model I have is The Plane, which is made in the US from recycled materials. But you can spend a few extra dollars for a wooden top deck and aluminum base that might fit the decor in your home a little bit better than this one. My only major complaint with Fluidstance is that it tends to hurt my feet after using the board for a long period of time. If you spend more than a couple of hours at your standing desk, I would suggest wearing shoes or even modifying the top of this deck with some sort of added cushion. You wouldn’t necessarily get that nice sandpaper grip that is pre-installed here but that could be a solution. It could definitely alleviate some of the pain in your feet. This particular model though can be had for around $180.
JAM Xterior Max Bluetooth Speaker
So in addition to the Fluidstance and all of the other products mentioned in this video, I’ve also had a lot of fun using the JAM Xterior Max Rugged Bluetooth Speaker over the past couple of months or so. I think it’s always nice to have a product that you can throw around and be somewhat reckless with because you know it’s built well and built to handle whatever you throw at it.
This speaker is water-resistant. It has an IP67 water resistance rating and it doesn’t sound awful for being waterproof. It syncs up with my phone automatically when I power it on and it gets very loud. The bass is very pronounced. I actually brought the speaker with me to the Orion Coast. I found a little sand dune next to the ocean and started playing some music. I was able to hear the music just fine over the sound of the ocean. It has 12 hours of playtime per charge and there’s a screw mount on the bottom that will let you mount it to something like a bike.
If you’re an outdoor, rugged person, I highly recommend this speaker.
The last product we have for you today is called Aumeo Audio. It’s a device audio enthusiasts should take note of. What it does is that it personalizes your headphones. You use the app to sync up with this little square device here to create your own personal audio profile. The whole process takes only a couple of minutes and will require you to set the volume of various frequencies played in each ear. When you’re done, you have your own profile that you can toggle on and off when you press the volume dial. And when you do that, you’ll notice the difference is very noticeable. Not only is the sound amplified but the depth of the song and music that you’re listening to is as well. You’ll hear the guitar or synth in a completely different way. I like to think that it makes music sound more alive and full but I’m not an audiophile so it’s a little bit hard for me to comment on the exact differences. I will say though that I do personally prefer to listen to music via the Aumeo Audio.
What’s neat is that it can be used via a wired connection or a wireless connection so you can use a 3.5mm audio cable or you can use Bluetooth. I found that it doesn’t offer the most seamless or reliable connection but it’s definitely an option.
The biggest downside with this device is the price. It’s a little bit expensive coming in at about $200 but if you’re serious about audio, it could definitely be worth it.
So to recap, we have the Feiyu Tech SPG Live 360-degree Gimbal that will let you get those really steady shots in portrait or landscape mode using your smartphone. This guy costs $239. The Headphone by Bragi is probably the best Apple AirPods alternative. It offers a lot of the same functionality as well as several unique features all for $10 than the Apple AirPods. It costs $150. We have the Fluidstance standing desk board that comes in at $180 and the price does increase, depending on how nice of a board you get. We also have the water-resistant rugged Bluetooth speaker known as the JAM Xterior Max. It could be found for less than $100, if you know where to look. We also have the audiophile-friendly Aumeo Audio. This little device personalizes your headphones. It comes in at $200. And of course, the last product is the Glyph Atom RAID SSD. It’s one of my favorite USB-C SSDs in the market. The 1TB model can be a little pricey but the price does get a little bit easier on the wallet if you pick a configuration with less storage.