Ematic Switch Controllers: Solid Alternatives For Budget-Minded Gamers


Surprise, surprise – these two budget controllers are pretty awesome.


Generally, when it comes to peripherals, I’m mostly a first-party OEM guy, particularly when it comes to controllers. That said, once in a while I’ll stumble across a third-party item that not only does what it needs to do well, it does it well enough to recommend without hesitation. I’d initially planned a review of the otherwise decent officially licensed Horipad Wired Controller ($19.99) and was just about done writing when I got an email from an Ematic PR rep asking if I was interested in taking their Wired N-Switch ($19.99) and Wireless N-Switch ($27.99) Switch controllers for a test drive. Of course, I said I’d love to and shortly afterwards, both arrived and were indeed, taken for a few spins and assorted tests over the past two weeks.

switch horipadI’ll say first and foremost, that licensed Switch Horipad is an excellent official controller that’s lightweight, simple to set up out of the box and a really well-manufactured unit that works fine with every game I tested it with* with no real weaknesses outside the lack of vibration, NFC, and motion control functions that give certain Switch games that extra kick. Yes, that low price point means you get not a hint of feedback which is disappointing unless you really don’t care and just want a solid, inexpensive and very reliable controller for yourself or the kids.


For some reason, the Horipad looks as if it’s got a slight frown, while Ematic’s has a “Hey, check me out – I’m cool!” smile thing working for it.

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Loominoodle: Let There Be (Ambient) Light

reese fowler

“Hey, kids! Take care of your eyes… OR ELSE!”

loominoodleAs someone who’s done plenty of TV viewing and gaming at night for ages in near dark to pitch black rooms, I’m at that ripe older age where a few things needed to change. For one, a bit of ambient lighting was something I’d looked at for a while on and off, but never quite committed to in that “Oh, I’ll check this out more later” manner us professional procrastinators do so well. Well, not getting any younger and a nice email out of the blue from the PR guy from Power Practical got a Luminoodle Bias Lighting strip sent my way to try out. Before you even ask if it works, yes indeed it does and my eyes are now happier when camped out in front of the TV these days.

The basic Loominoodle ($9.99) comes in white and is fairly simple to install within about three to five minutes (not counting if you need to move your TV off a mounting to dust off the rear panel first or need to remove a few things close to it like a game console or three so you can turn your TV around). All your HDTV needs is a rear USB port to connect to and you’re golden. Note to pet owners: you’ll absolutely want to gently escort them from the room your TV is in into a closed one for a few minutes  before you install the strip. Hey, you try to explain to a over-eager dog or cat that the thing you’re unrolling isn’t a new toy. Notice they aren’t giving a hoot as they try and ruin your installation process?

Anyway, all you do is turn your TV on, look down at the instruction sheet, plug the Loominoodle into the rear USB slot and get to rolling out the strip according to the pattern you’ve chosen. It’s got a very sticky 3M double-sided tape backing that adheres to your set yet is flexible enough for you to overlap edges in order to make perfect corners. Once you’re all done, get that flat screen back in place and get ready to see the difference a little ambient light can bring. In short, my eyes are in love with my Loominoodle and I’d say the rest of me is pleased as well. There’s also a Luminoodle Color Bias Lighting strip ($19.99) that comes with a remote control unit and allows for a number of customization options, so I’m putting that down as a gift suggestion for a few folks I know could use a little extra (ambient) light in their lives.


Review unit courtesy Power Practical (thanks, Ben!)

Plantronics RIG 4VR: PlayStation VR Gets A Big Aural Plus

RIG Surround Package

One key element to a great Virtual Reality experience is immersive sound quality and out of the box, Sony’s PlayStation VR is somewhat lacking thanks to the budget-minded earbuds packed in with the unit. While far from terrible, it’s hard to feel fully dialed in with those teeny buds tickling your eardrums. Fortunately, the fine folks at Plantronics got on the case and have come up with a great solution with their great RIG 4VR headset (MSRP $69.99). Officially licensed, they match the PS VR perfectly, fit over the big headset with an adjustable headband, connect to your PS4 in one of a few ways and yes, sound absolutely great for the price point. Continue reading

KontrolFreek Makes My Day (And Yours, Too)


If you own any current gen game console with a wireless controller (or a PS4 or Xbox One, to be precise) or play PC games on a big screen TV while planted on the couch across the room, you very likely despise the way too short charging cables packed inside the box. Well, KontrolFreek has you more than covered with its magnificent, essential 12 foot USB Gaming Cable ($12.99 MSRP). This inexpensively perfect no-brainer gift idea makes that charging time smarter and faster, getting you back into your gaming session while still camped out and comfy.

Designed for PlayStation and Xbox controllers, PC, and micro USB-compatible mobile devices, you can plug it into your phone, tablet or anything else it supports once your game controller of choice is all juiced up. As that silly stock PS4 cable has already caused me to knock my console off its perch once, that KF cable came in really handy when it arrived this afternoon. My PS4 is sightly bruised on the lower front right but working fine, thanks.

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Get on the Good Wood, Get Your Tech Some TOAST

Bamboo PS4_4253_std_1442606996

TOAST logo greyIt’s hard to believe a mere ten people work at TOAST hand-making beautiful custom environmentally friendly wood cases and covers for everything from phones to tablets, laptops, game consoles and more, all reasonably priced.

The Portland, Oregon-based company uses sustainable wood and in addition to standard cases also does custom work where buyers submit their own artwork for one of the specific cases they manufacture and within 3-5 days (for single item orders) they turn out a lovely tech keeper/keepsake.

Walnut XBO 4616_std_1444431629

I wouldn’t be surprised if Sony and Microsoft haven’t bugged these folks to turn out a small amount of custom console cases for special occasions, but maybe they have and I’ve yet to hear about it. If not, someone needs to get on the ball over at Corporate and give he TOAST guys and gals a ring-up. It’s too bad the Wii U isn’t represented here, as Nintendo’s soon to be replaced console could use a bit of classy coverage journalists aren’t giving it (ha and ha). Still, if you’re a PS4 or Xbox One owner looking for a way to show off your consoles and want a finish that’s not only going to be unique even if you order the same one for multiple consoles (that’s the power of wood for you, folks!), it’ll make your gaming pals wanting their own freshly made TOAST, well there you go.

A Powerskin Pop’n For A Penny? GRAB IT!

PSK-POPN-LTG-WE_3Qtr-Back_800px_081414-500x500If you’re in need of a great little hybrid phone charger for your iPhone or Andrioid phone, Powerskin has a NICE deal ready for you. But only if you act FAST. You can grab a Powerskin PoP’n portable charger for a PENNY plus shipping ($9.99), a great deal because these babies usually go for $49.99 at retail.

All you need to do is click HERE, pick ONE and check out using the code ONECENT. That’s that. The big caveat is this deal is for Continental US residents ONLY and of course is limited to ONE per person. Hey, Powerskin doesn’t want you opening up an eBay shop to try and rake in a profit on their great deal, now. Anyway, you’re buying one of these, right? RIGHT? I thought so. You were busy ordering one and missed that question is all…

Review: Amzer Stando Universal Tablet Stand

Amzer Stando 1You had ONE job to do, Stando… and you do it REALLY well. If you’ve poked around looking for one you probably know that tablet stands are a dime a dozen these days. Or more precisely, feel like they cost a dime a dozen to make. Some look great but tend to be flimsy, fall forward pieces of junk not worth sending back because the shipping probably costs more than the price paid. Amzer’s Stando laughs in the face of those cheap stands by being more than worth its $39.99 price tag. It’s stylish, stable and dirt simple to use for anyone interested in getting their 7 to 11-inch tablet to act as a handier (and hand-less) video player or other useful option.

There’s nothing fancy about the Stando other than the name, but this is a great thing. Out of the box it takes a few seconds to set up thanks to an intuitive design. A bend to get it open, a simple expanding of the arms to hold your tablet of choice by two corners, a bit of adjusting to your preferred viewing height (and maybe a spin to see it rotates that device a full 360 degrees) that’s that. The weighted base is perfect and even some heavy table banging for test purposes didn’t dislodge the tight grip the rubberized arms held on my tablet. I’d bet a dollar that nice clicking sound Stando makes when you adjust it was engineered in on purpose. It lends a “mechanical” sounding element to the holder as well as gets the attention of anyone in the immediate vicinity. That’s also not a bad thing as during my outdoor test at a nearby diner a few people came up to check out the Stando and ask where I got it.

Amzer Stando 2

As the unit is made for a single task, don’t expect anything like a USB power charger built into the base or a fancy carry bag. That said, the unit is designed so your device’s charger slot and other useful ports and buttons are always within reach. Stando will fit tablets that have one of Amzer’s silicone Jelly Cases protecting it with the same grippy relish it holds an uncased unit. This is one of those products that works so well there are no real complaints to make so it’s easy to recommend. It’s even sturdy enough to be somewhat kid-friendly provided your kid has been very well schooled in tablet handling and knows the difference between a gentle tap/swipe motion and cat-pawing a tablet to the floor. Some kids get this, some don’t – you’re mileage may vary.

Bottom line, for that $39.99, you’re getting a fantastic product that will last through many years of usage, is travel friendly and just may become your tablet’s best friend. Amzer’s got a winner here for tablet owners looking for quite possibly the best tablet stand to date. Grab one and make you flimsy stand owning friends quite jealous.

Score: A

STM Wants To Keep Your iPhone 6 Non-Bendy – Let Them, I Say…

STM Harbour 

Eh, you’d figure Apple would give a nice sturdy case away for free with that new expensive phone they sell, but we’ve been “trained” to pay out the nose for something protective that SHOULD come in that box. Yeah, yeah, I know people like to have variety in their first or third-party phone protection solutions, and in the words of one Apple-head I know who lemmings up for each new model “They’d probably just give you something cheap you’d want to throw away” (ouch!). But if you have to buy a case for that new every-phone, let me be the first to say STM will never steer you wrong. Their new Harbour case for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus has a hardshell frame and soft rubberized lining along with a hinged base that doubles as a handy stand, allowing for easy removal. At a mere $24.99, it’s a must if you like your tech less bendy when it’s not supposed to budge. Yeah, you know what to do, right? I thought so.

Got A Camera? Get A Miggo. It’s That Simple.

Grip_and_Wrap_Mirrorless_Lenses Grip_and_Wrap_DSLR_Lenses

Logo_Miggo_circle_white_on_blueBecause I’m not a camera phone person, I sort of feel like a pariah when I see all those hip kids whipping out their phones, tablets and whatever else they have that they’ve overpaid for with a lens attached to it. granted, phone cameras HAVE indeed come a long way from their not so hot beginnings and yes, there are plenty of budding to pro shutterbugs that have taken many a classic shot with one of those things.

Me, I love the feeling of a CAMERA doing its thing in my hands or someone with a much better eye, so it’s great to see a product like Miggo around to make me want to carry my camera out into the wild and strut around proudly. Granted, you don’t have to even try to stand out with a Miggo wrapped around your camera. Just whipping out yours to take a photo is enough to get tongues wagging and maybe a few phone/phab/tab-only photogs glancing greenly in your direction… Continue reading

Pop Scope: Looking To Make You A Better Cameraphone Shutterbug Soon…

Popscope Banner

So, I got a Pop Scope sample to play around with a few days ago and it’s a pretty cool little peripheral for those of you with normal-sized smartphones looking to take some cool selfies or other arty shots and have them look as if you’ve either got super-long arms (or a friend helping you out). This cool little device is a tripod/reach extender that’s lightweight, simple to use and supports phones up to 170 grams (5.99657 ounces… oh, let’s say 6 and get that out of the way). Pop Scope works with any photo timer app (there are a number of free to download timers available for iOS and Android phones), extends from 6.5 to 21 inches and its swivel head can tilt up to 90 degrees, allowing you to get a few formerly impossible angles when you’re out and about by yourself.

Setting up a Pop Scope is fast – just clamp your phone (with that timer app installed, of course) into the holder, pop out the legs, place it on a flat surface, adjust the height as required and you’re all set. As it’s made mostly of lightweight materials, it’s not something you’ll want to whip out on a really windy day. But as the song goes, (warble) “On a clear day, you can see forever…” While it works quite well (and yes, some curious people WILL ask you what you’re attaching to your phone when you use this), if you’re a big tablet user or have one of those fancy curved screen phones, you’ll want to hold out and see if the folks at Pop Scope can whip up something for you in the future. I’d gather they’re looking into that, but for now, the company is going to be running a Kickstarter starting August 21 for this model, expected to sell for around $44.99.

Poke back at that link above around then and if you’re smiling because you’re now thinking of some really cool ways to use that Pop Scope, well… it’s your move.