Mighty oaks from little acorns grow [Review]

David Lumm is a professional programmer and all round geek with a passion for taking complex things and making them simple.

I love music. I love listening to music, I love creating music, I’ve even worked a couple of sound desks in my time, but I wouldn’t really call myself an audiophile. In fact, it’s time I made a confession – I listen to a lot of music on youtube with just one earphone in… Sorry.

The last time I bought any kind of speaker for portable music enjoyment was a fairly long time ago. They were connected to a portable CD player. Yeah. CDs. Remember those? The speakers took 4 “C” cell batteries. The humble C cell seems to have fallen much out of fashion. But before we go down that reminiscing tangent, let’s turn our attention to the present day.

Little bluetooth speakers have been around a few years but up until now I’ve not really felt the need to get one. The built in speaker on my phone was good enough for listening myself, then I’ve got a media centre and a record player for all my listening at home. And anyway, such a small speaker would sound tinny and naff. Wouldn’t it?

And then I was sent the Olixar BabyBoom Bluetooth Mini Speaker to review…

BabyBoom Bluetooth Speaker

First of all this thing is small, just over 5 cm square and about 5 cm tall. I’ve seen it described as smaller than a tennis ball. It probably weighs about the same too! This isn’t going to be a hard one to carry around with you. It even has a wrist strap so you can carry it around and still have full use of both hands.

The packaging was a little disappointing. A bit fiddly and not as elegant as we’ve come to expect from our top gadgets; that being said, you’re only going to open it once. Inside the packaging is the speaker and a second box, inside the (difficult to access and tricky to open) second box are a charging cable, 3.5mm jack cable, wrist strap and some brief instructions. If you’ve ever used any bluetooth device you may not need to put much attention on the instructions, even so, it’s nice that they’re in English.

Button presses on the speaker are usefully met with voice feedback, this easily makes up for the lack of any display – a display would use too much power for the few times you might need it.

Just 1 and half hours charge gets you up to 6 hours of listening time and boy can this thing produce some sound. I may not be an audiophile, but I enjoy hearing the full range of sound and this incredible little speaker can producing a booming bass to justify the name as well as a pretty impressive top range. I’ve yet to find a situation where I can safely turn the speaker up to full volume without becoming a nuisance neighbour. It’s that loud!

One thing that didn’t seem to work for me was the volume controls on the speaker itself, but that’s probably just my phone. I don’t mind controlling the volume from the phone, though. My mobile is pretty recent, running Android 4.4, but your mileage may vary.

The speaker is pretty rugged – my three year old can attest to that. I guess the tennis ball likeness was too much for him. Still it just keeps on going, so that is pretty good. Reasonably rugged it might be, but I still wouldn’t recommend being overly rough with it.

As if all that wasn’t enough, that little speaker can also be used for hands-free calling with your phone. You can even use it as a speaker for your old CD player, if you really want, thanks to the good old fashioned 3.5mm jack socket.

At £24.99 this seems to be well worth the investment. If you’re ever likely to be in a situation where it might be useful then I’d say give it a go! Think music at the beach, park or BBQ. Go make the most of the tunes on your mobile!

Do you have a bluetooth speaker? Do you find the speakers on your phone are usually good enough? Why not tell us about it in the comments?

The product for the review was supplied by MobileFun.co.uk who have recently added the BabyBoom to their huge range of accessories.

LG Wireless Charger [Review / Promotional]

David Lumm is a professional programmer and all round geek with a passion for taking complex things and making them simple.

There’s nothing new about wireless charging. Although it might appear to be a new concept, it’s something that Nikola Tesla looked at in the early 20th century, back at the dawn of the electrical age; it drove him to poverty and perhaps a touch of insanity. He believed electricity should be free and wireless. We’re finally catching up – at least with the wireless part.

It’s been around in some forms for a few years, for instance electric toothbrushes. When we’re talking wireless, we’re not talking about a “wireless” kettle, where it physically connects to the base; there is no physical metal connection to make the circuit. This is ideal for a toothbrush, water and electricity don’t mix well, but obviously has other great applications.

My last three phones have had this capability to some extent, but I’ve never tried this with a phone. Looking back I had a Palm Pre2, which was ahead of it’s time in many ways. It had wireless charging built in, but I never tried it because I couldn’t justify the cost of the base; the battery life was great and I didn’t need to have it plugged in all the time, which brings me nicely to my next phone.

The Samsung S3 was a phone that did need to be plugged in all the time. If you wanted to make sure you had enough battery for those important selfie moments you had to keep the phone charged whenever you had the opportunity. The problem with the S3 is that it was technically capable, but it didn’t have all the hardware. You had to buy an additional case (which wasn’t available when the phone launched) and the base station. So despite how useful it might have been, the barrier was great enough to prevent me going down that road.

And so to my current phone, the LG G3. It’s a great phone, I’m very happy! It has all of the necessary hardware for wireless charging built in, all you need is the base station. Having got into the habit of constantly charging my phone, this is obviously a great solution. I can just put it on a base/stand and forget about it. And the cost? That doesn’t need to be a problem any more, because Mobile Fun are currently running a promotion!

The Official LG G3 Qi Wireless Charger is usually £59.99 but is available at half price (£29.99) with the code “HALFG3” whilst stocks last. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to give it a try!

LG Wireless Charger

Whilst the stand is Qi compatible, it is sold as an LG specific stand, with no guarantee that it will fit your other Qi-enabled devices. If you own a G3 and often leave your phone in one place, e.g. whilst sat at a desk, it’s a no-brainer.

The only potential problem that I found with it was using it with my case. With the case on it generally complains that it isn’t charging at full speed, although it still gets the job done pretty quickly. Taking the case off can solve this, but for me it’s not really worth it.

What I do love is that when it is fully charged it will simply stop asking the base for power, unlike the damage that can be done by leaving a phone constantly plugged in. Much more responsible!

If you have this phone, it’s definitely worth considering buying the stand for that sort of money. If you have other Qi devices it might still be worthwhile having a go, although I can’t guarantee that it will work. It’s a nice lightweight stand, it folds up small (hugely portable) and it looks great. What’s not to love?

Have you used wireless charging? Would you ever consider getting a base station specific to a brand or model? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.