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Josh Smith

Josh has been interested in video gaming and technology since the early 80’s. Growing up in Maine has proven difficult, but he’s found ways to gain access to hardware and software not typically seen in rural parts of the country. Now living near the coast, Josh is happily married with two young children and is teaching them the ways of the Force. Unfortunately, it’s the Dark Side.

SteelSeries Supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month

With a pink PC headset

With October designated as Breast Cancer Awareness month, groups are taking an approach to help raise awareness and money for groups fighting the awful disease. SteelSeries, developer of some of the most impressive gaming peripherals available, has announced a partnership with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Already more than halfway to their $10,000 goal, SteelSeries is donating 10% of all purchases of their flashy Siberia v2 Headset Pink Edition to the foundation.

“We’re proud to be working with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and are thrilled to be giving our customers a chance to purchase a premium-quality gaming and entertainment headset that will also benefit a cause that is recognized and important to so many,” said Bruce Hawver, SteelSeries CEO. “It is our goal to reach, and hopefully exceed, a donation amount of $10,000 between now and October which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, for The BCRF team from this campaign.”

The SteelSeries Siberia v2 features booming 50mm drivers, double-braided nylon cord (in-line volume & mute control), acts as a PC, phone, or iDevice headset, and it’s pink!  Users can stay stylish, use a quality product, and save lives all at the same time!

Those wanting to help donate to the cause without actually purchasing a headset can do that as well by going to http://steelseries.com/pink.

NBA 2K13 Review

From Michael Jordan to Justin Bieber. Yes, really!

It must be a daunting task to release an annual sports game, especially when the previous year is arguably one of the best sports titles to ever have been released. 2K Sports, the team behind the NBA 2K series faced this task when approaching NBA 2K13, this year’s installment of the basketball franchise. Thankfully, enough has been done to make this feel like a new game, but surprisingly there are still some areas that need improvements. Still, with the new MyTEAM mode coupled with the returning MyCAREER mode, is it enough to warrant an entirely new purchase? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’.

 

If you come into the game expecting a massive overhaul to the engine and some sparkling new graphics, you’ll be grossly disappointed. The team at 2K Sports hasn’t done much to improve their visuals since last year and that may drive some players away. Without jumping in and feeling the differences in gameplay it may end up being a ‘judged a book by its own cover’ situation. Players are still digital doppelgangers of their real-life counterparts and the inclusion of past NBA stars and even pop-culture icons like Justin Bieber make their appearance with striking accuracy.

 

While the typical game modes of Franchise, Play Now, and MyCAREER make a comeback, new additions are included to give players another taste of what the franchise has to offer. Blacktop mode goes to the street courts and allows players to create 1 on 1, 2 on 2, all the way up to full-team game with a ‘Rucker Park-like’ motif. The biggest disappointment is the lack of vocal fans standing on the sidelines to trash talk your awful play.

MyTEAM is also new and adds a brand new element to the NBA 2K franchise, albeit with a micro transaction undertone. Clearly the success of the Ultimate Team Mode in game series like Fifa and NHL by rival EA has struck a chord here. Players can spend the new ‘Virtual Currency’ (VC), earned during every aspect of gameplay, on purchasing packs of cards. These cards may hold an NBA player, a skill enhancement, coach, arena, or even alternate team uniforms. You then assemble a team from players unlocked and take your team against others online with the intent of the ‘best man (or woman) winning’.  Unfortunately that’s not always the case; as expected, players will have to invest a massive amount of time in order to create a successful team, but those willing to spend some money can leapfrog others and simply buy their stars. It creates an odd mix of players who throw ‘scrubs’ against those who’ve bought Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, and others that will simply manhandle their competition.

MyCAREER returns, but this time players will find that the competition is far inferior to years past. Instead of a painful learning curve, you’ll find that open shots rarely miss — even from long, long range. Some defensive players tend to play soft, standing four or five feet from your player even when he has the ball. For shooters on the perimeter, this means an easy bucket, VC, and teammate grade. Strangely though, as your in-game grade increases, players will find it far more difficult to reach that coveted A+ status. Good passes, shots, and team play will quickly take you from an average grade to a B or B+ with minimal effort. From there though, mistakes that could be shrugged off will have massive consequence and cost you large chunks of your grade, quickly dropping you if you make two or three bad plays consecutively.

A surprising twist to MyCAREER this year is the integration of Social Media. A Twitter-like timeline appears after each game and your character can earn followers. Current players, NBA greats, even celebrities will chime in as you grow in popularity. Additionally, if your play doesn’t meet expectations you can expect to hear it from the fans — it’s like real life! Even during games when you drop 40 points and five rebounds, if you’re not getting the assists that some people expect, they’ll let you know it. Additionally, a sort of role-playing enhancement has been added, allowing players to purchase Signature Skills and custom equipment that provide additional bonuses during particular situations. You may play mediocre for three quarters, but at the end of games your player could specialize for a Robert Horry-like focus to deliver clutch shots at perfect moments.

The most impressive upgrade from last year is the integration of Kinect — yes really. Shouting phrases at your television will cause your teammates to perform the actions required. Short commands like, “double team!” will cause the AI to trap opponents, but also runs the risk of leaving someone open. Additionally if your point guard is handling the ball too much, uttering “Pass me the ball” will cause him to look your way and dish the rock. The defining moment of Kinect integration came during a MyCAREER game early in my career. Playing for the Houston Rockets in only my second game, Josh Smith (SG) had single-handedly brought the team back with four consecutive three-pointers, but still trailed 80-82 with 33 seconds remaining. Receiving the inbound pass, I attempted to pass up the floor to an open teammate, only to have my errant pass intercepted. A loud expletive escaped my lips and immediately the “SCREE!” of whistle stopped play. Technical foul. Obscene language. We lost the game. Ingenuity like that, despite the blemish on my record, is what has kept this franchise at the forefront of sports titles.

The biggest area of concern across the entirety of the game is defense. Players can time when to go for a big move, stealing or blocking another player, but when in a basic man-to-man defense it’s nearly impossible to guard a slashing player like Kobe Bryant or Kevin Durant. Instead, stiff controls limit lateral movement and put players in a position of fouling or simply unable to fluidly stay with the player, allowing for easy lay-ups or a (more infuriating) dunk. To try and combat that you can play off of your man a bit, but even average players will notice — a testament to the brilliant AI — and square up for a jump shot right in your face.

It’s nice that the team from 2K Sports hasn’t rested on their laurels, considering they haven’t had competition against this title in over two years. Instead, they’ve focused on evolving the franchise with sparkling gameplay, additional game modes, and more focus on customization for each player. Online games are smooth, despite opponents who quit when it becomes clear they won’t win, but that’s not the fault of developers. Arguably one of the best gaming soundtracks ever was pieced together by Executive Produce Jay-Z — yes, that Jay-Z. Throwback teams, including the ‘92 Dream Team, make an appearance along with celebrities to add a touch of flavor to a genre that you’d think would be tired and old by now. Fortunately, despite the lack of new visuals or gameplay engine, NBA 2K13 feels like a new experience and will delight players old and new.

Overall Score: 8.5 out of 10

 

Torchlight 2 Review

Click, click, click, then click some more

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In the case of Runic Games’ Torchlight 2, sequel to the 2009 best-selling dungeon crawler of the same name, the imitation is that of Blizzard’s best-selling Diablo series. With good cause of course, as part of Runic Games’ team members hail from Blizzard, the developer responsible for the  Diablo series. That’s why it’s no surprise that their newest installment, available on PC for a bargain price of $20.00, sticks so close to the formula that’s been a massive success. The question then is, does Torchlight 2 do enough to justify a purchase, or is it simply the same game reskinned? The answer is a resounding yes … and no.

Confused? Understandable, given that Torchlight 2 is a new game with certain improvements over the original. The first noticeable difference, one that was painfully absent on the first go-round is the inclusion of multiplayer. No longer is your quest an individual experience, as now you can now delve into the world with up to five others and receive added benefits. While enemies are more plentiful and certainly more difficult, the items they drop and the experience earned is far in excess of what you’d receive if you choose to go it alone. And don’t worry about stealing items or weapons you see lying around the world because each player will see only their own personal loot, which helps cut out the greed that other players undoubtedly possess.
 

Speaking of loot, its existence is really the driving force of the game, as it is for most in the Dungeon Crawler genre. Essentially, if you’re a player looking for a deep story Torchlight 2 is not for you. The story, done well enough to justify a second game, is explained simply as ‘throwaway’. Animated cut scenes play out between each act, giving players a good idea of what is happening in the world and what the overarching story actually is. You see, in the first game players adventured into the depths of the town of Torchlight to destroy a great evil, whereas now it’s been revealed that one of the former heroes orchestrated the entire event to gain supreme power. Now it’s your job to stop the traitor, all the while completing the countless side-quests, dispatching limitless enemies, and developing your character using a wide variety of skill options.

The gameplay itself is strikingly similar to its predecessor and the Diablo franchise as a whole. On a superficial level, you click things until they die, then pick up whatever it is they’ve dropped. It’s a simple explanation, sure, because far more goes into the process of ‘clicking things’ than simply doing it. As they level, each character will gain points to place into particular skills that unlock new combat options or increase the effectiveness of already unlocked skills. The trickery comes in when players start realizing that some skills compliment others and help make the game easier, something needed as you progress through multiple playthroughs.

Thankfully, the art style of Torchlight 2 has stayed relatively the same from the first game, utilizing bright, vivid colors throughout each level, regardless of the scenario. Caves, areas typically dark and dingy, feature colorful enemies that help offset the normally drab aesthetic. Complementing the dark recesses of the world are grassy plains, murky swamps, and other regions that are teeming with life, both hostile and passive, each featuring beautiful design decisions that help players feel like every area is unique in its own right. Character skills too, take a cue from the surrounding world and trigger different elemental attacks like fire or poison all while subjecting the player to an amazing show of beautiful explosions and deadly effects.

Torchlight 2 doesn’t do much to innovate on the role-playing, dungeon-crawling genre, but what it does is deliver a finely tuned experience for a bargain price. It’s clear that the team at Runic Games has poured an enormous amount of time ensuring that returning fans feel comfortable and find minor changes, while newcomers have no unexpected surprises or twists that would turn them off from a good time. While the gameplay is solid and the loot is ever-flowing, the absence of a deep story will turn some away. No game should ever hinge on a character’s equipment progression as the key reason to continue playing, but thankfully the gameplay is solid enough that players will get their money’s worth.

Overall Score – 8 out of 10

 

S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 Gaming Keyboard Review

Simply the greatest … ever.

For PC gamers familiar with hardcore play, particularly that of First Person Shooters (FPS) or Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games, seeing a gaming keyboard doesn’t get them out of sorts. Non-gamers though, they’re usually taken aback at the site of a keyboard that holds “all those extra buttons”. Enter the Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E. 7, a gaming keyboard with media functionality, user customization, and causes both gamers and non to stare in disbelief at “all those extra buttons”.

The basic use of a keyboard is simply to input data from your fingertips and send it whizzing through a wire (or the air, in cases of wireless) and have it appear on the screen in front of you. This is the advanced technical explanation of course, so to boil it down further: you touch buttons, things pop up on your monitor. Pretty simple, right? However, when engineers get hold of simple things they have a tendency to make them ‘less simple,’ but way cooler. Strangely that’s not what’s happened with the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 Keyboard; instead users get hardware that works with their favorite games in ways that other gaming keyboards do, but somehow does it better while keeping it relatively simple to learn.

Let’s face it, gamers come from all walks of life and because of that will find solace in a number of different titles and genres. Some may simply retreat into an MMO, while others bounce between games like Guild Wars 2 to Borderlands 2 or even to Call of Duty (whichever installment is your flavor). Because of the varying degrees of gameplay, it’s difficult to set your keyboard commands to any one title. To rectify that simple problem Mad Catz has graciously included multiple profiles, each editable within the downloadable software. These profiles can be changed with the push of a button, allowing all of your preset customizations to swap seamlessly. To avoid confusion, each profile can even be set and identified by any one of the over 16.5 million color options for the backlit keys (that’s not a typo).

Additionally, each profile can establish their own keystroke combinations and macros, available for use in your favorite games. The benefit of macros is that players can execute difficult maneuvers requiring multiple keystrokes by simply pushing a button. Players will undeniably have the leg up versus opponents, NPC or player-controlled, in nearly every instance imaginable.

After all that’s been explained people will still sit back with a curious eyebrow raised and think to themselves, “But you can’t spend all of your free time simply playing games, can you?” To answer that requires a bit of explanation. First, yes you can. It’s not recommended, but it has been done and it is awesome. In reality though, people don’t spend every waking minute seeking out headshots or questing for a dagger that does an additional 5 DPS. Despite that, people still sit at their PC for hours on end doing a number of projects. Mad Catz recognized that and, while the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 is still a gaming keyboard, other implementations are included that help justify the hefty price tag.

Music and movies are two of the primary avenues of entertainment for a PC (besides gaming, of course). That’s why simple media options are available for playing, pausing and fast forward or rewind. Additionally, external buttons control volume up and down, as well as mute for both audio and microphone. To get a little more granular, the touch screen includes a volume setting that allows users to adjust volume for a number of particular settings, rather than the master volume accessed on the attached face buttons.

The inclusion of so many options designed completely for gamers is shocking. For a company to release a keyboard designed so clearly for gamers makes the target audience a small one. Options like a stopwatch, countdown timer and journal may be useful, but tend to feel tacked on to simply add features to a keyboard that clearly doesn’t need it. Other options, like the Teamspeak implementation or ability to lock your windows key to prevent accidental presses simply scream usability. Retailing around $300.00 reduces the circle of interested consumers even further, but those sinking hundreds of hours into their favorite title every month simply will not find a better keyboard available. The option to disassemble and then swap around the pieces to better fit your playstyle combined with customer macro keys, replaceable WASD keys (including tool to do so) and the amazing user customization proves that the Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 is in a league of its own.

 

Borderlands 2 Review

A bazillion guns … and one bad guy

Borderlands 2 brags about including ‘a bazillion guns’ which is obviously intended to act as hyperbole. The funny thing about the exaggeration is that it’s not far from reality. With the sequel to the surprise hit of 2009, developer Gearbox took the criticism of fans and reviewers alike to heart in order to create a game that keeps the framework that made it popular, while changing the things players disliked. The result is a game that looks magnificent, while appealing to fans of first-person shooters (FPS) and role-playing games (RPG), two genres that rarely meet.

As expected in any RPG, players will have the luxury of choosing their class based on their favorite play style. Characters each have their favored role which ranges from the in-your-face, bullet spraying offensive classes, to support roles, or even a stealth-type character that relies on misdirection for each scenario. These classes are the same that appeared in the first game, but with remodeled skill trees — that is, abilities unique to each particular character — the feel is both recognizable and new at the same time.

As characters level up and unlock new skills, the game compensates by throwing enemies that are more difficult, plentiful, and varying at the players. The weapons you can use, just a few of the bazillion claimed to be in the game, all have varying statistics. Damage, rate of fire, reload, and elemental damage are just some of the components that players will need to be cognizant of because key differences can change the outcome and ease of battle. For instance, creatures without armor are susceptible to fire, while robots fear corrosive damage. This creates a unique system of knowing your enemies weaknesses while also keeping track of what weapons you have available.

Speaking of unique systems, Borderlands 2 offers players multiple systems to master within the game, some layered upon others.  Surprisingly, Gearbox does so without causing a dysfunctional, gangly mess. Currency is gained by selling items or finding cash littered around the landscape, but the rare Iridium Bars that you find are far more valuable, used to increase inventory or bank space, or increase maximum ammunition for a particular weapon type. As previously mentioned, each character can level up and unlock new skills to create a unique, customized killing machine. In addition to your basic leveling, a new ‘Badass Rank’ system has been introduced. By completing challenges, both fun and insane, players will unlock tokens that can be used to alter game mechanics across all characters. Reduced gun recoil, increased fire rate, and more weapon damage are just a touch of what is available to players, essentially giving players that dedicate time to the game an upper hand for each successive playthrough.

The planet of Pandora itself acts almost as if it’s a character in the game. Starting in an icy tundra (instead of the dusty wasteland of the first game), players immediately begin to understand that different areas of the planet create different environments and in turn, different enemies. The constant changing scenery of caves, wastelands, towns, and cities, consistently lend players new visual markers and create separate feelings towards each individual environment.

While the gameplay itself is certainly something to behold, without a confident, engrossing story the game can fall into the category of ‘loot hunt’. Thankfully, Borderlands 2 features a deep story that will intrigue players regardless of their solo or co-op play styles. After players had opened the Vault in the first game, the head of the Hyperion Corporation (known as Handsome Jack) decides to institute a hostile-takeover of sorts for the entire planet in an effort to secure the aforementioned Iridium that is now available on the planet, another event triggered by the opening of the vault at the end of the first game. Handsome Jack is reminiscent of animated anti-hero Sterling Archer, rattling off humorous quips and one-liners throughout the course of the game.

And while ridding Pandora of Handsome Jack is clearly the plothook, the voice acting and writing of other NPC’s, even the throwaway unnamed thugs, carries a level of objectivity which gives way to increasingly humorous situations. Imagine a 13 year-old girl asking you to retrieve guests for her tea party, while dropping some of the most abusive imagery and disgusting curse words you’ve ever heard. Yeah — it’s in there. Or a woman the size of a small trailer discussing how her redneck brother wanted to … ‘know her better’. That’s there, too. It’s that level of humor, taking stereotypes to exaggerated instances or at time even flipping them around as a sort of ‘shock humor’ that will put even the tamest of players into fits of laughter.

Magically, it all comes together as each piece fits into one another, forming a game that exceeds all expectations. Returning players will find that the changes they clamored for have been implemented, while newcomers will discover a unique mash-up of genres that truly gives something to everybody. Even when playing solo, the implementation of NPC interaction will make players feel as if they’re never alone on the world of Pandora. It may be nearly impossible to confirm whether Borderlands 2 really has a bazillion weapons, but it’ll sure be fun as hell to try.

Overall score: 9 out of 10

 

Introducing Seelio

Helping grads and undergrads into their dream job

College students today face a massive disadvantage as fresh-faced graduates and dedicated undergrads battle for employment during one of our nation’s hardest economic periods. As it is, these students are just battling each other for open positions, what few there are, but are also going up against those already in the workforce and acclimated to those positions. It’s a steep hill to climb, but there is help. Seelio is taking the traditional resume and morphing it into an eye-catching display of talents aimed at adding personality to what job recruiters see.

 

For Students

A resume is a strange thing, it’s intention is to sell a job applicant and make them look appealing to a potential recruiter. Beyond adding flashy words, which may or may not actually work, you’re limited on what you can actually put on a resume to get noticed. This is precisely what Seelio understands. Instead of relying on bullet-points and minimizing accomplishments throughout college, Seelio instead transplants parts of who the student is and relays that, giving a sense of personalization and an impression of individuality to a sea of nameless resumes.

This visual approach to ‘selling yourself’ allows students to include any digital information that may help them obtain the career of their dreams. Pictures, videos, presentations, even term papers can be included to show exactly what type of student — and what type of employee — the potential recruit is. Additionally, Seelio acts as a sort of ‘visualized LinkedIn’, the online social media site aimed at business professionals. Students can build their own presence within Seelio, allowing contacts to be made which in turn helps develop business relationships to flourish. With the ability to join communities and create a personal presence, students will architect their own resume in ways never before accomplished.

For Business

Yes, Seelio is also making it easy for recruiters to join and find talent specifically aimed at their needs. With an ability to post jobs, companies big and small will ensure they’re getting some of the brightest untapped minds fresh out of college. The biggest benefit for the students though, is the same for the business themselves. Having a deeper view into who the student is beyond words on one page gives companies the ability to judge who the applicant is, no longer relying on  how many big words they found using Google.

Finally, with companies starting up every day it’s difficult to get brand recognition, especially among college students. Tipping back a can of ‘Mountain Brew’ isn’t as noticeable as the ‘Mountain Dew’ that graces mini-fridges campus wide. By hiring newly graduated students and establishing themselves on Seelio, companies can spread their popularity among the younger crowd, allowing for new applicants and, essentially, new and fresh ideas.

To get started, check out Seelio.com

Modern Warfar 3 Branded Munitio Earphone Review

Typically when consumers start their search for headphones or earbuds, what goes into the development of the device is the last thing on their mind. The feeling is that it doesn’t matter if the device is made of plastic, rubber, metal, or rock, as long as it sounds good. That mentality couldn’t be further from the truth and Munitio proves it with their Modern Warfare 3 branded Billet earbuds. Manufactured with some of the best material available, these 9mm sound transmitters look, sound, and feel amazing.

Earbuds are hard to gauge because each person has different sized ears. Munitio realizes that and addresses it by including six different silicone “Hollow Points” sized at small, medium, and large, and coming in two distinct colors matching the Modern Warfare 3 motif of black and green. There are still some who claim that, ‘earbuds simply don’t work for them.’ Another problem that Munitio has solved with the inclusion of ‘earhooks’, stabilizers users can attach to ensure that they stay where they’re supposed to.

As mentioned, Munitio didn’t hold back on the materials used to manufacture the MW3 Billets. The earpiece is crafted with high-grade aluminum, while the cables themselves are reinforced with kevlar. If that doesn’t scream ‘Military Grade,’ nothing does. Another design decision paying dividends is the idea to craft each earpiece from one piece of metal, ensuring that even those who don’t take necessary steps to care for them still have a functioning headset in one piece after tossing them on a desk or table.

With all this talk of how these ammo-like earbuds are crafted, the main draw is the audio and it rocks. Plugging these into your smartphone, MP3 player, iDevice, or tablet turn the mild-mannered audio into a treble-screeching, bass-thumping live concert in your ears. The design of the HollowPoint earbuds is certainly to blame. As they’re inserted into your ear canal, the rubber helps cancel the external noise, giving users the ability to listen to their favorite band in the cool, clean sound that was intended.  Additionally, the microphone allows these to be used as a hands-free phone device. No longer will you have to plug the other ear to drown out the latest Bieber song on the radio, only to mutter, “What’d you just say?” to the caller.

With top-notch audio, wonderful design, and branding that matches one of the best-selling video games of our generation, the Munitio MW3 9mm Earphones are a treat. The cable itself tends to make users feel tethered to whatever they’ve plugged them into, but despite that these will still turn heads when used. At $69.99, the price may seem steep, but audiophiles or anyone looking for earphones that will stand up to rough use will find that they’re worth every penny.

Tech Review: BackBeat GO Headphones

Lightweight, mobile, and easy to use. Those are the tenets for Plantronics new Bluetooth headset, the BackBeat GO. They’re made for those who enjoy music, can be paired with most smartphones and tablets, and the design is simplistic. Retailing at $99.00, the BackBeat GO look to appeal to users on the go; heck their name alone indicates that. But is the ease of use and simplicity worth the cost?

The design is unsophisticated: two ear buds connected via a 22” wire with a miniature control box used to power on/off, and control volume. That’s it. And that’s not to say the design is flawed, quite the opposite actually. WIth only four buttons, even users not accustomed to Bluetooth will master its use with little trouble. The internal battery is charged via micro-USB and takes two to three hours to charge fully from near dead. Once charged, users get around 4 hours of talk or listening time and up to 10 days of standby time — that is, with zero use this awesome anomaly of audio will still boot up and function after 10 days of no use.

The main concern users will notice is the size of the earbuds. Plantronics includes three sizes: big, bigger, and ‘ouch’. Even for users with large ear holes, the smallest setting can become uncomfortable after even short amounts of time. Additionally, some consumers seem opposed to anything relating to ear-buds, which is why Plantronics included a ‘stabilizer’ add-on in the box. For those of you concerned with earbuds that don’t sit comfortably in your ears, the stabilizer helps add leverage to ensure that when you’re walking, running, or even sitting, the earbuds stay where they’re supposed to.

But the audio is the reason you buy earbuds in the first place, and unfortunately the BackBeat GO leave room for improvement. Even with its impressive noise cancelling technology, the audio provided is dangerously low. It needs to be said that music, calls, and any other information being relayed via the headset is very crisp and clear, but the actual output is surprisingly low. Whether that’s intentional, to prevent damage to the ears, or is a design flaw is unknown.

The BackBeat GO are clever, lightweight, and deliver to the needs of most consumers. They can connect to most smartphones and tablets, weigh just 13 grams, and deliver impressive audio quality. But the questionable comfort and the ear-strainingly low audio makes them hard to recommend for users intending on using them as their primary headset.

myCharge Powers You Up

For those on the go, a device that keeps you going

Nobody wants to be in this position, staring at a dim screen with a message flashing, “Battery power less than 20%, switching to power save mode”. Concerned with my loss of social connectivity, you frantically began searching for a power outlet or USB port to plug into, the consequences of a dead phone battery weighing heavily. We’ve all become so dependent on our phones and tablets that a loss of any of them is akin to being ostracized. That’s why a full battery is important; it ensures we stay connected to family, friends, followers, and gives access to every corner of the internet. But the folks at myCharge have made those worries a thing of the past with their Portable Power Bank 3000. Lightweight, powerful, and above all affordable, this handy device is a must-have for anybody with a smartphone or tablet PC.

It’s likely that users will apply one adjective to the Power Bank 3000: simple. Simple colors, simple connections, simple use. The device features an on/off button, another used to check remaining power, a USB input for charging, and then two cables for attaching devices. One cable is for your iDevice, using a 30-pin connector for your iPad, iPod, or iPhone. The other splits into a micro- and mini-usb, which covers nearly any gadget that may require recharging.

Charging the Power Bank 3000 from empty can take hours, so it’s important to recharge after each use. Running out of juice on the device you use to prevent that very problem is the apex of irony and may land you in a verse of an Alanis Morissette song. But the power packed within this little box of lightning is nothing short of amazing. It has standby time of 514 hours, meaning you can charge it to full, then leave it alone for three weeks before it requires another jump start. More importantly, it can provide an additional 12 hours of talk time on your smartphone, 17 hours of video and/or Wi-Fi, and 69 hours of audio. The charge time is blazing fast, too; a smartphone sitting at 8% power was charged fully in just over an hour and used about 50% of the charge.

Rather than oversell features and promise things it may not live up to, the myCharge Power Bank 3000 knows exactly what it excels at and sticks to them. The features included, like the indicator lights on the front used to determine how much charge is remaining, are useful and simplified. It’s compact and easily stored in a messenger bag, purse, or even a pocket and delivers power quickly and efficiently, limiting downtime of your favorite device. Finally, myCharge understands that not everyone needs the same amount of power on the go, which is why they offer four different Power Banks, each with varying strength and price. Overall, the Power Bank 3000 is a brilliant piece of hardware that will work wonderfully with all of your gadgets.