Electronics Reviews

  • Dark Energy Reservoir

    Back in January, we started testing of the Dark Energy Reservoir to use as a backup charging source for our iPads and iPhones while traveling.  The results are in and we’re thrilled.

    Overall:  This charger worked like a champ.  It charged quickly, efficiently and lasted forever.  If you don’t have one of these and you travel, you’re crazy.  We won’t leave home without this whenever we travel.

    Testing time:  90 days

    Device Charging Capability:  Our results were slightly better than as advertised.  On several occasions, we charged two iPhone 5s, one after the other, while they were powered on and used only 1/3 of the chargers capacity.  Each of the phones had less than 18% power at the time we started charging.  Both were charged in less than 90 minutes to 100% capacity.  The charging was conducted while in our coat pockets skiing and walking around the city in temperatures of less than 30 degrees.

    As to charging an iPad, we charged an iPad 2 that had 26% battery life remaining and it used less than 1/2 of the charge available in the reservoir.  The iPad was powered on, but not running any apps while charging.  We left it charging at room temperature.  We did this a couple other times in similar situations (while the iPad had between 20-40% remaining charge) and less than half of the reservoirs power was used.

    What we loved:  First, it’s light weight and easy to carry.  At around 5 ounces, it’s super light.  It easily fit into our coat pockets with an iPhone attached via the iPhone charging cable.  It was still easy to use the phone as it was attached to the charger.  

    The charging time for connected devices was more than adequate.  To be able to be out all day and not worry about trying to find an outlet to charge your device was great.  Also, being able to leave your device on while charging was great as well.

    The Dark Energy device itself was pretty quick to recharge.  When it first arrived, it took a while to charge, about 5-6 hours.  But on subsequent recharges, usually less than an hour or so, with about 1/3 of capacity used.  We never let it get below that before recharging.

    The PCMag Review:  We did our research before we ordered the Dark Energy Reservoir.  After reading the PC Mag review, we were a bit skeptical.  It goes to show you take each review with a grain of salt.  It didn’t bother us at all that there weren’t any cables included, other than the charging cable for the device itself.  We have plenty of cables for our devices, who needs to pack more?  As to being pricey, for the value it provides, I think the Dark Energy Reservoir is a great value.  It works as advertised (if not better) and has a one-year replacement warranty.  It charges devices fast and charges fast itself.  Plus, it’s lightweight.  That’s key when traveling.

    Where to buy:  You can purchase directly from Dark Energy or from Amazon.

  • Beats by Dr. Dre

    [Rating:4.5/5]

    Beats are our #1 choice in a noise cancelling headphone for sound quality, even if they aren’t the best noise cancelling set of cans out there.  We’ve owned Bose and Audio Technica and the Beats are miles apart in all around sound quality.

    Now, we aren’t exactly into the heavy driving techno type bass, nor should everything sound like tin can treble either.  The right mix is really hard to find in a set of headphones, but Dre and the people at Monster have definitely found the right mix.  The sound is always crystal clear and clean.

    Where these ‘phones could use some improvement is noise-cancelling.  If you’re buying these strictly to drown out other noise and not for playing audio, then you should probably go with the Bose.  In a side-by-side test, the Bose were much better at drowning out ambient noise without an audio source.

    From a build perspective, our Beats have held up very well on our travels.  Battery life is great, although since AAA batteries can be difficult to find in some countries, it’s always best to carry a spare set.  Murphy’s Law always seems to come into play when you least expect it.  While the case is somewhat oblong shaped and thicker than most competitors, it does a good job at protecting them, as well as providing storage for extra cables.

    Beats comes with two cables:  one for audio only and one with a mic if you use your headphones with a cell or smartphone.  The mic works very well at picking up just your voice and eliminating background noise when talking.  Definitely, a plus.

    Overall, you just can’t go wrong with these.  The audio quality is amazing and will fit a wide variety of musical listening styles.