Kick-Back to the Esquire

Tech

When travelling one of the things I love to do (even if its for just a moment or two) is sit on the balcony, stick some tunes on, have a beer and watch the world go by. There has always been one thing lacking in this ideology. Something decent to play my music!

Over the years I have generally bought some fairly cheap portable speakers and they haven’t lasted very long. Either by means of needing to change the batteries too often or the unit spends more time on charge than is capable of playing music. This time however I was adamant that I was to get something on our way to Indonesia and boy am I glad I did.

I picked up the Harman Kardon Esquire Mini. I had seen some reviews on this on my buildup to leaving for Indonesia and although the reviews were good, the price did initially put me off. Upon browsing the large electrical store (Dixons Travel I recall) in Heathrow T2 (since revamp, T2 is awesome (as terminals go!) btw!), I noticed the competition was either too bulky, didn’t look as good and just as expensive, if not more. Oh, and the store was running a promo so got £20 off the Esquire. Result!

Now, Im a sucker for sexy looking tech and I must always do my tech shopping on my own otherwise Emma makes me see sense! The Esquire Mini is no exception, this is one sleek looking bit of kit.

Esquire Mini

Harman Kardon Esquire Mini

The unit is about the size of an iPhone 6 (standard not the plus) but is a little thicker at about 20mm. Please don’t take my word for the dimensions, my statement is purely an observation. I have not measured it as can’t be bothered.

The Esquire Mini can pump out tunes by connecting a 3.5mm jack or by Bluetooth. The sound quality, in my view, is amazing. For something in such small form, I was amazed (and pleased as just shelled out my ‘hard’ earned cash). I am no audiophile, i just know what I like and damn this sounds good, and with 8 hrs battery life (reported not tested), this little beauty is destined to join me on many more travels.

Other than the fact you couldn’t get a battery charge indicator without pausing the music, the only thing that annoyed me is that Harman Kardon supply the speaker with a pointless leather wrist strap. In my view they would have been better supplying a pouch. Cloth, leather, don’t care, just something to protect it when out and about.

Other than this, the Esquire Mini, is great quality (build and form), great value and sound quality is brilliant. Couldn’t recommend this highly enough.

And…before I forget, the other cool thing is that if you are running out of juice on your phone, connect the charging cable to the USB port on the speaker and Bobs your Mother brother you have a portable charger too!

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External Battery Charger

Tech

Im sure you have seen plenty of reviews on external battery chargers, how they are essential to ones travels etc…. yep, YAWN! There are so many out there and are now so cheap that they are kinda disposable. Ok, ok, overdoing it somewhat! A good external battery charger is not so cheap and to some extent you get what you pay for. For most persons like me, I will use it once in a while to top up my iPad on a long haul flight, or keep my iPhone charged during those heavy photo snapping sessions. I have owned several external battery chargers and would love to say how they have got me out of sticky situations, survived a drop from the Empire State and is the must have item in my travel kit list. Nope. For me, they are just handy to have, not essential. However…

Having a good external battery charger is worth it. They come in different shapes and sizes so knowing what you want out of it is key. For me, my requirements was that it must be durable (Im a clumsy git), have two ports, be able to get a couple full charges out of it and not be too expensive.

I settled on the Zendure A3. Its durable, looks pretty cool and I got it at a great price from Amazon.

Zendure A3 Zendure A3

Ive used this several times and it does exactly what it should. What makes this different from others? Well, its shiny…

The Zendure A series is a great product, it is durable (survived a number of my clumsy moments) and its not a bad price. Would I chose this over my Mophie? Yes, because the Mophie is a battery wrapped in a pretty bow. One scratch and it just doesn’t look cool anymore. The Zendure is designed to be beaten up, scuffed, dented. Its ruggedness exudes a willingness to travel in hardship [although Im not…but its not about me!].

If you are in the market for an external battery to accompany you on your travels then I highly recommend the Zendure A-Series.

Im writing about a bloody battery….!!

Photo Transfer – USB Card Readers

Tech

When I first starting taking a lot of photos (most of them tend to turn out crap!), I would use the camera supplied USB lead and connect the camera direct to the computer. This is fine for the odd photo here and there but when you have hundreds of shots each averaging about 40Mb in size, it can be a long boring process. Not only that but what ever battery you had left in the camera has been burnt. I needed something that would speed up the whole process….hmmm what could it be??

Although USB card readers are nothing new, USB performance has improved immensely over the years. We now have USB 3 and Im not going to go in to the theoretical data transfer rates etc [YAWN], at the end of the day, the reader is only ever as good as the device its connected to i.e. if you want USB 3 performance make sure you have a USB 3 port!

Anyway, I did a bit of research and came to the conclusion that the Lexar dual-slot USB 3 reader was the one for me. Now, I don’t use the CF slot but I have read that its not deep enough to secure the card without the high possibility of bending the pins. Although I don’t use it, this was one of the things that put me off Sandisks offering (read a lot of bad reviews).

DSC_0022

I have this mostly connected to my iMac and performance is blistering. So much quicker than having the camera connected direct to your computer. Not only this, but it is compact and the shot above with an SD card inserted will hopefully add some scale. This would be a nice travel companion for those that take laptops with them on their journeys.

In terms of price, the best price I could find it for (even on eBay – shock!) is about £21. Some places (well known outlets) are charging more than double this…you know who you are!!

So, anyway, point being, for those that take lots of photos, get a bloody card reader…it will save you tonnes of time and battery!