March 2018 Tech Trends Product Reviews

Another month packed with products to review, March saw a range of practical and affordable gadgets drop into our postbox for evaluation.

Tech21 Phone cases for the Galaxy S9 — Evo Check & Pure Clear

Finding the right case for your bankruptcy-inducing new smartphone is a very personal decision. Some people like strong, hard, utilitarian cases that feel bulletproof and some more tactile rubbery cases that stick to your hand like glue and promise to bounce when dropped. Well, Tech21 have sent me one of each to test here. Tech Trends has yet to get its hands on the new Galaxy S9 (get your act together Samsung!) but our S8 is only millimetres different in size and for testing purposes fitted perfectly into these Tech 21 Galaxy S9 cases.

I personally can’t understand anyone who flaunts their expensive phone sans case and naughtily take great pleasure spotting such dottards who have cracked their screens and not been flush enough to replace the handset. A good case is not a cheap thing and I fully expect to pay £30–50 for one. Both these Tech21 cases are pleasingly at the bottom of this price bracket and represent very good value. The Pure Clear model is hard plastic and rated for 10’ drop protection, more than anyone should need, and while the rigid plastic is not to my taste it feels very sturdy and looks good. Tech21 also address the issue of clear plastic ageing ungloriously to a vile, sweaty, yellow colour and promise the Pure Clear is ‘anti-yellowing’ so should stay looking new for longer.

The Evo Check case has a wonderful sticky feel to it that means it won’t slip out of your hand easily. Our sample has a nice smoked clear finish (other colours are available) and with its more rubbery texture is rated with a mighty 12’ drop protection! The quality is really good and this case would be my choice simply for the fact the rubbery texture means it won’t easily slip off canted surfaces and would stay gripped snuggly in my hand, even in the rain. The back is decorated with a cross pattern and the edges claim three layers of FlexShock material and a patented ridge design for better impact resistance. These are good solid cases at a great price.

RRP: Evo Check £29.95 and the Pure Clear £29.95

TeckNet USB 3.0 and Ethernet hub

You can never have enough USB 3 sockets! This TeckNet hub comes with three USB 3.0 and a Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 LAN connection, which is super useful for connecting a NAS to your PC or Laptop. TeckNet promises up to 5Gbps through each USB port, that is ten times faster than sad old USB 2.0 but is still backwards compatible with both USB 2.0 & 1.1 connections.

The Ethernet port should provide superfast 10/100/1000 Gigabit speeds and support IPv4/IPv6 protocols, dual channel transfer, auto transfer and data stream reversing regulation. All round it is a simple and practical hub with a useful 30cm connecting cable and the only real drawback is that it won’t work with high power consumption devices such as external hard drives and it won’t charge phones or tablets. This is a bit of a pain and means the USB ports are limited to Keyboards, Mice, Dongles and flash memory keys. Apart from this it is a solid, reliable product and is ready for travel with a sturdy metal shell.

  • Expands your PC with three USB 3.0 ports and one RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet port, an especially flexible solution for Ultrabooks, notebooks and tablets featuring USB interfaces
  • Three USB 3.0 Ports: Enjoy data transfer rates of up to 5Gbps, 10 times faster than High-Speed USB 2.0. It also allows you to connect 3 USB devices simultaneously. Backwards compatible with USB 2.0/1.1 devices
  • RJ45 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet Adapter: Gigabit port gives access to a superfast network, backward compatible with 1 0/100 Ethernet. Supports IPv4/IPv6 protocols, dual channel transfer mode, auto transfer and data stream reversing regulation
  • Supports Hot Swap and Plug & Play on most USB ports. Built-in surge protection keeps your devices and data safe. LED indicates normal operation. Compatible with Flash Drive, External Hard Drive, Mobile Phone, Tablet, Card Reader, MP3, MP4, Mouse, Keyboard, wireless Adapter and any USB Peripherals
  • Compact, Lightweight, Portable, Tecknet USB 3.0 hub with Ethernet port ensures a neat and uncluttered arrangement of all connections making sure that plugs and cables do not interfere with each other.

RRP: £12.99 in UK & $19.99 in US

Aukey HDMI switch

If like me you have used up all the HDMI inputs on your TV this neat little Bidirectional HDMI switch from Aukey might solve the problem. You can hook up two sources to one HDMI display or split one device between two displays and toggle between them, with only one monitor displaying the input at a time.

This is a really valuable little box to have in your home cinema or multi-monitor office setup plus it is small and as with most Aukey products just works! It supports HDMI v1.4 and high res pictures up to 4K @ 30Hz plus 3D video with a high bandwidth of 3.4Gbps data transfer speeds. Good cables are a must but it will be an indispensable asset as new devices pile up under the living room TV.

  • Bidirectional HDMI Switch: Connect two HDMI sources to one HDMI display, or connect one HDMI source to toggle between two displays (only one monitor will display)
    High Resolution: HDMI v1.4 (HDCP 1.4 Protocol Compliant)
  • Supports high resolution, up to 4k@30Hz, and 3D video
  • High bandwidth 3.4Gbps data transmission speed wise
  • Compatibility: Compatible with most devices with standard HDMI interface
  • Input: computer, set-top boxes, DVD, PS3 / PS4 etc. Output: TV, monitors, projectors etc.
  • Convenient to Use: Plug and play, don’t need to install any hard drivers; the device will work as long as it is plugged in; lightweight and compact, you can take it with you anywhere
  • Package Contents: AUKEY HA-H04 2-Way HDMI Switch, User Manual, 24-Month Warranty Card

RRP: £12.99 on

Aegis Padlock SSD

This super tough, ultra-compact SSD is pretty fast. I got 176MBs write and 185MBs read which is more than most people will need for anything except 4K video editing. IP56 certified against water, dust and grit, with a crush-resistant aluminium enclosure and built-in USB 3.0 cable, your data is protected well beyond just encryption. The Aegis Padlock SSD’s resilient design makes it perfect for travel, in fact, it has joined me on trips to Dubai, New York, Paris and well… Bristol, and has served as my main backup drive for media on recent photo and video commisions. Read the full review here.

BakkerElkhuizen SRM Ergonomic Mouse

Be gone Carpal Tunnel syndrome! This funny looking handshake mouse might help the strains and pains of the modern worker. If you are glued to your computer 24/7 then no doubt you enjoy the misery of RSI but this offers a possible solution, at least for your tired hands. This is definitely the strangest mouse I have tried but it is also the best! No doubt it has eased the strain on the back of my wrists. It is always holding up of my fingers above the keys and mouse buttons that causes me the most pain from my wrist up to my elbow and with the handshake design my palm is almost vertical to the desktop so keeping my fingers off the buttons uses different muscles and tendons.

“Thanks to the “handshake” position when using a vertical mouse the wrist doesn’t bend sideways too much and the lower arm needs less inward rotation (Schmid et al., 2015). There is less muscle activity in the lower arm than when using a standard mouse.” (Quemelo & Vieira, 2013)

At first it was uncomfortable to use as my hands got used to it but after a couple of days I am seriously thinking this might become my go-to mouse (that’s not a phrase you write every day!) As a tech reviewer I have a plague of mice in my office and can barely get to the door without treading on one so singling out a favorite would enable me to purge the rest. If you suffer like I do I recommend you give it a go and if it works for you like it did for me then you will be a little happier sitting at your desk than before.

It has two buttons and a scroll wheel. Using this mouse correctly reduces muscle tension, reducing the symptoms and causes of RSI within the workplace. The SRM Mouse is designed for small and medium-sized hands (hand widths of up to 9 cm, excluding the thumb). The SRM Mouse also has a powerful laser sensor and the option to choose between 400/1600/3200 DPI.

BakkerElkhuzien is a Gold-certified Microsoft partner — Gold certification is the highest accreditation that Microsoft awards. The SRM Mouse is available as wireless or corded. More information can be found at BakkerElkhuizen

Üllo Wine Purifier

Check the label on 95% of wines in your average shop and you will see “Contains Sulfites”. Whilst the addition of sulfites to wine as a preservative is useful during the transportation and storage of wine in order to prevent against oxidation and bacterial spoilage, they are no longer needed once the bottle is opened. It has just become part of the process for most international wine producers and might not be a bad thing if it means the wines stay good for longer, however, if you want to enjoy your wine without these additives Üllo’s Selective Sulfite Capture™ technology is the answer.

“Here at Üllo we believe the best things in life are simple and pure, especially when it comes to the things we eat and drink. It is for this reason that we developed Selective Sulfite Capture™ technology to purify wine and ensure that wine lovers can enjoy wine in its natural state. We understand that the UK is a nation of wine lovers so we hope that our product offering will help Brits enjoy wine in its very best form!”

This Üllo filter is a cool looking, reusable kitchen gadget and as Tech Trends is a very busy place we all like to unwind at the end of the day so we bought a few sulfite packed wines, popped a few corks and gave in to bacchanalian excess. To be perfectly honest I rarely drink the same wine twice so comparing a filtered to an unfiltered vino wasn’t an option but I am keen to put fewer chemicals in my body whenever possible and I do know a good wine from vinegar so can safely say that the Üllo Wine Purifier did not ruin the taste of the red and white wines I tested and I hope it saved my liver the miserable job of absorbing all those nasty sulfites, only my mortician will ever truly know.

It not only purifies any wine by removing sulfites and sediment, it also aerates electively with the on/off aerator switch and rests gently on top of any wine glass or can be handheld. It stores beautifully in its display base and includes Ullo Wine Purifier, Travel Bag, (4) Selective Sulfite Capture Single Bottle Filters easily disassembles, Dishwasher Safe, Hand Wash Recommended, Made from Food Grade BPA-free materials! Each filter purifies 1 (750 Milliliter) bottle of wine.

RRP: £69.99

DBPower RD-810 Mini LED Projector

You can pay a packet for a home cinema projector. Remember the Sony VPL-VZ1000ES? Admittedly that is one of the finest short throw projectors out there, but it costs circa £20k ($28k), not including the Sony 4K Advanced SXRD screen… Well, what about the other end of the spectrum — cheap and functional? Read the full review here.

Tom Atkinson is a Digital Producer & Photographer at R3Digital and Reviews & Dept. Editor at Tech Trends. Connect on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter @R3Digital

Technology writer for FastCo, Quartz, The Next Web, Ars Technica, Wired + more. Consultant specializing in VR #MixedReality and Strategic Communications

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