Waterproof

[Review] Vava Voom 20 Bluetooth Speaker

Back in April of this year, I had the chance to review a Bluetooth speaker from an up and coming company in the portable speaker business. I reviewed their flagship model, which is now known as the Vava Voom 21. Read my review HERE.

After some great success, they have expanded and have introduced another speaker to their lineup – the Vava Voom 20, an ultra compact version similar to their first model, yet it is also has IPX5 waterproof protection.

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So what do I think of the new speaker from VAVA?

Well, first of all, I do a lot of outdoor work at my home, and I often worry that I will forget to bring an expensive bluetooth speaker inside at the end of the day only to find it has been ruined in a rainstorm overnight. This speaker has IPX5 protection. Not familiar with the IPX scale? Well, IPX5 means the speaker can withstand a 6.3 mm spray of water (12.5 liters per minute) in any direction for at least 3 minutes. It also offers a higher degree of dust protection than a normal bluetooth speaker would offer. This gives me some assurance that the speaker will not get damaged in the occasional rainfall that it may be exposed to.

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How does it sound? 

Well, the original speaker has exceptional sound quality. This speaker offers a very compact, yet full sound. It puts out a surprising amount of bass – and you’ll find that you can accentuate it even further by placing the speaker on a hard surface, in a corner, on a wooden shelf, etc. For the small size of this speaker, it really pumps. I previously owned the Bose Soundlink Mini, yet I sold it after finding out about the VAVA lineup. These speakers provide all the bass, portability, and acoustics that I need to throw music around my small, single family home.

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Things I really like about this speaker:

The size is just about perfect, in my opinion. It’s compact, yet hefty. The buttons are under a layer of silicone, and they press firmly. The speaker has a small tone for powering on and off, but doesn’t have any other annoying indicators. It charges with a standard micro USB cable and can also double as a phone/tablet charger. (I also use this speaker to power a small USB powered fan while I camp!) I also like that the speaker can rest on the bottom, or can stand up on either end to save space on a desk or small countertop.

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Suggestions:

I’ve noticed that the VAVA speakers connect easily to my iPhone, yet they don’t display the amount of battery left in the speaker (as many other bluetooth speakers conveniently do). While I like that the speaker doesn’t have any annoying ‘low battery warning’, it would be nice to be notified of a low battery somehow so I can prepare for more music playback during the day.

At the end of this day, this speaker gets two huge thumbs up from me. After using it for a while, I am still impressed by the bass. I have had it playing in an upstairs bedroom and heard the bass from the first floor. The design of the speaker (as well as the packaging) is sleek and attractive.

I give the Vava Voom 20 five out of five stars.

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[Review] Otterbox Armor Series iPhone 4/4s case

Otterbox Cases are known for being tough and extremely protective. Some of them are nothing but a cushioned case to protect from short drops, though. But this one — Otterbox calls “The Toughest Case Ever Built”, saying it provides “absolute protection for device use in extreme conditions.” It sounds like the perfect case for travel and adventures!

The Otterbox Armor Series

The Otterbox Armor Series

So what do I think about this case?

Well, I’ve owned the Otterbox Defender series case for the iPhone 4 for a couple years now, so throughout this review, I will mention the two cases occasionally. (and I’ll review the Defender Series case next week!)

As you can see from the above photo, the Armor case is BIG. Some people might shy away from it because of that reason alone. It still fits in a pocket easily, but it is noticeably bigger than the Defender case. BUT because of the size of it, it provides ultimate protection. This case is absolutely rugged.

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This is a two piece case that is extremely simple to put on and take off. It latches shut with two strong metal hinges.

The Armor's Hinges

The Armor’s Hinges

The hinges are VERY STRONG! You might even think they are stuck the first time you try to open the case. After you know how to pry them open, though, it’s a breeze to assemble and disassemble this case, just in case you ever need to take out your phone to access it outside of the case for some reason.

Probably the biggest selling point of this case is the fact that it is waterproof. Otterbox markets this case as being waterproof up to 6.6 ft. for 30 minutes. Before you use the case for the first time, you should submerge the case (with no phone inside) underwater for a 30 minute waterproof test to be sure you have a quality product with no defective seals.

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Another great thing about the case is that the bright green seals that cover the charging port on the bottom and the headphone jack at the top are removable. This could be convenient if you happen to be using the case a lot in an environment where you don’t necessarily need it to be dust proof or waterproof — because you can remove the plugs and still have a solid case protecting your phone. Just remember to put them back on if you will be around water!

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I’ve used this case for about 2 or 3 weeks now, and for the amount of extreme protection it gives to the phone, there aren’t really any downsides. Yes, it is quite big and a bit bulky, but that’s the price you pay to have a case that you can literally take underwater with you!

The edges of the hard plastic seem to be wearing down and showing a lighter grey underneath quite quickly. Peronally, I don’t mind this, because I didn’t expect the case to stay in brand-new condition forever! It’s better to have the case wear down and scratch than to have the phone get scratched up and cracked!

The case has a built-in screen protector (if it wasn’t, it couldn’t possibly be waterproof!). This is great if you always use your phone with the case, but if you ever want to use your phone by itself or switch it out with another case, you might want to have a screen protector applied directly onto your phone. (Having a screen protector already on your phone and using it underneath the Armor’s built-in screen protector will make the two of them stick together and look ‘bubbly’ — but fortunately, it doesn’t really affect the screen clarity when it is powered on.)

The Otterbox Armor series case is also crush proof up and can withstand 2 tons of force. This means if you accidentally drop it in the street, it will not only survive the fall, but it could also be run over by a car and your phone should see full protection throughout the incident.

I think this is a great case to keep around for vacations, backpacking trips, fishing trips, camping trips, etc. You can really put it through a lot of tough conditions without worrying about wrecking your phone. Although it’s only a ‘step-up’ from the Otterbox Defender Series Case, it is in a whole different league of its own!

I give the Otterbox Armor Series Case for iPhone 4/4S 5 out of 5 Stars

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In my opinion, this case feels way better constructed and much higher quality than the lifeproof cases. (I’m sure the lifeproof cases work just fine, but if you are in the market for a super-tough phone case, definitely check this one out!)

You can find the Otterbox Armor Series case on Amazon.com — Expect to pay about $30-$40 for this case (not bad, considering it was $100 when it was first released!)