Soft Digits’ 50-In-1 Accessory Kit for GoPros & Action Cameras

It seems everyone and their brother has some sort of body cam, action cam, or GoPro. And while I finally broke down and got one too, you quickly find out that you need accessories to make the most of your action camera experience. Soft Digits wants to make that happen with their affordably-priced 50-in-one accessory kit.

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There’s a lot to like about this kit, and it has enough goodies to fit, mount or wear your action camera just about anywhere. The high-gloss plastic mounts are a little on the rigid side and I have some concerns about durability with repeated snapping in and out of the mounts, but as I’m not doing any “extreme” sporting with my camera, I’m not too worried. The elastic on a few of the body and wrist mounts have started having issues with retaining their elasticity, but that might be because their meant for smaller bodies that Hubby’s. The 50 pieces are really closer to 30 as well, because the 3M adhesive strips and other adhesive bits amount to nearly 20 of the total pieces. The lens cap/cover doesn’t fit my brand of camera housing (mine isn’t a GoPro), and a couple of the pieces don’t fit together as well as they probably should. In the end, my $30 action camera isn’t going to be a huge loss should any of the accessories in this kit fail, but I would be a little wary about a 3, 4, or 500 dollar camera being lost or damaged because one of the bits in this kit failed.

The way I see it, for my cheapie action camera, these are dynamite. A bunch of mounts to see what works for me and what doesn’t, and a zip-up carry case that hold most of it safely (seriously, don’t try to fit it all back in with your camera, because it won’t zip closed). And all at a price that doesn’t break my bank. But if you do major adventuring or extreme sports with your camera, and invested a good chunk of change into it, you might want to get higher-quality accessories, because these are fine for the occasional casual user like me, but the serious enthusiast will be disappointed in the quality.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Soft Digits. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

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Smarson WIFI HD Digital Action Sports Camera

You know a product is a hit when there are countless imitators and knock-offs of your innovation. Sometimes, it’s a product slapped together to cash in on a craze and it’s junk. Sometimes, it’s about making a quality product that comes in at a fraction of the price to open the market to buyers who’d never have thought about, say, an HD action camera before. Smarson isn’t the former, it’s definitely the latter.

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We got a cheap-o HD action cam this summer to play around in the pool with the dog and record the memories. Sadly, though “Bresser” claimed full HD, the picture quality was poor, with washed out color and grainy video. And that was where Smarson’s camera shined. The picture was crystal-clear in outdoor light and there was no judder with quick “action” scenes (As much action as a 12 year-old dog can muster!). And there was a host of accessories included to make mounting your camera on nearly any surface possible. At 12 mp, and full 1080p (1920 x 1080) recording (30fps), you get all the clarity of high definition recording, or you can downgrade your image to 720p and go up to 60fps for great slo-mo. you get mutiple shooting modes, (treble shot function, time lapse, continuous shooting, self-timer, and driving mode), a 170 degree wide angle lens, and a similar user interface to the industry leader, the GoPro series of cameras. And, at this price point, you also get WiFi capabilities via Smarson’s iSmartDV App (for iOS and Android 4.4 and up), which is a real bonus to me, even if the range for the wifi is pretty limited (around 10-15 feet, line of sight). It’s small but rugged, and the build seems solid, unlike the other bargain brand action cam I tried that felt flimsy and the battery cover would constantly fall off. The included lucite case is dust and dirt proof and water-resistant up to 30 meters. My pool is only 9 feet deep, so I can safely say from experience it’s solid up to 9 feet! The included 3.7v 900mAh battery is rated for as much as 90 minutes of continuous recording, Thought I’ve gotten up to three hours of off-and-on recording in one afternoon with juice left after. But never worry, the camera will run off the included micro-USB cable and wall adapter, so you’re never without juice. I also had good success with up to a 32gb micro-SD card, and on that card you could record and store a few hours of full HD videos.

And while there is plenty of bang for your buck here, a couple of things are not particularly great. At the $50 price point, you get a lot of value, and a cheap 4gb micro SD card should really be included like most action cams do at this price point, so you can go right out of the box. And while almost every GoPro accessory should work perfect with this awesome Smarson HD Action Cam, the battery is non-standard and getting a replacement or spare might prove troublesome. Also, the 1.5″ TFT LCD at the rear is soooo tiny, with the screen to bezel ratio being almost 50-50. But, again, the value here is undeniable and the quality for the price is top-notch. I feel the positives far outweigh the negatives enough that this Smarson camera earns a full 5 stars from me.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Samrson. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

MLVOC Wireless Doorbell Set (White)

Our front courtyard has a gate, and though we’ve painted the decorative scrolls around the doorbell a bright contrasting color, for whatever reason UPS, FedEx, the USPS and nearly every other delivery person seems to miss the doorbell on the gate. I can’t count the times we’ve missed deliveries or had them delayed because of this. Thanks to this MLVOC Wireless Doorbell set, that’s now a thing of the past!

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A bright white with shiny chrome trim, I don’t think anyone will be missing this doorbell unless they’re actively trying to do so. It light’s a soft blue when the button is pressed, and with the included adhesive pad, you can mount it just about anywhere. For a more traditional mount MLVOC included screws and anchors as well. For us, Hubby will probably make some kind of removable fitting so that it can be moved to paint the gate, or taken down in inclement weather, because let’s face it: though rain is uncommon in Southern California, when it does rain, it’ll soak and ruin this doorbell. What I like as well is that you can move the receiver to an outdoor location if, say, you’re doing an outdoor project or in the garage where you might not hear the normal doorbell. All you need is an electrical outlet and you’re golden. The volume is easily adjustable from the toggle button on the side of the receiver, and you can choose from a whopping 36 different chimes and tunes. The battery in the button portion is easily replaceable, and none of those tiny button cells that are hard to find sometimes, just a simple tiny 12v battery like you’d use in a car alarm fob. It transmitted easily all the way to the back of my house, and into the yard on an extension cord as well. MLVOC claims it’s good up to 1000 ft. on open ground as well, so you’re good to go in almost any residential suburban home.

There are some things we buy just to make out life a little easier, and I can safely say this is one of them. I don’t know why I didn’t pick up something like this MLVOC Wireless Doorbell Set before, but I can tell you I’m thrilled I did, and I think you will be too!

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Connect with MLVOC:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from MLVOC. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

HouseParty Chatterbox: HP Envy 5540 All-in-One Printer with HP Instant Ink #HPInstantChat

With all the advances in computers recently, sometimes it feels like printers are being left a little behind. HP sought to try to remedy that by updating it’s venerable Envy series of printers with a touch screen, wireless capabilities, cloud printing and HP’s service, HP Instant Ink.

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I found the HP Envy 5540 AIO printer fell a little short almost everywhere, and way short in some places. To start, I’m not a fan of the “Instant Ink” service. Not only does it have a lot of intrusive, near constant pop-ups, but it wants to order ink way before the current cartridge is depleted. Not only that, it wants me to order paper, photo paper, and it does it every time you connect. That alone would have led me to box it up and take it right back. HP wants to claim “photo lab-quality prints” on pictures, and while the included photo sample paper made for a lovely print, it was obvious even to my untrained eye that I printed it at home. And HP’s yield for their ink is still near the bottom of the pack. The scanner wasn’t a lot better, but gave me good results for documents. There’s also no feed tray at the top for copies, faxes, or scans, just the flatbed, which after about 10 pages gets tiresome. Lastly, the minuscule monochrome touchscreen controls are frustratingly small. My hands were fine, but Hubby’s sausage fingers had him ready to pull his hair out. With everything tech under the sun having a big, bright color touchscreen, this is nigh unforgivable.

On the plus side, it grabs and holds the wifi signal, a clear improvement from the last HP Envy I tried out. It’s fairly quick to print, especially plain text black and white. The setup was painless, and going back to just two ink cartridges after using the 4 required for my Brother All In One printer was a welcome relief.  And while Hubby found the touchscreen on the “too small” side, I didn’t have any issues entering commands and found the interface very user friendly. And while I liked some things a lot, the things I disliked weighed more heavily on my mind because while they weren’t the kind of things that make the printer useless, they’re annoying enough to me that I wouldn’t have bought, kept or highly recommended this printer to anyone. HP has always made good to great hardware hamstrung by bad to awful software, and it seems this printer is no exception to this rule. In the end, I went back to my Brother printer, and this is coming from someone who had only had HP printers for over a decade.Whether these things would be deal breakers for you is something you’ll have to decide for yourself.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from House Party/Chatterbox/HP. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Novapolt USB 3.0 External DVD/CD Drive

In this day of ultralight, ultrabooks, smaller, lighter, and faster, one thing that’s going the way of the Dodo is a physical disc drive. And while on the surface you might say “well, that’s fine, almost every major manufacturer puts their software and drivers online to download”, sometimes, they don’t. Especially with legacy equipment and peripherals.

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So it was with great gusto I agreed to give Novapolt’s External drive bay. It uses the newer 3.0 USB connection that has a much, much quicker read/write time than the older 2.0 standard we’ve all used for forever, but it’s still backward compatible with the old USB 2.0 and 1.1 standards. With a 24x speed on CD-r and CD-rw, and a 8x speed on DVD’s, it should be sufficient for all you basic CD/DVD needs. It has a dedicated built-in USB cable, so no need to worry about misplacing it and being out of luck when you need it but can’t find it. And thankfully it was truly plug-n-play with Windows 10 once I got a dedicated media player for videos. It’s relatively quiet and can scarcely be heard over ambient room noise. I can’t speak for the shock protection, so I wouldn’t go running anywhere with it, or other such activities. And a unit like the Novapolt CD/DVD drive is indispensable for data backups. Nothing like having physical media to back up pictures, letters or to re-install your hard drive after a catastrophic crash. “The cloud” is fine for some, but I like the safety and security of knowing I have my data here, at my fingertips, at all times, and away from prying eyes.

It’s not all wine and roses. To start, while it has a brushed aluminum look, it’s actually plastic. So while I’m sure that saved a few ounces in weight, it gives an overall cheap feel to the product. Next is that dedicated cord. In the interest of handy onboard storage, Novapolt out of necessity made the cord very short, which means it’s got to stay very, very close by. A minor quibble. My big gripe is the price. At the time I ordered, the Novapolt USB CD/DVD drive was priced at $34.87. And it doesn’t play blu-ray discs. I noted several external blu-ray readers and DVD recorders for $24.99 and $15 respectively from major manufacturers. I don’t know why Novapolt feels the need to charge so much, and I have a really hard time recommending them based on that, it’s just way too overpriced. It did the job, but you can find more affordable alternatives.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Novapolt. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Tree New Bee® Laptop Cooling Pad

It seems anymore we’re having to supplement the build of the gadgets we buy because manufacturers cut corners or put just the bare minimum needed to get by. Such is the case, frequently, with laptops and their cooling fans. But a whole niche market has popped up to fill the need, and I’m now quite fond of my Tree New Bee Laptop Cooling Pad.

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It wasn’t easy to get me to move away from my adjustable desk with it’s fans, but there are times where my desk wasn’t going to fit where I needed it to go, adjustable or not. So I was thrilled to find the Tree New Bee cooling pad was small and light enough to fit almost anywhere, and go almost anywhere. It has little legs in the back to prop the keyboard area up to more comfortable and ergonomic angle, and little arms in the front to keep your laptop from gradually sliding off the pad. The pad is lightweight plastic and some metal, and if I had one complaint it’s that there’s a great deal of flex in the panels, causing it to impact the fan. I also don’t understand the purpose of the LED lights. The fan plugs in to and standard-sized USB port on your laptop, so these lights just serve to drain the battery a little more. I did like that the plug is a pass -through design, so you don’t even lose a USB port while you use the cooling pad. That’s putting some thought into the design, and I appreciate it. I may disassemble the unit and disconnect them, but the do look shiny and bright, if that’s what your going for. The Tree New Bee laptop pad is also whisper quiet. You absolutely cannot hear it at all over ambient noise, which is a major plus from my old adjustable desk fans. You can really feel the temperature difference on the bottom of the laptop.

At only $13.99, it’s a great value to protect the (sometimes very significant) investment made into your laptop. Extreme heat is the mortal enemy of all the most important components, and the Tree New Bee Cooling Pad is the mortal enemy of heat. It will extend the life of your laptop and you’ll wonder how you got along with it before! With a full 1-year warranty, it’s definitely worth a look-see and find out if a laptop cooling pad is just what the computer doctor ordered!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Tree New Bee. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

LDNIO 2.1A Smart Car Charger

With our always on the go, always connected lifestyles, we’re sometimes hopping from outlet to outlet, trying to get a little more juice to make it through the day. Sometimes we forget the easiest way is to just plug in in the car. Because, at least in California, getting anywhere means spending most of the afternoon in traffic.

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LDNIO understands this, and made a two bank power adapter for the car, so there’s no hogging, no monopolizing, and there’s plenty of juice for everyone. It’s simple and basic, and while LDNIO claims their “Intelligent circuit design protects against short circuiting, over-heating, over-currents, and over-charging. Charging stops when battery is full”, I would make sure not to leave it plugged in too long after you see the phone say the battery is full just to be safe. The LDNIO charger is small and light, and comes with a micro USB cable to connect your Android devices, so you’re ready to go right out of the box. It’s a shiny black-with-chrome-accents, so it looks nice as well as functioning nice. I found myself making sure it’s with my collection of “necessary stuff” every time I leave the house.

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It sucks to be caught out there with a low battery, and nothing’s worse than getting out and going to find you forgot to charge your phone. The only downside I could see is the 2.1A output is shared between the ports, not a dedicated 2.1A per port, which means that if there’s two devices charging at once, it’s little more than a trickle charge that could take a while to top off both devices, depending on battery size.  LDNIO’s car charger takes care of you, though, with full 12 months warranty. So, even if you both forgot to charge up the night before, at $10.99, you’er covered, and there’s no excuse to not have one in every car!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from LDNIO. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

OxyLED Dimmable LED Copper Wire String Lights

LED lighting has come a long way, and one of my favorite companies that’s making the latest and greatest is OxyLED. They always find a way to innovate, taking a product we all thought we knew and changing things up just enough to make the common product shiny and new. The latest is their LED string lights. I’ve reviewed a few before, and a one was, up until now, my favorite. Let me share why this new offering from OxyLED supplanted them so handily.

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To start, we’ve all been there. The best laid out plans to decorate and light a fixture in the house come undone because try as you might, you’ll see the wire. OxyLED realized this and decided if you’re going to see it anyway, you might as well make it sparkle with gorgeous, bright shiny copper. And I’m loving it. Gone also are the harsh, bright blue-white lights of LED’s from the past and in their place are soft, warm white lights (2700-2900K warm white range) that aren’t hard on your eyes int he least. But what took it up to 11 for me was the remote control. Not just a simple “on” or “off”, but you can dim them, and they can flash, strobe and fade too. That’s just too cool. Not just for holidays or parties, but I can use these lights for my year round decorating, I can use them for mood light, I can even leave them up for parties and social gatherings. There’s nothing they’re not good for, and at 120 lights on a 40 foot string, the possibilities are endless! And with over 12″ from the first light to the control box, and almost 60″ from the box to the plug, your lights will have plenty of length to hide the cord and keep it hidden. I did notice that at a certain distance (about 20 feet and through a wall) the remote didn’t always get the signal through. Careful placement of the antennae should remedy that, however.

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All this and you get OxyLED’s stellar service and support, for the life of the product. 10 brightness levels, 3 modes, a remote control, a beautiful light set with an equally beautiful wire, perfect lighting colors and lifetime support? And for only $14.99? That’s a steal. I’m planning on picking up a few sets, because they have so many uses, I’m making plans right now to light a few projects. I love these lights, and I think you will too.

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Connect with OxyLED/HisGadget:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from HisGadget and OxyLED.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Last Man Survival Gear’s LED “Opti-Flood” Flashlight Set

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So, It’s been a while since I last reviewed a LED flashlight, mostly because after the OxyLED MD50 I reviewed here set the bar pretty high for overall quality and value, I was pretty well set. But the offer from Last Man Survival Gear was one I couldn’t refuse, and seemed tailor-made for mine and Hubby’s needs. And while there are some shortcomings, I can say with confidence that this set seems to be a decent value for the money!

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Let’s just get this out of the way right here, though: Last Man brazenly claims their Opti-Flood lamp puts out 1200 lumens. Unless they somehow hooked it up to a car battery, I don’t see how it’s possible, because the included 18650 lithium ion cell ran the lamp  just a shade brighter than the OxyLED M50 that claimed 500 lumens, and just slightly dimmer than Hubby’s Coast HP7 rated for 360 lumens. So, as long as you understand and accept that this Opti-Flood lamp will run at just under 360 lumens, you’ll be okay. The run time on a single charge is decent, and takes some time to notice any real dimming of the output. The color of the light is not the harsh, blue/purple color of the cheaper CREE knockoff LED’s, and is almost going into the “soft white” color range, even more so than the MD50. The focus is smooth and quick, but still goes into the square shape of the diode like so many of the budget lamps out there. Not a dealbreaker by any means. The throw is pretty good, with very minimal haloing or spill from the reflector. The Last Man Opti-Flood does tend to get a little warm fairly quickly, so I wouldn’t run it for very long periods of time. It will tail-stand easily, but lacks any deep knurling that would make the surface super grippy, and I would have liked something to keep the lamp from rolling when placed on it’s side, because it rolls quickly and easily. Lastly, there’s just off and on with the tail cap clicker, and while some might see that as a negative, I prefer it to the 3, 4, or 5 function lamps that require you to cycle through each setting every time.

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As for the value, Last Man Survival Gear included a bonus lamp, the LT30, which is small and light, suitable for a purse, pocket, or key ring, and has a similar output to a single AA flashlight, only in a much larger, heavier package. It’s a nice addition, but I feel the 3.7v 18650 lithium ion battery is wasted here, not allowing either piece to shine (no pun intended) to it’s full potential. The included charger is also a nice bonus, but if you’re going to start investing in quality lithium ion rechargeable cells, you might want to consider a more, shall we say, robust, charger. This one is fine to get you started, and the LED indicator light on it changes from red, to yellow to green to let you know a charge cycle is complete. Last Man Survival Gear includes two of the aforementioned 3.7V 1800 mAh protected circuit batteries, as well as a AAA battery adapter, and a pretty decent hard plastic carry/storage case. Both lamps have water-resistant O-rings, which should provide some measure of light water resistance, as well as carry lanyards (but I’d expect to replace those shortly). All in all you get a fair amount of value for around the $35 they were charging when I ordered my set, although at the current $45.99, I’d say it’s a bit overpriced. It’s not quite the value of the venerable OxyLED MD50, but uses the same emitter setup, reflector and LED. So it’s up to you if this Last Man Survival Gear’s value added set is truly the LED flashlight for you.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Last Man Survival Gear.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

MARSEE MSH03 Active Noise-Cancelling Bluetooth Wireless Headset

03/23/2016 Edit: Well, the customer service is just plain awful. After contacting me to confirm the unit I received is defective, they then proceeded to ask what rating I would give their defective product, and then informed me they have “No return policy”. Yikes. I would avoid these earphones, this company, and their products and stick to a larger, better known company that stands behind their products (and after some comparison shopping are much, much cheaper, too) and isn’t content selling people defective products. Horrible service, no QC, and no returns. 3 strikes and you’re out.


I’ve tested more than a few bluetooth wireless headsets, both in ear and over the ear. I have yet to find a set that has what I would consider truly premium sound, But MARSEE’s MSH03 set is the closest I’ve found to fully premium, awesome sound. Except that there’s one major, major drawback: The “Active Noise Cancelling” feature ruins the sound! Oh, the irony!

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See, I’ve all but give up on what I would consider an affordable bluetooth headset with honest to goodness premium sound quality. And with most folks downloading low quality rips of music anyways (usually 128 kbps quality, which is usually pretty awful, but also the most ubiquitous), it became a giant game of cat and mouse tracking down high-quality downloads and then getting high quality headphones to listen to it. Everyone claimed HD sound quality to only deliver mediocre at best. But lo and behold, the set MARSEE sent me was pretty darn awesome. With controls for playback right on the earcup, soft, enveloping padding, and a firm, secure feeling on the head, these feel like actual premium headphones without being heavy, and no need to handle them gingerly for fear of all the cheap plastic cracking and breaking! They twist and form to even Hubby’s big ‘ol pumpkin head with ease. The bluetooth connects and pairs quickly, and no worries if there’s an issue with the bluetooth, MARSEE provided a nice, braided-cloth covered cable to take your wireless headset to wired int he blink of an eye! And the sound! Oh, the sound. Crisp, sharp highs, with full, thumping lows, clear mids. These might easily be the best sounding headset I’ve put on in over 20 years.

And then the wheels came off my little red wagon when I engaged the active noise cancelling. And it all went to pot. The full, rich lows went away, and were replaced instead with a screechy, tinny, horribly shrill sound that absolutely ruined my experience with these headphones. I tried both wireless and wired and the results were the same: The noise cancellation feature ruins the sound and I can’t for the life of me find a workaround. At $79.99, these should not have this kind of issue. Emails to the company through Amazon have yet to answered, but if not for the fact that I got this headset at no cost, with this kind of problem they’d have been returned post haste. Yes, the sound is amazing normally. The braided cloth 3.5mm audio cable and flat USB charging cords have a premium look and feel. Yes, the headphones seem to have been engineered with quality in mind and feel premium in both build and materials. The bluetooth pairs quickly and easily, but for $80, the noise cancelling feature is important and with it borking the sound so completely, I can’t recommend them as highly as I’d want.

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Connect with MARSEE:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from MARSEE. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

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