Tuesday, May 20, 2014

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Tech Tip: What to Pack in Your Mobile Tech Kit

What to pack in your mobile tech kit #SOLRepublic
Thank you to SOL Republic for providing sample Tracks Air Wireless Headphones for us to base this review upon and for providing an additional product for our Father's Day giveaway.  All opinions expressed are our own.

I am a gadget and tech nerd. I love all things mobile, connected, and electronic. In this day and age it is so easy to stay connected, and as a result be productive and entertained just about anywhere. I’ve carried a laptop with me for years, but recently I swapped that out for a tablet and reduced the size of my bag. After going this route, I started to become addicted to seeing how much tech and capability I could pack into my small tablet bag. So I started my “Mobile Tech Kit” challenge.

The goal was simple: Create a kit that could fit in the smallest bag possible and could replace every function (and more) that a full featured desktop and workbench could, both in entertainment and productivity. Recently I was sent the very last component to complete my Mobile Tech Kit challenge and I can't wait to tell you about it.

To satisfy my need to cover all the functionality possible, I decided my kit needed to contain everything necessary to work, entertain (video and audio), stay connected, and keep everything powered up . . .

1.  Tablet - At the heart of my kit is the Microsoft Surface Windows 8.1 Tablet. The Surface is capable of offering me a full Windows desktop environment, unlike many other tablets. The value to this feature is that I can work as if I am sitting at any other Windows based PC. The Surface has the ability to interact with all of my other devices and keep me connected. The Surface pretty much provides all of the functionality I need for work related computing.

2.  Tech Tools - To round off the kits ability to support work related tasks, I carry various screwdrivers, hex wrenches, and a carbon fiber Leatherman Skeletool CX Multitool.

3.  Portable Hard Drive and Thumb Drive - To make sure I can get at any information that I may need to on the go, I carry various ways to hold, gather, and transport data. At the heart of my data storage is a Samsung 1 Terabyte hard drive with USB 3.0. In addition to the hard drive, I carry a 16 gigabyte thumb drive and a SATA adapter to access any loose hard drives that may need data recovery. I can pretty much access and store anything I need to with this arrangement.
Enjoy music anywhere with the SOL Republic Tracks Air Wireless Headphones #SOLRepublic

But all that stuff is about work, what about play? . . . 

4.  Wireless Speaker and Headphones - The Microsoft Surface is capable of playing any audio or video you have available, both from a file or via streaming. The screen is bright and sharp and video looks fantastic. But in the end, a tablets speakers are only so good, if I want to rock out the room I needed more. The SOL Republic Deck wireless speaker was the perfect solution. The Deck is loud, tough, has amazing sound, and the battery lasts for hours (see full review here). For those times when I need to keep the noise to myself, I use my new SOL Republic Tracks Air. The Tracks Air are sleek and sound great (see a full review at the end of this article).

5.  Credit Card Reader - Another function I have, which was not an original requirement, is the ability to take credit card or Visa gift card payments from my phone via a PayPal card swiper and app called PayPal Here. If I am ever in a situation where I need to collect payment or an owed debt, I can take a payment on the spot and send an email receipt!

6.  Portable Battery Pack and Adapters/Cables - With all of this technology, power is a major concern, if not the number one concern. In my bag I need a number of adaptors to make sure I can charge up all of my devices whenever I can. But sometimes a wall outlet just isn't available, at those times I use a NewTrent PowerPak+ high capacity charger. This beast can charge my phone more than 4 times between charges or a tablet 2 times. Honestly? I haven't ran out of juice yet and I only charge it once per week. A portable battery pack is a must have for any tech kit.

I really had a lot of fun jamming as much capability in my Mobile Tech Kit as I could. In addition to all the cool tech gadgets in there, I keep some comfort items such as tissues, hand sanitizer, pain reliever, first aid, etc. After all of that I still have some room to grow my kit as more needs arise. I can literally say that I am prepared for just about any "geek emergency" that may come up in my travels!
SOL Republic Tracks Air Wireless On-Ear Headphones #SOLRepublic

More about the SOL Republic Tracks Air headphones . . . 

I have been using, loving, and very much enjoying my SOL Republic headphones for some time now. I have used and reviewed a few sets right here on this site and loved every single pair. It is no secret that I am a very big fan of SOL republic products.

SOL Republic sent me a pair of Tracks Air wireless headphones in black to try out. Like all of my SOL Republic headsets, the Tracks Air are very good looking and come with SOL Republic's signature indestructible headband.

The Tracks Air look just like a pair of Tracks at first glance. The sleek style and lines are identical.  But at closer inspection, you can see that there are buttons added as well as a charging port and some additional elements on the headband. The Tracks Air are a little bit heavier (not much) than their Tracks cousins due to the battery, but much lighter than the larger Master Tracks. I did not have any problems with discomfort after long sessions with the Tracks Air.

Just like their Tracks cousins, the wireless Tracks Air can be used to make and answer phone calls if paired with a mobile phone. In fact, the Tracks Air will make the change seamlessly with a press of a button to answer a call, and transition back to music after the call ends!

SOL Republic states the range of the Tracks Air is as far as 150 feet. I was able to go about 20 meters in a steel and concrete office. I have not tested them out in an open space but it hardly matters:. All I want to do is walk about my office or home without having them yank off my head because I leaned too far from my PC! A 20 meter range inside is more than enough.

In addition to the buttons for answering and controlling a phone call, there is an easy to find and user-friendly volume button. I found it easy to change without any thought at all, your fingers just find it.

One of the most amazing things I have discovered about my Tracks Air is the battery life. The headset has an incredible 13 hour battery (product description says 15 hours)! And mind you, that is 13 hours of listening time, not standby. I can listen all day long at work and barely use more than half of the battery. Simply incredible.

So, the big question: How do they sound? Amazing to put it simply.

My Tracks Air sound every bit as good as my corded SOL Republic Anthems, which have the the V10 HD Sound Engines on them. Do they sound as good as my higher end Master Tracks? No. But they sound very very good and the difference is very slight. Just like my other sets, the Tracks Air have a nice bass and a full range. SOL republic does an amazing job of providing that bass without sacrificing the rest of the range and the Tracks Air are no exception.
What's in your mobile tech kit? #SOLRepublic

I can honestly say I have no negative issues with the Tracks Air and as a result, SOL Republic has won me over…. again. At this stage I find it hard to believe they can produce a bad product. The Tracks Air look great, sound great, and have a superb battery life.  I just can't think of a more perfect set of headphones for somebody who likes to rock out without any restrictions. At $199.99, the Tracks Air are priced in line with premium corded headsets, so in my opinion an exceptional value. I easily and wholeheartedly recommend the SOL Republic Tracks Air.

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