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Found 5 results

  1. Dave's Take: Jaybird Tarah Bluetooth Headphones The Jaybird Tarah headphones may have entry-level pricing, but they deliver great sound, especially when paired with the Jaybird app. Jaybird is the Word The Jaybird Tarah is the third pair of Jaybird Bluetooth headphones that I have taken through the review process, having previously reviewed the Jaybird X3 and Jaybird Run models. In both of the previous reviews, I was definitely impressed with the Jaybird products, especially since I had never even heard of the brand prior to the first review. Well it’s been about a year since I published the Jaybird RUN review, and I am happy to say that those headphones, and the X3 headphones, continue to perform flawlessly. The Run headphones are a staple of my golf bag, and my son uses the X3s at the gym on a daily basis. Nothing better than your kid pilfering your cool stuff, huh? Unfortunately for the Tarah headphones that I am writing about today, the previous experiences have elevated my expectations for this new model. It’s sort of like being the third kid to go to a high school when both of your elder siblings were valedictorians. Although I understand that the Tarah's role is as Jaybird’s entry-level model, it still has some big shoes to fill. Jaybird Tarah: IN THE BOX TARAH Wireless Buds Silicone Ear Gels: S/M/L Cord Management Clips Cord Shirt Clip USB 2.0 Charging Cable + Charge Clip Color: Nimbus-Gray/Jade Price: $99.99 Comfort and Fit Since they are of similar construction, most of my comparisons ended up being between the Tarah and the X3 headphones. The Run headphones are kind of their own thing, and not really an appropriate direct comparison. Anyway, like the X3 model, the Tarah headphones fit into your ears using a combination of silicone fins and ear inserts. The difference here is that while the X3s had separate fins and ear buds, the Tarah headphones come with the buds and fins fused into single units. Obviously this is going to cut into the versatility of fitting a bit. No longer can you pair small buds with large fins, or something like that. You really now only have three fit options. Hopefully one will work. For me, medium ear gels worked just fine. One thing that I really like about the new single-piece system is that the buds and fins are always in proper alignment with each other. Occasionally, the fins can twist out of place on the X3, and the Run, headphones. On the Tarah, this can’t happen since they are single piece units. Like the other Jaybird headphones, the Tarah headphones had no trouble staying in place through practice sessions on the range, or during workouts at the gym. Once I had the proper ear sock size, I just adjusted the cord a bit to secure them. After that, it was all about the music. Ease of Use Pairing is immediate. Not only for the first time that I paired them with my phone, but also when I paired them to my iPad later for movie watching. Just press and hold the power button and they are discoverable. So easy. The controls are very intuitive. Press +/- for volume control; hold them to skip songs. Nothing crazy here, which I like. They work like they should. Like the other Jaybird headphones, the Tarah headphones have a microphone and can be used to make calls. That’s not really a primary use for me, but they did perform just fine during some test calls. Sound Quality One of the things that I like about the Tarah and other in-ear headphones is that they block out a great deal of ambient noise when you insert them in your ear. They are not noise canceling, but they definitely block the noise. The nice thing about this is that when outside noise is reduced, you can now hear your music at lower volume, saving your battery and maybe your ears as well. The Tarah headphones can still get plenty loud, but it’s not necessary. The sound out of the box was good, but had a bit of that small speaker feeling. Bass was pretty absent, and overall I was not that impressed. However, after pairing the headphones with the free MySound app, and tweaking the EQ sound profile to add more bass, my mind changed completely. Once you adjust the setting on the app, the sound from the Tarah really blossoms. It was a huge difference. If you buy a pair of these, or any Jaybird headphones, the MySound app is a must use. You’ll be very pleased with the sound changing option and likely find an EQ mix that suits your style. Battery The Jaybird Tarah only features a six-hour battery as opposed to the eight-hour battery found in the X3. This is likely going to cover any single-setting headphone need that I have, though it will probably require more frequent recharging than other models. The cool thing is that the battery charges quickly. You can get an hour of play with only 10 minutes of charge. Like the Jaybird X3, charging the Tarah requires a special USB cord. If you are not prone to losing stuff, this is not likely a big deal. If you are one that spends hours searching for missing cables, then maybe you should order an extra cable. Jaybird Tarah Headphones Review: Summary The Jaybird Tarah headphones are solid entry-level Bluetooth headphones. For $99, you get a lightweight, easy to use, and great sounding headphones. If you need more fit versatility, then you can go to the X4 model. If you want a longer battery life, you can go to the newly released Tarah Pro with a 14 hour battery! I think that the Jaybird Run headphones will still be my go to headphones for the driving range, because of the charging case, but for most other applications, I’m going Tarah. Find out more at the Jaybird website, and at Amazon. Detailed Specifications: Jaybird Tarah AUDIO Type: In-ear style Noise-isolation: Passive Impedance: 16 Ohm Speaker sensitivity: 99 +/- 3dB at 1KHz Output max. 10mW RMS (with level limit) Total harmonic distortion <5% (1KHz, 1mW) Audio format: 16-bit stereo Codec: Bluetooth SBC implementation Response bandwidth: 20Hz - 20kHz Driver size: 6 mm BLUETOOTH Bluetooth version: 5.0 Frequency band: 2.4 GHz Profiles: Handsfree , Headset , A2DP , AVCRP , SPP Wireless range: Class 2 standard range 10m/33ft INTEGRATED MICROPHONE Type: MEMS, omni directional Sensitivity: -38dB +/- 1dB (Test conditions: 1KHz, 0db = 1V/Pa) COMPATIBLE PRODUCTS Any Bluetooth device with HFP, HSP and A2DP WEIGHT & DIMENSIONS Headset: 528mm x 13.25mm x 23.6mm Controller: 45.7mm x 11.7mm x 5.6mm Charger: 112mm x 33.6mm x 7.2mm Weight of headphones (without ear gel): 13.85g Weight of charger: 6.5g BATTERY Play time: 6 Hrs* Charging time: 2+ Hrs Quick charge: 10 min = 1+ hour playtime Charging: Via USB charging cable with Pogo pin connector Input power: DC 5V 1A Type: Lithium Ion Battery voltage: 3.8V Energy voltage in watt hrs per battery: 0.2wh *May vary dependent on usage, device & aging
  2. The Golden Age of Wireless Those of you who join me on the front tees may know that The Golden Age of Wireless was the name of Thomas Dolby's breakthrough 1982 album. You remember the song, She Blinded Me With Science? That was Thomas Dolby. As I write this thirty-five years after that album was released, I would argue that we are actually in the Golden Age of Wireless right now. I know that Mr. Dolby was referencing radio with wireless, but think about how that term has grown in usage. Everything is wireless now. Internet, phones, phone charging, car starting, game controllers, speakers, and the list grows daily. There are probably three or more wireless things within ten feet of you right now. Now is truly the Golden Age of Wireless, and the Jaybird RUN headphones I'm reviewing for you today definitely adds to that golden glow. Jaybird RUN Wireless Headphones Bluetooth headphones have been on the scene for a few years now. Though it was super cool to finally detach from the music player, many of those headphones had issues with size, connectivity, and overall quality of both sound and design. These areas have definitely improved in recent years though, with size in particular growing ever smaller, until finally reaching the wireless ear bud level. Though other headphones were on the market prior, Apple releasing the AirPods really changed the Bluetooth bud landscape. That's what Apple often does. No longer was it chic to have the white headphone cord showing, now the cool kids needed to have little white hooks in their ears. Apple made the Bluetooth ear buds desirable; prompting other companies to make ones that are as good, or better. A few months back, I put the Jaybird X3 wireless headphones through the paces, and they were my go to headphones for everything (gym, golf, tablet, and so on), until I first opened and installed the Jaybird RUN headphones in my ears. Without a doubt, these are the best wireless headphones I have ever used. Let's take a quick look at the specs, and then I'll share with you why I am so high on the Jaybird RUN headphones. Jaybird RUN Specs 4 hour play time + 8 hour charge case Fast charge - 5 minute charge = 1 hour play time Secure + Comfort-Fit with interchangeable tips and fins Customize your sound with the Jaybird app Sweat-proof and water resistant Music + Calls $179.99 Complete specs can be found HERE Charging the RUN I want to start with the coolest thing about the Jaybird RUN, the case/charging system. While the Jaybird X3 had excellent battery longevity, I still forgot to charge them, and was left without tunes at the range. With the RUN, the case has a battery too, and so your headphones are always charged. Sure, the AirPods do this too, but it is such a huge benefit to the headphones that it's worth mentioning, even if it's not unique to the RUN. This feature alone pushes the RUN well past other wireless headphones in my arsenal. They always have juice! If for some reason you don't put them in the case when done, putting them in there as you drive to the course/gym should give you plenty of charge for the range session. The case also has multiple lights to let you know the charge state of the headphones, and also the case itself. Any USB connection can be used to charge the case. This is another advantage over the X3 where a proprietary cable was needed for charging. Testing the RUN Connecting When you open up the case the first time, the Jaybird RUN headphones immediately look to pair with something. Quick press of the Bluetooth connect button in your phone's preferences, and you are ready to rock. From that point on, every time you open the case, the headphones turn on and pair almost immediately. Putting them back in the case and closing the lid also turns them off. So seamless and easy. Fit Like the Jaybird X3, the Jaybird RUN package includes multiple fins and ear socks to dial them in for your ears. This is a huge benefit vs. the AirPods where you are far more fit-limited. This time around, the stock fins and socks fit my ears perfectly, keeping the RUN secure no matter what my activity. These stayed in place on the range, on the course, at the gym, walking the neighborhood, and even when I got the body up to run speed. I figured I needed to run a bit since that's their true target after all. Even for a guy whose run is more of a rumble, the Jaybird RUN headphones never even wiggled. Performance As I said above, the Jaybird RUN stayed in place regardless of my activity. The ear tips made an excellent seal, blocking out much of the environmental noise. I like this a ton because that means you can play the music at a lower volume, and still not hear the 50 cap in the next hitting bay giving lessons. They also do a pretty good job of staying connected to the phone. With the phone close by, sound never dropped out, though I could get them to drop by moving away from the phone in the house. During all of the activities where I used the RUN headphones, my phone was always near me, so this was not an issue. If you leave your phone in the gym locker and just take the headphones to the weight room, there may be some connection problems. Controls are similar to the Jaybird X3. The left bud button controls power and Siri; play/pause and skip are controlled on the right. My only real control gripe is that there is no way to adjust volume on the RUN. To do that, you'll need to use the buttons on the phone. If all of your music is at the same recorded volume, this is not an issue, but I hit some louder and softer tracks during my shuffle. If the sound volume was not ideal, I typically just double clicked to skip. Phone call performance was excellent, though their level of noise canceling makes it a bit awkward for me. I don't want to be the guy that yells into the earpiece during the phone call. The person on the other end could hear me just fine. Those of you who want to tweak the various bass and treble levels can do so on the Jaybird phone app, though I found the stock settings to be perfect for my tastes. Value At $179, the Jaybird RUN represents no small investment. That price is actually $20 higher than the AirPods. Are these better than the AirPods? Truth be told, I can't really answer that because I don't own the AirPods, but that may actually be the answer. I'm one of those all-in Apple guys. My first computer in college was as Mac Plus, and I've probably had twenty or more Apple computers, iPods, iPhones, and so on since then. I loved the look and the features of the AirPods when they came out, but didn't buy them because I was worried about one falling out and getting damaged or lost. I know I'm not the only one who felt this way about the AirPods. I have no fears of losing one of these RUN headphones. They stay in place, even though they are so light that you forget you are wearing them. Maybe I didn't give the Apple headphones a fair chance, but I just can't see how they could fit better than the RUN. Dave's Take: Running with the RUN So far, I'm definitely gushing over the Jaybird RUN. These are so close to being the perfect wireless headphones. I just wish that I could adjust volume from the speaker. That's really my only complaint, and it is totally overshadowed by the other awesome aspects of the RUN. If you are a dedicated runner, or just if you feel like losing a few pounds, eating healthier, and making a few friends in the process, then the Jaybird RUN are for you. Now I just wish that Apple (or someone) would make an iPod Shuffle with Bluetooth connectivity. Leaving the big phone behind and playing music on lightweight wireless headphones from a lightweight wireless player would truly be my Golden Age of Wireless.
  3. UE BLAST: A BOOM with a Bonus https://www.ultimateears.com/en-us/wireless-speakers/blast.html Ultimate Ears for Ultimate Bluetooth Audio Time and time again, I have been impressed with Ultimate Ears speakers. Those of you who have followed along with the speaker reviews, or checked out my audio addendum thread, know that my love and respect for the tune delivery of UE speakers is based upon not one or two models, but SIX MODELS. From the ROLL to the WONDERBOOM, these speakers are the gold standard portable audio units for me, by quite a large margin. Today, we add a seventh model to the review set, the UE BLAST. With the BLAST, Ultimate Ears brings their superior audio delivery to the world of smart speakers. Not only are we looking at a speaker that will pair with your phone through Bluetooth, but also one that has the potential to do so much more through the power of Amazon's Alexa wireless connectivity. Audio First For me, the most important thing to address first is sound quality. I really don't care what else a speaker can do if lousy sound quality makes me not want to listen to it. I am happy to say, and not a bit surprised, that the UE BLAST has UE BOOM audio prowess. This speaker delivers the same rich, 360° sound that the UE BOOM and MEGABOOM speakers are known for producing. Bass is deep, perhaps not trunk-rattling, but like the other UE speakers, the BLAST delivers more bass than one would expect from a small speaker. You can see from the family photo that the BLAST is not quite the same size as the BOOM. My guess is that UE needed just a little more room to house the Alexa-enabling hardware. Regardless, we are still looking at cup-holder portability. The BLAST will have an easy ride along in your golf cart, or in the drink holder on your pushcart. The on-unit controls are just like those found on the other UE speakers. You control volume with the larger + and – buttons, with power and pairing controlled by the buttons on the top. The BLAST charges with the included USB cable and outlet adapter. Additionally, keeping with the BOOM design, the BLAST is equipped with a carabiner-friendly D-Ring on its base. That D-Ring allows you to attach the BLAST to just about anything, but it also can be removed to enable a new way to charge the speaker. UE Power-Up The UE Power-Up system is new to the UE BLAST (and MEGABLAST) line. Once you swap out the original D-Ring for the one included in the Power-Up package, you can now charge the BLAST by setting it on the Power-Up base. This will allow the UE BLAST to become a more permanent digital appliance, though it can be moved off of the base easily enough. This does ensure that the BLAST will always be charged and available, and charging no longer requires flipping open the charging port and attaching the cable. Plus, it's pretty hard to forget to charge the speaker if you have a charging base to put it away on. All in all, the BLAST audio is just like BOOM audio, and for me, that's a really good thing. The only real negative sound-wise with the UE BLAST is that it cannot pair with the other UE speakers in the PartyUp section of the UE BOOM app. Sadly, the BLAST must party solo. Hopefully this is something that can be fixed with a software/firmware update down the road, allowing the BLAST to join the party too. Getting to the Point: The BLAST is SMART If all we had to look at was the audio of the BLAST, I can see where one would wonder about why UE would release the BLAST when we already have the BOOM. To put it simply, the UE BLAST is smarter than the BOOM. Smart speakers are really starting to take hold in the marketplace. I think that Apple's iPhone Siri function is likely responsible for introducing consumers to the concept of voice control. Now, two of the tech biggies, Google and Amazon, are pushing the voice-control envelope, ideally pushing it right into your living room. The UE BLAST gets its “smarts” through Amazon, thus making your new digital assistant Alexa just a spoken “Alexa” away. When it comes to voice command, I'm kind of old school. I don't use Siri much, and I definitely did not have a smart speaker in the house before the BLAST arrived. As such, I went into the whole smart speaker thing bright-eyed and blank-slated. As a long-time Amazon Prime user, I was most excited about using the BLAST to access Prime Music without the necessity of a cell phone intermediate. “Alexa play...” was the first command issued to the BLAST, and then the music began to play. If you use Amazon Music, the Alexa interaction is very seamless. IHeartRadio and Tunein are also supported over wifi, but the real killer app is Amazon Music. They even hook you up with three months of Amazon Unlimited when you sign-in with the BLAST app. Yes, you will need to download an app on your phone to get everything connected and the BLAST running, but after that, BLAST can fly solo. You can use the voice control to play specific songs, artists, and Amazon Music Stations (my favorite). Communication is easy, and Alexa does a pretty good job of understanding you, though when I ask for The Smiths, she always sends me to Sam Smith. What's wrong with The Smiths, Alexa? You can also adjust volume, skip songs, repeat songs, play, and pause all just by asking Alexa to do so. It's actually more convenient than I expected, especially when doing something that is occupying your hands, like typing. As for what else Alexa can do for me, that I'm still exploring, and I think that it's expanding as well. Here is a LINK to the Alexa part of Amazon. If you scroll to the bottom, you can see more of the things that you can do with Alexa, from ordering an Uber, to controlling the lights and thermostat in your house (add on products required). As I mentioned before, I'm new to smart speaker land, and I don't know exactly what Alexa's job description will ultimately look like. I think that it will take some time to move from a phone-based wireless interface to the voice-based one from Alexa. It is cool though to see the technology, and capabilities develop. Check that link above. You really can do a lot of stuff with Alexa! BLAST vs. BOOM vs. Amazon “Other” The MSRP on the UE BLAST is $229.99, coming in at $30 over the BOOM 2's MSRP and more than that when you check the BOOM 2 prices on Amazon and Best Buy. Alexa hardware can be had for as low as $30 for an Echo Dot. So is the BLAST worth it? That's really up to you and what you want to use it for. If you have neither speaker, nor Alexa hardware, the BLAST is right there price-wise. Remember too that the speaker will work just like the other UE speakers too. That's a huge plus if you don't have one yet. If you are on the fence about the whole smart speaker thing, maybe saving the money to just get a BOOM 2 is the way to go. If you just want to chat with Alexa and hear music through her tiny speaker, go with the cheap Amazon device. Anyway, the UE BLAST is a solid marriage of the UE high-quality audio and Amazon Alexa's smart-speaker platform. I'm curious to see if the whole smart-speaker thing really becomes an integral part of our daily lives or not. If not, you'll still be left with a great speaker. Specifications: UE BLAST Smart Speaker 360 SOUND · Maximum Sound Level: 90 dBC · Frequency Range: 90Hz - 20kHz · Drivers: Two 35mm active drivers and two 81mm x 39mm passive radiators. HANDS-FREE VOICE CONTROL · Amazon Alexa built-in for hands-free voice on Wi-Fi, both at home or on-the-go. BLAST / MEGABLAST is a standalone Alexa enabled device and does not require an Echo or Dot. FAR-FIELD VOICE RECOGNITION · Multiple microphones with beam forming technology and noise cancellation enable a smooth far field voice recognition and control experience. POWER · Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery for up to 12 hours of battery life.* COMPATIBILITY · Requires a Wi-Fi router with 802.11 a,b,g, or n for first time setup. Audio Playback supported for Bluetooth® devices with advanced audio distribution profile (A2DP). WIRELESS CAPABILITIES · Dual-band Wi-Fi supports 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4 and 5 GHz) networks · Bluetooth - Pair up to 8 Bluetooth® enabled source devices. · Wi-Fi range: 100m / 330ft · Bluetooth range: 45m / 150ft SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS · Wi-Fi network and a compatible Android or iOS mobile device required. Minimum OS requirements are iOS 10.2 or Android 5.0. Certain skills and services may require subscription or other fees. When tethering to a mobile device hotspot, standard data rates may apply. WATERPROOF · IP67 waterproof and dustproof. BLAST can be immersed in liquid up to 1m for up to 30 minutes.
  4. Dave's Take: Xikar's XO Double Guillotine Cutter Review http://www.xikar.com/products/cutters/xo/ Ritualistic Cutting As i've said before, part of the cigar smoking experience for me is the ritual. Not just during the smoke, but before as well. It really starts at the cigar shop, where selecting the perfect cigar adds to my anticipation for the smoking to come. The ritual then continues through the unwrapping of the cigar, the cutting of the end, the smelling of the fresh cut end (you should try this), the lighting of the cigar, and then finally the smoking. I suppose I see cigar smoking as a luxury activity with a luxury item, and I want to enjoy as much of the process as possible. A Thousand Ways to Cut a Cohiba That's not really a saying, but it is definitely a point of discussion when it comes to the “correct� way to cut a cigar. About the only consensus that I have found among cigar smokers is that the cigar wrapper from the mouth end must be removed before smoking. Beyond that, the methods abound. If you are not sure of the possible options, then feel free to watch this video that I came across from Neptune Cigars showing the various cutting methods. How to Cut Cigars : Neptune Cigars https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzBQSBUmjN0 Golfers would likely also add the poke with a tee and slice with divot tool methods to the list. Like everything else that we humans do, we likely going to discover that we have a favorite cigar opening method. For me, that's cutting. The Xikar XO Cutter Today, I bring you my take on the Xikar XO Double Guillotine cigar cutter. As soon as I saw the XO cutter, I knew that I had to try one out. As I said, I'm a cutter guy, and the Xikar Xi1 cutter is the welcomed workhorse in my cigar toolbox. At first glance, the Xikar XO seemed to push the already awesome double-bladed cutting of the Xi1 to a whole new level of fun. Yep, I just said fun. That's why I smoke cigars, for fun. Anything that can add to the enjoyment of the process will get a look from me. What could not be fun about a spring-loaded double guillotine cutter? Just typing that sentence was fun. How could using the cutter not be fun too? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-9ofK2901A Specifications: Xikar XO Double Guillotine Cutter Double Guillotine style cutter Aluminum body Stainless steel blades Planetary geared cutting system with five internal gears Spring-loaded blade release button 2.38" diameter 64 RG (cuts the cap of 70RG cigars) Colors: 8 (Gunmetal Honeycomb tested) MSRP: $99.99-$119.99 The XO is a cutting machine, inspired by timeless design principles. The dual stainless steel blades operate on a patent pending planetary gear system, ensuring the blades open and close in perfect harmony, providing a guided and clean cut every time. The distinct, round aluminum body of the XO is built for relentless durability and exceptional performance. Engineered to simplify the standard double guillotine style cut. Using the XO is definitely not like using your teeth. According to the Neptune video, you are never without a cutter because you can always go Eastwood and bite the end off of your gran panetela. Cutting with the Xikar XO cutter lives at the opposite end of the cigar-cutting spectrum. The only thing that you'll be doing with your teeth when you cut with the XO is showing them between your retracted lips when you smile. Those Gears are Planetary Raise your hands if you know what a planetary gear system is? My hand is not up, but thanks to Google, I was able to find out a bit about them. Basically, think about the solar system. You have the sun, and then the planets moving around it. That's a huge oversimplification about how these gear systems work, but you get the idea. There are multiple gears all connected together in system, and the turning of one gear is influenced by, and dependent upon the movement of the other gears. You can get really smart if you follow this link to a YouTube explanation of the planetary gear system. While I can't really hope to understand how the gears in the Xikar XO cutter all work together, I do understand the overall result. The blades always move together, even if you only press from one side. What this means for you is that you should be able to get an even cut with minimal effort. As a brilliant bonus, Xikar included openings in the body of the XO, allowing you to see the gears turn while you use it. Dinner and a show. Sometimes getting an even cut can be a challenge with the cheap, single blade cutters. Think cutting a tomato with a knife. Unless that knife is really sharp, and your pressure just right, the initial tomato penetration could involve squishing rather than cutting. Nobody enjoys squishing the tomato, or the cigar. The gear-driven double blades in the XO will not squish your tomato cigar. Cutting to the Chase Cutting cigars with the Xikar XO cutter is as fun as I expected. Glee generates immediately when you press the button on the top that releases the spring-loaded blades. It reminds me of the first time I popped open a switchblade knife. You hit the button, and the blades extend, ready for business. Probably did this twenty times in a row when I opened up the XO box that first time. After that, maybe only five times each time I used the cutter. Full disclosure: I also had delusions of Batman when using the XO. At some point I may have equated popping open the blades with extending the wings on a spring-loaded Batarang. I'm not in charge of where the brain takes me, and for a second, I WAS BATMAN! As for the cutting, the XO is exactly what I expected from the company that brought me my beloved Xi1. The blades are sharp, and with the gearing, they deliver the honed steel with precision. Time and time again, you can deliver the cigar-opening cut exactly where you want it, with wrapper-shearing precision. Even on a probably too dry to smoke cigar, the cut was clean. I actually cut up that dry cigar from stem to stern with the XO, just to be able to make more cuts with the cutter. Again, it's fun to use. From a practical side, if you smoke big ring cigars, the XO is definitely worth checking out. 64 ring gauges can fit inside, and you can take the cap off of a 70 RG stick. I don't know if I've ever had a 70 RG cigar before. That seems huge, and yet the XO can handle it. For reference, the cigar in the photo above is 54 RG. I feel like the XO could take just about anything you throw at it. This cutter could even help you dice carrots for dinner! Not that I cut a carrot with it. Who would do that? Smaller gauges are also a breeze to cut with the XO because of the synced blades. You can easily bring the blades to the edges of the smaller cigar with just a bit of a press, then once in contact, press more firmly to sever. Since the blades move together, it really takes effort to cut incorrectly. As a size reference, you can see how the overall size profile, and the cutting diameter of the XO compares to the Xi1 above. I was pleasantly surprised at how similar the two were as far as space usage in the travel humidor. Both snug into the corner quite nicely. I'd give both the full portability nod, and the fact that they both have spring-loaded blades made the gamer selection very challenging. The XO is XtraOrdinary! I don't think that it's a stretch to say that the Xikar XO double guillotine cutter is the coolest cigar cutter on the market. It is just so interesting to look at, and fun to use. Right now, I'm not currently smoking a cigar at all, yet I keep taking breaks from typing to click the XO open and closed. As for the Xi1 vs XO battle, the XO is in the travel humidor. The XO definitely adds to my cigar while golfing enjoyment, and it always draws interested attention when I pop it open, allowing me to share it's coolness with others. I think that there may also be some golf crosstraining potential in the XO. It's definitely an awesome ball marker, and I think that there may be a way to use it to draw a line on my ball. Regardless, I'm totally geared up to use the XO to cut my next stick.
  5. Yeti Hopper Flip 8 http://yeti.com/hopper-flip-8-cooler Yeti Triples The Flip Back in May, I reviewed the first Yeti flip-top cooler, the Hopper Flip 12. I ran that cooler through Contents, Coldness, and Cart-ability trials. The hopper Flip 12 was great at holding beers and keeping them cold, but the size was a little large for ideal golf course usage. That said, the Hopper Flip 12 was my go to summer poolside BBQ cooler this summer. I even bought a Yeti Sidekick for it to hold the keys, phone, and such, and it couldn't have worked out better. Yeti has now added two new Hopper Flips to the line-up: A larger Hopper Flip 18, and a smaller Hopper Flip 8. The Hopper Flip 8 is the one whose golf potential caught my eye, and the one that I'm sharing my thoughts about with you today. The Hopper Flip 12 was so close to being the ultimate course cooler. It was just a hair too large. My thinking was that the smaller Hopper Flip 8 could hit the perfect sweet spot, with a size of large enough to carry, but small enough to fit. Yeti's Hopper Flip 8 Specs One of the joys of a day trip is traveling light. The Hopper Flip in a new smaller size is perfect for keeping your food and drinks cold while out in the field. The Hopper Flip 8 has the insulation power only a YETI can offer, and is engineered to be tough – because flying solo doesn't mean you won't get a little dirty. The Hopper Flip 8 is your new day trip MVP. Cubed body makes it easy to haul and store HydroLok™ Zipper and wide-mouth opening means great accessibility and visibility to contents DRYHIDE™ SHELL - The Hopper's high-density fabric is waterproof and resistant to mildew, punctures, and UV rays. The liner is made from an FDA-approved food-grade material. COLDCELL™ INSULATION - Closed-cell rubber foam offers far superior cold-holding to ordinary soft coolers. Hitchpoint grid to attach accessories Double-stitched top handle MSRP: $199.99 The Hopper Flip 8 has the same Yeti bones as the Hopper Flip 12, and that's a good thing. Yeti is known for making coolers that can withstand punishment while keeping contents cold, or warm if you need it to go that way. Should something go south with your Yeti, they also have one of the best warranty reputations in the business. While similar to the Hopper Flip 12, the Hopper Flip 8 does have one fantastic new feature: The Top Handle. Sure, we lose a bit of the flat top surface area, and the Yeti logo, but I welcome the new handle with nothing but enthusiasm. As I said, I used the Hopper Flip 12 quite a bit this summer, and the lack of top handle was a bit inconvenient. Sure, you can just lift the cooler from the shoulder strap or side handle, but as soon as I picked up the Hopper Flip 8 from the top handle, I knew that Yeti made a great decision by adding it. It's so much easier to carry, and it gives you another place to anchor the cooler to things, like a kayak, or a push cart. How Cool is the Yeti Hopper Flip 8 Like I did with the Hopper Flip 12, my goal is to see if the Hopper Flip 8 is the go to cooler for the golfer looking to take libations and liquids to the course. Once again, I'm going to focus on three areas: Contents, Coldness, and Cart-ability Contents: Yeti Hopper Flip 8 Simply put, Contents is all about what the cooler can carry. There is a fine line here that a cooler must walk along to be ideal for golf. Too large and its bulk decreases its ability for it to fit into the cart, and thus lowers its Evade the Marshall sub-score. Hold too little, and why bring it in the first place? As you probably picked up from the name, the Hopper Flip 8 holds eight beverages, more specifically, canned beverages. The Hopper Flip 8 will swallow eight standard, or tall cans and still retain enough room for ice. Drop the load down to a six-pack, and you can even fit a sandwich and snacks in there. Bottles are another story. As you can see from the photo, the lid will not close when filled with bottles, however, if laid on their side, bottles will fit, just not eight of them. If you go the bottle route, it becomes a Yeti Hopper Flip 4-6 depending upon brand. I try not to bring glass to the golf course anyway, so this is not a huge capacity knock for me, but YMMV. I have been known to slip a 22oz bomber into my coolers though, and I was pleasantly surprised that one will actually fit in the Hopper Flip 8. The neck will rest above the side insulation, but the lid will zip closed with no issue. In this configuration, it becomes the Yeti Hopper Flip 8+1 (cans and a bomber). Coldness: Yeti Hopper Flip 8 The Hopper Flip 8 features the characteristic Yeti construction materials found in the rest of the Hopper line. The Dryhide shell fights off the elements, the Coldcell Insulation keeps everything cold, and the Hydrolok zipper seals the cooler frog-butt tight. That zipper is also airtight by the way. Should you drive the cart into the water hazard, your golf bag will sink, but the Yeti will float, allowing you to retrieve beverages to enjoy while you contemplate how you got to this place in life... This time around, I didn't run a how fast did ice melt experiment to check for coldness. If I'm taking this to the course, I need 4-5 hour results, and not 48-hour statistics. Every time I took it to the course, there was still ice in the cooler at the end of the round. Obviously any beverages still in the cooler at that point would be cold too. For reference, round temperatures ranged somewhere between 85 and 105 °F. Viva Summer! Coldness Bonus: Yeti Ice While I did always have regular ice in the Hopper Flip 8, I also had a two pound block of Yeti Ice in there. Yeti Ice actually took me a bit by surprise. Like you, I've used reusable “blue ice” packs before. Cheap ones from the grocery store have always seemed to work fine, but I think that the Yeti Ice works better because of... SCIENCE! You see, the Yeti Ice has a freezing point below that of water, so when the normal ice starts to melt, the Yeti Ice will actually be able to refreeze the water. If you leave a frozen block of Yeti Ice on the counter, it will even collect moisture from the air and pretty quickly become covered in icy frost. You can see that a little in the group photo on the two-pound block (the other two were not frozen). As a bonus, the Yeti Ice also fits perfectly into the Yeti coolers. The two-pounder sits nicely atop the cans in the Hopper Flip 8, and the four-pound Yeti Ice does the same in the Flip 12. Cart-ability: Yeti Hopper Flip 8 This is probably the category where I had the greatest expectations for the Hopper Flip 8. A profile just a bit smaller than the Hopper Flip 12 suggested that it should fit perfectly in the rear basket of a power cart. And you know what? It does! The Yeti Hopper 8 just snuggles right into that basket, and it even leaves some room for your other junk in there as well. The profile is low enough that you don't even really see it in the basket at all from a distance. Toss a jacket over it and you are in full cooler-stealth mode. Attaching this one to the push cart was easy. I just shortened the shoulder strap all the way, looped the strap over the cart console, and then lashed the top handle of the cooler to the cart frame with a bungee cord. Easy rolling and access all round. I did need to unhook the bungee when opening it, but the long zipper would mandate that regardless of how it was attached. Now bringing a cooler to the course is an at your own risk activity. Some courses will rupture forehead veins if they see one. Thing is though, the cooler is not the problem, more so it's the contents of that cooler. If you have a course that is really tight on this kind of thing, I have a suggestion for you. Bring it empty. How many times have you bought multiple beers at the course that they then give to you in a plastic bag full of ice? Wouldn't it be better to take the cooler into the bar, and then just add the purchased beers and ice to it? The Yeti Hopper 8 will definitely keep beers colder than a plastic bag. Just a thought. The 8 is Great If my goal was to find the ultimate take to the course cooler, I think that I have accomplished that with the Yeti Hopper 8. It carries enough stuff, keeps it cold, and fits into golf carts like a champ. Other brands out there may have some contenders, but as far as the Yeti line-up goes, the Hopper Flip 8 is the cooler for the course. At $199.99, it's definitely an investment, but this cooler actually should get lots of non-golf usage as well. I find that it also makes a perfect lunch cooler. It will keep your food cold, and if load it up with something warm, and it will stay warm. The volume of the cooler allows you to pack all kinds of food containers inside, and the Yeti toughness should stand up to all but the most vicious daily commute. Plus, after you empty the cooler out at lunch, you'll then have one that's nice and open for filling up with malty goodness on your way home, or even better, to the golf course. Bonus Hopper 8 v. Hopper 12 Action Shots! So not much action happening here, but if you are wondering how the size compares with these two, here you go. By the way, I have one more Yeti Hopper in the review queue, and it's a big one and a road trip is involved!
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