The Best LED Flashlights Of 2014

Update: We have a new version of this article: The Brightest LED Flashlights For 2015

The Best LED Flashlights Of 2014

Update: We have a new version of this article: The Brightest LED Flashlights For 2015

Most enthusiasts and reviewers agree that Fenix flashlights have the best build-quality and reliability for their price. Streamlight, one of the few brands of flashlights made in the U.S.A, is highly rated by reviewers on Amazon. Other top rated brands are: Cree, Dorcy and Surefire.

Fenix TK-41: 860 Lumens

The Fenix TK-41 U2, which shines at 860 lumens, is the brightest flashlight that runs on AA batteries. It uses eight AA batteries, and these can be rechargeable NiMH or alkaline AAs. The TK41 produces four brightness levels, the lowest (10 lumens) allows the flashlight to run for up to 240 hours.

The Fenix TK-41 U2, is available from Amazon for about $111.

Streamlight 74301 Strion Flashlight

Rated: 4.8 of 5 stars from 72+ Amazon reviewers

This 74301 Strion by Streamlight shines at 160 lumens. It is currently on sale for $94 (was $181)  at Amazon.

 

Fenix E21 Flashlight

Rated: 4.7 of 5 stars from 128+ Amazon reviewers

With a output of 160 lumens on its high setting, the Fenix E21 Flashlight, is perhaps the brightest and best quality flashlight under $50. It’s on sale for $32.45 (was $48) at Amazon.

 

Other top-rated LED flashlights: Coaster LED Lenser,  CREE X-Tactical ATE0C2L007 and the SureFire E2D LED Defender. We also like this mini LED flashlight:

The Fenix LD01 Keyring Flashlight

The Fenix LD01 is barely larger than the AAA battery it uses (we recommend using a low-discharge rechargeable NiHm AAA battery). The flashlight illuminates with 80 lumens on its highest setting, which is brighter than most full-size flashlights.

The Fenix LD01 is solidly built — it uses a Cree Q5 LED as its light source, and the lens is made of toughened, anti-reflective glass. It weighs 1.6 ounces, and it is “IPX-8 water proof”, meaning it is suitable for continuous submersion. The flashlight is also RoHS compliant — it does not contain non-toxic heavy metals or flame retardants.

You can the Fenix LD01 from Amazon for about $40.

The Top Backup Drives For Macs For 2012

External hard drive allow you to add terabytes of storage to your computer for a few hundred dollars. External drives connect to PCs and Macs via their external connectors. Almost every computer has a USB 2.0 port, so it’s the most common type of connection currently. Here’s the speed of other interfaces (from slowest to fastest): FireWire 400, USB 2.0, FireWire 800, eSATA (external SATA), Thunderbolt and USB 3.0.

Many new drives support the fast USB 3.0 interface, which some newer computers now support. However all Apple computers only support USB 2.0 connections — Apple has stated that it does not intend to support USB 3.0 in the foreseeable future. Instead, they support the Thunderbolt interface, but very few hard drives support the Thunderbolt currently.

If you’ll only be doing backups with an external drive, you can opt for a drive that only supports USB 2.0, because most of your backup process will occur in quietly in the background, and interface speed will not matter so much. However, getting the right size drive is important — it’s prudent not to skimp here, you’ll want to drive that has a capacity that’s 2-3 times the size of the drive you want to backup.

If you’ll be using the external drive to store and watch movies, or render videos, then drive’s interface speed is important you’ll want to connect the drive with eSATA, USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt, if you computer supports these interfaces.

Here are our recommended drives for backups:

Apple Time Capsule

Apple Time Capsule

Pros:

  • Serves as a centralized device to backup all household computers
  • Allows easy backups of portable Apple devices (including iPads, iPhones, iPod touches, and notebooks)

Cons:

  • More expensive than a simple external hard drive
  • Won’t save bootable backups
  • Backups must be made wirelessly on a home network

Apple makes a device called a Time Capsule, which is a wireless router combined with a external hard drive. A Time Capsule allows you perform wireless backups using the Time Machine application or a third-party applications that use the Time Machine format. You connect wireless to the Time Capsule with a host of devices: Mac, compatible PCs, and wireless devices such as iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and Apple TV. Note that the portables devices must be running iOS 5 to connect to a Time Capsule.

You can attach additional hard drives to a Time Capsule via USB 2.0 if you want more storage space, and you can attach a printer, for wireless sharing.

I’d recommend Time Capsules, you if like the idea of backing up a number of notebook computers and other portable devices wirelessly. Time Capsules cannot be used to create a bootable duplicate your boot volume, so you’ll have to buy a second hard drive to create bootable backups. Also, Time Capsules are not mirrored drives (they don’t support Raid configurations), but you can attach an Raid drive to a Time Capsule via its USB 2.0 interface.

Apple’s standard warranty covers the Time Capsule for one year, and this includes 90 day of phone support. Apple does not an extended warranty for a Time Capsule specifically. However, if you extend the coverage on another Apple device, the Time Capsule warranty will be extended too (see this page for details).

In regards to environmental criteria, Apple has removed almost all of the the toxic substances from its products, and the company accepts old devices for recycling, under the Apple Recycling Program.

The Apple Time Capsule (3 TB) is available from Amazon for about $369.

 

ioSafe Solo External Drive

ioSafe Solo 

ioSafe specializes in making hard drives that are fireproof, waterproof and, in the case of the portable models, crushproof and shockproof. The ioSafe Solo, can withstand 1550° F for 30 minutes or, being sunk in water for three days. This ruggedization certainly means ioSafe drives are less prone to disaster, but it also increases the cost of the drives, and makes them larger and heavier than comparable external drives.

ioSafe drives also come with a three year warranty, and one year of data and hardware recovery protection, which means the company will recover your data should a disaster strike, or the drive fails for any reason (this protection only covers your first request for data recovery). If your drive is so badly damaged that forensic recovery is required, the ioSafe will cover up to $2500 in recovery costs. You can extend the data recovery to three years for an additional $50. You can buy a five year warranty together with five years of data recovery protection for an additional $100 over the base price.

The ioSafe Solo is a single volume drive, which means it doesn’t support drive mirroring or Raid configurations. This means if the drive fails due to mechanical problems or other defects that might crop up over time, you’ll have to send it in to ioSafe for recovery.

Despite these limitations, we chose to include this drive due to its ruggedness, and the warranties and protections provided by the company. Most of the 70+ Amazon reviewers at Amazon, give the ioSafe Solo an average rating of 5 out of 5 stars.

In regards to environment criteria, ioSafe makes not information available, I will however contact the company for a statement, and update this article accordingly.

The ioSafe Solo 2TB is available from Amazon for about $277.

 

Western Digital My Book Studio II

Wd my book studio ii

The My Book Studio II from Western Digital is hard drive that comes standard with a 5 year warranty. The drive actually includes two separate drives in one case, making it ready for Raid 1 mirroring. The drive includes interfaces for USB 2.0, Firewire 400, Firewire 800 and eSata.

The drive is quiet, but it does have a distracting light that flashes whenever the drive is active, and the drive’s case is somewhat flimsy. However, the drive still gets recommendation they come with a five year warranty, and they can be set up a Raid 1 mirrored drive.

Recently, one My Books Drives would not turn on, but it was still under warranty, so I requested a replacement drive from Western Digital. A replacement drive arrived in a few days, so Western Digital did honor their warranty quite promptly, but I did have to pay to ship my old drive back to the company (it cost about $15 in postage).

The Western Digital My Book Studio II is available from Amazon for around $190.

The Top Rated Bluetooth Speakers Of 2011

Bluetooth technology allows you to wirelessly connect your digital music player, mobile phone, laptop, or tablet to external speakers, giving a big boost to the sound quality and volume of your device. Bluetooth speakers will also work with desktop computers and some home A/V equipment, but they are primarily designed with portability in mind.

Some will fit in your pocket and have batteries that last all day. Once you complete a simple pairing process, any of our recommended Bluetooth speakers is ready to go. By consulting sites such as Macworld, CNET, The New York Times, iLounge, and Phone Arena, we’ve come up with this list of the top rated bluetooth speakers of 2011:

Soundfreaq Sound Platform ($180)

Currently, the Sound Platform by Soundfreaq is the top rated Bluetooth speaker dock, getting good reviews from CNET, iLounge, Pocket Lint and MacLife. CNET gives it a overall rating of “Very Good”, saying:

You’ll have a hard time finding a more stylish and feature-packed speaker choice in this price range. The inclusion of Bluetooth support makes it an attractive buy for iPad and smartphone owners.

Amazon reviewers also liked the  Sound Platform, it received an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars, from over 100 reviewers.

Sound Platform by Soundfreaq is available on Amazon for $180.

 

Soundmatters FoxL v2 Bluetooth ($200)

Top Review Sources:

  • Macworld: 4.0/5.0 “The FoxL’s sound is jaw-droppingly big, in dramatic inverse proportion to its size”
  • CNET: 4.0/5.0 “The fidelity and build quality make it a worthwhile purchase for serious audiophiles on the run”
  • New York Times: “This fascinating, coat-pocketable metal speaker oozes quality”

The Soundmatters FoxL v2 Bluetooth shocks reviewers by generating robust sound despite its small size. This candy bar-shaped wireless speaker includes technology to improve its wireless range and signal quality (two issues that particularly affect Bluetooth speakers), plus a built-in speakerphone for teleconferencing. The FoxL v2’s bass can be forceful enough to overpower its small frame, resulting in the device vibrating its way across a table if you don’t use the included rubber mat. Also available to stabilize the unit are a kickstand and rubber feet. The physical buttons are limited: an on/off switch and volume control. You’ll rely on your music player to switch tracks or pause playback. The FoxL v2 includes a rechargeable battery, AC adapter, mini-USB port (for slower, computer-based charging), and a 3.5mm line-in port. Battery life is estimated at five hours.

The Soundmatters FoxL v2 Bluetooth is available on Amazon.

Altec Lansing InMotion SoundBlade ($190)

Altec Lansing InMotion SoundBlade

Altec Lansing InMotion SoundBlade

Top Review Sources:

  • Macworld: 4.0/5.0 “There’s none of the tinniness found in many speakers of this size”
  • Amazon: 4.0/5.0 (90+ reviews)
  • LAPTOP Magazine: 3.5/5.0 “The SoundBlade’s strongest asset is its sound separation”

The tablet-like Altec Lansing InMotion SoundBlade is on the larger side of Bluetooth speakers, but it makes the most of its size with expansive sound. Bass response is excellent for a Bluetooth speaker. Aside from its top-notch sound quality, the SoundBlade impresses with great ergonomics: the black buttons on the top edge are clearly labeled and include all the necessary functions (volume, play, pause, seek, and accept call). When not plugged in, the SoundBlade can operate for 24 continuous hours on six AA batteries. There is also a 3.5mm jack for wired sources, plus a pop-out stand in the back.

The Altec Lansing InMotion SoundBlade is available on Amazon.

Creative D100 ($65)

Creative D100

Creative D100

Top Review Sources:

  • CNET: 4.0/5.0 “Impressive low-end range…[makes] it a worthwhile addition to your next outdoor get-together”
  • iLounge: B+ (Recommended) “Sonically, the D100 is surprisingly robust for its price”
  • Amazon: 4.0/5.0 (70+ reviews)

The Creative D100 is a compelling value. It is capable of filling a room with undistorted music at high volume, delivering sound quality that is a few notches above what reviewers expect at this price point. The D100 operates on AC power or on four AA batteries for up to 25 hours. The D100 matches the wireless range of much more expensive models, and its pairing procedure is among the easiest out there. There is a 3.5mm auxiliary port for wired connections. While more expensive models offer smaller and sturdier housings, the D100 is tough enough to move around frequently and comes in your choice of four color schemes: black/black, green/white, blue/white, and pink/white.

You can purchase Creative’s D100 on Amazon.

SuperTooth Disco ($122)

SuperTooth Disco

SuperTooth Disco

Top Review Sources:

  • CNET: 4.0/5.0 “A solid alternative to the classic three-piece computer speaker set”
  • Amazon: 4.5/5.0 (20+ reviews)
  • Phone Arena: “We’re actually surprised to hear such rich tones being pumped out…but even more [surprised] when it’s able to powerfully echo throughout a room”

Reviewers like the SuperTooth Disco because its sound quality, battery life, and design make it seem like a bargain for its relatively low price. At a foot long and about 2.5 pounds, the Disco is less portable than many other Bluetooth speakers, yet its responsive bass and room-filling volume make listeners forget about its form factor. Reviewers also appreciate the rechargeable battery, which allows the Disco anywhere between three and ten hours of continuous playback (depending on volume). Like all the speakers reviewed here, the Disco includes a 3.5mm jack for wired inputs, plus a selection of physical buttons you can use to control playback directly from the speaker. Pairing is straightforward, though keep in mind that you can’t use the Disco as a speakerphone.

The SuperTooth Disco is available on Amazon.