Connect with us

Reviews

Review: Jackery Explorer 500

Published

on

One of the benefits and drawbacks of a camping trip is that you’re disconnected from the world and don’t have access to electricity. Enjoying the blissful nature without a care in the world can work for some, but it won’t work for everyone.

For those of us who need to stay connected or can’t leave our technologies and gadgets behind – meet the Jackery Explorer 500.

That’s not to say that the Jackery Explorer 500 is only good for power laptops and phones. Not at all. In fact, that would be quite a waste of all the power it has to offer. The Jackery Explorer 500 is equipped with 518Wh/144,400mAh battery capacity all packed inside a 13.32lb package.

The Design

The Jackery comes in a box-like design with a generous handle for ease of handling. It’s clearly designed for the outdoors with its rugged construction and brightly splashed orange side panels. The bright orange also serves a pretty clever functionality. It makes it easy to find when you’re digging through your campsite and also easy to spot in the dark.

All of the ports are neatly organized, circled, and labeled so you’ll never have to wonder which is which.

The LCD screen displays how much power the unit has left and also the input and output. Overall, it’s a clean and simple look that goes well with the rest of your camping gear.

The construction

This is where I want to give the engineers at Jackery some extra credit points. Jackery units tend to be better built than most of their competitors. And you’ll need to take a closer look to see that. Everything about the unit is well thought out, well-engineered, and serves a purpose.

They use Allen screws instead of Phillips to make assembling and disassembling much easier. The construction of the body is made from hard plastic that can take a beating. On the bottom, you’ll find extra-thick rubber feet that keep the unit in place on a smooth or wet surface. These feet are also held together by Allen screws so you can replace them if they become worn.

The side vents are discreet and generous enough to give plenty of airflows when you’re trying to power intense appliances.

And I usually don’t care too much about built-in flashlights because they’re often a cheap gimmick made to look like “added-value”. On the Jackery, they’re actually legit. I don’t know the exact lumen output of these lights, but they’ll likely rival whatever flashlight currently in your toolkit.

Overall, it’s one of the best build quality I’ve seen on a power station.

The ports

There’s plenty of ports here. All of your ports will be located on the front side for easy access. In the center are your three USB type-A ports each outputting 2.4A. On the right side, is what you’re paying for – the AC port. Just your standard AC port capable set at 110V 500W.

There’s also the DC ports on the left side should you ever have a need. For most practical purposes you’ll be using. The Input port is where you’ll plug the power brick or solar panel into in order to charge the unit.

All ports are clearly labeled and organized for accessibility. One thing I felt was missing was covers for the DC and AC ports. At this price range, you’d think they could cover you with a port cover. Just a minor thing I noticed.

The Capacity

As noted, the Explorer 500 is packed with 518Wh/144,400mAh battery capacity. It’s capable of 500W rated power and has up to 1000W surge protection on the AC port. This means you can plug just about anything into the Explorer including microwaves and hairdryers without concerns.

For the average city dwellers and campers, this is plenty of juice to get you through a weekend. It might even be enough to get you through an entire week.

Real-World Performance Test

At the time of this writing we couldn’t take the Jackery outside to test in the wilderness (Covid-19). So we did the next best thing, which was to test with whatever appliances we could indoor.

Phones & Laptops

We couldn’t complete this test because we couldn’t possibly use and drain our phones and laptops fast enough. We recharged a Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra (5000 mAh) 15 times for an entire weekend before giving up. The Explorer was at 58% strong despite our efforts.

Our two rotating Macbook Pro 15″ 2018 managed to get up to 8 cycles of charges total and depleted the Explorer’s reserve down to 42%. We had to stop our test as we’ve run out of time and had to meet editorial deadlines.

Powering a TV

For our final test we plugged the Explorer into a 60″ Sony Bravia and played Season 2 of Altered Carbon at 100% brightness. Surprisingly, it lasted for most of the reason only giving its last breath towards the end of episode 7: Experiment Perilous. That’s over 6 hours of continuous TV we managed to squeeze out of the Explorer.

Final Verdict

The Jackery Explorer 500 is a portable power station that’s versatile and reliable. Whatever your needs energy consumption needs are, chances are the Explorer will deliver. The flexibility of the AC outlet being able to handle appliances up to 500W with surge protection of up to 1000W makes it useful in just about any situation. If you live in an area where power outages are frequent, having a reliable portable power such as the Explorer 500 will give you peace of mind should there be an emergency.

At $499, it’s an undeniable value. With the build quality and average shelf-life of lithium-ion batteries, the Explorer will be your always available and always dependable backup power for at least a decade.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Reviews

10 Best Free Tax Software

Published

on

Are you looking for free tax software? Here are the 10 best ones online. We based our list on the ease of use, the features available, and the support you can get from their company.  

Tax filing season is coming and we all need to think about how we are going to organize and file taxes, and of course, get the maximum refunds. Some people would hire professionals to do this specific task for them. However, if you want to save on cost, then you can also do it on your own.

Here are the most sought-after free tax software to use nowadays. 

1. TurboTax Free Edition 

TurboTax Free Edition is known as the most user-friendly among all the tax software available today. This software has been helping millions of people every year. That’s not surprising because navigating through it is extremely simple.

If you have a gross income lower than $34,000, go ahead and use TurboTax. But if your gross income is more than that, then you will have to pay extra. There’s even live chat support just in case you need further information or help. And lastly, your first state return can be filed for free. 

2. IRS Direct Free File 

You can have the full database of forms and schedules in PDF if you use IRS Direct Free. When you are using this platform, your information will be automatically saved. That means you don’t necessarily have to complete everything in one run or session. Even if you have a gross income of more than $69,000, you can still use the free file system. 

3. H&R Block At Home Free Edition

It’s almost impossible not to know H&R Block considering the number of storefront outlets they have in the US. You can file for free if your gross income is not more than $69,000. This is actually a lot more than what TurboTax Free Edition allows. What we love about this software is that you can easily import last year’s tax info even from other tax tools. No wonder people call it the best tax software.  

4. TaxSlayer Simply Free Edition 

Are you looking for another easy-to-use free tax software? If yes, then take a look at TaxSlayer Simply Free. It’s ideal for simple tax returns so you better take advantage of that. But generally, TaxSlayer has the most affordable paid products. 

So whether you want to enjoy the free version, or you want to upgrade a bit, this is one of the best choices. Another edge of TaxSlayer is that there is no residency or citizenship requirement to use their free file feature. Your first state return is also for free. 

5. eztaxReturn

One of the best free tax software you can use for filing is eztaxReturn. Like most software in the list, you need to meet certain requirements to be eligible for simple returns. For this one, you must have a gross income of not more than $100,000. 

Please note that those who have student loans are not qualified to file the taxes for free. The same goes if you have dependents. But just in case you need further help, their support is for free. 

6. Credit Karma

Credit Karma is free for both state and federal returns. You can expect the max refund guarantee as well. In addition, we commend the website’s interface because it is mobile-friendly.  But take note that this company is smaller than its competitors. Having said that, the expert support might come as a challenge.  

7. TaxACT Free Edition 

What are the requirements in order for you to use this free tax filing service? One, you either need to be younger than 56, qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, or have a gross income of not more than $59,000. For active military, your gross income must not be more than $69,000. The platform is also easy to understand so you won’t have much of a problem.   

8. Online Taxes by OLT

You can file your federal taxes for free using this software. The case is different though for filing state returns where you need to pay additional fees for certain features. The free file service is available for everyone regardless of your age and state. We’ve also noticed a great improvement in their interface. 

9. FreeTaxUSA Free Edition 

This is not as popular as the companies we’ve listed above. But FreeTaxUSA is a great choice if you want to file your tax. Their amazing platform can support various forms and schedules too. You can also take advantage of the prior year return storage and importing features. Expect 100% accuracy if you use this software. 

10. TaxHawk Free Edition 

Do not be surprised if the features are quite similar to FreeTaxUSA. It’s because TaxHawk is their partner site. They are also an IRS-approved e-file provider so you can ensure that your data is secured. 

Conclusion 

Please note that these free tax software can accommodate simple tax returns. More often than not, you need to pay for additional services. Nevertheless, if you want to avoid professional fees for simple tax returns, then we recommend that you take advantage of these products. Make sure that you read the terms and clauses to avoid unexpected charges.  

Continue Reading

Reviews

10 Best Portable Power Stations For The Apocalypse

Published

on

It’s the end of the world and you’re packing your bags and preparing for the long journey ahead of you. Which portable battery pack would you take with you?

Without a doubt, a portable power station will be your best friend during the early days of the apocalypse. You have to keep moving and you need a pack that can power your laptops, phones, and portable electronics for days at a time. A reliable power station is an essential you won’t survive long without.

Think about it, how can you post your apocalyptic #OOTD on IG? You won’t be able to share how ‘bored’ you are on Facebook. Or worse, you can’t watch your favorite Netflix series. It can drive you nuts. So don’t let that happen by having a backup supply of power.

Kidding aside, with all the uncertainties the world is facing, getting the best portable power station isn’t such a bad idea. 

What are Portable Power Stations?

Most of us are familiar with the traditional generator that runs on gas. It can supply power to different electronic devices such as television, refrigerators, and air conditioners. And then, of course, we have compact power banks. We commonly use it to ensure that our phones are charged almost all the time. Now, when it comes to portable power stations, it sits somewhere in the middle.

Portable power stations are rechargeable battery-powered generators. It’s a power supply more conservative than a monstrous gas-powered generator. but is extra powerful than a hand-held power bank.

It’s a great backup in case of unexpected power interruptions or if you just want to camp outdoors (but not go too primitive). Portable power stations are also ideal if you work from home because you certainly can’t just delay projects and reports.

The truth is, there are a lot of portable power stations to choose from. But if you are not familiar with the technology, it could be a challenge to pick the right one for your needs. And this is where we can help you. 

10 Best Portable Power Stations 2020 

Our team consists of in-born warriors and ‘worriers’. So we searched for the best portable power stations just in case a huge asteroid hits the planet, cuts the power line, and deliverables pile up!

1. Jackery Explorer 500

Jackery’s Explorer 500, a 518Wh lithium portable power station, is one of the best on the market today. What we love about this power station is its rugged, functional, and simplistic design. It has an easy-carry handle, which is a simple feature that has a maximum impact. That means you can easily transport it, just like how people used to carry their boombox in the 80s.

It also boasts multiple output ports for different devices and small appliances. You can charge your phone, laptops, and even power a small fridge. Plus, the digital display helps in identifying the status of your power station.

You can charge this in different ways. Either you use AC outlets, DC carport, and optional solar panels. The solar panels can be purchased separately. Though we highly recommend it if you wish to go off-grid. The Jackery Explorer 500 is available for $499.

2. ChargeTech 54K Dual AC Battery Pack 

The Jackery is great, but it’s heavy. What if you’re looking for something a bit…lighter? Then look no further. Chargetech has just the device for you – the 54K Dual AC Battery Pack. Despite its size, this battery pack comes equipped with TWO AC outlets so you can keep your laptop powered. It also comes with USB and USB-C ports to replenish your smartphones, speakers, and anything under 250 watts.

Depending on your needs, you can either choose their PRO model for daily use and road trips, or the TRAVEL model for long haul flights and international trips.

This relatively tiny power station allows 30+ smartphone recharges or 5+ laptop recharges. It can even power up television for 3+ hours, and 7+ hours for your fridge. If you want, you can get accessories such as a wireless charger.

For $279, it’s a steal considering you get 54,000 mAH and dual AC outlets.

3.  Sungzu SKA1000

Included in our list is Sungzu SKA1000. Like most portable power stations in this list, it can power up small appliances such as your coffee machine or your light bulbs. This makes it ideal even for outdoor activities like camping.

Got stuck in the middle of the forest? You don’t have to worry. Just charge your power station using solar panels and you can use your gadgets once again.

One of the best features of Sungzu SKA1000 is that it has multiple protection. You don’t have to worry about short-circuiting, overheating, overcharging, or over-discharging. That alone makes it more family-friendly.    

The power station is at $799. It might look costly at face value but with its features and safety measures, we have to say it’s worth it. 

4.  GoalZero Yeti 1000 

We’ve seen a lot of amazing reviews about the GoalZero Yeti 1000 and we were a bit skeptical. It just sounded too good to be true. We wanted to prove these people wrong. But we were surprised that GoalZero Yeti 1000 is indeed one of the best power stations in 2020.

It can charge and power a wide range of devices which makes it a crowd favorite. However, this isn’t as portable as we would want it to be. But for home use where you just need to transfer it from one room to another, it is the perfect buy.

If you are looking for a power station that is easy to use yet can house the maximum power, get GoalZero Yeti 1000 for $1,400.   

5. Westinghouse iGen160s Portable Power Station

The compact yet rugged design of this power station has won a significant percentage of the market. In fact, this model is almost always unavailable due to high demand. That alone speaks a lot about the capacity.

Westinghouse’s portable power station is what you need for your sensitive electronics. So if you want to power up your GoPros or your smartphone, this is your best bet. And since it has a built-in flashlight, it’s one of the highly recommended power stations by travelers and campers. It’s also budget-friendly too for only $139.99.   

6. MAXOAK Bluetti EB150

The Bluetti EB150 is easily one of the most powerful units on this list. It can power just about anything with its massive 1500wh lithium-ion battery. At 38lbs, it’s not light. But it’s not heavy if you consider how much power you’re getting. You get 4 USB ports, 1 USB-C port, and 2 A/C outlet on the rear. From cellphones, laptops, TVs, hairdryers, to microwaves, the Bluetti EB150 will keep everything powered through the night.

This backup power generator power station can be fully charged in 10 hours by using a wall outlet. You can also charge it with solar panels. But unlike their competitors, the EB150comes with an MPPT controller instead of the cheaper PWM alternative.

If you’re looking for something for a portable “power generator”, the EB150 offers the most bang for your bucks. At $1299 it’s actually an incredible deal considering many of its competitors charge $1600 – $2000 for the same power.

7. SUAOKI Ares G1000 Power Station

This power station is completely immune to power outages. It’s so powerful that it can power 4 laptops at the same time. Having said that, you better get one not just for your home, but for your small office as well. We need to hustle and no apocalypse should stop us from delivering to our clients. 

With SUAOKI Ares G1000, you can use your electric fan for 16 hours, your sweeping robot for 13 hours, your coffee maker for 7 hours, and your CPAP for 3 nights. If that’s not good enough for you, we don’t know what is. But for a hefty price of $1,639.51, make sure that you have an extreme need for power backup.  

8. NEXPOW Portable Power Station YP-150

You might want to consider NEXPOW’s portable power station if you are particular about the weight. This is extremely lightweight yet holds a decent power for its size of 48000 mAh.

Wondering if you can charge your MacBook pro? With NEXPOW, you don’t even need an adapter. Just plug it in and use your laptop to your heart’s content. 

This amazing portable power station can be yours for only $125. It might be one of the cheapest power stations on the list, but it’s one of those gadgets that took us by surprise.   

9. nrgGo 400 Portable Power Station

First off, the design is either you love it or you hate it. For others, the exterior looks ugly. But we guess it’s a personal preference so we can’t say the same. And besides, we are after the core functions and not the aesthetics. In that case, nrgGO 400 did not disappoint.

This portable power station uses battery cells made by a globally-trusted company. Safety definitely gets a big check for that alone. You can power an LCD monitor for at least 4 hours! And that’s good enough given its size. But you have to be careful when storing this power station as the power buttons can be accidentally turned on or off in just one light press.

This will not cost you to burn your savings. Get yours right now for only $449.99 

10. EcoFlow River 370

EcoFlow River 370  has 9 outlets, but that’s not the main reason to be impressed. What makes this amazing is that you can use these outlets and charge 9 devices all at the same time.

You better get your hands on this, not just for camping or for leisure activities, but even for more harrowing events like a hurricane.  And for only $549, it’s a mortal sin not to buy one right now. 

Wrap Up 

As crazy as it may sound, you have to be prepared for the worst. Aside from stacking canned goods, dried food, and toilet paper, the best portable power station should be included in your ‘doomsday prepper’s checklist’. After all, who wants to live in the dark?  

Continue Reading

Lifestyle

Moto 360: Owner’s Mag Review

Published

on

The Moto 360 is the 3rd watch to debut in series of Android smartwatches by the company. Motorola has made significant improvements to the watch’s design, battery life, and sensors. Standing at $299, it’s quite expensive compared to other Android smartwatches. However, unlike other products on the market that justifies the price on the spec sheet, the Moto 360’s true value comes from its more refined, polished, design that actually looks and feels like a $299 smartwatch.

Stainless Steel Design

The one major thing that sets the Moto 360 apart from any other smartwatch on the market today is its design. Even if firmware stops updating, you might still wear your Moto 360 years later because it actually looks like a watch. The stainless steel design looks classy and timeless. Sized at 42.8mm wide with a thickness of 11.68mm, this is a beefy watch. However, it still looks good even on thinner wrists.

You get a few color selections to choose from. The watch comes in steel grey, rose gold, or phantom black. The outside has a layer of PVD/DLC coating to give it a bit more scratch-resistant.

First Impression

The first impression is important for a watch. And the Moto 360 looks striking at first. The always-on watch dial display mimics the look and feels of a luxury watch while perfectly disguising that it’s a smartwatch. This is a major bonus for those who want the functionality of a smartwatch, but don’t want to be labeled as a techie for wearing one.

When given the choice, the timeless elegance of a mechanical watch will always outlast smartwatches. And Motorola made a smart decision to engineer this watch to be visually more comparable to Omega than to Samsung.

One extra thing to note. This watch comes with both a brown leather strap and a black rubber strap. This is a nice touch, saving you the time to buy extra straps for different occasions or outfits.

Performance

Looks aren’t everything. This is a “smart” watch after all. Powered by a Snapdragon 3100 chip, 1GB of Ram, 8GB of internal storage, and running on Watch OS, the watch is responsive and lightning fast. It feels and navigates like a Samsung Watch Active, which is a good thing.

Swipe gestures work as you’d expect just like any other smartwatches on the market. Swipe up for your notifications. Swipe left for your quick apps. And swiping down gives you the status display. Everything on the software front works exactly as you’d expect from a Watch OS experience.

And I’m glad they didn’t try to do anything gimmicky or add their own “flavor” to the user native user experience. I’ve seen other smartwatch makers attempt to do this to be “unique” the result is often a confusing interface that doesn’t add value to the overall purchase.

The Screen

Coming in at 1.2″, the 390×390 AMOLED display is bright with saturated colors. It’s not as pixel-dense or vibrant as its other competitors, but it gets the job done. The black border around the screen is thick and noticeable. Had they taken advantage of this real-estate and made the face even larger, that would’ve added significantly to its appeal. I’m sure there must be some sort of technical challenge preventing that.

Fitness & Tracking

The Moto 360 comes with all the basic steps tracking and heart-rate monitor you’d expect. You won’t find advanced sensors here, and that’s okay for me. Because the company didn’t pitch this as an advanced athlete-performance inspired device.

The sensors are accurate and gave a consistent reading on my workout performance. While it’s not replacing my phone, the GPS on the Moto 360 was surprisingly accurate and proved more reliable than I’d thought. There were times where I didn’t want to bring my phone with me along for a jog and depended on the watch for guidance – it didn’t disappoint.

Battery & Charging

The 355mAh battery performed well under regular daily usage. It was able to last about 10 hours worth of use managing to still have about 30 – 35% juice left before needing to recharge at the end of my workday. Now when I attempt to use it as a regular watch (turned off al notifications and enabled only the clock dial) the battery lasts much longer.

One major gripe I have with this watch is the charging station. Everything about the watch was well designed, engineered, and thought out…except the charging bay. It’s ugly, doesn’t stay in place, and it’s hard to find a place for it on any desk. It just seemed like this was an afterthought. I was also disappointed it didn’t have wireless charging. That would’ve solved this problem completely and I could’ve just stowed the charger away.

This also made charging at the office or on-the-go impossible since carrying that bulky charger around was out of the question.

One thing I do love about this watch is when the battery dies, it still manages to save a little bit of juice to keep the watch dial on. So even when the battery is empty, you can still use it to tell time. It’s impressive how long the “always-on” watch dial actually stays on. I don’t think I’ve seen it powered off during the entire week of testing.

The buttons

This is a level of detail that often gets overlooked – the buttons. Most of the design emphasis on smartwatches are on the display, the bezel, and often very little thought goes into the buttons. The engineers who worked on Moto 360 3rd generation thought otherwise. The tactile feel of clicking and the smooth dialing on these buttons are some of the best I’d ever experience on a smartwatch. It’s expected of a mechanical watch to have well-tuned buttons, but not for a smartwatch, which added to my surprise.

Everything about them screams luxury. The buttons have just the right amount of spring and travel to provide feedback when pressed. And the dialing feels smooth yet accurate. I was able to navigate through apps and settings easily without over-scrolling too often.

Final Verdict

Overall, the Moto 360 is a great value at $299. It’s everything you’d want out of a smartwatch and a little more. The design is tasteful but not over-the-top. It’s versatile and acceptable in just about any occasion. I can wear this on a jog or with a suit. That kind of flexibility is hard to find, especially in the vastly growing competitive smartwatch market.

Continue Reading

Trending