Amazon Tech Haul 4!

Earlier this year I was re-admitted into the Amazon Vine program which has resulted in me discovering a lot of weird random tech sold on the platform. A lot of this stuff is junk, but some of it actually is pretty useful. In my latest video I run down the latest batch of tech I acquired.

This time we take a look at cool Steam Deck dock, a neat party favor idea for video game themed parties, some other useful stuff and of course a dud of an Android gaming tablet.

You can see my prior haul videos here!

Amazon Tech Haul Episode 2!

A few weeks ago I did a “haul” video of some interesting gadgets I acquired through the Amazon Vine program. That one proved popular with viewers so I’m back with Episode 2! You can watch it here.

Here’s a quick summary of what I found. Each link, which are compensated affiliate links, will take you to the individual video reviews I posted on Amazon:

Redragon K671 Mechanical Keyboard
Like most Redragon keyboards these are mechanical low cost alternatives to membrane keyboards. While not as high quality as a Razer and some of the other premium brands, it does offer a nice tactile feel albeit with shallower key travel. I also found the RGB lighting to be a bit dim, and the colors of the lights are fixed. But for the price I’m not complaining.

MokerLink Outdoor POE Ethernet Switch
This is a low cost POE switch that can deliver a power budget of 78 watts and 30 watts maximum per port. It’s built in a weather proof housing and is designed to be outdoors. But its power supply is sealed inside the case making maintenance difficult and you’ll need to have a weather proof enclosure to plug it into power.

Plugable’s USB-C Extension Cable with Power Meter
Plugable has come up with this USB-C extension cable that includes a built-in power meter. It supports up to 240 Watts and does a good job accurately displaying the power consumption on its tiny screen. I tried powering a mini PC with it but was having some trouble. A lower powered PC one faired a little better. I suspect that you need to be careful about not creating too long of a cable using this extender. A dedicated cable vs. this extender would have been ideal.

Star Linker “Thunderbolt 4” Cable
This Thunderbolt 4 cable caught my attention because of its length – 3 meters or 10 feet – much longer than the Thunderbolt cables I usually see. However, it’s important to note that while it claims to be a Thunderbolt cable, it hasn’t been officially certified. It did perform well in my tests, delivering proper data speeds with a Thunderbolt-only drive that I attached. It’s possible they applied for certification but went to market before that certification was confirmed.

Sodi Magsafe Stand for iPhones
For iPhone users with the Magsafe connector, this stand is a neat accessory. It’s a small stand that uses magsafe to keep the phone in place and it works in both portrait and landscape orientations.

It’s sturdy, and you can even attach it to your MacBook’s display to use your iPhone as a webcam. The quality was surprisingly good, and it didn’t weigh down my MacBook screen.

BENFEI Multi-Function USB Hub
This multi-function device integrates a 3-port USB hub with a gigabit Ethernet port. I liked that its connector works with both USB-A and USB-C ports. Ethernet performance was on par with other USB gigabit adapters and you get the added bonus of three USB-A ports for low power consuming peripherals.

RSF Apple Find My Compatible Smart Tag
I found this alternative to the Apple AirTag intriguing. It’s slightly cheaper than Apple’s version and doesn’t require any additional accessories to be hung from luggage or a pet. It is licensed by Apple to work with the ‘Find My’ network but lacks the ultra-wideband detection feature of the official AirTag for directional finding.

AMZPilot Rugged NVMe M.2 SSD Enclosure
This rugged USB-C NVME SSD enclosure feels well constructed and very rugged for creators on the go. While installing the drive took a little longer than some other enclosures I looked at recently the performance was on par with my expectations.

EZCast HDMI Transmitter
The EZCast HDMI transmitter is a nifty device for business presentations. It wirelessly transmits 1080p video from a laptop to a display or projector using its HDMI receiver. In my testing it easily transmitted across the equivalent of a large conference room with no drivers required. The transmitter unit pulls video from a computer or tablet’s USB-C port with no additional dongles required.

I do these every couple of weeks as new stuff comes in that’s worth talking about. Look for the next one in a couple of weeks once I’ve accumulated enough devices worth talking about! I also produce these while streaming live to Amazon – you can see the recording here.

I also have a running playlist of my prior haul videos at https://lon.tv/hauls.

Disclosure: these products came in free of charge through the Amazon Vine program. I had no contact with the manufacturer, no one reviewed or approved this video before uploading, and no other compensation was received.

Amazon Luna’s Free Prime Tier

When I reviewed the Fire 7 tablet the other day I said I did not test Amazon’s Luna game streaming service because I did not have a subscription to it. As it turns out Amazon recently added a “free” tier for their existing Prime subscribers. We take a look at that free offering in my latest video, testing it on the Fire 7 tablet, a FireTV stick, and a PC.

Luna works on just about everything except TV devices that compete with Amazon’s Fire TV line. So while you’ll find clients for iPhones, iPads, and Android mobile devices you won’t find Apple TV or Android TV apps. It also runs inside of a web browser.

At the moment there are four games that can be streamed from Luna at a maximum resolution of 1080p at 60 frames per second. Games are rotated in and out on a regular basis so unless you move to one of the Luna subscription tiers you won’t be able to continue your progress.

Overall it runs pretty nice. The games load quickly and latency feels pretty minimal using an Xbox bluetooth controller. Amazon also sells a controller for the Luna service that connects directly to their servers to minimize input lag.

New Video: Amazon Fire 7 Tablet

Some of the most popular hardware products from Amazon are their Fire tablets. Their new Fire 7 tablet is the subject of my latest review.

Fire tablets are stock commodity Android hardware running with a forked version of Google’s Android operating system. Because they’re a gateway to digital purchases Amazon makes these things super inexpensive. But even though they are running a version of Android they don’t work with the Google Play store or its apps.

To get the best price on this you need to put up with lock screen advertisements. The ads are getting more aggressive now with some of them featuring video in addition to still images. Amazon does sell versions of the tablet without ads for a little more money.

This new tablet is about twice as powerful as the prior model, with the same guts now as the more expensive 8″ HD tablet. It has double the RAM of the previous model (2GB vs. 1GB) and 16 GB of storage on its base unit vs. 8GB before. Its SD card slot will accommodate up to a 1TB microSD card for additional storage. Even though it is faster it’s much more sluggish vs. an entry level iPad or Samsung tablet. But it’s also half to a third of the price of those devices.

The new Fire 7 has the same look and feel of prior models with large bezels and a plastic casing. But it’s pretty rugged and I would argue more-so than an iPad even without a case on it.

If you’re happy living in the Amazon app ecosystem or just mostly stick to web browsing and media watching (Prime, Netflix, etc), the Amazon tablets are fine. But I’ve found a number of apps where the Amazon version lacks features found in their Google equivalents.

For example the Xbox app does not support GamePass streaming even though the Google Play version does. And because this doesn’t run Google Play services you can’t run any official Google apps like Gmail, Chrome, or YouTube. The Youtube “app” Amazon offers is just a web wrapper of the YouTube website and lacks features found on their android app.

All in this is more of the same from Amazon with a little more performance. If you’ve had good experiences with prior Amazon tablets you’ll like this one. But tablet enthusiasts will feel a bit more restricted unless they hack Google Play onto their device – a process that is not supported by Google or Amazon and comes with some security concerns.