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On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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September 2014
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Reviewing ColcaSac Uintah for the Kindle Fire

ColcaSaclogoI recently got the opportunity to try out a ColcaSac sleeve for my Kindle Fire and thought that it might be useful to share my thoughts.  It’s proven to be an interesting product.


ColcaSac Uintah for Kindle FireFirst impressions

The sleeve I ended up with was the $29.95 Uintah style for the Kindle Fire.  A fairly minimal design made of undyed hemp canvas and lined with a surprisingly soft recycled polyester fleece.  This fits together with the company’s environmental concerns without sacrificing quality.  There is absolutely no question, holding the sleeve in my hands, that this is a durable product.

Getting the device into the sleeve for the first time was somewhat daunting.  The packaging actually instructs you to brace the device against your body while pulling it on and the instructions mention that the fit should be tight fitting, but that doesn’t get the idea across well enough.

It is very clear that my Kindle will not just fall out of this sleeve even if I leave the flap at the top closed.

After some use

ColcaSac InteriorOk, the horrible snugness that made me fear I might never be able to retrieve my tablet again has faded somewhat.  Now that I’ve been using it for a couple days, things have stretched out enough that while there is still no danger of the Kindle falling out I will at least never have a problem sliding it in and out.  It’s clearly a case that has to be broken in.

In terms of other performance, the Uintah sleeve has held up well.  A spilled drink left no stain on the canvas, and it was thick enough to prevent quickly-cleaned liquid from making its way through.  The fleece lining is thick enough and soft enough that there is no reason to suspect anything has a chance of scratching through it.

The stitching holds up quite well and nothing seems to be glued together.  I tested a fair amount and honestly can’t tell whether the canvas itself wouldn’t give out before the seams.  It’s a well put together product.

The one concern I have is with fall damage.  As with most sleeves, the shock of an impact will translate directly through to the device.  This one is better than most in that regard, but the edge with the closure flap is particularly vulnerable.  You would have to be unlucky enough to drop it just right, but these things can happen.

Final Thoughts

I’m a fan of folio cases for eReaders and tablets.  To me they offer the least inconvenience during frequent use while still providing protection.  That said, if I were to switch to a sleeve for regular use I would definitely make it one of these.

The ColcaSac Uintah design is as utilitarian as I could hope for without being unattractive or bulky.  While it’s true that there could be some damage during falls, that’s going to depend on the situation and the device you’re holding in one.  The Kindle Fire has already proven itself fairly resistant to fall damage from under four feet or so.  The Kindle eReaders weigh less and would get even more benefit from the use of a sleeve with this kind of padding.  It seems like a pointless concern unless you’re really hard on your electronics.

Remember that it will take some time to break in.  I’m not exaggerating the tightness of a freshly shipped Uintah sleeve.  It took a good week and probably 20 insertions/removals before things finally stretched just enough to be comfortable.  Definitely worth it to avoid stretching to the point of looseness later, but it’s worth keeping in mind.

In addition to sleeves for the Kindle Fire, Kindle Touch, and Kindle Paperwhite, ColcaSac makes sleeves for the iPad, iPad Mini, iPhone, and Macbook.  I’m also told that a Kindle Fire HD design is on the way.

Check them out at http://www.colcasac.com/

Kindle Fire Accessory Review: Plantronics BackBeat 216 Stereo Headphones w/ Inline Mic

I was recently offered the chance to try out a pair of Plantronics BackBeat 216 headphones and figured they were worth a shot.  The Kindle Fire practically demanded good headphones to get good sound and while the Kindle Fire HD has more than made up for its predecessor’s shortcoming there are still plenty of times when you’re going to want to watch a movie on your portable device without filling a whole room, car, or train with the sound from it.

First Impressions

At a glance these seem to be a nice enough purchase.  For $37.99 they’re not going to break the bank compared to high end options, but the build quality seems high and the cloth-covered wire makes a nice aesthetic touch.  The silicone earbuds left me slightly nervous since those are not my preference, but it was worth a try.

Listening Sound Quality

As far as earbuds go, I’ve rarely found a set that offered better sound.  They seemed quite tinny at first, but after changing to a slightly smaller set of silicon tips and seating them more firmly in place I found the experience excellent.  My usual listening preference involves a fairly bulky set of Sennheisers, but these could easily stand in temporarily when more mobility is needed.

Skype Sound Quality

My experience with the conversation applications of the BackBeats has not been so positive.  As far as hearing a conversation goes, you get a mixed bag.  The silicone earbuds cancel out a lot of the noise that otherwise interferes with calls, but the cloth wire transmits every bit of friction straight to your ears.  Shifting slightly in your chair can result in enough wire on shirt contact to drown out the person you’re talking to.  The mic is also less than impressive.  Stick with the Kindle Fire HD’s built-in and you’ll get better recording.

Usability

As I mentioned, the comfort was better than expected.  For people with particularly small ears they will likely be uncomfortable, but other than that I would expect no complaints.  Using these for stretches of 3-4 hours at a time has caused no problems.

The in-line controls are useless.  I tried to use them on multiple occasions and got nothing.  Plugging in an iPhone, since that’s what Plantronics was designing for, didn’t improve things much.  I got erratic volume changes and track skipping on music but no reliability.  Overall it was actually better to use on anything but the iPhone it was designed for.

The Verdict

As far as listening to music or movies goes I don’t hesitate to recommend these headphones to any Kindle Fire user.  The experience is more than worth the money and they will be kept with my tablet for as long as they last.

If you’re looking for a headset with in-line mic for Skype then these probably aren’t the best.  There is too much noise transfer when listening to conversation and the mic is not very good.  The noise from cable friction doesn’t come through except in such quiet situations, so I don’t think it’s a factor for other applications.

If you’re interested in these, the Plantronics BackBeat 216 Stereo Headphones w/ Inline Mic can be found with a large selection of other Kindle Fire HD Accessories at:

http://www.mobilefun.com/29053/electronics/kindle-fire-accessories.htm