Product Reviews

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The Ubi

American Herbal Flavored Whiskey
From the name alone, my expectations of this whiskey—whose brand is co-founded by Slayer’s Kerry King—were low. Although “coldcock” implies that this product will knock you out, in the context of heavy drinking, the name reflects similar phrases such as “flaccid penis” or, more crudely, “whiskey dick.” This is funny, because it starkly contrasts with the brand’s aggressively macho and douchey promotional campaign, as found on their website. They feature sponsored music videos, such as the horrific Upon a Burning Body and Ice-T cover of “Turn Down for What.” It’s like in 30 Rock when Jack Donaghy hires Ghostface Killah to endorse his foul-tasting Donaghy Estates wine, except this whiskey is for real and these guys are serious. Oh, yeah, about the whiskey: It’s awful. According to their website, COLDCOCK is “a three-year aged American bourbon blended with a variety of herbs, including green tea, hibiscus, ginger, eucalyptus, cinnamon and ginko.” In a sipping taste test alongside Underground Herbal Spirit and Fernet Branca, COLDCOCK has very minimal herbal notes and is cloyingly sweet with hints of honey and sweet vermouth. The brand’s slogan is “Take Your Shot,” so I figured I should try it that way. Shooting two ounces of the 70-proof swill was like drinking a mouthful of simple syrup. I shuddered with disgust, but the sickness didn’t stop there. Upon going to bed, I was plagued with an uncharacteristic series of night terrors and fever dreams all night long, which I blame entirely on COLDCOCK. Stay away. –Cody Kirkland

Generic Surplus
Cutty Sark x Generic Surplus Hi-Top
Just like their smooth Scotch whiskey, Cutty Sark—and Generic Surplus—have introduced a shoe that takes on the casual zero fucks of Chuck Taylors and made them smooth and sexy. The shoe has the build of Converse All-Stars, but with water-resistant leather that lends it a sleek je ne sais quoi for (mildly) reformed punx like me. The off-white (dare I say crème?) laces and eyelets—save the top two yellow ones—give this stock pair of kicks some flavor, and help match a mostly black outfit with brown-leather jackets. These sneaks boast yellow, vulcanized leather soles, which are the selling point to market this product toward bartenders, who need to maintain a grip on a potentially wet floor as they hurry to mix cocktails, hence the off-white laces and water-resistant leather. Making cocktails at home (I’m messy) and riding my bicycle has tested their grip, and the soles have passed with flying colors. Unlike Cutty Sark, however, these shoes are expensive, and I don’t think that they’re quite worth the $150 pre-order price that Generic Surplus is asking. If you’re the doll of the dance at the bar and receive a surplus of tips, get these, but you’re likely $50 away from a pair of nicer, high-quality boots that may catch the eye of your future trust-fund-baby lover. –Salamander Horchata

Tour Bus Studio
The JamHub is essentially a musician’s dream, as this single device records multiple players/singers into a single device, where everyone can tune into each other at their own volumes over headphones and record a perfect live session together. The Tour Bus model features seven positions (six musicians and a producer setup), allowing full control over any recording. The unintentional bonus to the system is that it can be utilized for podcasting as well, as each station is a private mic/headphone jack with the option of tuning in your fellow panelists without ruining a recording. The drawback to the JamHub is the connectivity. In two podcast recordings and two live-recording sessions with bands, there was no way to transfer the audio live using the USB connection on the back, even with the internal software running. That means you have to record on just the Hub at first and hope that recording went smoothly when it’s transferred to whatever audio program you’re using. Another setback: It didn’t come with the USB cable needed to hook it up to begin with, leaving you searching for one if you want to experiment without the memory card. It is an amazing product for musicians and podcasters to utilize, but it’s just a couple options shy of being perfect. –Gavin Sheehan

iPhone 5 Wallet Case
There are a lot of phone cases on the market that double as a wallet so you can keep your ID, cash and essential cards on you at all times. Some are bulky, many are cheesy, not to mention the ones that let your stuff slip out or are loose and easily stolen because — to be blunt, no one knows how to keep a phone in a pocket anymore. The designers at JimmyCASE have worked to remedy that situation with their line of covers. The backing is made of mahogany, with a tightly-woven pocket on the back to hold six plastic cards with ease. Inside, a layer of silicone handles well with accidental dropping, but like most cases, you shouldn’t test its limits—who slams a phone down a full speed to test the case, anyway? You get a decent selection of color patterns with whatever phone you have, so even if you don’t use the option on the back you can at least find something that fits your style. Overall, JimmyCASE is a fine minimalist version of these type of cases. –Gavin Sheehan

Unified Computer Intelligence Corporation
The Ubi ($299) is a small, stationary device that controls your smart home devices (Nest, WeMo, Smart Things, etc.), and can send texts and emails, provide answers to simple questions and play music via voice requests. The system’s integration with smart home devices was fine, but since Ubi only has their mobile app available for Android at the moment, there’s no way for iOS users to utilize the Ubi’s services once they’re out of voice range from the device—which is disappointing. As for the texting and email options, it seems like they’re still in the beta stages (think of what auto correct does to your texting, then imagine not being able to see what auto correct had done before you hit send—not pretty). Setting alarms and reminders with the device also proved troublesome, as most of the time Ubi would just say, “Reminder, alarm going off,” so it becomes as useful as a Remembrall. Asking Ubi questions and having it play music was somewhat entertaining, though the voice recognition isn’t perfect (Yeezy is not and never will be The Cure, Ubi). The potential for what is possible in terms of home automation and the interconnectivity of everything with the Ubi is clear—the future will most certainly be a super rad place to be—but for now, the Ubi still has some kinks to work out. –John Ford