Carry A Big Stick: Satechi Bluetooth Smart Selfie Arm

Satechi
Image © Satechi

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Two months after I chuckled at selfie stick-toting tourists during my latest visit to Japan, I get my second such product to review. Either karma is trying to tell me something or fate is just working its mysterious ways. In short, here I am doing two things again that I normally make fun of taking selfies as a man and using a selfie stick to do it. Such, I guess, is the price of self-righteousness.

Then again, I’m no stranger to the tempting wiles of selfie sticks. In addition to the many tourists I saw whipping out these contraptions, I’ve had friends and relatives post their excitement on social media upon acquiring one of these selfie sticks. I mean, some folks really, really love this stuff. Anyway, if you’re one such person, this totally unbiased and professional review is for you. Hey, anything that stops dudes from taking shirtless selfies via bathroom mirrors is a good thing.

This time around, I’m testing the Satechi Bluetooth Smart Selfie Arm. No, it isn’t smart enough to take your tests for you. But like Yogi Bear, this contraption is smarter than the average selfie stick due to one key feature: built-in Bluetooth connectivity. This gets rid of a big sticking point — pun so totally intended — with your standard selfie-taking rod. That would be the need to use a timer app or buy a separate remote control for triggering the shutter like you have to do with the iStabilizer Monopod.

For selfie stick fanatics, it’s akin to the invention of brakes after the invention of the wheel.

The Satechi Selfie Arm also has a couple other advantages over the iStabilizer’s Monopod and Shutter Remote combo. For one, it can accommodate larger phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S3. Meanwhile, its built-in remote also is compatible with iOS and Android unlike the more iOS-centric Shutter Remote.

The Satechi works with iPhone 4, 5 and 6 models as well as the Samsung Galaxy S5, S4, S3 and Note 2.

Granted, there are certain things the iStabilizer Monopod and Shutter Remote Combo can also do better. The iStabilizer Monopod has a better rod extending mechanism, for example. Since the Satechi does not have the same locking mechanism that the iStabilizer has, it’s extension mechanism is way stiffer to work with. It’s silver inner rod also stands out should it ever show up in your photo. Meanwhile, the built-in controls don’t have the option to control your phone’s music and home screen. It’s basically limited to four buttons: one for powering on and off, a second for pairing, a third for toggling between iOS and Android mode and one last button for snapping your photo. Then again, some would say that being able to control your music and summon Siri aren’t really necessities for a device aimed at taking selfies. It’s a bit more convenient to use a remote, though, should you ever decide to mount your phone on a regular tripod using the selfie stick clip attachment.

Speaking of tripods, the selfie stick's smartphone holder comes with two standard tripod screw mounts that allow you to position your phone either horizontally or vertically.

The Satechi also comes with a ball joint for better positioning of your phone to get your viewing angles just right. Full extension is 3.1 feet. Battery life is rated at 100 hours of standby and you can recharge it with the same universal microUSB plug used by phones such as the S3. I do wish that it came with instructions for folks who are less technically inclined. As someone who has paired a bazillion devices, I can figure out how the machine works without a manual but I can’t say the same thing about my mom.

Like another Satechi product I reviewed, the USB Portable Humidifier, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by the Bluetooth Smart Selfie Arm.

Add a $40 price tag and it sizes up nicely against the iStabilizer Monopod and Shutter Remote combo as well. Actually, since this review ran, I've seen this device now sell for even cheaper at about $25 on Amazon. Anyway, if you have no compunctions about taking your selfies with a stick in public and want one that does not require the purchase of a separate remote, the Satechi Bluetooth Smart Selfie Arm is worth looking into.

Final rating: 4 stars out of 5

Jason Hidalgo is About.com’s Portable Electronics expert. Yes, he is easily amused. Follow him on Twitter @jasonhidalgo and be amused, too. For more articles about portable accessories, check out the iPhone and Tablets hub as well as the Other Devices section