Archives For Reviews

Ultimate Ears Boom Review

Adam Miarka —  July 22, 2014

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Intro
A few weeks back, we put the G-Boom rugged Bluetooth speaker through its paces and concluded that it packs some impressive sound in a distinct looking package. This time around, we’re looking at the competing Ultimate Ears Boom ($200) which offers some unique features not seen on the G-Boom, while shrinking the overall speaker size.

Hardware
The UE Boom, by Logitech, reminds me of holding a can of Pringles, but slightly smaller and definitely less salty. The circular shape is intended to allow sound to travel 360 degrees from the speaker. On one end of the tube, there is a power button and Bluetooth pairing/switching button. The UE Boom supports Bluetooth up to 50ft and NFC pairing. I can attest to the range using my iPhone 5s and Chromebook. Having the speaker out back for a bonfire, I was easily able to move around the yard without any issues in streaming. Continue Reading…

slingbox-m1

The Slingbox M1 has arrived and, as expected, Echostar’s smallest, lowest priced placeshifter packs WiFi… along with a variety of software enhancements across the board. As General Manager Michael Hawkey tells me, they intend to significantly grow their footprint with the $150 M1 and associated marketing: “Go big or go home.” While I can’t say for sure what the “M” stands for, amidst increased competition from all corners, their goal is to move beyond road warriors and sports fanatics (often one in the same) to target mainstream, millennials, and mobility.

Like all Slingboxen, the M1 is designed to relay one’s home television content to other parts of the house or beyond… without pesky studio agreements and provider restrictions limiting us. Also, unlike TiVo’s half-assed approach, Sling’s agnostic – operating on both WiFi and cellular networks via a wide array of platforms, including Apple, Android, and computer operating systems. Further, mobile app-powered Apple TV and Roku Slingbox video endpoints are newly improved. Continue Reading…

Wink Hub Quick Look

Adam Miarka —  July 7, 2014

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The Wink Hub ($50) that was announced just last month is now for sale at Amazon and Home Depot. This new low cost smart controller for the home promises to be the most connected hub there is and competes directly with the newly priced Staples Connect Hub. Supporting Wifi, Bluetooth, Z-Wave, Zigbee, and Lutron’s Clear Connect protocols, there is reason to believe that statement might be true.

I was able to snag the Hub at Home Depot here in Indianapolis. My first online order was promptly cancelled with a call back to me saying that they had not received them. Not really believing the message (Home Depot stated they were in stock), I decided to drive to the store where I was able to pick up the Hub, the Spotter sensor, and a TCP Connected lighting starter kit.

Continue Reading…

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Intro
Ever misplaced your keys? Or wanted to know when your luggage has arrived at the baggage claim?  Maybe marked the spot where you parked the car in the mall lot?

The Elgato Smart Key aims to address all of these situations as a sensor that you either attach or place on different items for tracking. Depending on what you are looking to track, the Smart Key can notify you of certain situations that might need attention.  Walk too far away from your keys, it will start to beep. Attach to your luggage and when it comes near to you at baggage claim, your phone will notify you. Continue Reading…

As Verizon declares its FiOS Quantum TV rollout complete, fellow Northern Virginian Ananth Sarathy shares his initial experience with the new whole-home DVR. He’s also kindly agreed to take questions in the comments — perhaps he’ll even be able to explain Verizon’s obtuse pricing.

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I’ve had the new Quantum DVR for about a week now. The interface is the familiar FiOS interface that we’re used to, for better or worse. It doesn’t seem to have yet received the recent UI upgrade and is missing a few elements, such as the autotune to HD feature. The boxes do use the same FiOS remotes as before, so I’ve stuck with my existing ones, and didn’t need to program them, which is nice. But I kind of wish they had upgraded to a remote that could control AV system volume as well. Continue Reading…

gboom-vs-jambox-mini

There is no shortage of Bluetooth speakers today. From pocket-able speakers such as the JBL Micro Wireless to extravagant models like the Harman Kardon Aura, there is a size and price point that seems to fit everyone’s need. With so many options, you really must ask yourself what’s the primary purpose of the speaker you’re buying. Does it need to be portable? Do you need extra charging abilities for devices? Do you need big booming bass or do you want a more natural sound? How loud does the speaker need to get? Answering questions about how you want to use the speaker will help narrow the field and the more happy you will be with your purchase.

So where does the G-Boom fit? If you are looking for a rugged speaker that can be moved from room to room or outside in the harsh environments of a backyard BBQ, the G-Boom just might fit the bill, especially at the $99 price point. Continue Reading…

Final Location

Lets try this again, shall we?

If you caught my first look at the dual tuner Simple TV, you’ll know that the product fell short of my expectations. A combination of fan issues and software instability led me to question if the dual tuner was actually ready for release. The idea for a networked DVR is sound, but the execution simply failed. In the end, I returned the Simple.TV hoping future updates might resolve the open issues.

Last week, a startup out of Canada entered the same playing field. Tablo TV has made similar promises as Simple TV, an easy way to record Over-The-Air (OTA) TV signals with playback to multiple devices. And the setup is essentially the same for Tablo TV: One part Slingbox, one part DVR. Like rolling your own Aereo with a better UI and higher video quality, without those pesky regional restrictions.

tablo-setup

You connect an antenna and hard drive (or two) to the Tablo TV box, scan for OTA channels, and then start watching TV. There is no HDMI connection from the Tablo to your TV. Everything is done over a network connection and within the apps Tablo provides. Why no HDMI? Continue Reading…