Archives For Reviews

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…

ReadyNAS

Netgear ReadyNAS is a line of network attached storage devices that allows you to centralize all your content into one place. The main benefit being that you can then access your content from one place. The Netgear ReadyNAS 102, released about a year ago, incorporates a new modern UI for web management, a marketplace for apps that can be installed, and additional backup tools for your computers and mobile devices. Overall, the ReadyNAS is a fairly intuitive system that should fit basic storage needs while providing additional features with app support (and is a distant descendant of the highly acclaimed Infrant NAS line).

Hardware
The ReadyNAS 102 is the base model for the home ReadyNAS series. It provides 2 bays for hard drives and the ability to swap drives if your storage needs should grow. The 100 series is meant for home use with multiple users accessing the device. Along with the 100 series, Netgear also has a step up in performance with their 300 series, but those devices are geared towards business office crowd. You can view the different model’s on Netgear’s site here.

You can purchase the 102 with or without hard drives depending on how much you want to spend, and whether or not you have extra drives sitting around. The base 102 model starts out at $199 (diskless) and goes up depending on storage amount. Other options for the ReadyNAS 100 series included a 4 bay option.  Our loaner review unit arrived with two preinstalled 1TB drives in RAID 1 mode, meaning that the data was mirrored on both drives and the over storage space was 1TB.  You have the option to put the device in RAID 0 which would provide double the storage at the loss of drive mirroring. Continue Reading…

Fellow tech enthusiast and DC neighbor Joel Ward continues his role as a Features contributor here at Zatz Not Funny. Beyond ZNF, Joel can be found at Joel Explains It All and @joelsef on Twitter.

A few months back, we finally replaced our 2007-era Sony SXRD rear projection 1080p HDTV with a newer Samsung LCD/LED model. Not only do we find Sammy’s picture quality light years ahead of the Sony–even though it’s still “only” 1080p and not 4K—the new set shipped with all the bells and whistles of a modern “Smart TV.” In fact, it’s hard to find a large, high quality television nowadays that doesn’t have some sort of apps built-in. So whether you want them or not, you’re probably getting something.

Samsung’s Smart TV Hub is impressive, featuring one of the nicer TV UIs out there right now. While the LG WebOS TV unveiled at CES may be a contender, I’d say Samsung is probably the most sophisticated TV UI at the moment. It definitely has a lot of features and the Smart Hub is divvied up into five main screens: On TV (aka TV guide); Apps; Social; Photos, Video & Music (aka DLNA); and Movies & TV Shows.

SmartHub-Photo1-OnTV

Continue Reading…

Bringing tech to the corn fields of the Midwest, gadgeteer and cat lover Adam Miarka contributes to Zatz Not Funny when the overlord allows. When not on ZNF, Adam posts pictures to http://www.adammiarka.com and harasses the public from @adammiarka on Twitter.

simpletv2-unboxing1

Background
Being a Kickstarter for the first generation Simple TV, I’ve always been interested in technologies that could disrupt traditional TV viewing. When the original Simple TV was announced back in 2012, it looked like something that could actually let me break from my current (TiVo) setup while lowering our monthly expenditures.The original Simple TV had one fatal flaw, a single tuner for recording.

Despite this limitation, I decided to back the project to get a feeling for how this new setup might work in our household. The idea of having a device that could basically capture any OTA or ClearQAM signals and then have it playback on a myriad of devices (web browser, iOS devices, Android devices, Roku) was very enticing. You only need to bring a hard drive to get the Simple TV party started! Continue Reading…

We’ve been tracking Channel Master‘s moves since new digital video recorder hardware first surfaced in FCC documents last summer. They’ve clearly used the intervening months wisely to fine tune both the product experience and marketing strategy as the originally documented pair of K77 set-tops has been whittled down to the single and more memorable DVR+ ($250). And, as you probably guessed from the video above, I do indeed have product on hand… and my initial impressions are quite positive.

The first thing you notice about the dual-tuner, over-the-air DVR+, developed by EchoStar to Channel Master’s specifications, is its amazingly slim form factor. Weeks in, I’m still in awe of the hardware that has similar dimensions to a legal pad or slim notebook. It’s both physically solid and quite handsome… as is the matching remote.

CM7500-Angle

Of course, to hit such slim proportions, compromises had to be made. And we assume the absence of analog inputs is the result. Related, the Channel Master DVR+ ships with a mere 16GB of flash storage, good for 2 hours of HD recording and the ability to pause live television for up to 15 minutes. Having said that, I appreciate Channel Master’s modular approach with DVR+ — buy what you need, when you need it (or as funds permit). For example, without an Internet connection, the DVR+ is capable of receiving a modest amount of guide data over the air and software updates can be performed manually via USB. But add Internet, via integrated Ethernet jack or $40 WiFi adapter, and more comprehensive guide data (powered by Rovi) extends to 14 days with software updates coming over the ‘net. Add USB storage to increase your recording capacity, and also receive a larger 1 hour buffer to pause and rewind live television. As a dual tuner DVR, the hardware is capable of recording up to two high definition, over-the-air broadcasts via antenna with the ability to simultaneously watch previously recorded programming. And all of that sips a miserly 9.7 watts. In fact, Channel Master intends to apply for Energy Star 3 or 4 certification.

On the software front, Channel Master has seemed to strike the right balance between form and function – the guide looks sharp, with well implemented transparency. And, functionaly, novices can get up and running with minimal fuss while there are more advanced features (like padding) for those willing to dig deeper. If I had to ding any aspect of the presentation, I’d say the networking settings and configuration could be tightened up. The plus sign in DVR+ refers to its online capabilities and those who run it connected to the Internet will have access to over-the-top app content. At launch, we’re looking solely at Vudu video on demand. But Channel Master tells me they have additional deals in place and development work will commence shortly… and I sure hope YouTube and Netflix are on the 2014 roadmap. Interestingly, Channel Master has decided to implement online content within the guide versus a dedicated app area. For example, Vudu resides at “channel” 200 and others will come in above it, with plans to map a remote button to the 200s for efficient access.

While we frequently discuss “cord cutters”, the fact is that there are something around 15 million antenna-only households… many of whom are price sensitive and still fumble around with VCRs. This is the market Channel Master is prioritizing with DVR+ and the company’s first goal is a rock solid over-the-air digital recorder, with additional online content to follow – to expand its utility and potential audience. Further, unlike a TiVo, the DVR+ does not require a service fee (or Internet connection) and that aforementioned modular approach makes for a flexible solution. Pre-orders begin today, for January shipment, and I’ll be taking questions below.

Logitech-Ultrathin-Keyboard-Cover-iPad-Air

As a writer, I’ve never found a keyboardless tablet to be very useful as I have a hard time separating work and play. And the original Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover turned me into iPad owner (for a time). So it was with high expectations that I picked up the redesigned Ultrathin Keyboard Cover ($100) for the new iPad Air. With many past Apple product releases and revisions, accessory makers were in the dark. Yet these days, it appears product dimensions are getting fed to them in a timely fashion as we’ve seen quite a few covers, cases, and keyboards hit within just a week or so of the iPad Air’s launch (with many sporting “iPad 5″ branding). However, I wonder if Logitech would have been better served by having waited a bit for retail hardware to arrive, as I have a few concerns with their new keyboard. But let’s start on a positive note… Continue Reading…