Sunday, November 14, 2021

2021 Annual Holiday Gadget Gift Guide

Halloween is over.  And while the next official holiday is Thanksgiving, we see stores bringing out the Christmas items.  So that must mean that it is time for our annual Holiday Gadget Gift Guide.  Our gift guide is a collection of different items that would make for great gift for a loved one.  It’s been an odd year thanks to COVID, and the supply problems that came because of it, such as components or shipping.  Yet we still managed to review some great items, many of them would make for a great gift.

As with previous years Holiday Gadget Gift Guide, we have tried to provide a good range of gift ideas.  Some items are on the cheaper side, and some are also on expensive side.  So no matter your budget, we have gift ideas for you.  And thanks to the pandemic and so many people staying indoors, we have also tried to include several items for the home, such as home theater, home audio, and security.

A lot of the items have already been reviewed, and some reviews are yet to come.  Below is a list of the items included in our gift guide, along with a description and photo of the item.  For items that have already been reviewed, a link to the full review will be included next to the description.  For items that have yet to be reviewed, the date the item is scheduled to be reviewed will be included after the description.  That way you will know when to check back for the review.  Happy shopping!

If you’ve been staying at home and doing a lot of binge watching, you may have noticed that you could use a better home theater set-up.  And your loved one could be in the same situation.  You don’t need to have a full-blown surround sound system to improve the sound of your TV.  Sound bars have come a long way, and are more economical.  With an MSRP of $229, the Creative Stage 360 2.1 Soundbar with Dolby Atmos could be the perfect gift.  It even has a separate subwoofer.  Check out the full review here:

http://www.stereowiseplus.com/2021/10/creative-stage-360-21-soundbar-with.html


I don’t know anyone who does not like music.  And most of us like to also take our music with us, and enjoy it on the go.  One of the best ways to do this is with a nice pair of headphones.  And not only is a good pair of wireless headphones much more convenient (no wires), they also have come a long way in providing high quality sound.  And if your loved one not only has an ear for high quality sound, but is also a bit of a connoisseur, the Focal Listen could be the perfect gift for them.  Check out the full review here:

http://www.stereowiseplus.com/2021/05/focal-listen-premium-wireless.html

 

While we like to listen to our music on the go, we can’t forget our own home.  And whether or not you have or will take advantage of using a smart home, some speakers can do both.  One brand known for providing great sound is Harman/Kardon.  And they have a series of speakers that not only provide great sound, but will also connect up to your smart home and provide that additional functionality.  It’s their Citation Series, and it starts with their Citation 100.  With an MSRP of $349, they are a good value.  Check out their review here:

http://www.stereowiseplus.com/2021/06/harmankardon-citation-100-smart-speaker.html

 

It’s nice to enjoy our music with our friends, while we are on the go.  But you may not want something big to carry around with you.  JBL has a great assortment of wireless speakers designed to go with you.  One of their smallest is the JBL Clip 4.  While it may be small, it is definitely not small on sound.  And it’s even IP67 waterproof!  With an MSRP of only $79.95, it could be the perfect gift for a loved one.  Check out its review here:

 http://www.stereowiseplus.com/2021/06/jbl-clip4-portable-bluetooth-speaker.html

 

With COVID finally getting under control, for the most part, many of us are headed outdoors.  Maybe it’s time to take out the boat or side by side ATV, and have some fun. If you want to take your tunes with you there, Kenwood has some great products for you.  Their KFC-1673MRWL is a 6.5 inch 2-way speaker system that is designed for the outdoor elements, being part of their marine series.  But they will also work in a side by side ATV.  With an MSRP of $199, you may know just the right person these are good for.  Check out their review here:

 http://www.stereowiseplus.com/2021/09/kenwood-kfc-1673mrwl-marine-65-inch-2.html

 

Speakers need a source, and if you are enjoying the outdoors in your boat or side by side ATV, you may need a receiver for it.  Kenwood has you covered there as well.  Their KMR-D772BT is a Marine Bluetooth CD Receiver, that would also fit right in on a boat or side by side ATV.  Part of their marine series, it is design for the outdoors.  And thanks to Bluetooth, your friends can even pair with it and share their music as well.  With an MSRP of only $229, you may know the perfect person who could use this as well.  Check out its review here:

http://www.stereowiseplus.com/2021/09/kenwood-kmr-d772bt-marine-bluetooth-cd.html

 

It’s not all about music though.  Sometimes about enjoying the scenery, or security.  Fortunately for your motorcycle or ATV you can have both, thanks to the new Kenwood STZ-RF200WD.  It is a dual camera system that is also part of their marine/outdoor series.  It doesn’t have the cable length to work with a boat, but it will work with your motorcycle.  And with the extension cable it will work with your ATV.  It’s a dual camera system that records what’s going on in-front as well as behind you.  The review is scheduled to be published the week ending 12-26-21.  Check back then for it.

 

Stock car audio systems have come a long way.  While some even come with a separate subwoofer, not all do.  The added depth does add a good deal to the sound quality.  After all, there could be music that you are missing in your tunes because your stock speakers do not play deep enough.  Massive Audio could have just the thing for a loved one, with their BAS6.  It is a loaded subwoofer system with built-in amplifier.  It is a small 6.5 inch subwoofer designed to add that bass that you may be missing from your factory sound system.   With an MSRP of only $314.99, it may be just what you are looking for.  Check out its review here:

http://www.stereowiseplus.com/2021/10/massive-audio-bas6-65-inch-powered-car.html

 

Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, like many of you, I have been doing a lot of binge watching.  Both streaming and movies.  And for movies I still prefer using the actual disc.  You don’t need to worry about any hiccups because of your internet connection.  And if you have a great surround sound system, you get the full uncompressed Dolby Atmos soundtrack, or DTS-X if that’s your preference.  Many have already made the jump to 4K.  But if your loved one either has not, or is looking for an upgrade, the Panasonic BP-UB9000 could be the perfect gift.  It’s not for everyone, as it has a steep price tag of $999.  But if you have the means, it is built like a tank!  Check out its review here:

http://www.stereowiseplus.com/2021/06/panasonic-pb-ub9000-reference-class-thx.html

 

Like the Panasonic BP-UB9000, not all products are in everyone’s budget.  But if you are wanting to take your home theater system to a whole new level, especially if you are building a dedicated theater room, there are products out there for you.  RBH Sound is one company you can turn to, to get awesome products that you could be looking for.  Their in-wall speakers perform just as well as a standard bookshelf or tower speaker, as does their in-wall and in-floor/in-ceiling subwoofers.  Their in-floor/in-ceiling SI-1212 Signature series subwoofer, is a subwoofer with dual 12-inch drivers that hides between the joists of your floor or ceiling. And it sounds killer, playing all the way down to 20hz!  Check out its review here:

http://www.stereowiseplus.com/2021/07/rbh-sound-si-1212-signature-in-floorin.html


Next we have a special product from Sony.  What do you give someone who you may think has everything?  They may even have a theater room with a 4K projector.  But….is the projector really 4K.  Most projectors that claim to be 4K, really aren’t.  They use a 1080 chip and pixel shifting technology to display a 4K image, but it isn’t TRUE 4K.  Sony however does have a projector series that uses 4K panels to display a true 4K image.  We will be reviewing their VPL-VW325ES Native 4K Projector.  But with an MSRP of $5,500, it isn’t for everyone.   The review is scheduled for the week ending 12/19/21, so check back then for the review.

If you watch the news at all, you may have realized that times have changed.  It’s not Mayberry anymore.  Security could be a real concern for you.  Spyclops, a brand under the Metra Home umbrella, provides great security products.  They have a new 4K security camera system that will now record 4K in color, even using night vision!  It’s the SPY-MNBLT3WIP8 4K mini bullet style IP camera, and SPY-NVR8POE1T 8-channel NVR with 1TB HDD.  Now your loved one can have the security, knowing that if anything happens they have it recorded on the NVR.  The review is scheduled to be completed the week ending 12/5/21, so check back then for the review.


We know there are a lot of options when it comes to holiday gifts for your loved ones.  Not everyone has the same budget, so we have tried to review and include a good range of gift ideas for you.  All of these are quality items that would provide a lot of good use.  We hope we were able to provide you some good ideas for your shopping.  Thanks for reading.  And from our family to yours, Happy Holidays!



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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Audio-Technica Introduces Its Lightweight, Affordable ATH-101USB and ATH-102USB Single-Ear and Dual-Ear Headsets


Audio-Technica Introduces Its Lightweight, Affordable
ATH-101USB and ATH-102USB Single-Ear and Dual-Ear Headsets

   

 

STOW, OH, October 27, 2021 — Audio-Technica today announced the introduction of its ATH-101USB single-ear and ATH-102USB double-ear headsets, two affordably-priced models that are ideal for use in online conferences, classes and other uses where high-quality audio is required, including  voice calling, listening to music, games and other computer-based applications.

 

The ATH-101USB (SRP: US$27.99) and ATH-102USB (SRP: US$29.99) feature a lightweight, comfortable design with close-fitting, soft earpads and are treated with an antimicrobial agent to keep the headsets clean.

 

Both models offer easy plug-and-play connectivity – simply plug them into a USB port. No software is required, and the headsets come with a USB Type A-to-USB Type C adapter for compatibility with a wide range of devices. The ATH-101USB and ATH-102USB both feature a built-in noise-cancelling bidirectional condenser microphone with a windscreen, for clear, intelligible voice communication while blocking unwanted ambient noise, pops, and breathing noises. Both headsets have a wide 20 Hz – 20 kHz frequency response to deliver full-range audio reproduction.

 

The earcups are designed to let in some ambient sound to ensure natural-sounding conversations and awareness of the outside environment. Their soft, close-fitting earpads are made of a breathable material and offer total comfort even during all-day use. The headsets’ light weight reduces neck and shoulder strain.

 

The ATH-101USB and ATH-102USB feature easy-access volume and microphone mute controls. The ATH-101USB’s reversible design with its rotatable microphone allows users to wear it on either their left or right ear according to personal preference. This single-ear model is perfect for people who need to hear what’s going on around them, especially when working at home. The ATH-102USB provides clear, natural stereo sound, thanks to its high-quality carbon-black film driver diaphragms.

 

Both headsets are made from antimicrobial materials. The earpads, headset, windscreen, control buttons and connecting plugs are treated with an effective antimicrobial agent that inhibits the growth of certain bacteria.

 

The Audio-Technica ATH-101USB single-ear USB headset and ATH-102USB dual-ear headset are currently available.

 


Celebrating over 50 years of audio excellence, Audio-Technica is a recognized leader in the development and manufacture of high-quality personal and professional audio equipment. Founded in Japan in 1962 by Hideo Matsushita, the company made its name by manufacturing state-of-the-art phonograph cartridges and tonearms. Today, Audio-Technica is a worldwide group of companies devoted to creating high-performance microphones, headphones, wireless systems, mixers, turntables, phono cartridges and other electronic products.

 

A reputation for quality, durability, performance and value has made Audio-Technica products the first choice for many of today’s top musical artists and audio engineers, and for discerning listeners everywhere. Drawing from its audiophile heritage, Audio-Technica remains dedicated to providing music enthusiasts with great-sounding, innovative audio gear, including the award-winning QuietPoint® active noise-cancelling headphones, popular ATH-M50x monitor headphones, versatile USB microphones, and new Hi-Res Audio headphones and high-fidelity gaming headsets. Learn more at www.audio-technica.com.

 


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ASUS Republic of Gamers Launches Z690 Motherboards for Intel® 12th Gen CPU and New Gaming Gear at Break All Limits Global Event

ASUS Republic of Gamers Launches Z690 Motherboards for Intel® 12th Gen CPU and New Gaming Gear at Break All Limits Global Event
ASUS ROG debuts new gaming gear line featuring motherboards, power supplies,
gaming monitors, and gaming headset lineup

Fremont, CA (October 27, 2021) — ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG) today announced an all-new lineup of gaming gear during the Break All Limits online launch event.

The lineup features the new ROG Z690 Intel® motherboards, a new generation within the Intel® Z690 series. The ASUS Z690 platform ― covering ROG Maximus to the ROG Strix, TUF Gaming, ProArt and Prime motherboards ― is built to support all-new 12th Gen Intel® Core processors that feature up to 16 cores and 24 threads. 

ROG also introduced the ROG Strix XG309CM and ROG Strix XG276Q gaming monitors for ultra fast and ultra smooth visuals; the ROG Thor 1600W Titanium and Thor Platinum II (850W, 1000W, 1200W) Power Supplies for maximum performance at the ultimate rating; and the ROG Delta S Animate headset for crystal-clear audio and endless customization.
Z690 Intel ROG Motherboards: The Next Generation
Introducing the new generation of ASUS ROG Intel® motherboards: the Z690 series. Featuring DDR5 memory modules and extensive support for PCIe® 5.0 devices, the Z690 series supports the latest 12th Gen Intel® Core™ processors. This new line of ROG motherboards also includes an exclusive new overclocking technology called ASUS Enhanced Memory Profile (AEMP), offering blistering-fast DDR5 performance in just a few clicks. 

While DDR5 is ordinarily limited to a maximum of 1.1 volts, the Z690 series includes a special blend of circuitry and firmware for its Z690 motherboards that bypasses this restriction, freeing users to discover the limits of the new memory technology for themselves by applying manual tweaks or enabling AEMP to quickly unlock a performance boost. To make this possible, ASUS has worked diligently with major DDR5 manufacturers around the world including Adata, Corsair, Crucial, Geil, G.SKILL, Kingston, Klevv, and Teamgroup to ensure high compatibility and stability.

Each ASUS ROG Z690 motherboard features built-in Windows 11 support, and each one features mounting holes that are compatible with CPU coolers designed for either LGA 1200 or the new LGA 1700 socket.  In addition, for users who like to venture beyond the nuts and bolts and linger on personalization and aesthetics, the Z690 series brings all-new visuals like the AniMe Matrix display that features mini programmable RGB LEDs to show off personal style with custom lighting designs, unique animations and live audio visualizations, plus striking designs that evoke sci-fi worlds from cyberpunk to aerospace exploration.

The full lineup features the ROG Maximus and Prime series, to the gaming-focused ROG Strix and TUF Gaming series, and creator-focused ProArt series.
ROG Thor 1600W Titanium & Thor Platinum II (850W, 1000W, 1200W) PSUs
The ROG Thor 1600W Titanium is the first 80 PLUS® Titanium certification power supply within the ROG Thor line, requiring greater than 90% efficiency for loads ranging between 10 to 100%. Using advanced gallium-nitride and solid-state components within the PSU's circuit design, this combination allows the Thor 1600W Titanium to achieve over 93% efficiency at full 100% loads. 

The ROG Thor Platinum II series features 850W, 1000W, and 1200W capacities at 80 PLUS® Platinum certification. The Titanium and Platinum II series provides quieter operations at higher wattage and fanless operations at up to 50% load. Equipped with large ROG-designed heatsinks, a larger surface area, and an overall redesign, the improved Thor Platinum II and new Titanium PSU line provides an optimal balance of airflow and noise levels at a high capacity.
ROG Strix XG309CM and XG276Q gaming monitors
The ROG Strix XG309CM is a wide-aspect ratio (2560 x 1080) gaming monitor. The 29.5" display features a 200 Hz refresh rate bolstered by the latest ASUS ELMB (Extreme Low Motion Blur) sync technology. ASUS Extreme Low Motion Blur Sync (ELMB Sync) technology eliminates motion blur without sacrificing variable refresh rates, taking smooth visuals to the next level.

The ROG Strix XG276Q is a 27-inch 165 Hz gaming monitor that features Fast IPS panel and 1 ms gray-to-gray (GTG) technology for an optimized 1080p gaming experience. Both the ROG Strix XG276Q and ROG Strix XG309CM include new aesthetic features, including an integrated tripod on the display stand, allowing users to mount a webcam or microphone and customize their work-and-play setup. 
 
ROG Delta S Animate Gaming Headset
ROG Delta S Animate gaming headset is the first ROG headset to introduce customizable AniMe Matrix™ displays on the headset's external ear cushions. The AniMe Matrix™ technology features an array of mini LEDs, programmed to showcase a user's custom lighting designs, unique animations, and live audio visualizations. 

The ROG Delta S Animate features the industry-leading, hi-fi-grade ESS 9281 CODEC with QUAD DAC™ technology, and is the first gaming headset series with Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) technology, an award-winning technology that delivers studio-quality audio files to reveal every detail of the original recording. Paired with exclusive ASUS Essence drivers, the headset's airtight chamber design and audio signal diversion technology work in unison for incredibly immersive audio.

The headset is USB-C®, and USB-A compatible, allowing cross-platform capability with PC, Mac, PlayStation®, Nintendo Switch™, and mobile devices.


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Monday, October 25, 2021

Kingston Digital Releases Next-Gen KC3000 PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD

Fountain Valley, CA – October 25, 2021 – Kingston Digital, Inc., the Flash memory affiliate of Kingston Technology Company, Inc., a world leader in memory products and technology solutions, today announced KC3000, its next generation PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 SSD for desktop and laptop PCs. KC3000 SSD offers next-level performance using the latest Gen 4x4 NVMe controller and 3D TLC NAND ideal for power users who require the fastest speeds on the market.

               By leveraging Gen4 technology, KC3000 delivers speeds up to 7,0000/7,000MB/s read/write1 of blazing-fast performance and full capacities up to 4096GB2 for optimal storage. Users can keep up with demanding workloads and experience better performance with software applications such as 3D rendering and 4K+ content creation by upgrading the systems storage. KC3000 is built with high-density 3D TLC NAND housed in the industry standard M.2 2280 form factor to store even more and enable users to take advantage of PCIe 4.0 speeds. With the combination of performance and endurance, KC3000 is reinforced with a low profile, graphene aluminum heat spreader to effectively disperse heat and keep your drive cool during intensive workloads.

“With the rise of data-heavy applications, consumers are demanding high performance solutions and high capacities to match,” said Keith Schimmenti, SSD Business Manager, Kingston. “By utilizing next-gen PCIe 4.0 technology with KC3000, we are able to deliver fast and reliable storage to suit the needs of a wide range of consumers in the market.”

KC3000 is currently available in 512GB, 1024GB, 2048GB and 4096GB2 capacities. KC3000 is backed by a limited five-year warranty4 and free technical support. For more information visit kingston.com.

 

KC3000 PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 SSD

Part Number

Capacity

SKC3000S/512G

512GB KC3000

SKC3000S/1024G

1024GB KC3000

SKC3000D/2048G

2048GB KC3000

SKC3000D/4096G

4096GB KC3000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KC3000 PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 SSD Features and Specifications:

  • PCIe 4.0 NVMe Technology: Master intensive applications with speeds up to 7,000/7,000MB/s1 read/write.
  • Store more: Upgrade and manage storage with full capacities up to 4096GB2.
  • Greater flexibility: Compact M.2 design fits easily into small form factor (SFF) systems, desktops and laptop PCs.
  • Low profile graphene aluminum heat spreader: Exceptional thermal dissipation keeps your drive cool with maximum performance.
  • Form Factor: M.2 2280
  • Interface: PCIe 4.0 NVMe
  • Capacities2512GB, 1024GB, 2048GB, 4096GB
  • Controller: Phison E18
  • NAND: 3D TLC

Sequential Read/Write1:             

    • 512GB – 7,000/3,900MB/s
    • 1024GB – 7,000/6,000MB/s
    • 2048GB – 7,000/7,000MB/s
    • 4096GB – 7,000/7,000MB/s
  • Random 4K Read/Write1:
    • 512GB – up to 450,000/900,000 IOPS
    • 1024GB – up to 900,000/1,000,000 IOPS
    • 2048GB – up to 1,000,000/1,000,000 IOPS
    • 4096GB – up to 1,000,000/1,000,000 IOPS
  • Total Bytes Written (TBW)3:
    • 512GB – 400TBW
    • 1024GB – 800TBW
    • 2048GB – 1.6PBW
    • 4096GB – 3.2PBW
  • Power Consumption:
    • 512GB – 5mW Idle / 0.34W Avg / 2.7W (MAX) Read / 4.1W (MAX) Write
    • 1024GB – 5mW Idle / 0.33W Avg / 2.8W (MAX) Read / 6.3W (MAX) Write
    • 2048GB – 5mW Idle / 0.36W Avg / 2.8W (MAX) Read / 9.9W (MAX) Write
    • 4096GB – 5mW Idle / 0.36W Avg / 2.7W (MAX) Read / 10.2W (MAX) Write
  • Storage Temperature: -40°C~85°C
  • Operating Temperature: 0°C~70°C
  • Dimensions:
    • 512GB-1024GB – 80mm x 22mm x 2.21mm
    • 2048GB-4096GB – 80mm x 22mm x 3.5mm
  • Weight:
    • 512GB-1024GB – 7g
    • 2048GB-4096GB – 9.7g
  • Vibration Operating: 2.17G Peak (7-800Hz)
  • Vibration Non-operating: 20G Peak (20-1000Hz)
  • MTBF: 1,800,000 hours
  • Warranty/Support4Limited 5-year warranty with free technical support

 

This SSD is designed for use in desktop and notebook computer workloads and is not intended for server environments.

 

Based on “out-of-box performance” using a PCIe 4.0 motherboard. Speed may vary due to host hardware, software, and usage.

Some of the listed capacity on a Flash storage device is used for formatting and other functions and thus is not available for data storage. As such, the actual available capacity for data storage is less than what is listed on the products. For more information, go to Kingston’s Flash memory guide at kingston.com/flashguide.

3 Total Bytes Written (TBW) is derived from the JEDEC Client Workload (JESD219A).

Limited warranty based on 5 years or “Percentage Used” which can be found using the Kingston SSD Manager (Kingston.com/SSDManager). For NVMe SSDs, a new unused product will show a Percentage Used value of 0, whereas a product that reaches its warranty limit will show a Percentage Used value of greater than or equal to one hundred (100). See Kingston.com/wa for details.

 

Kingston can be found on:

 

YouTube              Instagram

Facebook            LinkedIn

Twitter                 Kingston Is With You

 

About Kingston Digital, Inc.

From big data, to laptops and PCs, to IoT-based devices like smart and wearable technology, to design-in and contract manufacturing, Kingston helps deliver the solutions used to live, work and play. The world’s largest PC makers and cloud-hosting companies depend on Kingston for their manufacturing needs, and our passion fuels the technology the world uses every day. We strive beyond our products to see the bigger picture, to meet the needs of our customers and offer solutions that make a difference. To learn more about how Kingston Is With You, visit Kingston.com.

 


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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Creative Stage 360 2.1 Soundbar with Dolby Atmos Review

It’s been a wild 18 months with Covid, and all of the staying home. And now with Delta, many of us are saying not again! Well, there are some great home audio products to help with our binge watching. Creative is well known for their line of Sound Blaster soundcards for computers. Next came a great line of computer speakers. They have used their heritage in audio, and now have some great sound bars. Up for review is their Creative Stage 360.

 

Features and specs:

Dimensions

Soundbar: 565 x 75 x 88 mm / 22.2 x 2.9 x 3.4 inches, Subwoofer: 115 x 422 x 250 mm / 4.5 x 16.6 x 9.8 inches

Cable Length

Subwoofer Cable: Approx 2m; tethered to subwoofer, Power Cable: 1.5m (59 inches), Optical Cable: 1.5m

Weight

Subwoofer: 3.4 kg / 7.5 lb, Soundbar: 1.7 kg / 3.8 lb

Operating Temperature

0– 40°C

Power Output

Soundbar: 60W RMS, Subwoofer: 60W RMS, Total System Power: Up to 120W RMS (Peak 240W)

Drivers

Soundbar: 2 x 2.25″ x 3.85″ Racetrack Driver, Subwoofer: 5.25″ High Excursion Driver

Frequency Response

50–20,000 Hz

System Configuration

2.1 system

Bluetooth Operating Frequency

2402–2480 MHz

Operating Range for Bluetooth Devices

Up to 10 meters / 33 ft, (Measured in open space. Walls and structures may affect range of device.)

Bluetooth® Version

Bluetooth 5.0

Bluetooth Profile

A2DP (Wireless Stereo Bluetooth)*

*Stereo Bluetooth or A2DP profile enables wireless transmission of full stereo sound to other Bluetooth devices. To determine whether your device (notebook, PC or mobile device) is equipped with A2DP-enabled Bluetooth technology, refer to your device manufacturer's documentation / website for more information.

Supported Codecs

SBC

Connector Type

Optical-in (Toslink), HDMI-out (HDMI 2.0, HDCP 2.2, ARC), HDMI-in 1 (HDMI 2.0, HDCP 2.2), HDMI-in 2 (HDMI 2.0, HDCP 2.2), Subwoofer-out, AC-in

Color

Black

 

The Creative Stage 360 came in a great looking color printed box, with photos of the product and its specs. Opening the box revealed a well-protected product held in place by custom molded Styrofoam. Materials used in the construction was mostly plastic with some metal in the soundbar, and engineered wood with black veneer for the subwoofer. Quality of materials used was very good, as was the fit and finish. Also included was the power cords, optical cable, and quick start guide.

 

I like the design of the Creative Stage 360. The soundbar uses a high-quality pair of racetrack drivers. The front also houses an LED to show status and volume levels. The top holds a few buttons for power, source, + and -. The back panel holds the subwoofer input, USB service port, and inputs with optical and HDMI. Then there’s the Bluetooth 5.0 for wireless connectivity. It’s a minimalistic design that’s efficient. One thing missing that I would have liked to see: built-in bracket on the back, so it could be wall mounted under a TV that is wall mounted.

 

The built-in software and remote is also great. There are DSP sound modes of Movie, Night and Music. And Dolby Atmos provides a nice surround sound effect, with adjustable settings for near-field or far-field. The remote also worked really well, giving you full access to all of the settings and full control, right at your fingertips. Installation/set-up was very simple. Now let’s see how it sounds.

 

Nat King Cole- LOVE: vocals were silky smooth like honey with very good texture of the timbre.  Cymbal and top hat were crisp and clean. Piano sounded natural. Trumpet was crisp with very good harmonics without being too brassy. The very good imaging surprised me, as I wasn’t expecting it.

Destiny 2- Storm the Keep: bass was very dynamic and had nice tone of the strings as they were plucked, cymbals were crisp and clean, as were the horns. Vocals were smooth with very good harmonics. Violin had nice texture from the strings. Drums had nice tight impact with very good dynamics.

Seatbelts- Tank!: Bass had nice definition of the plunking of the strings, with good definition of the midbass. The congas had nice definition of the pads. Trumpets were silky smooth and not overly brassy. The sax also had great harmonics. There was some extremely fast tonguing of the reed for the notes, and the Creative Stage 360 picked it up well. And what surprised me was the depth of soundstage that the Creative Stage 360 also projected.

 

The Creative Stage 360 unsurprisingly proved to be a great performer. The built-in Dolby Atmos provided a fun surround sound effect. And the sound was significantly better than the speakers built into the TV. Vocals tended to be nice and smooth, drums were dynamic and the highs tended to be crisp and clean.  The Dolby Atmos did work well, giving a seemly wider and deeper soundstage, giving the perception of some surround sound. I was impressed with the subwoofer.  It uses a small driver, so while it does not get very deep, it was dynamic and played with very good authority for the size. And be careful with the volume control, as it can get extremely loud!  I wasn't expecting the amount of volume that it has on tap!

With an MSRP of only $229, The Creative Stage 360 a big bang for the buck. This upgrade from TV speakers is a no-brainer. It does what it was designed to do very well.  And the build quality seems sufficient to give you years of use.  

Based on its design, features, quality and performance, the Creative Stage 360 has earned our Highly Recommended Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.us.creative.com.



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