Sunday, December 4, 2016

Harman Kardon Omni 20 Wireless Speaker System Review


Our music has gone portable, with many wireless services, which makes it easy to use on our smartphones. This in time lets us take our music with us anywhere. But once we get home, we want an easy way to enjoy our tunes. So wireless speaker systems have gotten popular. Yet not all wireless speaker systems are created equal. Enter the Harman Kardon Omni 20. They are an elegantly styled home wireless speaker system that would fit well in any décor.


Features and specs:

Device Compatibility

BluetoothYes

General Specifications

Transducers2 x 75mm woofer, 2 x 19mm tweeter

Rated Power4 x 15W

Bluetooth Transmitter Frequency Range2402 − 2480MHz

Bluetooth Transmitter Power<4dbm span="">

Bluetooth Transmitter ModulationGFSK, 3.14/4 DQPSK, 8DPSK

2.4G Wi-Fi Transmitter Frequency Range2412 − 2472MHz

2.4G Wi-Fi Transmitter Power<20dbm span="">

2.4G Wi-Fi ModulationOFDM, DSSS, DBPSK, DQPSK, CCK, 16QAM, 64QAM

2.4G Wi-Fi Network CompatibilityIEEE 802.11b/g/n

Weight (g)2125

Audio Specifications

Frequency Response53Hz - 20kHz @ -6dB

Signal-to-Noise Ratio>80dB

Dimensions

Width (mm)260

Width (in)10-1/4

Depth (mm)164

Depth (in)6-7/16

Height (mm)166

Height (in)6-9/16

The Harman Kardon Omni 20 came shipped in a nice looking box, with photos of the speaker and its specs printed on the box. Opening the box manifested an elegant looking speaker held firmly in place by protective packaging. Materials used in the construction is mostly plastic with some cloth. Quality of materials used in the construction is excellent. And the same is true for the fit and finish. The Harman Kardon Omni 20 felt very solid, and well made. Also included is the power cord, and safety instructions, and manual.

The Harman Kardon Omni 20 is controlled with the Harmon Kardon Controller, which is an app for your phone or tablet that you would download online. My initial thought was some people who are not tech savy could be confused and not know what to do without any owner's manual with step by step instructions. Then I saw in the start-up guide that the owner's manual is available online, with clear step by step instructions.  And it is rather simple. Just download and install the app, and it will walk you through getting everything set up. You will be listening before you know it.  It took a few tries, and then I saw there was a software update.  After installing the update I was easily connected to my home wi-fi.

I loved the ability to link up to my wi-fi system. Doing so allowed me to link two Omni 20’s together for either stereo sound in one room, or to have whole house music. You can also have it linked to your music, so when you go from room to room from one Omni 20 to another, your music follows you. You end up having a lot of options and usability.  Although as great as the multi-room whole home system is, this isn’t for everyone.

I really liked its versatility as well. Not only can you do wi-fi, but there are also the typical Bluetooth as well as wired connections. If you aren’t looking to use multiple Omni 20s together for a whole house system, or maybe that’s a little too advanced for you, there is still the ability to use these more traditional connections. Any mp3 player can be connected to the 3.5 mm wired connection. The Bluetooth connection also works very well, and was really easy to pair with my HTC One M9 smartphone.

Now that I’m paired, it’s time to jam to some tunes. And jam it can! The Harmon Kardon Omni 20 can really bring out the awesomeness in your tunes. Kansas: Carry On My Wayward Son, had very good harmonics and texture in the vocals. The percussion was dynamic with crisp cymbals and kick drums with very good depth. Fresh Aire II: Going to Another Place, had better than expected resolution. The strings were so crisp and clean, so much so that I could hear the pick sliding across the strings. The piano also sounded very natural. The flute was very smooth without being too warm, and had very good air.

With it being the Christmas season, I thought I’d also turn to some holiday music. Manheim Steamroller: Pat A Pan had really crisp percussion. When the bass kicked in, it play with more authority and deeper than expected. The passive radiator on the back did it's job very well, as I could actually feel it in my chair. The flute also had good harmonics and air, and was only a tad warm. The strings were also very smooth with good texture and detail.

I ended up going through a multitude of different songs from a lot of different genre. And I kept hearing the same thing; songs that were true to the sound of the original recording. Highs were crisp yet not bright, mids were smooth yet not overly warm. And the bass had nice texture, dynamics, depth and played with authority. And while being small in size, the Harman Kardon Omni 20 still threw a good sized soundstage, and had very good imaging. The sound was very good in all aspect.

The Harman Kardon has hit the ball out of the park with the Omni 20! The Wife Acceptance Factor is high based on its elegant looking oval design with gloss black cabinet. It will fit right in with any décor. The Omni 20 also sounds as good as it looks. With the built-in WPS button on the back, it was also fairly easy to get it set up on my wifi network. Add in the fact that it also does Bluetooth as well as having a 3.5 mm input, it is a fairly universal speaker system. The build quality is also top notch, giving well built speaker system to provide years of service. The only downside- their music service selection doesn’t include Spotify or Pandora, which was a little surprising and slightly disappointing.
Based on its design, features, quality and performance. The Harman Kardon Omni 20 wireless speaker system has earned our Editor’s Choice Award. With an MSRP of $299. And add to the fact that you can use multiple Omni 20’s together to create a whole house system is just icing on the cake! It is a good value, and would be rather economical to create a whole house system. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.harmankardon.com.


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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sigma Buster 2000 LED Bicycle Light


If you are a cyclist, you probably enjoy riding both day and night. Whether you are training, or just enjoy riding, Sigma is a name you have probably come to know. They make some excellent products for cyclists. Living in Phoenix, out of necessity due to the heat, any riding in the summer needs to be done at night. If you do night riding, Sigma just released a new light that is a must have, especially for mountain bikes. It is the Buster 2000.


Features and specs:

·         Beam range: 200 m

·         Burn time: 2.5 h (high-power mode), 5 h (power mode), 10 h (standard mode), 20 h (eco mode), 9 h (flashing), 11 h (pulsing), 10 h (SOS-flashing)

·         Maximum light output: 2000 lumens

·         Seven light modes: high-power mode (2000 lm), power mode (1300 lm), standard mode (600 lm), eco mode (300 lm), flashing, fast flashing and SOS-flashing mode

·         Splash resistant in accordance with IP44

·         Switch on protection (double click for ON)

·         Weight: 105 g

The Sigma Sport Buster 2000 came shipped in a nice looking printed box with photos of the lamp and its specs. Opening the box revealed a well protected light. It comprised of the lamp, large battery pack, and a cord to attach the lamp to the battery, and helmet mount. Materials used was mostly plastic for the battery pack, soft plastic for the cables, and mostly metal for the actual lamp. The quality of materials used was very good, as was the fit and finish. The Sigma Buster 2000 felt like it was built like a tank, able to take years of abuse, even on the off road trails. Also included was the owner's manual, helmet mount, remote control, and it’s mount.

The Sigma Buster 2000 looked so impressive I couldn’t wait to get it on my mountain bike and see how well it performed. Rated at 200 meters, I was skeptical. That’s a far distance for any light. Installing the light was easy. The light was mounted on the handle bar, the battery pack mounted on the top tube, remote control was mounted on the handle bar. It was now ready to test it out.

And I really liked the design. At 2000 lumens, it takes a lot of power. There are multiple light output settings, and under certain circumstances, such as off road trails, you’ll want the 2000 lumens. And you may want to ride for more than 30 minutes, so the 2.5 hours worth of power on the highest setting is excellent. And in your night rides, you won’t always need the highest setting. Realistically, you could cycle back and forth among the different power settings. The included wireless remote mounted on the handle bar makes it so easy to switch among the different power settings. The different components of the Sigma Buster 2000 provide a perfect example of synergy. The light, the power pack, and the wireless remote are all excellent pieces to the puzzle. But put them all together and you have a home run!

When it came time to testing the Sigma Buster 2000, it delivered in Spades. And it’s 200 meter rating is actually correct! It lit up the whole trail in front of me. But not only did it provide a ton of light straight ahead of me, it also lit up my path enough so I could also sufficiently see a bit on the sides as well. Once mounted you will never want to take it off!

The performance of the Sigma Buster 2000 was pleasantly unsurprising. That is due to the performance I have came to expect from Sigma and their products. You just can't go wrong with them. Based on it’s design and specs. They have earned our Editor’s Choice Award. For more info and specs, check out their website at www.sigmasport.com.
 


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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Magellan MiVue 420 Dashcam Review



When it comes to car GPS receivers, it doesn’t get much better than Magellan. Building on this experience, they now offer dash cams. Crime rates and car accidents seem to only be going higher and higher. If security is important to you, then a dash cam can be perfect for you. Up for review today is the Magellan MiVue 420 Dashcam.


Features and specs:

o    Large 2.7" Display: Hi-resolution display on front camera for easy video playbook viewing on the device.

o    High Resolution Recording: Records all video in Super HD (1296P) resolution for crystal clear images.

o    Outstanding Night and Low Light Recording: Camera’s aperture (f\1.8) and built in Wide Dynamic Range feature produce excellent night and low light recording.

o    GPS, Time, Speed and Date Data: All recordings display GPS location using latitude and longitude, time and speed for accurate event recording.

o    Impact Recording: 3-Axis G- Sensor measures forces and movement and locks video recording data 15 seconds prior to the event and 50 seconds after upon impact.

o    Field of View (FOV): Camera has a 140° Viewing Angle to capture the entire width of the road ahead of you.

o    Parking Mode: Provides peace of mind when a vehicle is parked by monitoring where the camera is pointing for a maximum of 30 minutes if the camera is not plugged into a socket continuously powered.

o    Digital Camera Mode: Switch to Photo Mode and detach the front camera from the mount to collect close-up still images.

o    Lane Departure Warning: Visual and audible warning notifies the driver if they are wandering out of their lane.

o    Forward Collision Warning: Visual and audible warning alerts drivers if they are getting too close to the car directly ahead.

o    Driver Fatigue Alert: Receive an audible alert that it is time to switch drivers, or if driving alone, take a break and relax. Driver's select the amount of time they can drive before being reminded.

o    Headlight Reminder: At sunset drivers are notified to turn on their headlights for better visibility and safer driving.

o    Speed and Traffic Camera Alerts: Avoid costly tickets by receiving audible and visual warnings of fixed red light and speed cameras along your route Drivers are able to add locations to the unit's internal database.

o    Cruise Speed Alarm: Audible and visual alarms to help you maintain safe driving speeds.

o    MiVue Manager: Upload and browse recorded video on iOS or PC to organize, browse, and see routes overlaid in Google maps, as well as see direction and force of impact, and more.

o    Social Media Sharing: Use the social media feature to quickly share to YouTube & Facebook via linked accounts through MiVue Manager.

o    Rotating Mount Design: The front windshield camera mount allows the unit to turn to record events taking place in the vehicle.

o    8GB microSD Card Included: Compatible with Class 10 cards up to 128GB. Record hours of video with the included card and up to 21 hours of video when a 128GB microSD card is purchased separately.

DEVICE

·         Dimensions (English)3.5" x 1.9" x 1.5

·         Dimensions (Metric)90mm x 49mm x 37mm

·         Weight (English)3.6 oz

·         Weight (Metric)102g

·         Battery TypeLithium-ion rechargeable

·         Battery Lifeup to 1 hr

SCREEN

·         Screen Size2.7"

·         Display TypeLCD

GPS & SENSORS

·         High-Sensitivity GPSYes

·         G-sensor or AccelerometerYes

·         GPS and Time StampYes

CAMERA

·         Imaging SensorSony CMOS

·         Resolution1296p

·         Horizontal View angle140°

·         RotationYes

·         Parking Watch ModeYes

·         Camera ModeYes

·         LensWide Angle

INTERFACE & COMMUNICATIONS

·         USB PortYes

 

The Magellan MiVue 420 Dashcam came in a great looking printed box with photos of the dashcam and its specs. Opening the box showed a well protected dashcam. Materials used in the construction were mostly plastic. The quality of materials used was very good. The same is true for the fit and finish. The Magellan MiVue 420 is a well made product and felt well made in hand. The buttons were secure with good feel and feedback when pressed. Also included was the windshield mount, power cord, and 8GB micro SD card.

Setting up the Magellan MiVue 420 was very simple. Installing the windshield suction cup was extremely simple. And the dashcam just slid into the mount. The power cord just plugged into the cigarette lighter/power outlet. Once mounted and plugged in, the Magellan MiVue 420 was easy to get set up in its settings, such it’s other features such as GPS and lane departure alert. Now let’s hit the road and see how well it works.

I was impressed with the performance of the Magellan MiVue 420 dashcam. It was the type of performance I have come to expect from Magellan. The use of its aperture and Wide Dynamic Range   proved to be key. During the day, it proved to give a great feature to help give an image that was viewable even in bright sunlight. The same was also the case with recording video at night. The video was better than expected. And while it was dark, the headlights were amply able to light up the field of view for a good recording. And oncoming headlights did not wash up the video to make it viewable. And I loved the high resolution.

I also really liked the extra features. Impact recording is perfect if you get into an accident, locking the video so it won’t get deleted. Parking mode does the same thing thanks to impact sensors, in case something hits your car while parked. Land Departing Feature and Driver Fatigue Alert gives an audible alert if you start to drift lanes, to help wake you up. The Cruise Speed alarm helps you keep a safe driving speed. Social Media Sharing makes it easy to share your videos on YouTube or Facebook.

And if that wasn’t good enough, it also has Speed and Traffic Camera Alerts.  I absolutely LOVED those features, and they in and of themselves can help pay for the Magellan MiVue 420 based on the savings from the tickets due to the savings or lack of these tickets. This will help you from getting these tickets, so it will help pay the cost of the Magellan MiVue Dashcam. 

The extra features also worked very good.  The Lane Departure Feature worked great, but did have a few hiccups.  It's best performance was during daylight hours.  In the evenings it did miss my drifting over the median a couple times.  Daytime performance was better than expected.  And when  the warning came on, it was a sufficiently loud speech warning, and not just a beep that could be missed.  If you aren't paying attention, or are just day dreaming, the vocal warning is loud enough to get your attention. And I liked the display of my speed. 

The Magellan MiVue 420 Dashcam proved to be a great little performer.  And with an MSRP of only $180, it is a good value as well.  Being loaded with extra features is a bonus. Based on it's design, features, quality, and performance, the Magellan MiVue 420 Dashcam has earned our Editor's Choice Award.  For more info and complete specs check out their website at www.magellangps.com. 
 


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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Enerplex Jumpr Stack 9 and Kicker IV Ultimate Portable Solar Charging Solution Review


As a boy scout, the well known moto is “Be Prepared.” With the increase in popularity of those known as Preppers, the boy scout slogan is being used by a lot more. And the view point of many Preppers is not just being prepared for If crap hits the fan, many Preppers feel it’s not just a matter of if, but when. But even if you aren’t a Prepper, you could still have a need to power your small electronic devices while you are enjoying being out in the country: Enter the Enerplex Jumper Stack 9 and Enerplex Kicker IV.

Features and specs:

Enerplex Kicker IV:

Product Dimensions:

Unfolded: 774mm(30.5")/185mm(7.3")/2mm(0.08) ~ Folded: 225mm(8.8")/185mm(7.3")/2mm(0.08")

Additional Information:

User manuals, data sheets, and other supporting documents can be found in the 'Downloads and Support Tab'

Power:

6.0 Watt, 5 Volt System Regulated

Solar Cell Type:

CIGS

Output:

1.2 Amps (USB Port)

Warranty:

1 Year

Enerplex Jumpr Stack 9:

Product Dimensions:

130mm(5.12")/68mm(2.68")/20mm(0.8")

Additional Information:

User manuals, data sheets, and other supporting documents can be found in the 'Downloads and Support Tab'

Battery Capacity:

9,400 mAh

Battery Type:

Lithium-Polymer

Recharge By:

0.4-2A Micro USB or Stack, Charge, & Chain Port

Input:

Micro-USB

Output:

USB Port/Tethered Micro-USB/Tethered Lightning

Power Output:

1A/2.4A

Warranty:

1 Year

 
The Enerplex Jumper Stack 9 came in a nice looking box with printed specs on the box, and a clear plastic molding so you can see the power bank and hold it in place securely. Also included is the user guide and charging cable. Materials used in the construction was mostly plastic. Quality of materials used was very good, as was the fit and finish.


The Enerplex Kicker IV solar charger also came in a nice looking box with photos of the charger, as well as it’s specs printed on the box. Opening the box revealed the solar charger, as well as the user manual, charging cable and small bungee cords to hold the Kicker IV in place. Materials used were again mostly plastic, and the quality of materials used as well as the fit and finish were also very good. They both felt well made in hand, to provide years of use.

Combined, the two products make a perfect lightweight, portable, on the go charging system. It’s the perfect charging system for portable devices on the go, or off the grid. At 9400 mAh, the Jumper Stack 9 can charge a smartphone multiple times. The fact that multiple Jumper Stacks can be used together gives even more power at your fingertips. And the EnerPlex Kicker IV is the perfect solar charger for it.

The performance of both the Jumper Stack 9 and the Kicker IV was very good. With a high speed wall charger, I was able to fully charge the Jumper Stack 9 in 5.5 hours. I also loved the fact that it has both micro USB and iPhone charger cables built in. So there’s no concern about being without a cable. Just grab the charged Jumper Stack 9, and you have your power needs for your smartphone covered. I liked the built in LED’s that would flash during charging. Not only did you know it is charging, but you also know the battery level of the unit, which depends on how many of the 4 orange LED’s are flashing. Four flashing is a full charge. With it fully charged, I was able to get three charges out of it, for my HTC One M9 reference smartphone.

The Enerplex Kicker IV equally performed very well. I love the way it folds up to make it very portable. The build quality is also very durable, being able to be used on the go or out in the country. It's also very light weight!  While the Kicker IV did a great job charging the Jumper Stack 9, I did find it is the wrong time of the year to test solar charging. The solar intensity from the sun isn’t as strong as it is during the summer. It took all day to charge it to around 75% charged. I’m sure it does charge devices as quickly as an outlet, just not during the winter. Yet what it does is extremely valuable anytime of the year.  And at 75% charge in one day, that'll still give me 2 charges on my HTC, which is more than what I would go thru in 1 day.  SO I was completely happy with the charging ability even at this time of year.

The Enerplex Kicker IV and Jumper Stack 9 are individually excellent products on their own. Yet when used together they are a perfect example of an excellent gift, especially together. Based on their design, features, quality and performance for a portable solution, they have earned our Highly Recommended Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.enerplex.com.


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