Sunday, December 9, 2018

Go Power! 120-Watt Portable Solar Kit Model GP-PSK-120 Review


The Prepper community is growing. And with all of the natural disasters recently, floods, fires, hurricanes, earthquakes…I can see why. And some products will work for both Preppers and outdoor enthusiasts, like for a travel trailer. Up for review today is a product that will work for both. Enter the Go Power! 120-Watt Portable Solar Kit GP-PSK-120.

Features and specs:
Output Power: 120W
Rated Current: 6.7A
Rated Voltage: 18V
Dimensions of panel folded closed (inches): 32.48 x 19.88 x 2.76
Dimensions of panel open (inches): 32.48 x 39.76 x 1.38
Weight of kit: 15 kg (33 lbs)




The Go Power! GP-PSK-120 came shipped in a nice looking color printed box with photos and specs printed on the box. Opening the box revealed a well protected system held in a case. I pulled out the case and saw a well made semi hard zipper case. Opening the case revealed the solar panels were made of mostly metal with a little bit of plastic. Quality of materials used was excellent, as was the fit and finish. It is built like a tank, and would provide years of use. Also included were the owner’s manual and cables.

The design of the Go Power! GP-PSK-120 is solid and extremely functional. It all fits in the semi-hard zipper case to protect it. When you pull it out, it’s impressive. It’s an efficient design. There are two panels that fold together. When they are folded together, the connectors and manual store conveniently inside. There are legs that fold down flat, one under each panel. So setting up the panels is very simple. It’s just a matter of folding the panels flat, puling out the legs, standing the panels up, and plugging in the correct connector for what the panels will be charging.

And they have all your charging options covered as well. If this is for an RV that is solar charger system ready, both SAE and XLR connectors are covered. If you are charging a regular 12 volt battery, your charging options are also covered. There are ring connectors for batteries that accept ring terminals. And for these batteries that do not accept ring terminals, there are extremely high quality alligator clips. Also included is a 12 foot extension cord so you have plenty of distance to set up your panels next to the battery.  I also loved the high quality heavy gauge 12/2 wire that was used throughout.

All in all it’s a very simple design. There are two 60 watt panels hinged together to fold flat when used. Underneath the panels is the 10 amp charge controller. When not used the panels fold up and hold the connectors. The handle is even a solid heave gauge metal that is spring loaded to close when not in use. So far, it’s all very impressive. Let’s see how it all works.

Setting it up was as easy as unfolding it, pulling out the legs, locking into place the extension cord, and then plugging in the cable with the ring terminals and connecting it to my battery.  The amp charge controller quickly came to life, and I was able to go into the setting and make sure it was set for my AGM style battery. The manual was very easy to read and follow.  I could see that per the manual I should be getting 14.4V (+ or -0.1V) from the solar panels to the battery.  Looking up at the digital display on the charge controller it was confirmed, 14.5V.  I loved that I could toggle the display to show current voltage being received, current amps, and percentage that the battery was charged.  And having a USB connection on the side of the charge controller was also a nice bonus.

In the end, I was very impressed with the Go Power! 120-Watt Portable Solar Kit GP-PSK-120. I can’t see how it could be built any more solidly. You should get many years of service out of it. And the panels and controller worked great together to provide the power I expected. While it's MSRP of $680 is not cheap, it can be found for less online.  And given it's impeccable build quality and performance, feel it is worth every penny! Based on it’s design, features, quality and performances, the Go Power! GP-PSK-120 has earned our Editor’s Choice Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.gpelectric.com.




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Creative Stage Air Soundbar Review


Creative is well known for their computer soundcards: the SoundBlaster line. But they also have more excellent products in their soundbar line, as well as products in their speaker line. And they are known to be great bang for the buck. This carries over to their soundbars as well. Up for review today is their Creative Stage Air.

Features and specs:
Dimensions (H x W x D)
70 x 410 x 78 mm, USB Cord Length: Approximately 0.5 m, 3.5 mm Cable Cord Length: Approximately 0.5 m
Weight
910 g (2 lb), 3.5 mm Stereo Cable: 10 g, micro USB Cable: 10 g
Operating Temperature
0°C to 45°C
Power Output
2 x 5 W, Total System Peak power: 20W
Drivers
2 x Drivers
Frequency Response
80Hz ~ 20kHz
Battery Type
Built-in Li-ion, 2200 mAh
Battery Life
6 hours
System Configuration
One-piece
Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR)
≥ 72 dB
Bluetooth Operating Frequency
2402 – 2480MHz
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 4.2
Bluetooth Profile
AVRCP (Bluetooth Remote Control), A2DP (Wireless Stereo Bluetooth)
Supported Codecs
SBC
Connector Type
Bluetooth, AUX-in




The Creative Stage Air came in a nice looking color printed box with photos and features on the box. Opening it revealed a well protected product held in place with a custom molded foam. Materials used in the construction was mostly plastic with some metal. Quality of materials used was very good, as was the fit and finish. Also included was the USB cable, 3.5 mm analog audio cable and owner’s manual.

I love the design of the Creative Stage Air. It’s a small soundbar that is designed for under computer monitor use. But it also has a built-in battery, analog 3.5 mm connection, as well as Bluetooth connectivity. So while it works great under your computer monitor, it also works great anywhere. Since it has a built in battery, you can use it with your smart phone or USB flashdrive or old mp3 player with analog audio cable, and truly listen to your music anywhere! MSRP is a really low $49, and the functionality you get for the price is mind blowing! Now let’s see how it sounds.

Since it is the Christmas season, I turned to a couple of my favorite songs. Mannheim Steamroller: Carol of the Bells,  the bells were crisp and fairly clean, with nice resolution.  The drums had nice impact and played sufficiently deep.  Brass was smooth with nice pitch definition and harmonics.  Mannheim Steamroller: Pat a Pan, the flute was nice and airy with better than expected resolution.  Strings were crisp and clean.  Drums and percussion were dynamic, with decent impact and low end extension.  Sound from flat screen TV's have come a long way.  But the Creative Stage Air proved to have better resolution as well as better bass response.  While they did not have a whole lot of bass, they sounded good for it's size, and had better sound than I expected for it's price.


The Creative Stage Air, while it has an MSRP of $49, it can be found online for even less. To be able to get this much usability and versatility is amazing at the price point. It’s also well made to provide lots of use. The Bluetooth also worked well, and was very easy to pair with my smartphone. Based on it’s design, features, quality and performance, the Creative Stage Air has earned our Value Award. And it’s a perfect holiday gift for a loved one. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.uscreative.com.




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Sunday, December 2, 2018

Audio-Technica AT33EV Moving Coil Phono Cartridge Review


We all like the sound of our music. And there’s nothing like the unique sound of a record. That is the reason why so many are so passionate about it. If you want the best sound out of your records, you need a good cartridge. Audio Technica has a huge line of cartridges. For those really serious audiophiles, there is the moving coil line. Up for review today is their Audio-Technica AT33EV Moving Coil Cartridge.

Features and specs:
Frequency Response:  15-50,000 Hz
15-50,000 Hz
Channel Separation:  30 dB (1 kHz)
30 dB (1 kHz)
Vertical Tracking Force: 1.8-2.2 grams (2.0 grams standard)
1.8-2.2 grams (2.0 grams standard)
Recommended Load Impedance:  100 ohms (with head amplifier connected)
100 ohms (with head amplifier connected)
Output:  0.3 (mV at 1 kHz, 3.54 cm/sec)
0.3 (mV at 1 kHz, 3.54 cm/sec)
Channel Balance:  0.5 dB (1 kHz)
0.5 dB (1 kHz)
Stylus Shape:   0.3 x 0.7 mil nude elliptical
0.3 x 0.7 mil nude elliptical
Cantilever:  Duralumin tapered pipe
Duralumin tapered pipe
Mount:  Half-inch
Half-inch


 

The Audio-Technica AT33EV came in a nice color printed box with specs printed on it. Opening the box revealed a well protected cartridge in a clear plastic box. Also included was the owner’s manual, brush, screws, screwdriver and wires. It included everything you need to install the cartridge on your head. Materials used in the construction appeared to be all metal. Quality of materials used, as well as fit and finish was excellent. It is a flagship product, and it definitely shows.

I love the design and build quality if the Audio-Technica AT33EV. Audio-Technica always makes high quality products for the price point. Given its $549 MSRP, I was expecting the same. But after pulling it out and seeing it, I was floored. It’s built like a tank for a cartridge. Just be prepared that it does not come with a head.

Attaching it to a spare head I had with the included hardware was simple enough. They provided all of the hardware needed; wires, mini screwdriver, dust brush, and screws in a couple of different sizes. The included manual walked you through the installation process. I was glad to see that it was easy to read and follow. I would expect that those buying this cartridge have experience installing cartridges, but if not just follow the manual. I got it installed and connected to my phono pre-amp, and was ready to go.

The sound provide by the Audio-Technica AT33EV was nothing short of stellar! The level of resolution provided was amazing, and I heard details in the music I had not noticed before. Experiencing my music again like it was the first time was a true treasure. I moved from record to record as I fell in love again with the collection. Prince: 1999, the vocals were so silky smooth with excellent texture and timbre. Cymbals were so crisp and clean and the bass was deep, full and with excellent impact and dynamics. Beethoven's 4th Symphony: Strings were extremely clean with excellent resolution of the strings and very dynamic as well. Brass was silky smooth with nice harmonics in the midbass, flute had nice air. And the tympani had excellent impact and low end extension with authority.  Sound stage was not just deep and wide, it was holographic.  And this was the result of everything I placed on the turntable.  Crisp and clean highs with tons of resolution, mids that were silky smooth with excellent harmonics, and midbass and bass with excellent pitch definition, low end definition, dynamics, and authority.  Soundstage was wide, deep, and more holographic in nature, with excellent imaging. 

In the end, I was taken back by the Audio-Technica AT33EV. The sound provided by it was astonishing. The sound quality of modern CD’s and high resolution formats provides amazing resolution. It was so pleasing to not only be able to hear the sound that records are known for, but thanks to the AT33EV, I was also able to hear the resolution the songs provide. You get the best of both worlds! And the build quality is impeccable! Based on it’s design, features, quality and performance, the Audio-Technica AT33EV Moving Coil Cartridge has earned our Editor’s Choice Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.audio-technica.com.




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