Saturday, December 9, 2017

Nextbook Flexx 11A 2-In-1 Windows 10 Tablet Review

Computers have come such a long way in the last 50 years. Computers that used to have dedicated rooms now fit easily on our laps. And with the internet, a lot of what used to be stored on hard drives now can be accessed through the cloud. So how much computing power does the average user really need? Can a Nextbook do the job? Up for review today is the Nextbook Flexx11A. MSRP in only $229.

Features and specs:

·         11.6 inch High-resolution 1366 x 768 IPS Screen
·         Intel® ATOM Quad-Core Processor 1.84GHz (Z8300)
·         2GB DDR3L; 64GB onboard storage
·         WIFI 802.11 b/g/n
·         Bluetooth 4.0
·         Front and Back Camera 2.0 M
·         Micro HDMI
·         Pogo Keyboard with one USB 2.0 port
·         Micro-SD card slot for expansion to 128GB
·         Support 3 -axis G-sensor
·         Built-in microphone
·         9000 MAH Internal rechargeable battery
·         Charging indicator light
·         Windows 10
·         Office Mobile
Get Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote apps that are built for Windows tablets for a rich offline experience.


The Nextbook Flexx 11A came packaged in a great looking color printed box with pictures on the product and specs listed on it. Also included was a charging cord, instruction manual and an easy start up guide. Opening the box revealed the product well protected with cardboard cutouts and custom fit compartments. Materials used in construction were mostly plastic with some metal and the unit was wrapped in a fitted cellophane pouch. Quality of materials as well as fit and finish were excellent and it appears to be a solid construction.  It may not be as polished as some tablets, but it’s also a lot less expensive.

The Nextbook Flexx 11A is a two in one product; tablet and computer combined. The screen and keyboard fit together snugly and are held in place with sturdy magnets that make switching modes a dream. The touch screen is responsive and I really enjoyed being able to touch icons instead of moving the mouse and double clicking on them.

Setup was easy. Upon turning on the computer for the first time, the Nextbook Flexx11A walked me screen by screen through the set up process, including setting up cloud accounts and logging into your Wi-Fi. Switching between the laptop mode and the tablet mode was as simple as detaching the screen. The Nextbook automatically recognized when this happened and would switch modes without any further action on the user’s part. The internet is fast and easy to navigate. While there aren’t many programs preloaded, the Nextbook does have access to the Playstore for apps for the tablet mode. I enjoyed customizing the desktop to my needs.

The keyboard is a tad small for full typing, but not nearly as cramped as these keyboards normally get. It is easily compatible with note taking or working with a document. I especially appreciated that there was no delay in typing on the keyboard and the symbols appearing on the screen. The screen and the keyboard worked together seamlessly. The graphics were very nice, with sharp contrast in the colors and brightness levels to accommodate any circumstance. The speakers were adequate. At higher volumes it did have a tinny quality, but that is typical for small internal speakers, and they worked very well. Most of the games I played on this unit were for the tablet mode, but the screen was very responsive to touch while playing games and there was no lag time involved with response. The battery life was very good, with a run time of about 6 hours while using non-stop combination between games and documents, or up to three days with intermittent use. And it charged quickly and can be used while charging.


The Nextbook Flexx11A proved to be a very capable 2-in-1 tablet.  I loved the versatility of being able to just take the screen off and use it in tablet mode.  Yet keeping the screen on provided a nice built-in screen protector when closed, as the keyboard protected the screen.  The screen was very responsive, graphics looked great, and it sounded good too for a tablet. It provided great functionality, and impressive performance.  It’s bang for the buck is off the charts!  Based on it’s design, features, quality, and performance, the Nextbook Flexx11A has earned our Editor’s Choice Award.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.nextbookusa.com


Read more!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

JBL Link 300 Voice-Activated Speaker Review

JBL makes some great sounding products. Up for review today is their JBL Link 300. It’s a speaker system with Google Home built-in. There are a lot of options for Google Home products, but most don’t provide the big sound of the JBL Link 300. MSRP is $249.



Features and specs:
  • Get Help from your Google Assistant 
  • Hands-free voice control 
  • Simple setup with the Google Home app on iOS & Android 
  • Chromecast built-in 
  • 24 bit/96kHz High quality sound, powered by the cloud 
  • Multi-room playback across speakers that have Chromecast built-in 
  • 2.4/5GHz Wi-Fi connection network support 
  • Wireless Bluetooth® streaming 
  • Room filling sound

Transducer1 x 89mm woofer, 1 x 20mm tweeter
Output power2 x 25W
Frequency response55Hz–22kHz (-6dB)
Signal-to-noise ratio>80dB
Power supply19VDC, 3.0A
Wireless network802.11b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz/5GHz)
Bluetooth® version4.2
Supported audio formatsHE-AAC, LC-AAC, MP3, Vorbis, WAV (LPCM), FLAC, Opus
Dimensions (W x H x D)236mm x 134mm x 154mm
Weight1.7 kg

The JBL Link 300 came in a great looking color printed box, with photos and specs of the Link 300. Opening the box revealed a well protected product held in place by custom fit foam. Also included was the quick start guide, and power cord. Materials used in the construction was mostly plastic with some rubber, and wrapped in a black meshed cloth. Quality of materials was excellent, as was the fit and finish. As I have come to expect from a JBL product, the JBL Link 300 was built very well and feels very solid in hand. I couldn’t wait to test it out.

The JBL Link 300 is not a wireless product. So you will want to first figure out where you want it in your home. Setting it up was very easy. All you have to do it download the Google Home app on your smartphone. The app will then walk you through the setting up your JBL Link 300, and it was amazingly easy! And once setup, using Google Home was also very easy. I was quite surprised at how sensitive the JBL Link 300 was. I could be in the other room, and the JBL Link 300 would hear me and respond.

What I really liked about the JBL Link 300 was its Google Home being in a larger speaker size. Not only does it do Google Home, but it is a great speaker. Due to its larger size, it has improved bass response. So now you can have Google Home and a nice home speaker in one device.  The specs show the JBL Link 300 as having only 2 drivers:  a 20mm tweeter, and an 89mm woofer.  When I first unwrapped the JBL Link 300, I saw the rear firing woofer on the back.  That was exciting. The cloth wrap hid the front firing speakers.   Sometimes a speaker this size can have stereo speakers on the front, like a separate tweeter and midrange on each side.  Or due to it's size it can have just a single tweeter and a single midrange.  But JBL must have some faries doing some magic behind that black meshed cloth.  To have just the one woofer on the back and a single tweeter on the front, JBL pulled out an amazing aural magic trick from under their sleeve. 


When it came to the JBL Link 300’s speaker functionality, the Link 300 delivered in spades. It can be used as a stand alone speaker for Google Home, used to play music through the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth or Chromecast.  Chromecast will also let you link multiple speakers together to play your music to multiple rooms. When it came to music performance, the JBL Link 300 continued it’s stellar performance.  My only disappointment was the JBL App.  In order to be able to link multiple speakers together in a whole home system, you use the JBL App so your music plays out of all of the linked speakers.  But there is currently a glitch in the app, and I could not link the JBL Link 20 and the JBL Link 300 to play music together.  JBL is working on it, and will post an update once it is fixed.  The Bluetooth functionality worked well, was easy to pair, and worked well at over 45 feet away and thru walls without a loss of signal.

What did not disappoint was the sound.  Initial listening session had me impressed with the sound.  I loved the bass response.  After realizing the JBL Link 300 has only 1 tweeter and 1 woofer, I was in awe, and did some critical listening.  Afterwards I was even more in awe.  As I mentioned before, JBL really pulled a trick from under their sleeve with this one.  The JBL Link 300 actually threw a deeper than expected soundstage, and actually provided imaging.  I wasn't expecting to hear much if any soundstage or imaging in a small speaker like this.  I threw several different songs from different genre, and was very surprised.  Based on my experience from JBL's high quality products, I have come to expect quality sound.  But this was better than expected.  The highs were crisp and clean, mids were not overly warm, and the bass was tight, had impact, and provided depth deeper than expected for it's small size.  Flutes were crisp and had good air.  Vocals were natural sounding with nice texture and harmonics.  Percussion was dynamic with good resolution.    

If you like good sound, and want to have Google Home functionality, the JBL Link 300 should be on your short list.  It provides great functionality, features, and stellar sound for it's size.  With an MSRP of $249, they are a bargain and worth every penny.  Based on it's design, features, quality, and performance, the JBL Link 300 has earned our Editor's Choice Award.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.jbl.com.


Read more!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

JBL Link 20 Voice-Activated Portable Speaker Review

JBL makes some excellent products.  In the past, we have had the opportunity to review their portable Charge series of speakers.  So when given the chance to review their new Link series, we naturally jumped at the opportunity.  Today we are reviewing their JBL Link 20.  It's a great portable wireless speaker with Google Home built-in, and is also IPX7 level waterproof rated.


Features and specs:

General Specifications

Transducer2 x 50mm
Output power2 x 10W
Frequency response65Hz–20kHz
Signal-to-noise ratio>80dB
Wireless network802.11b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz)
Bluetooth version4.2
Supported audio formatsHE-AAC, LC-AAC, MP3, Vorbis, WAV (LPCM), FLAC, Opus
Dimensions (Dia x H)93mm x 210mm
Weight950 g

Battery

Battery typeLithium-ion Polymer (3.7V, 6000mAh)
Battery charge time4.5 hours @5V 2.3A
Music play timeup to 10 hours (varies by volume level and content)

Battery 1

Battery typeLithium-ion Polymer (3.7V, 6000mAh)
Battery charge time4.5 hours @5V 2.3A
Music play timeup to 10 hours (varies by volume level and content)




























 

The JBL Link 20 came in a nice looking color printed box, with photos of the speaker and it's specs printed on the box.  Opening the box revealed a well protected speaker set in custom plastic molding.  Also included was the quick start guide, and wall charger and cord.  The JBL Link 20 is mostly plastic with some rubber and covered in a cloth mesh.  Quality of materials used was excellent, as was the fit and finish.  The build quality is very good, as we have come to expect from JBL. 

I was very excited to test the JBL Link 20.  I had some high expectations, and was hoping the Google Home was integrated very well.  The Link 20 came mostly charged, and after plugging it in, I got it fully charged.  There are 4 LED's above the power button that blink as the Link 20 charges and tells you the level of charge.  The power button lights up, as well as a mic button directly under the power button.  Just press the mic button to mute the mic.  On the front of the JBL Link 20 is a wi-fi image that lights up when it's connected to a wi-fi network.  And on the top are a series of 4 white LED light that light up in motion when Google is listening for your request.

Setting up the JBL Link 20 was very easy.  Once it was fully charged, I downloaded the app on my HTC One M9 smartphone.  The app was very simple to follow, and walked me thru setting up the JBL Link onto my home network, and getting it to recognize my voice.  In less than 5 minutes I was up and running.  Although for whatever reason, I had to first turn off the Link 20 and restart it for Google to start working. 

Now it was time to put Google Home to the test.  I asked a couple of the sample questions provided, like what is the temperature outside.  And do I need an umbrella.  These questions had no problems with a response.  Then I started asking many other questions.  When asked what to do for a headache, I was told a cold towel on my neck or soaking my feet in hot water can help, and cited the source and reasoning for why it would help.  I was impressed.  There were a couple times when I did get a response of something along the lines of...I do not know the answer to that question, but I am continually learning.  For listening to music, it does help to have a Google Play Music account for better music selection.  There was also one time that my music was interrupted by some notification, but I wasn't sure what it was doing until I remembered I asked google to set an alarm for me. Lol.

And that leads us to the music test.  When asked to play some soft jazz, Google obliged.  Cymbals were crisp and clean.  Piano sounded natural.  Drums had good impact and depth of midbass.  Sax was nice and smooth with good air.  Vocals also had good resolution and texture.  Bass had good depth and output for a device it's size, and was just a tad muddy.  Mids were smooth without being too warm.  Treble was also crisp without being bright.  For it's size, the JBL Link not only played very well with better than expected sound, it also played really loud for it's size, and can fill most rooms in a house with sufficient sound. 

They also performed well with Bluetooth performance.  Getting the JBL Link 20 to pair to my HTC One M9 was very quick and easy.  And the connection was very good. Having a 3 story location, I was able to go all over the main and 3rd floor with the Link 20 being on the 2nd floor.  But having the Link 20 on the 3rd floor, signal was dropped once I reached the main floor.  I guess the signal did not like going thru 2 thick floors.  Going thru multiple walls on the same floor or a floor above or below however was not a problem.  So the Bluetooth performance was quite good.

The JBL Link 20 entered the ring with high expectations, having reviewed multiple of their wireless speakers before.  And the JBL Link 20 did not disappoint.  From a speaker standpoint, they performed very well! Vocals sounded very natural with good texture, mids were smooth with good resolution and nice harmonics.  Bass was sufficiently deep with good authority for it's size and the highs were crisp with lots of detail. Any music genre I played sounded good on the JBL Link 20.  And the Google Home performed very well.  So well infact that it was able to hear me in the other room!  Based on it's design, features, quality, and performance, the JBL Link 20 has earned our Highly Recommended award.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.jbl.com.



Read more!

Monday, November 20, 2017

2017 Annual Holiday Gadget Gift Guide

Thanksgiving is almost here, which means it must be time for our annual Holiday Gadget Gift Guide. So if you are looking for some gift ideas, hopefully we can help. This year we tried to include some focus on smart home products. And they are from some great manufacturers. They are Elite Screens Yard Master 2, JBL Link 200, JBL Link 300, Next Book Flexx11A, Royale Moon, and Sound Blaster KatanaX.


The Elite Screens Yard Master 2 is an outdoor screen. If you like to entertain, and this includes watching movies outdoors, an outdoor screen like Elite Screen’s Yard Master 2 is a must have. The Screen is portable, and easy to assemble. You can also use a 2-Way screen material for more viewing options.  MSRP for the 120" 16:9 screen is $234.  Review is re-scheduled for the week ending 12/17/17.

The JBL Link 200 is a wireless speaker system that is also a Google Home product. It’s small and portable. Being water resistant also gives more usage options. So while it’s perfectly home in your home, the JBL Link 200 can also be used poolside, or anywhere else outdoors.  MSRP is $199.95. Review is scheduled for week ending 11/26/17. 

When it comes to memory for your electronic devices, Kingston has you covered.  It started for them with computer RAM memory sticks.  And while they still provide those memory sticks, not they also provide storage for all of your other electronic devices, such as SD cards for digital camera's and camcorders, and microSD cards for smart phones.  They also have flash drives for your computers and smart phones.  Now they have extended this to your iPhone with their new DataTraveler Bolt to store all your phone's photos and videos.  MSRP is $89.99 for the 64GB model.  Review is scheduled for week ending 12/17/17. 


Next is the JBL Link 300. A member of the JBL Link family, it is a Google Home device. So, if you are looking for the weather, or for a show time, just ask the JBL Link 300, and Google will answer. The JBL Link 300 is not water resistant, so it’s home is in the home. The JBL Link 300 is part of the JBL Link family, so it can be linked to any of the other Link products. Link several together and you have a whole home system.  MSRP is $249.95.  Review is scheduled for week ending 12/3/17.

If you are looking for a tablet, Nextbook gives you bang for the buck. Especially the Nextbook Flexx11A. It’s a 2 in 1 tablet with a detachable keyboard. So you can use it with or without a keyboard.  MSRP is $229.  Review is scheduled for week ending 12/10/17.

It’s time now for the Royale Moon. The Royale Moon 3D Mobile Theater is a portable theater with the dual 1080p displays and headphones, you can enjoy your movies and gaming anywhere. Thanks to the foldable design, they are easily portable.  MSRP is $799.99. Review is scheduled for week ending 12/10/17.

Last but not least is the Sound Blaster KatanaX. The Sound Blaster KatanaX is a high quality soundbar with a separate subwoofer. With its multiple inputs and Bluetooth connectivity, the KatanaX provides a lot of options to give you great sound. And I love the LED light show they provide to enhance the gaming experience.  MSRP is $299.99.  The review can be found here:  http://www.stereowiseplus.com/2017/10/creative-sound-blasterx-katana-multi.html


This year’s gift guide has provided some great products. Don’t forget to check back in for the full reviews for any of the products you may be interested in. And hopefully these will give you some gift ideas. Any of these products would make for a great holiday gift.  Thank you for reading, and Happy Holidays from our family to yours.


Read more!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Creative Sound BlasterX Katana Multi-channel Gaming Soundbar Review

I love how advanced TV’s are getting. They’re flat, with amazing 4K resolution available. Many will also let you go online for content as well. Bottom line, they look great visually but picture is only half of the presentation. Good sound from that small space is hard to do. Enter the soundbar. Today we will be covering the Creative Sound BlasterX Katana.

The Creative Sound BlasterX Katana is a great looking system. It is actually a 2 piece system that encompasses a sound bar and a separate subwoofer. And fun was part of the equation, with its selection of colors to choose from for ambient light. Will be a great feature for gamers. So it’s actually quick versatile, being able to be used as a traditional sound bar, for a gaming system, or for a stand alone music system.

Features and specs:
Dimensions (H x W x D)
Soundbar: 60.0 x 600.0 x 79.0 mm (2.4 x 23.6 x 3.1 inches), Subwoofer: 333 x 130 x 299 mm (5.1 x 11.8 x 13.1 inches)
Weight
Soundbar: 1.5kg (3.3 lbs), Subwoofer: 4kg (8.8 lbs)
System Configuration
2.1 system
Bluetooth® Version
Bluetooth 4.2
Bluetooth Profile
A2DP (Wireless Stereo Bluetooth)
Supported Codecs
SBC, AAC
Connector Type
Bluetooth, AUX-in, USB FlashDrive, Headset out, USB Audio, Mic-in, Optical-in
Color
Black
Remote Control
Infrared
Design
Tri-Amplified Design


The Creative Sound BlasterX Katana came in a nice looking color printed box, with photos and specs of the system. It was well protected in the box, and came with the instructions, remote, power cord, and multiple USB cords as well. Materials used for the construction was metal and plastic on the sound bar. The subwoofer appeared to be a laminate on wood design. Quality of materials used was very good as was the finish. It’s the quality I have come to expect of Creative.


Setting up the Creative Sound BlasterX Katana was very easy. There is the one control panel on the back, with all the connections clearly labeled. The only connection type that I would have liked to have seen that was not there is HDMI. Hooking it up to my cable box then an optical cable was simple. And trying out other devices like an mp3 player and smartphone with the other connections and Bluetooth was just as simple.

Creative has a long history of experience with audio products. So the performance should have been no surprise for me. But it still sounded better than I expected! Watching a college football game, the vocals were very clear, intelligible and distinct. The cheer of the crowd came through loud and clear through a very large and surprisingly deep soundstage.

Watching the mining colony scene in Guardians’ of the Galaxy, the highs were crisp and clean during the glass breaking, plasma shots, and explosions. Mids were warm, detailed, with a lot of resolution. The midbass from the sound bar was also better than expected. The same can be said for the small subwoofer. It had good low end extension and provided output without being distorted or muddy. The same can be said for the sound of them. Listening to music through the analog input. Dynamics were very good, as was the imaging. The soundstage was large and much deeper than expected. Vocals were very smooth with great harmonics and texture. Highs were crisp and clean without being overly bright. Mids were smooth and not overly warm. Bass had good detail and depth with sufficient low end extension.


I truly enjoyed the Creative Sound BlasterX Katana has large amount of versatility. As a traditional sound bar, it will add significantly better sound to your TV, without the need of a lot of wiring. I was not able to pair my HTC One M8 with it through Bluetooth, but sometimes there are compatibility issues between devices. Flash drives and using the analog connector is a great way to listen to music through the Creative Sound BlasterX Katana. The ambient LED lights also make it fun for gaming.

Creative has a long history of delivering great audio products. This tradition continues to go strong today, which the Creative Sound BlasterX Katana are proof of it. The sound bar will fill even a large room with great sound. Only when turned up nearly full blast does it sound a bit strained. Otherwise, the sound is very good. If you are in the market for a sound bar, the Creative Sound BlasterX Katana should be on your short list. Based on its design, features, quality and performance, the Creative Sound BlasterX Katana has earned our Editor's Choice Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.us.creative.com.


Read more!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Blue Sadie Premium Headphones with Built-In Audiophile Amp Review

Blue is a big name in sound products, especially microphones. Now they do headphones, and have been for a couple years now. Their first model was a game changer in the Blue Mo-Fi headphones. Now their updated model is the Blue Sadie. It has the features that are liked, only updated.


Features and specs:


  • Built-in audiophile amplifier for true high-fidelity sound on any device
  • 50mm drivers custom-tuned for a superior soundstage
  • Refined personalized fit for superior comfort
  • Sealed over-ear design for immersive isolation
  • Racecar-inspired multi-jointed headband design keeps earcups parallel at all times for superior comfort and sound
  • Powers on and off automatically when headphones are opened and closed
  • Rechargeable battery provides up to 12 hours of playtime; Sadie continues to play music even when battery has no charge

DRIVER SPECS


  • Type, and physical size: 50mm, fiber-reinforced dynamic driver
  • Impedance: 42 ohms
  • Frequency response: 15Hz-20kHz
  • Enclosure details: Sealed enclosure with tuned damping materials

AMPLIFIER SPECS


  • Output power: 240mW
  • THD+N: 0.004%
  • Frequency response: 15Hz-20kHz
  • SNR, self noise: >105 dB
  • Noise: < 20 uV
  • Battery capacity: 1000mAh

HEADPHONE SPECS


  • Weight: 444 g (15.67 oz)
  • Outer dimensions (closed): 21cm x 14cm x 12cm; 8.27” x 5.51” x 4.72
  • Outer dimensions (open): 18cm x 29cm x 12cm; 7.09” x 11.42” x 4.72”

INCLUDED ACCESSORIES


  • Soft case with cable storage pocket
  • 1.2-meter audio cable with Apple iPhone/iPad controls and microphone
  • 3 meter audio cable
  • 1 meter USB charging cable
  • 3.5mm to 1/4" adaptor



The Blue Sadie came in a great looking printed box with photos of the headphones, and its specs. Opening the box revealed a well protected headphone sitting in a custom molding. Materials used in the construction was mostly plastic and metal, with leather earcups and headband, padded with memory foam. The Quality of materials used was very good. The fit and finish is excellent. The Blue Sadie are premium headphones, that is built like a tank and it shows! Also included was a standard cable, cable with in-line remote, charging cord, and owner’s manual.

I absolutely lover the design of the Blue Sadie. When Blue designed their headphone, they started from the ground up, totally thinking out of the box. And the design shows! The design of the headband with the multiple joints, provides a headphone that gives you the perfect fit. The built-in headphone amp gives the extra power boost needed for the best sound when you are listening to a low power device, like a smartphone. I also really like the 3 different setting for the built in amp and pass through, on and bass boost.
 



For song selection, we thought we would mix some new school with some old school.  We'll start with twenty One Pilots: Heathens, then go to Kansas: Carry On Wayward Son, and Fresh Aire: Going To Another Place.  Twenty One Pilots: Heathens, vocals were very smooth, natural sounding, with very good texture and resolution.  Piano sounded very natural with good harmonics.  Percussion was extremely crisp and very dynamic. Bass was extremely full, very deep, tight, and played with tons of authority.  Kansas: Carry On Wayward Son, vocals were smooth as honey with very good harmonics and texture.  Kick drum had very good extension, impact, and played with a lot of authority. Keyboard had very good resolution and was not bright.  Cymbals were crisp and dynamic.  Soundstage was quite large and imaging was very good.  Fresh Aire: Going To Another Place, strings were extremely crisp and clean with very good resolution and dynamics.  Piano was very natural with very good tone.  Flute was very smooth with tons of air and resolution, easily being able to make out the tonguing technique.  Drums had very nice low end extension with a very full sound that was tight and played with lots of authority.  I liked the large soundstage with excellent imaging.


Blue's Sadie had a very neutral overall sound as well.  The MSRP is $399, which is quite a bargain!  Their new from scratch design with a very unique headband with multiple pivots gave a perfect fit every time!  It also has a built-in headphone amp that while giving a slight improvement to the sound, it mostly gave a big boost to the volume.  And it also has a bass boost setting that worked well.  The bass boost did only work with the built-in amp engaged.  Kudos to Blue for another excellent product!  based on their design, features, quality, and performance the Blue Sadie has earned our Editor's Choice Award.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.bluemic.com.



Read more!