Friday, December 31, 2021

2021 Annual Editor's Choice Award Recipients

Just when you thought all the craziness was done with COVID in 2020, it was another wild year in 2021.  Yet, there still were some great products in 2021.  It’s that time of the year again, for us to reflect back on the best that has come across my desk this year.  Those that have earned our Editor’s Choice Award.  We tried to emphasize home theater products, for those that are still playing it safe and staying home.  But also portable products as well, for those that had enough and just had to get out.  This is to further recognize those products, and links to the individual reviews are also provided.

 

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC900BT Active Noise Cancelling wireless headphone

http://www.stereowiseplus.com/2021/03/audio-technica-ath-anc900bt-anc.html

 

Beyerdynamic Lagoon Active Noise Cancelling wireless headphones

http://www.stereowiseplus.com/2021/03/beyerdynamic-lagoon-anc-wireless.html

 

Focal Listen Wireless headphones

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

 

Kenwood Motorsport CAM STZ-RF200WD camera system

http://www.stereowiseplus.com/2021/12/kenwood-motorsports-cam-stz-rf200wd.html

 

Master & Dynamic MW08 true wireless In-Ear Monitor

http://www.stereowiseplus.com/2021/03/master-dynamic-introduces-mw08-active.html

 

Panasonic DP-UB9000P1K Reference Class THX 4K UHD Streaming Blu-ray Player

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

 

RBH Sound SI-1212 Signature In-Ceiling/In-Floor Subwoofer System

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

 

Sony VPL-VW325ES 4K SXRD Home Cinema Projector

http://www.stereowiseplus.com/2021/12/sony-4k-sxrd-home-cinema-projector-vpl.html

 

While it has been a crazy year, it has still been a good year.  And there are some great products to be had.  These have been the best that we have seen this year.  Thank you all for reading.  There is more to come, so stay tuned for some great reviews to come next year.  And from our family to yours, Happy Holidays!



Read more!

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Kenwood Motorsports Cam STZ-RF200WD Review

Safety is always a top priority. You never know when an accident can happen. It’s also fun to be able to record your adventures. For these reasons dash cams have become popular. But now it’s not just for your car, truck, or SUV. Thanks to Kenwood you can now have this fun and security on your motorcycle or ATV. Up for review is Kenwood’s Motorsports Cam STZ-RF200WD.

 

Features and specs:

Waterproofing/

Dustproofing: Main Unit: IP55

Cameras: IP66/67

GPS/GLONASS Antenna: IP66/67

Control Switch: IP66/67

Front & Rear Camera

Units: Image Sensors: 2 Megapixels ( effective pixels : 1.86 megapixels)

Lens Viewing Angle: 195° Diagonal (effective angle: 181°)

Frame Rate: 27.5 fps

F-number: 2.2

Recording Resolution: 1920 x 1080

Video Quality: Fine / Normal

Video File Format: MP4 ( Video format : H.264 audio format : AAC)

Recorded File Length: 30 seconds / 1 minute / 3minutes (Recording time for one file)

Recording Mode: Continuous recording, event recording, manual recording

Data Recorded: Video file, time and date, speed, location information

Audio Recording: ON / OFF

HDR: Yes

G-sensor: Yes (5 impact sensitivity settings / OFF)

GPS: Yes

Electronic Image

Stabilization: Yes

Positioning Satelites: GPS / GLONASS

Storage Media: microSDHC, microSDXC Class 10 UHS-I

16GB to 256GB

Recorded video Playback Methods: KENWOOD Motorsports CAM App

-iOS 11 or later

-Android 7 or later

KENWOOD Motorsports CAM Viewer

- Apple Mac OS 10.14(Mojave) or later

- Microsoft Windows 10

Power Supply: DC 12V

Power Consumption: 0.48 A

Measurement

( W x D x H) Main unit: 79 × 104 × 22.5 mm

3-1/8 x 4-1/8 x 7/8 inches

Camera /pc: 23.5 (Φ) × 34.4 mm

15/16(Φ) x 13/8 inches

GPS/GLONASS Antenna: 27.4 × 33 × 13 mm

1-1/8 x 1-5/16 x 1/2 inches

Control Switch:  25.8 × 36.9 × 9.5 mm

1 x 1-7/16 x 3/8 inches

Weight

(Excluding Cable) Main unit: 105 g (0.2315 lb)

Camera / pc: 42 g (0.0926 lb)

GPS/GLONASS Antenna: 14 g (0.0309 lb)

Control Switch: 9 g (0.0918 lb)

Operating Temprature:   -20 °C to +60 °C

(-4 °F to 140 °F)

Warranty: 1year

 


The Kenwood Motorsports Cam STZ-RF200WD came in a nice-looking color printed box with photos and specs of the camera system. Opening the box revealed a very well protected product, with all parts wrapped in bubble wrap. Materials used in the construction was both metal and plastic. The quality of materials used, as well as the fit and finish was excellent! Included is the central module, two cameras, GPS antenna, remote switch, mounting and installation hardware, and owner’s manual.

 

I love the design of the Kenwood Motorsports Cam STZ-RF200WD. The central module is mostly plastic, yet it feels really solid. And the wires that came out of the module are very heavy duty, with solid connectors. The GPS antenna and the remote switch are also plastic, yet they also feel solid and well made. The two cameras actually have a metal housing, and are attached to a metal mount. Kenwood definitely designed this for your motorsport vehicle like a quad or side by side, it can definitely handle any water, mud or other environmental conditions thrown at it.

 

The Kenwood Motorsport Cam STZ-RF200WD also came with many excellent features and functionality. The dual cameras record in full 1080P resolution at 195-degree view. And with two cameras, you can record in front of you and behind you, simultaneously. With built-in EIS and HDR, you will have good looking video footage. There is a G-Sensor for impacts. So, if an impact, such as an accident is felt, the recorded video will be put in a protected folder, so it will not be recorded over. This is due to the recording modes. There are three to choose from. Continuous recording records it either 30 second, 1 minute or 3 minute sizes. So all of the saved video files will be in either 30 second, 1 minute or 3 minute segments. The 2nd mode, G-Sensor, places a recorded file in a protected folder. And the third is manual recording. Manual recording is activated by pushing the push-button switch. Each of the three recording modes also have their own sperate file that they record into. So when you push the button to record manually, it will record in that file.

 

The Kenwood Motorsport Cam STZ-RF200WD records not only good quality video, but audio as well. That’s because each of the cameras have the camera, as well as a mic. That way you get both video and audio. And thanks to the built-in GPS, your recorded videos will also have the time, location, and speed included in the video. And while there is a 32 GB card included, the device can handle up to 256 GB sized cards.

 

To watch videos and recorded on the internal card. That’s where the wireless link feature comes into play. It’s using a smartphone app that lets you control the system. Through the app, you can watch the videos stored on the internal memory card, as well as copy, edit and share any of the recorded videos. Through the app you can also change settings and update firmware.  The app connects to the camera system thru your phones wi-fi.

 

Installing the camera system was fairly straight forward. Some of the components, like the push-button switch and GPS antenna, have double sided tape already mounted on it. The included zip ties also hold the different components, like the central module and cameras in place. And if you are mounting this on a side by side or gold cart, the cable probably won’t be long enough. Fortunately, Kenwood sells extension cables. Now that it’s installed, let’s see how it performs.

 


Setting up the Kenwood Motorsport Cam was pretty simple.  With it wired up, I could see the indicator LED’s blinking on the switch that it was ready to connect to my smartphone thru wi-fi.  Once it was paired, I was able to go into the app, and go into the settings, and also watch the live video feed.  The resolution was very good with great details, as well as the beautiful colors.  They were well saturated without being overly so.  Reds were deep and yellows vibrant. 

 

The Kenwood Motorsport cam STZ-RF200WD is an excellent product. If you have been enjoying the security of having a dashcam in your vehicle, now you can have it in your motorsport vehicle like a side by side. And it’s also fun to be able to have the video of your adventures. With its excellent build quality, it should give you years of use. Based on its design, features, quality and performance, the Kenwood STZ-RD200WD has earned our Editor’s Choice Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.kenwood.com.



Read more!

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Sony 4K SXRD Home Cinema Projector VPL-VW325ES

Thankfully, with COVID, things appear that they are going back to somewhat normal. But over the last two years or so, there have been a lot more people staying at home, and binge-watching shows or movies. It’s been a great time to enjoy new 4K content, or maybe upgrade to 4K if you haven’t already done so. And of course, the best way to do that is to go big, with the biggest picture size that you can. In order to do that, the best way is with a front projector. The Sony VPL-VW325ES is a great one to do that with, which is up for review today.

 

Features and specs:

X1™ processor for projector brings you the best of Sony’s image processing

Dynamic HDR Enhancer brings a wider contrast range scene by scene for striking and realistic picture quality

Full Native 4K resolution on 3 SXRD imagers: 4096 x 2160 pixels each

Motionflow™ provides smooth motion for 4K & HD1

High Dynamic Range brings a wider contrast range for improved realism

High brightness of 1,500 Lumens

Advanced Reality Creation for upscaling and sharpening images without sharpening picture noise2

Input lag reduction ensures faster refresh rate for gamers

TRILUMINOS™ Display for wider array of rich colors

Enjoy the latest 4K content services with HDCP 2.2 compatibility on both 18 Gbps HDMI inputs3

Anamorphic lens compatibility for 4K signals (V-stretch for 4K)

 

Size & Weight

Dimensions (W x H x D)  19 1/2" x 8 3/32" x 18 1/4"

Weight  Approx. 31 lb (14 kg)

Display

Display System   4K SXRD panel, projection system

Display Resolution           720 x 576/50p, 720 x 480/60p, 1280 x 720/50p, 1280 x 720/60p, 1920 x 1080/50i, 1920 x 1080/60i, 1920 x 1080/24p, 1920 x 1080/50p, 1920 x 1080/60p, 3840 x 2160/24p, 3840 x 2160/25p, 3840 x 2160/30p, 3840 x 2160/50p, 3840 x 2160/60p, 4096 x 2160/24p, 4096 x 2160/25p, 4096 x 2160/30p, 4096 x 2160/50p, 4096 x 2160/60p

Light source        High-pressure mercury lamp, 225 W type

Picture processor             X1™ for projector

General Features

Effective Imager Size       0.74" x 3

Effective pixels   26,542,080 (4096 x 2160 x 3) pixels

Projection lens shift        Vertical: +85% -80% Horizontal: +/-31%

Throw ratio        1.38 : 1 to 2.83 : 11

Hardware

Projection lens zoom / focus       Powered (Approx. x2.06)

Interface

Input and Output Terminals         HDMI (2 INPUTS)2 - Digital RGB/Y Pb/Cb Pr/Cr, IR IN - Minijack, LAN - RJ45, 10Base-T/100BASE-TX, REMOTE - RS-232C, D-sub 9-pin (male), TRIGGER - Minijack, DC 12 V Max. 100 mA, USB - DC 5 V, Max. 500 mA

Operating Conditions

Operating temperature / humidity            41 °F to 95 °F (5 °C to 35 °C)/35% to 85% (no condensation)

Storage temperature / humidity -4 °F to +140 °F (-20 °C to +60 °C)/10% to 90% (no condensation)

Power

Acoustic noise    26 dB3

Power requirement          AC 100 V to 240 V, 4.0 A to 1.7 A, 50/60 Hz

Power consumption        390 W

Video Features

Light Output       1,500 lm (Lamp mode: High)4

Color Light Output           1,500 lm (Lamp mode: High)4

Eco and energy saving

Power Consumption (Standby Mode)      0.4 W (When "Remote Start" is set to "Off")

Power Consumption (Networked Standby Mode)               1.0 W (LAN) (When "Remote Start" is set to "On") When a LAN terminal is not connected, it becomes a low power consumption mode (0.5 W).

Standby Mode Activated               After about 10 Minutes

 

The Sony VPL-VW325ES came shipped in a nice and sturdy cardboard box. It’s a good thing too, as the projector weighs in at over 30 lbs. opening up the box revealed a very well-made projector held by custom molded Styrofoam. Pulling out the projector, the materials used in the construction was mostly plastic with some metal. Quality of materials used, as well as the fit and finish was excellent. The case was not quite black, more of a really dark grey. But I can see it being called black. And the casing had a bit of a speckly to it, almost like a metallic paint. It is really cool looking! Also included was the remote, power cable, and owner’s manual.

 

When it comes to 4K projectors, there are a lot of options. Many of them are very economical. But they are not true 4K. They use an HD 1080P panel, and use pixel shifting to display the 4K resolution. This process happens so fast, that your eye thinks what is being seen is 4K. Don’t get me wrong; it’s a great image. It just isn’t true 4K. If you want a true 4K front projection, the cheapest option is the Sony VPL-VW325ES.

 

I liked the design of the Sony VPL-VW324ES. All of the connections are on the left side, with the controls and buttons on the right. The power cord jack is on the rear. And so there are no concerns for installation location, there are IR sensors both on the front and back. For added convenience for those that ceiling mount the projector, you do not need to take it down for maintenance. There is no dust filter to worry about cleaning or replacing. And the access cover for replacing the lamp is located on the top. I had a previous, older model Sony projector, and the lamp access panel was on the bottom of the projector. That meant every time I needed to replace the bulb, I also had to take down the projector. Now taking down the projector to replace the bulb is not necessary. And for me, this is so exciting! You can mount it just once and call it done!

 

Installation was simple for me. But I also chose its location very carefully. The Sony VPL-VW325ES was mounted in our reference theater room in our basement. I knew where the projector should be, to be exactly in the middle of the screen, and I prepared that spot accordingly. So once the room was drywalled and finished, I was able to drill and secure it’s mount. With the mount up it was ready to install the projector. With the Sony VPL-VW325ES, it doesn’t have to be direct center, however, it does have a good amount of lens shift. Now that it’s installed I felt like a little kid with cash in hand in a candy store. Now let’s fire it up!

 

With it installed, I still had to go through the initial set-up. And the owner’s manual was very easy to follow in taking you through the steps. While I had the projector centered, I still had to adjust it to my screen. The Sony VPL-VW325ES has power zoom and focus. So with the remote in hand, this was easy to do. After a few minutes of picture shifting, and zooming in and out, I found the perfect size to fill in my screen. To get that in your room, you will also need to know your room, where you want to mount the projector, and the projector’s limits. A previous projector, due to the mount I used previously, had a little bit of a trapezoid-ish image. Knowing this I got a mount where the projector was mounted about 15 inches from the ceiling.  And I had a great looking picture that filled my screen.

 

I couldn’t wait to see how it performs. It has some excellent features and specs, so the picture should be stellar. Thanks in large part to the processing power of the new X1 for projector processor. These features include Dynamic HDR Enhancer works to works to increase the contrast of HDR content. And the Reality Creation works to upscale the resolution of the image. Sometimes specs look great on paper, but can fall short in reality. Sony has impressed me in the past, and I have high hopes for this new model, thanks to the new projector version of the powerful X1 Procession. Now that it’s installed, and all set up, let’s see how it performs! To test its performance, we will be using our HD cable box, Amazon Fire TV Cube, and the Panasonic DP-UB9000PIK 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray Player.

 

For the 4K in all of its sweetness, I turned to the Panasonic BP-UB9000PIK. The resolution was nothing short of stunning! Skin tones were so natural looking, with pore details the actresses I’m sure would rather us not see. Texture details of the various uniforms of the avengers, as well as their enemies was pleasant to behold. And then there was the excellent contrast and the plethora of colors so spectacular they were pure eye candy. The blacks were inky black. There was even excellent depth to the images as well!

 

For streaming, 4K also came out really well. The picture was only slightly less as high quality as found on the Panasonic 4K player. The resolution was still excellent, and the same for shadow details, only just slightly less. The image depth was just about as good, and contrast as well as the vibrancy of the colors were also just a smidge less. While the picture was still excellent, it was just a little less life-like.  This is why I still prefer discs over streaming.

 

Lastly it’s time to turn to my cable box. It’s college football bowl season, so one of the many bowl games was on. The image was very crisp, with very good resolution of the uniforms and helmets. Colors were vibrant, and very well saturated without being overly saturated. Seeing the black uniforms, and the uniforms of the refs, it was easy to see how well the Sony VPL-VW325ES does with blacks. Especially seeing the DVR black bar from pausing the game. Blacks are inky black. And while the image clearly wasn’t 4K, it still looked very good, and looked better than regular 1080p.  The Sony Reality Engine does not create 4K out of regular HD, but it does help make it look better!

 

I was extremely happy with the picture quality of the Sony VPL-VW325ES. It looked very well with all source material. Obviously, the real visual nirvana came from the 4K discs, but I was truly happy with the images from all source material. And I was completely floored at how good the picture looked, fresh out of the box, without any adjustments! Unless you are an avid videophile, most people would be happy with the image quality at factory default settings. And that’s saying a lot!  Getting a projector calibrated adds a bit of cost, but with this Sony VPL-VW325ES you don’t need to.  It looks great right out of the box!

 


The Sony VPL-VW325ES is not for everyone thanks to its MSRP of $5,500. But if you want a true 4K picture, the price of admission isn’t cheap. If you have the means, it’s worth every penny. Throwing a 100 inch image at about 12 feet away, it looks like I’m just watching a huge flatscreen TV! Being in a fully light controlled theater room in the basement I know also helps. It’s a well put together projector. And with it being a Sony, you know you’ll get many years of use. Based on its design, features, quality and performance the Sony VPL-VW325ES has earned our Editor’s Choice Award. Kudos to Sony for such an excellent product! For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.sony.com.

Reference gear used: Onkyo TX-RZ920 Receiver, Outlaw Audio Model 7000X Amplifier, Emotiva BasX A-500 Amplifier, Helios AS-P603W Smart Power Surge and Line Conditioner,  Panasonic DP-UB9000P1K 4K Player, RBH Sound SI-663R Signature Reference Series In-Wall Speakers, RBH Sound SI-760R Signature Reference Series In-Wall Speakers, RBH Sound SI-615 Signature In-Ceiling Speakers, RBH Sound SI-1212 In-Ceiling/In-Floor Subwoofer with DA-1802DSP Subwoofer Amplifier.



Read more!

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Spyclops SPY-MNBLT3WIP8 4K POE Camera and SPYP-NVR8POE1T 8-Channel NVR Review

Unfortunately, it isn’t Mayberry anymore. Crime rates have continued to go up over the decades. Even if you live in a safe neighborhood, crazy things can happen. You may also have a rebellious teenager. Whatever you are dealing with or concerned about, you could benefit from the peace of mind that a security camera system with NVR from Spyclops can bring.

 

Spyclops is under the corporate umbrella of MetraAV, for home products. They have many different products to choose from. For cameras, there are many different styles and functionality, in both wired and wireless capabilities. Up for review today is their SPY-MNBLT3WIP8 4K POE bullet style camera, and their SPYP-NVR8POE1T 8-channel NVR.  They are a 4K camera with color night vision, and an 8-channel NVR.

 

Features and specs:

Cameras:

4K resolution IP camera

White mini bullet style body

2.8mm fixed lens

8MP CMOS sensor

Choose the color night vision or smart IR LEDs setting based on the environment

Color night vision:

Uses the latest technology for low light conditions

Works best with an existing ambient light source and areas with streetlights

Must be enabled through the camera’s configuration menu

Smart IR LEDs:

Automatically adjusts the IR LEDs for night vision up to 25 meters

Prevents images from appearing washed out if too close to the IR LEDs

Works best for completely dark environments with no ambient light source

Supports 1080P/30, 4MP/30, 6MP/30, & 8MP/30 resolutions

Water-resistant, rated IP67

Supports H.264, H.264+, H.265 & H.265+

Built-in microphone

Built-in PoE



NVR:

(8) PoE LAN ports connection for direct camera connection and can add up to (8) additional cameras connected to the same LAN for a total of up to (16) channels of recording

(2) USB 2.0 ports for mouse and backup

Playback functions: Play, pause, stop, rewind, fast play, slow play, full screen, frame play, frame rewind, digital zoom

Record modes: Manual, timer, motion detection, smart alarm

Free remote view app for Android™ and iOS®

(1) SATA port–supports up to 8TB

Alarm (4) channels in and (1) channel out tha t can trigger recording, email, FTP, snapshot or buzzer

Supports H.264, H.264+, H.265 and H.265+ for maximum video storage

Onvif version support: 2.8

Includes 52V power supply, USB mouse and quick start guide

1TB HDD preinstalled

 

The Spyclops SPY-MNBLT3WIP8 4K camera and SPYP-NVR8POE1T 8-channel NVR came in a great looking color printed box with photos and specs of the camera and NVR. Opening the boxes revealed a well-protected product, both held in foam. Materials used in the construction was mostly metal with some plastic. Quality of the construction was very good for both, as well as the fit and finish. The NVR also came with power adapter, mouse and quick start guide. The camera also came with mounting screw, hex key, drill template and quick start guide.

 

I really liked the design of the cameras. These are exterior security cameras. I’ve seen a lot of security cameras and most of them are a combo of metal and plastic in the housing. But Spyclops has done it right. Tasked with facing the elements that mother nature can dish out, Spyclops has gone with a metal housing. Only the face where the camera censor and night vision LEDs are located is plastic. This appears to be an extremely durable camera, with some really nice heft to it. A round base plate mounts to your building. And arm comes out of the base plate that holds the camera, and there is a slot cut into the arm so you can turn the camera to the right angle that you need. The arm also rotates on the base plate as well, to make sure you get the correct angle that you need. It’s a well-built camera that will also give you the angle you need to monitor the area that you need to monitor.

 

The SPYP-NVR8POE1T 8-channel NVR is also a good design as well. The build quality isn’t quite up to the cameras, but it doesn’t need to deal with the weather outside. The front has a clean look with just a USB port and color LEDs for power, online, and HDD. The rear has ports for power, USB for the mouse, VGA & HDMI for monitor, left and right composite for audio, LAN for internet and POE1 through POE8 for up to 8 cameras through POE cables.

 

Once everything is connected, the software is very simple to use. And unlike many quick start guides, this one is very easy to read and follow. I loved the record option. You can set it for constant, during certain times, or whenever motion is detected. There is even image enhancement options, with the following options: image adjustment, fill height, exposure setting, backlight setting, white balance, video adjustment, image enhancement, and defog mode. The software also provides different modes for number of camera views to be displayed and their size.

 

Now that the cameras are all up and working, and the software is also configured, I really enjoy the cameras. The resolution and detail is quite good, thanks to the cameras being 4k. I can even make out the license plates of the cars at the house on the other side of my street, which gives a very good peace of mind. Being able to zoom in and enhance the image feels like a great security blanket! And of course being able to see at night with color night vision is also a huge benefit. Then there’s also the ability to monitor remotely whenever you are away from home, thanks to the LAN connection and internet connectivity!  There’s even an app that you can download, so you can monitor your cameras on the go.

I am also really enjoying the extra resolution of 4K.  The previous camera system that I had was high definition 1080p, and there was a situation where I needed the cameras.  One of the windows of my sons car was broken.  Using the camera system, I was able to go back on the NVR and find the moment when it happened.  It was a stray pellet from a high power pellet rifle.  I was able to zoom in and see when it happened.  But it would have been really nice to have higher resolution when zooming in on the incident.  Now with these new 4K cameras, the resolution is excellent!  I have no concerns of being able to zoom in to see anything that could need to be seen from any new incidents that could potentially happen in the future. 

 

Spyclops definitely has you covered with their new bullet style SPY-MNBLT3WIP8 4K cameras and NVR systems. Not only do you have the resolution to see the image of any incident that could potentially come, you can do so remotely! The software is simple to setup and easy to use once it is set-up. And with the high-quality build of the cameras, you should get years of use. Based on its design, features, quality and performance. The Spyclops SPY-MNBLT3WIP8 4K camera and SPYP-NVR8POE1T 8-channel NVR have earned our Highly Recommended Award. And if you also need the wiring for the cameras, Spyclops even has kits that come with everything you need, including the wiring. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at https://metrahometheater.com/brands/spyclops.html.



Read more!