Saturday, November 28, 2015

Monster SoundStage S1 Wireless Speaker System Review

Monster cable has been a company you can count on for all of your music needs. This continues with the Monster Soundstage wireless speaker system. Wireless music is something that has gotten more and more popular, with many of the music streaming services, like Pandora. It's easy to use with a smartphone or tablet, and is now easy to listen to at home. Up for review today is the Monster SoundStage S1 wireless speaker, which is part of their SoundStage line-up.

Features and specs:
More Ways to Connect
Monster SoundStage stands apart from one-trick wireless home music systems by giving you more ways to connect to your tunes. All three speakers in the line are both Bluetooth speakers and Wi-Fi speakers, letting you listen to the all the streaming music you love despite technology. It’s the freedom and convenience you need with the unrivalled Pure Monster Sound® you deserve.

No Complicated Bridge Required
Add up to 10 speakers, from up to four streaming music sources, all with no gateway or bridge. Unlike other wireless HiFi systems, this one is totally untethered. No need to connect anything to anything. You can even send music to other Bluetooth speakers and headphones around the house.

Room-Filling, Location-Free Pure Monster Sound®
Get more clarity, greater dynamics, higher definition, and more punch from all your streaming music. You’ll hear audio as it’s supposed to sound, no matter where you put the speaker. These Wi-Fi / Bluetooth speakers sound just as good as wired speakers, taking the system beyond wireless HiFi. This is high definition wireless.

Monster App, Monster Cable, Monster Connectivity
We built an empire on the quality of our cables, and they’re included in these speakers for audio that much better than the rest. Convenient USB charging, a handy 3.5mm mini jack for any source, fiber optic digital for TV, and micro USB for easy software updates are all included. Control it all from via the Monster SoundStage app for your iOS or Android device.

Decor-Friendly Design
No more boxy wireless home music systems and speakers. SoundStage is easy on the eyes, with a small footprint for easy stash-ability. Exquisite details include leather trim, the soft glow of LED, and a curved blade design that looks good with any d├ęcor.

Length – 11.50”
Height – 4.875”
Depth – 3.50”
¼-20 Speaker Mount for wall mounting
Touch controls on top of unit

The Monster SoundStage S1 came in a great looking box, with photos of the speaker system, and it's specs. Included was the speaker, power cord, and manuals. Materials used in the construction were mostly plastic, with some metal. Quality of construction as well as fit and finish, were excellent. The Monster SoundStage SI was very well put together, and had good heft to it. The SI seemed very solid in hand. I was pleasantly unsurprised with it's quality, as that is what I have came to expect with Monster.

Monster understands the need for a quality sound system for our wireless music. They also understand we typically have more than one room in our homes. For a whole house system, there should be multiple speakers. So wherever you are or wander in your home, your music will be there with you. The Monster SoundStage system is made up of three different speakers. They are comprised of the S1, S2 and S3. The S1 is the smallest for a small room, and the S3 is the largest for larger rooms. You can use up to 10 of the speakers together. And depending on the size of your rooms, they can be any combination of the S1, S2 and S3. They all integrate seemlessly together.

The next issue is compatibility. Here Monster wanted to provide the ultimate in compatibility. The SoundStage S1 comes with wi-fi and Bluetooth built-in. That way no matter what service you use, your music will come through loud and clear.  Setting up the SoundStage S1 was simple.  There is an app that helps to walk you thru it.  Once set-up and connected to your wi-fi, your smartphone is no longer needed as the SoundStage can now connect to your music streaming service thru your wi-fi.

The SoundStage is also pleasant on the eyes, with an elegant look that would look good in any decor.  The front is mostly a black metal grill, with a black plastic on the small sides and rear.  Under the grill is a midrange and tweeter on each side, and on the back is a rear firing woofer.  Under the woofer is a panel covered with a rubber cover to protect the connections.  The top is a smooth touch panel that is backlit that worked very well.

Setting up the S1 was pretty simple.  Downloading the app was easy, as was following the simple instructions on screen on my phone thru the app to get it set up.  And I loved the functionality that it gave.  If I wanted to connect an optical transport such as a CD or DVD player, there was the optical connection on the back.  And if I wanted to connect up an MP3 player, there was the 3.5mm analog jack that was also on the back.  Music from my smartphone, tablet, or streaming service worked great thru the Bluetooth or wi-fi.  And now that it's connected, it was time to do the listening. 

The first words that came to my mind were impressive, impressive, impressive!  It was Monster sound.  If you are familiar with Monster's products, you know what I mean.  If not, the SoundStage is a good product line to start with.  It was pure hi-fi and it was music to my ears. 

Right off the bat I was impressed with what I was hearing.  Percussion was crisp, clean, and very dynamic.  Vocals were smooth, natural sounding, with great texture and timbre.  The mids were smooth and not overly warm.  The midbass was very good, and it actually had bass!  Not 20hz bass, but it actually was pounding pretty good, especially for it's size.  And I found that placing it up close to a wall helped it even more with the bass. 

I have to admit that I was not prepared for what I was hearing, and I am very familiar with Monster products and their reputation.  For such a small product as the SoundStage S1, it was named correctly, as the S1 threw a large and deep soundstage!  It provided good channel separation, and the imaging was very good as was the resolution.  The engineers at Monster that designed the SoundStage need give Santa his present bag back, because they used some magic to get such a small system to sound this good.  I had to continually remind myself to stay on task, as I kept getting lost in the music.  And I guess that is probably the best compliment that I can give.  I just kept going from track to track, and from genre to genre.  It was all music to my ears.  For such a small system, it also played pretty loud.  While doing some of my testing in our family room, my 17 year old daughter actually asked me to turn it down!

Monster has done it again, and hit the ball out of the park!  They have shown us a new reality of how good a product this small can sound.  The SoundStage S1 was simple enough to connect and set-up, and the sound was excellent.  With an MSRP of $229, it is a great bang for the buck.  based on it's design, features, qualify, and performance, the Monster Soundstage S1 has earned our Highly Recommended Award.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website and  

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Sigma Sport Activo Fitness Watch Review

Today we are reviewing the Sigma Sport Activo. Fitness watches are getting more and more popular. They can measure your activity such as paces, calories burned, and even your sleep activity. It's a simple tool to help track your activity. The Sigma Sport Activo is a great option for that.

Features and specs:
Four color choices
Red LED display
Intermediate Activity Targets
Sleep Analysis
Sigma Activ App
Bluetooth SMART (BLE) Technology
8 day battery life
IPX7 Waterproof rating
1 Button functionality
Simple Pairing
Battery Status Indicator

The Sigma Sport Activo came in a nice clear plastic box with printed paper. This allows you to see the product, as well as see it's features and specs. Also included was the manual, and charging cable. Construction was mostly comprised of plastic, with rubber on the band. Quality of materials used as well as fit and finish was excellent.  The Sigma Sport Activo was very well made.

Using the Sigma Sport Activo was very simple. It works wirelessly via bluetooth, with an app that you download onto your smartphone. After downloading the app, syncing the Activo with my HTC One M9 was simple. Setting up the App was also easy. I just told the app I was a male, gave it my age and weight, which is all it needed to help determine my calories burned. After the initial setup, you can track your data, either on the watch or your phone.

Tracking your info on the device was very basic, but effective. There is a single button on the face. By pressing the button you cycle from time, to step, Kcal, distance, and activity. The time cycle will tell you the time, and step cycle tells you how many steps you have walked. Kcal tells you the calories burned, and distance will naturally tell you how many miles you have walked. Lastly the activity cycle will tell you what your activity level is, either low, mid, or high. The Activo will also track your sleeping. Holding the button will get you into sleep mode for when you go to bed. Doing the same when you wake up in the morning gets you out of sleep mode.

Using the app on your smartphone, you can also check your status in a better visual presentation. The main screen gives you most of the info. It shows you steps, distance, calories burned, and length of activity (How long you have been active). Swiping up on the screen takes you to the sleep analysis screen. It breaks up your sleep into 3 categories; light, deep and awake. The Sigma Sport Activo also shows a chart with times and breakdown of sleep patterns. This allows you to see how you sleep each night. In the settings you can set it an automatic sleep mode, to go into deep mode at a certain time each night and then to exit sleep mode at a certain time each morning. Also in the settings you can have up to 3 alarms.

The Sigma Sport Activo is a great watch! It is small, comfortable to wear, and easy to use. It tells the time, has multiple alarms, and will tell you your activity status. You can even set activity goal levels of Bronze, Silver and Gold. And it notifies you when a level is met. And if you want more info, the app is easy to use. With an MSRP of $79, it is a good deal. It is well made to last a long time. Based on its design, features, quality and performance the Sigma Sport Activo has earned our Highly Recommended award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at  

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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Nextbook Flexx 10 Quad-Core 10.1" 2-in-1 Tablet Review

Up for review today is the Nextbook Flexx 10 2-in-1 tablet. It seems the size of computers we use is continually shrinking. First came desktops, then laptops. But that wasn't small enough, so next stop in the evolution came tablets. While tablets are handy, they have lost some of the convenience as they don't have a keyboard. Now we have the 2-1 Nextbook Flexx 10.

Features and specs:
• 10.1 inch High-resolution 1280 x 800 IPS Screen
• Intel® Atom Quad-Core / 1.8GHz (Z3735F)
• 2GB DDR3L; 32GB onboard storage
• WIFI 802.11 b/g/n
• Bluetooth 4.0
• Front-facing Camera 2.0 MP
• Back Camera 2.0 MP
• Micro HDMI
• Pogo Keyboard with two standard 2.0 USB Ports
• Micro-SD card slot for expansion to 64GB
• Support 3 -axis G-sensor
• Built-in microphone
• 7000 MAH Internal rechargeable battery
• Charging indicator light
• Windows 10
Office Mobile

The Nextbook Flexx 10 came shipped in a nice looking color printed box, with pictures of the tablet and it's features. Also included was the changing cable, and manuals. Materials used in the construction was mostly a soft plastic. Quality of materials used, as well as fit and finish is very good. Buttons and connections were put together well, were sufficiently responsive, as was the mouse pad. The touchscreen was also nice and responsive.

All in all I was impressed with the quality of the Nextbook Flexx 10. I liked the feel of the soft plastic. The keyboard and tablet ports fit together really well. The roller mechanism of opening and closing them was quite smooth. Detaching the tablet from the keyboard was as simple as pressing a button. Attaching the tablet back onto the keyboard was as simple as setting it back into the slot. And you could hear it lock into place, so you know it is secure.

One thing I did notice was that the keyboard is not Bluetooth. It will not work wirelessly with the tablet. The tablet needs to be connected with the keyboard. There are some metal contact points on the side of the keyboard that connects the two together when you mount the tablet to the keyboard.  So you don't need to worry about the keyboard not working when you want it to unlike some wireless products, since it has a hard connection.

When it came time to testing the Nextbook Flexx 10, I was glad to see things have not changed for Nextbook. They provide a great product at a nice budget price. They aren't as cheap as some lower tier budget products, and they perform very well. So in that aspect, the Nextbook Flexx 10 has lived up to their name.

Using the Nextbook Flexx 10 with the keyboard worked very well. There were no issues with the keyboard not being responsive. From that aspect, it worked just like a laptop. Whether you are typing a word document, or just surfing online, the keyboard worked great.

Using the Flexx 10 was fun.  The color display provided great colors and contrast with good saturation.  The screen was also sufficiently sensitive to use just as a tablet, without the keyboard.  The Intel Atom quad-core processor provided plenty of processing power.  Whether you are playing games, watching video, viewing photos, or using the split-screen more, the Intel Atom quad-core processor provided plenty of power.  The built-in camera didn't provide much resolution, but worked fairly well.  And with the microSD expansion card slot, you have access to much more of your content.
One aspect that was just a tad subpar would be the sound.  There are two speakers that are rear firing on the back of the tablet.  They provided adequate volume for you, as well as a few close by if you are sharing something, like a video.  But given the performance of the Netbook Flexx 10 up to this point, I was expecting a little more.  Not that the sound was bad.  You can't expect too much from the sound in a tablet, but I have heard better sound in other tablets.  The sound was just on the bright side and sounded a little tinny.  There was also a lack of lower midrange and bass.  The highs did sound crisp, clean, with good resolution.  The sound is easily usable and had plenty of volume. I was just expecting a bit better is all.

The performance of the Nextbook Flexx 10 was very good, and in most aspects has exceeded my expectations.  I loved the 2-in-1 functionality.  The attached keyboard definitely made it easier to use, and also doubled as screen protection.  If you are in the market for a tablet, the Nextbook Flexx 10 should be on your short list.  Based on it's design, features, quality, and performance, the Nextbook Flexx 10 has earned our Highly Recommended Award.  With an MSRP of only $178, you get a 2-in-1 product at a great budget price.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at

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Saturday, November 14, 2015

OtterBox Defender Series Case And Alpha Glass Screen Protector Review

When it comes to smartphone cases, it's all about protection. And when it comes to protection, it doesn't get much better than OtterBox. They provide great protection with multiple difference case options. These options also give you color options, for your own look and style. And for screen protection, they also provide glass screen protectors.

Features and specs:
Defender Case:
U   Ultra-rugged protective case to maximize your daily adventures
·         Built-in screen protector safeguards HTC One M9's touchscreen against scratches
·         Port plugs allow easy access while locking out dust, debris and pocket lint
·         Holster clips to most straps and belts, plus locks in place for hands-free viewing
·         Two-piece internal polycarbonate shell snaps around HTC One M9
·         Synthetic rubber slipcover wraps around the shell to absorb additional shock

·         Built-in clear, membrane screen protector guards your precious HTC One M9 display against scratches and scuffs

Alpha Glass:
·         Fortified HTC One M9 glass screen protector with anti-shatter technology guards against scratches, scrapes and scuffs
·         Choose Vibrant or Privacy Glass
·         Vibrant: crystal clear touchscreen experience
·         Privacy: conceals your display from side views
·         Crystal clear HTC One M9 screen protector keeps your display fully visible — and protected
·         Reactive-touch technology retains your touchscreen’s sensitivity while offering a premium feel
·         Custom-fit glass screen protector fits your HTC One M9 touchscreen perfectly

·         Included tool kit for simple and precision installation

The OtterBox Defender Series case came in a great looking clear plastic package so you can see the product. The materials used in the construction of the Defender Series case was mostly made of plastic, with a synthetic rubber exterior cover. Quality of materials used are excellent. Quality of construction as well as the fit and finish is also excellent. The same can be said of the Alpha Glass Screen Protector, which came in a nice looking color printed box with photos of the glass. Quality of materials and construction was excellent. The Defender Series Case also came with a belt clip case holder, and manuals. The Alpha Glass Screen Protector also came with manuals, instructions and microfiber cloth to help with the install.

Installation was rather simple. For the Alpha Glass Protector, it was just a matter of 1st cleaning the glass screen of your phone. Then you take off the clear plastic film on both sides of the glass protector. And finally you carefully line up and press the protector down onto the screen.

Installation of the Defender case was even easier. The internal hard plastic frame is two pieces. One piece is the bottom, and the 2nd piece is the top. It was as simple a placing the phone on the bottom piece, placing the 2nd piece on top, and then snapping the two pieces together by pressing the two together at the edges. Then the rubber exterior cover wraps around the hard interior.

Having been an OtterBox user for years, I have seen one small downside to the Defender Series in the clear plastic screen protector. It is built into the top half of the internal hard plastic shell. It starts off clear, easy to use, see through, and work with. But after time, dust can get underneath it, and it is no longer as clear. If that happens, the clear plastic protector is easy to take off.

I thought I would experiment and try something different. I installed both the alpha Glass Screen Protector as well as the Defender Series case. So the clear plastic screen protector built into the Defender case was pulled out. I didn't know if it would work, but it did fairly well. And using both gives the best of both - glass screen protector for excellent image, and the Defender case for the best protection. The performance is top notch, as the installed case is a tight fit and provides protection on all sides!

When it comes to smartphone protection, the OtterBox Defender Series Case and the OtterBox Alpha Glass Screen Protector provides top of the line performance and protection. Protection doesn't get much better than that. At an MSRP of $49.95 for the Defender Series Case and $34.95 for the Alpha Glass Screen Protection. They are worth every penny. Based on the design, features, quality and performance, the OtterBox Defender Series case and Alpha Glass Screen Protector has earned our Editor's Choice Award.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at  

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Creative SoundBlaster Roar 2 Portable Bluetooth Speaker Review

Up for review today is the new Creative SoundBlaster Roar 2. I remember back in the day, if you wanted to share your tunes with friends while on the go, you got a boom box. Our boom boxes of today have gotten much more sophisticated. They are much smaller, provide good sound and can play music from multiple sources. These new players can even do so wirelessly. The Creative SoundBlaster Roar 2 is one of those players.

Features and specs:
  • System ConfigurationOne-piece
  • DimensionsSpeaker: 51.0 x 188.0 x 109.0 mm (2.0 x 7.4 x 4.3 inches), Power Adaptor Cord Length: Approx 1.7m, USB Cord Length: Approx 0.7m
  • WeightSpeaker: 1kg (2.2lbs), Power Adaptor: 150g (5.3oz), USB Cable: 26g, UK Interchangeable Adaptor Plug*: 19g, CE Interchangeable Adaptor Plug*: 17g
  • Bluetooth® VersionBluetooth 3.0
  • Bluetooth ProfileA2DP (Wireless Stereo Bluetooth), AVRCP (BluetoothRemote Control), HFP (Hands-free Profile)
  • Supported CodecsAAC, aptX, SBC

The Creative SoundBlaster Roar 2 came in a nice looking box with photos of the product as well as its features. The Roar 2 was well protected. Materials used in the construction was mostly plastic with some metal, and was of very good quality. Quality of construction as well as the fit and finish was also very good. The Creative Roar 2 was very well made, and had good heft to it, so it felt very solidly put together. The buttons and connects were well put together as well. Also included was the charging cable, micro USB, Cable, and manuals.

I was very impressed with the design of the Roar 2. The Creative SoundBlaster Roar 2 uses 5 drivers. These include 2 stereo drivers for the highs, 1 subwoofer for the mids and lows, and 2 passive radiators. The highs, mids and lows are top firing, with the passive radiators on both sides. And the work is divide up between 2 separate amplifiers: one for the highs, and one for the mids and lows. And it all came together very well.

The host of other features is also impressive. The Creative SoundBlaster Roar 2 features Bluetooth, NFC, Micro USB, micro SD card slot, 3.5 mm audio input, USB, and microphone. So you can use it as an external speaker using the 3.5 mm audio input. The USB input or micro USB will also allow you to charge your other devices such as your smartphone. You can use the microphone to record memos. You can also save your music collection to a micro SD card, and use the card slot on the Roar 2 to play it. The Creative Roar 2 certainly provides a lot of functionality!

I was very impressed up to this point, and excited to see how it performs!  The wireless performance was nothing short of stellar!  Linking it to my HTC One M9 smartphone was a breeze.  Living in a large home I left the Creative Roar 2 in my bedroom upstairs, and proceeded to walk all throughout my house...upstairs, downstairs, with several walls between me and the Roar 2.  To my surprise there was not a single drop in signal!  Now I set it on my porch and proceeded to walk to the end of my cul-de-sac.  It wasn't until I got close the the end of the cul-e-sac that I started to get drops in signal, which was at 170 feet!  And continued to get signal for up to around 200 feet!  The wireless performance was amazing!

Now it's time for it's audio performance.  Here the Creative SoundBlaster Roar 2 continued to perform in spades!  I was able to hear the music in stereo.  I thought I would turn to some old school Michael Jackson: Billy Jean.  Vocals sounded very natural.  Percussion was very crisp and clean with good dynamics. The bass had impact with depth I was not expecting from such a small device!  Next I went to one of my favorites for critical listening, Mannheim Steamroller: Going to Another Place.  Again, it was the great sound that I have been hearing.  Percussion was crisp and clean, drums had good impact.  The flute was smooth with good air.  I continued with other tracks as well, from multiple bands and genre, all with the same result.  The highs and mids were clean and natural with bass that actually had some impact and also had more depth than expected from such a small device.  The Creative Roar 2 also played sufficiently loud to fill a small room, such as a bedroom, or den.

I was impressed all around with the performance of the small Creative SoundBlaster Roar 2.  It does a lot, and sounds great!  If you are in the market for a similar device, the Roar 2 should be on your short list.  With an MSRP of $199, it has also been able to be found online on sale for much less.   And don't forget the available carry case for it that can be had for a measly $39.99.  Based on it's design, features, quality, and performance, the Creative Roar 2 has earned our Editor's Choice Award.  Kudos to Creative for a great product!  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at

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Saturday, November 7, 2015

HTC One M9 Premium Smartphone Review

Not all smartphones are created equal. For premium smartphones HTC makes some of the best, such as their HTC One M9. So many are on the go, and rely on our smartphones for everything. Whether it is a GPS for direction, checking email, going on line, listening to music, taking pictures or video, watching video, playing games, premium smart phones can do it all. Having owned the HTC M7, I was excited at the opportunity to review the new M9.

Features and specs:
Size: 144.6 x 69.7 x 9.61 mm
CPU:  Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 810, octa core; 64-bit, 4 x 2.0GHz + 4 x 1.5GHz
Network: 2G/2.5G - GSM/GPRS/EDGE: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
3G UMTS: 850/900/1900/2100 MHz
4G LTE: FDD: Bands 1,3,5,7,8,20,28
TDD: Bands 38, 40, 41Connectivity: NFC; Bluetooth® 4.1; Wi-Fi®: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 & 5 GHz); DLNA®; HDMI MHL 3.0; CIR; 3.5 mm stereo audio jack; micro-USB 2.0 (5-pin) port
Multimedia: Audio supported formats: Playback: .aac, .amr, .ogg, .m4a, .mid, .mp3, .wav, .wma, .flac, ac3, ec3, eac3;Recording: .aac
Video supported formats: Playback: .3gp, .3g2, .mp4, .wmv, .avi, .mkv; Recording: .mp4Weight: 157g
Android Format: Android™ 5.1 with HTC Sense™
Memory: ROM: 32GB / RAM: 3GB; Extended memory: microSD™ up to 2TB
Sound: HTC BoomSound™ with Dolby Audio™
Battery: Capacity: 2840 mAh; Talk time: Up to 25.4 hours for 2G/ 21.7 hours for 3G; Standby time: Up to 391 hours for 2G/ 402 hours for 3G
Display: 5.0 inch, Full HD 1080p; Corning® Gorilla® Glass
Sim Card Type: nano SIM
GPS: Internal GPS antenna + GLONASS
Sensors: Ambient light sensor, Proximity sensor, Accelerometer, Compass sensor, Gyro sensor, Magnetic sensor, Sensor Hub
Cameras: Main camera: 20MP with sapphire cover lens, auto-focus, BSI sensor, f/2.2, 27.8mm lens, 4K video recording
Front camera: HTC UltraPixel™, BSI sensor, f/2.0, 26.8mm lens, 1080p video recording

The HTC One M9 came shipped in an attractive liking white box. Opening the box revealed a well-protected phone. Included were the USB charging cord and detachable wall power adapter. So you can charge it thru a wall outlet or USB connection on your computer. Also included were some basic earbuds, and the manuals. As this is the unlocked version, a SIM card was not included, as the various networks have specific SIM cards for their network.
The HTC One M9 was mostly made of metal with the glass screen. Quality of materials used is excellent, as is the quality of construction. Fit and finish is excellent.  The HTC One M9 also feels solidly made in hand. It is obvious this is HTC’s flagship product, and it shows.
The design is also one of elegance. The slight curve in the back helps it feel really comfortable in hand. The two-tone aluminum body is stunning.  Most of it is similar to my old M7, only slightly more refined on the new M9. The charger connection remained on the bottom as well as the volume buttons on the right side. What has taken some getting used to is the power button now being on the right side as well, instead of on the top. But the side does seem to be a more natural place for it. The headphone jack was also moved to the bottom from the top. The side panel on the top still houses the IR emitter, for those who want to also use their HTC one as a universal remote control.
Last but not least of the design is the speakers. They are still mounted on the front. They are stereo speakers front firing with one on the top and one on the bottom. I absolutely LOVE this design! And I have no idea why it wasn’t done before the HTC one. It makes the most sense to me to have them front firing, and a stereo pair. The audiophile in me also loves the fact that they are also amplified, as well as the headphone amp for the headphone jack.
The display on the HTC One M9 is stunning. It is still 1080p while other manufacturers are starting to go to 2k on their premium models, but it still looks great. Colors are vibrant with good contrast and black levels. Just don’t expect this great picture in direct sunlight outdoors, as with any display. Brightness can be turned up to help compensate. And to me the color saturation was right on.
The BoomSound amplified front firing speakers provided great sound. It’s still a smartphone, so it obviously isn’t room filling. And don’t expect actual bass out of it. But they have been tuned well for what they are to be used for. Vocals sounded surprisingly natural for a phone. Highs and mids had some resolution, with tones going down into the lower midrange realm. They provided some dynamics, and some good harmonics. Volume output was also some of the best among smartphones. Being an audiophile, I remember why I got the original HTC One M7. Holding the phone up and sideways in landscape mode, I went to YouTube for some music videos, and other music content such as one of my favorite groups for critical listening: Mannheim Steamroller. The stereo speaker really did well, with good channel separation. Not only could I hear the distinct effect of the difference channels, I actually heard imaging I was not expecting to hear! After all, smartphone and audio imaging are usually not found in the same sentence, unless you are talking about the HTC One! If listening to the internal speakers is important to you, the HTC One should be toward the top of your list.
Now it’s time for the camera. When comparing it to the original M7, the UltraPixel camera on the M7 did not deliver as expected. They have gone away from it on the main camera on the M9.  Instead you get a full 20 MP sensor, which performs much better to me, and also competes better than it was on the M7. But when looking at just the camera performance, I would say that is probably the weak link in the HTC One M9. Don’t get me wrong, it performs good, very good for that matter. In well lit scenery, the pictures are sharp, well focused, with great looking colors. As the light goes down, so does some of the performance. It’s much better than it was, just not quite as good as some others out there. But at least it’s camera performance is closer now to the performance of the other top performers than it has been in the past.
Internally the HTC One M9 is a beast, with its eight core processor, and Adreno 430 GPU, using the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chipset. I also love the microSD memory card slot. The HTC One M9 is a serious powerhouse, with the horsepower to do it all! So the memory slot gives you the ability to keep your photo, music, and video collection with you, even games. For those looking for proof of it’s performance, that it really does have the serious processing power. I’ll turn to the AnTuTu Benchmark V5.7.1=52830. That’s some serious scores!
When it comes to smartphones, HTC has once again proven that the HTC One is a contender and is worthy of its name. The HTC One provides excellent performance in all categories. If it’s about time for a new smartphone, the HTC One M9 deserves to be on your short list. Not only has HTC nailed the headwear performance, its design is also top notch. The all aluminum body with its curves is also quite sexy! MSRP for the unlocked version non-contract is $649.  Based on its design, features, quality, and performance, the HTC One M9 has earned our Editor’s Choice Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at

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