Sunday, November 24, 2019

JBL Link Bar Voice-Activated Sound Bar Review

If you are looking for great sound, you don’t have to look any further than JBL. They have a ton of great sounding products. But they also are great innovators! One of those great sounding innovative products is their JBL Link Bar. It’s a soundbar for your TV, so you get much better sound for your TV. But it’s so much more than just a sound bar.

Features and specs:

Transducer:  2 x 20mm (0.8”) tweeter, 4 x (44x80)mm (1.7"x3.2”) racetrack driver

Total Maximum Power:  100W

Frequency response:  75Hz–20kHz

Signal-to-noise ratio:  >85dBA

Power Supply:  100-240V~50/60Hz

Bluetooth version:  4.2

Bluetooth transmitter frequency range:  2402–2480MHz

Wireless network:  802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz/5GHz)

Multi 4k video HDMI input:  Yes

Chromecast built-in:  Yes

Dimensions (W x H x D):  1020 x 60 x 93mm

Gross Weight:  4.4kg

Net Weight:  2.5kg


LINK BAR is intended to be used for streaming music. A consumer can stream Bluetooth audio to the speaker. A consumer can connect their speaker to the local Wi-Fi Network and stream music with Google Chromecast. In addition, the speaker will work with Google Home. This product is designed to be instantly on and ready to play music at a moment's notice, therefore, the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connection must remain active at all times to ensure proper operation.

LINK BAR is in compliance with the European Union energy legislation. LINK BAR complies with European Commission Regulation (EC) No 1275/2008 (HiNA and (EU) No 801/2013 as a networked equipment with high network availability equipment and equipment with HiNA functionality):  Yes

Power consumption:

Off Mode:  N/A

Standby:  N/A

Network Standby:  N/A

Time to standby:  N/A

Active Standby*:  5.5W

*Active Standby:

LINK BAR is connected to a wireless network but does not provide active audio functions. when LINK BAR is plugged into a wall socket, regardless whether it is muted or not, words "Hey Google" or "Ok Google" it is automatically on active standby mode. It will respond to you if you say the trigger.

The JBL Link Bar came in a great looking color printed box, with images and specs of the product. Opening the box revealed a well protected product held in place by custom foam. Materials used in the construction was mostly plastic with some cloth and metal. Quality of materials used, as well as the fit and finish was very good. It’s a very well made product and it shows. Also included was the remote, power cord, HDMI cable, mounting kit, and owner’s manual

Setting up the JBL Link Bar was very easy. It was just a matter of plugging in the provided HDMI to the back of my TV, and then plugging it into the wall outlet. Once turned on, it basically set up itself. Its tutorial walks you through connecting it to your home wi-fi network, as well as setting up the apps that you want to use. I honestly think my elderly father could have done it, which is saying something. Using the Bluetooth feature was just as easy. It was just a matter of pressing the Bluetooth button on the remote, selecting the JBL Link Bar in the list of devices on the Bluetooth screen of my LG V40 Thinq Smartphone, and then pressing the ok button on the remote to accept the pair.

I also really like the design of the JBL Link Bar. The cloth covers the entire front to give an elegant look. The top features a few needed buttons in case the remote gets misplace. There are mounts on the back so you can mount it on the wall under the TV if you so wish. And on the back are the connectors. You get connectors for 3.5mm audio, an optical, and 3 HDMI inputs, and 1 HDMI output for the TV. So if you don’t need surround sound, no receiver is needed. With the JBL Link Bar you have HDMI inputs for a cable box, Blu-Ray player and even a gaming system. According to the specs in the manual, there are 2 round tweeters and 4 oval drivers. So each side has a tweeter and two drivers. On the end at each side is a port to help with bass response. Now that it’s set up, let’s hear how it sounds!

Since it is the holiday season, I turned to my favorite group for Christmas music, Manheim Steamroller: God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman. Cymbals were crisp and clean, horns were smooth and not too brassy. Drums had nice impact, depth, and authority. Strings were smooth with very nice harmonies. It also had very good stereo separation, imaging, and width and depth of soundstage for a soundbar. Pat a Pan: The shaker, tambourine and temple block were nice and crisp. The flute was nice and smooth with a great amount of air and tonguing technique. The violin was smooth with very good harmonics. The drums had good dynamics, impact and depth. There were a lot of instruments, and the JBL Link Bar provided the needed resolution for them all to shine. Fum, Fum, Fum: the drums had nice impact, fullness of depth and pitch definition, triangles were crisp and clean, violin had nice resolution of the bow on the strings, piccolo had very nice smooth texture with good air. Oboe had very good texture of the reed. Kickdrum played with nice impact, depth, and authority. The high hat was also crisp and clean with nice details.

It may seem like I’m loving the JBL Link Bar, I actually had a hard time with the testing. It did so well, I got to thinking, ok, where’s it’s Achilles heal? But it actually did everything very well! Thanks to its loaded features, it does so much. It can be a key part of a smart home, helping to control things like lights and the thermostat. The voice activated part of it, for Google Assistant, also worked well with providing the help we needed.  My kids have loved it for accessing their Spotify play lists, YouTube Videos, and Disney Plus video content. They also tend to listen to it pretty loud, and the JBL Link Bar did not disappoint in the least.

If you like streaming services, the JBL Link Bar has you covered. If you have or are wanting to set-up a connected home, it will have you covered as well. And then there’s also the much better sound when you compare it to the sound from your flat screen TV. For it being a sound bar, I was extremely impressed with the stereo separation, imaging, and size of soundstage. It did everything very well. With an MSRP of $399, it’s worth every penny. Based on its design, features, quality and performance, the JBL Link Bar has earned our Editor’s Choice Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at

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Sunday, November 17, 2019

Gourmia GPS-650 Smoker Pressure Cooker and Steamer Review

Have you ever walked down the street and smelled the most amazing smell in the world…smoked bbq cooking and not for you. I don’t know about anyone else, but I always tell myself that I will someday plan ahead far enough to devote the 10-12 hours needed for one of those wonderful smells, and then never actually do. But there is good news for all those fellow procrastinators out there. Up for review today is Gourmia’s 1-hour smoker pressure cooker model #GPS-650.  It’s a game changer in all sense of the word!

Features and specs:

Combining a Programmable Pressure Cooker, Steamer and a smoker all-in-1 appliance.

Digital display shows time temperature and status.

3 Adjustable Pressure control settings. Cooks food up to 70% faster.

Variable two-level rack which holds up to 4 lbs. of food in the aluminum, thermal-coated inner pot.

Automatically switch to warm feature. ETL Certified. Size: 6.5QT. Product Dimensions: 12 x 16 x 12.5.

The Gourmia GPS-650 came securely packaged in a nice looking color printed box, with photos and specs printed on the outside. Opening the box revealed the cooker securely packaged with a fitted Styrofoam holder. Materials used in the construction was both metal and plastic.  Quality of materials used was excellent as was the fit and finish.  The cooker came with its power cord, a smoker cube, a rack and the instruction manual.

The cooker has several pieces to it: the outer casing, the lid and the inner cooking pot. These can be used for a variety of cooking possibilities. There is the pressure cooker setting, the smoker setting and the steam setting. It does not have the sauté setting that typically appear on a regular instapot. This is partially because the heating element sticks up in the middle of the cooking pot and so it doesn’t heat up quite like a typical instapot. It is possible to slow cook in this pot using the steam setting.

While there wasn’t a recipe book included with the GPS-650, they do have a recipe book on the product page of their website. The instructions on how to prepare to use were clear and easy to follow. Our first attempt at smoking was bbq pulled pork for a football game. We had perfectly cooked and seasoned meat after only an hour in the pressure cooker. They were yummy! We were out before we had eaten our fill! We also tried a roast and employed the cold smoker option to add some flavor to cheese. Everything turned out perfectly. One word of caution, do NOT forget to include liquid in the bottom of the pan before cooking, it ensures that there is enough steam in the pot to adequately cook and to keep everything tender and at its best. We did forget to add water one time, and the meat did shrink some.  Definitely add the water! The smoke flavor can be a bit intense if you eat food directly after it’s done, but this mellows fairly quickly, so don’t worry too much if you take a quick taste after it’s done and it seems a bit strong.

And when I stated before that it is a game changer, I cannot emphasize that enough!  Just think about what this does……smoked meat in 1 hour.  That’s right….smoked meat in just 1 hour!  No longer will it take hours and hours!  I love my instapot, and I use it regularly. The GPS-650 fits right into my kitchen needs and will be loved for many seasons to come. We are planning on using it to smoke the turkey this Thanksgiving!   And I plan on telling my bbq buddies how I can now smoke meat in just an hour.  

At the end of the day, the Gourmia GPS-650 is a great smoker as well as pressure cooker and steamer.  But the real magic is in the smoker, both as a hot and cold smoker.  And the smoked cheeses were also great as well!  It’s also a well made quality product that should provide years of use.  And with an MSRP of $259 it is also well priced.  Based on design, features, quality, and performance, the Gourmia GPS-650 has earned our Editor’s Choice Award.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at

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Escort Max 360c Premium Radar Detector Review

Some people, myself included, have what we jokingly call a medical condition…lead foot syndrome. As Sammy Hagar said in his song, I can’t drive 55.  Some of us, myself included, would prefer to be able to go over the speed limit. And since speeding tickets are pricey, it’s easy to turn to radar detectors. There’s a lot of different options. One of the premium brands is Escort. You tend to get what you pay for, and up for review today is their top of the line portable model, the Escort Max 360c. MSRP is $649.

Features and specs:


The ESCORT MAX 360c is the first radar and laser detector designed for the connected car. With built-in Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz only), the MAX 360c updates through the on-board Wi-Fi connection, alerting the driver to the latest ticket threats in real-time.

360° Directional Alerts

Forward and rear facing antennas pinpoint threats around your entire vehicle. Intuitive on-screen arrows display the direction of the threat relative to you.

AutoLearn™ Technology

GPS intelligence, IVT filtering, and AutoSensitivity come together to eliminate false signals by learning your route and varying sensitivity with vehicle speed.

IVT Filter™

Automatically reduces false alerts from In-Vehicle Technology like collision avoidance systems and adaptive cruise control.

Defender™ Database

Gain access to the largest, most up-to-date resource alerting drivers to speed cameras, traps, and red light cameras. Plus, create hot spots and mark locations.

Intelligent Speed Sensitivity

Automatically adjusts sensitivity based on your speed to eliminate false alerts and maximize precision.

Directional Alert Arrows

Arrows indicate the direction of the radar source for 360° protection

Immediate Response

Digital signal processing provides best-in-class range and lighting fast response.

Connected Car Compatible

Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz) connectivity allows for instant crowd sourced alerts and software updates.

Defender Database

Get a bird’s eye view with red light and speed camera alerts in advance.

AutoLearn Technology

Intelligent GPS-based technology learns your route and rejects false alerts.


Real-time alerts from a community of over 3 million drivers.


X-band 10.525 GHz ± 25 MHz

K-band 24.150 GHz ± 100 MHz

Ka-band 34.700 GHz ± 1300 MHz

Laser 904nm, 33 MHz Bandwidth


Superheterodyne, Varactor-Tuned VCO

Scanning Frequency Discriminator

Digital Signal Processing (DSP)


Quantum Limited Video Receiver


Highway, Auto, Auto No X, Auto Lo K


Graphic Multi-Color OLED

Bar Graph



5 Levels of Brightness with Full Dark Mode


12VDC, Negative Ground

Escort SmartCord USB Included


1.38” H x 3.25” W x 5.15” L


User Mode: Advanced / Novice

Pilot: Scanning Bar / Full Word

Arrow Mode: Single / Multiple / Band

Display Color: Blue/Green/Red/Amber

Speed Display: On / Off

Cruise Alert: Off / 20 – 160 mph

Over Speed: Off / 20 – 160 mph

Over Speed Limit: Off / Spd Limit / 5 over / 10 over / 15 over / 20 over

Meter Mode: Standard/FR1/FR2/Spec/Expert/Simple

Tones: Standard / Standard+ / Mild

AutoMute: Low / Med / High / Off

AutoLearn: On / Off

Units: English / Metric

Language: English / Spanish

Voice: On / Off

GPS Filter: On / Off

Auto Power: Off / 1-8 Hours

Bands: X/K/KN1-KN4/Ka/KaN1-KaN10/Ka-POP/Laser/TSR

Markers: Other/RedLight/RedLight & Speed Cam/Speed Cam/Speed Trap/Air Patrol

Clear Locations: Marked/Lockouts/Defender/Format

Wi-Fi: On / Off

Bluetooth: On / Off

Auto Update: Off/Database/Firmware/All

Perform Update: Firmware/Database

The Escort Max 360c came in a nice looking color printed box, with photos and specs of the product. Opening the box revealed a zipper case. Opening the case showed two internal compartments. One held the radar detector, the other held the accessories. The accessories comprised of the windshield mount, and power cable. Materials used in the construction of the radar detector and the accessories was mostly plastic with some metal. Quality of materials used, as well as the fit and finish was excellent. The Escort Max 360c is a premium product and it shows, not only in the quality of the product but also in the presentation. Also included was the quick reference guide, and warranty card.

One of the features of the Escort Max 360c is the ability to work with the new iDatalink Maestro RR2. With the Maestro RR2 incorporated into your system, the information and alerts will also show on the stereo receiver. Since our reference receiver is the compatible Kenwood Excelon Reference DDX9905S, we will be reviewing the functionality of the Escort Max360c with the iDatalink Maestro RR2 and the Kenwood Excelon Reference DDx9905S, once the Maestro RR2 is ready for release.

Installation and setup was very easy. The Quick Reference Guide was very easy to read and follow. Once the app was downloaded on my LG V40 ThinQ Smartphone, pairing the Max 360c with my LG V40 was very quick and easy. Going through the settings and making any changes was also very simple. The magnet system used to connect the Escort Max 360c to the windshield mount was also very cool and easy to use.

The layout of the Escort Max 360c also made it fairly simple to use. All of the buttons were on the top in a central location. They were also logically laid out. This is a good thing, because at the angle it was at, and being mounted right under my rearview mirror, it was a little difficult to read. It may have been a little simple to use in some install locations if some of the buttons were located on the sides, but that’s just a personal preference. I also did really like the 4 LED lights on the front, to show where the radar was coming from, when it detects radar. And now that it’s set up and installed, let’s see how it performs!

I had high expectations from Escort on their Max 360c, and they did not disappoint with its performance.  Installation was a breeze, and I especially liked the magnetic mount. Setup was also a breeze pairing it to my LG V40 ThinQ.  And performance of its primary function as a radar detector also worked excellent.  There were several times when it warned me of upcoming officers checking speeds of oncoming vehicles.  There was one time when it was just one of those speed signs showing you your speed to tell you to slow down.  But the other times I was glad of the warnings.  I also really liked access to the Escort Live database, as there were also multiple times that I got warnings of an upcoming speed trap location.  The Directional Alert Arrows was also a really cool feature, showing you the direction of where the radar was coming.  They offer a Limited Ticket Guarantee, and seeing how well it performed I can see how they can offer it.  I would have no problems trusting the Escort Max 360c.

The Escort Max 360c is a premium portable radar detector.  While its price point is not for all at $649 MSRP, you do get what you pay for.  It offers a premium design as well as premium quality.   And it performed very well.  And with the high price of some tickets, you want to have a product that you know you can trust.  If you are in the market for a radar detector, the Escort Max 360c deserves to be on your short list.  Based on its design, features, quality, and performance the Escort Max 360c has earned our Editor’s Choice Award.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at   

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Saturday, November 16, 2019

2019 Holiday Gadget Gift Guide

Halloween is over, and fall is upon us. This means it is time for our annual Holiday Gadget Gift Guide. As usual, we have some excellent products from some great manufactures. First up is Beyerdynamic with their Xelento Wireless, followed by the Creative Nova, Emotiva BasX A-500, Escort Max 360c, Gourmia GPS 650 multicooker, iBeam 360 Degree 3D, JBL Link Bar, JBL Link View, Revel C263, and SoloQi 360. Below is a description of all of the products as well as the review schedule, for when reviews of the products will be completed.  Some reviews are already completed.  But for those that are not yet completed, come back for the review when it is scheduled. And while we list the MSRP of the product, often times you can find them cheaper.

Beyerdynamics is a great headphone manufacturer from Germany. Whether you are looking for over the ear or wireless, they have you covered. Their top of the line best of the best is their Xelento Wireless. Not only does their sound have to be heard to be believed, they are also absolutely gorgeous looking and can be worn as jewelry. If you have a loved one who loves great sound, they will love the Beyerdynamics Xelento Wireless. MSRP is $1,199.  Check out their review here:

If you’re a computer user, you’ve probably heard of the SoundBlaster line. It’s a product line of computer sound cards and computer speakers, from Creative Labs. But Creative Labs is more than computer sound cards and computer speakers. One of their other great products is the Creative Nova. It’s a portable multi-room smart speaker with lights. It’s even water resistant, so it can be used outdoors. And employing multiple drivers and a woofer ensure quality sound. MSRP is $179.  Review is scheduled for the week ending 12/1/2019.

If you like movies, one of the best ways to enjoy them is with a great home theater system. And to take your home theater to the next level, a dedicated amplifier will help get you there. And if you are needing a big bang for your buck, you’re covered there as well. Emotiva has great products, and they provide a large bang for the buck. The BasX A-500 five channel home theater amp is a perfect example with an MSRP of only $529. Check out the review here:

Like Sammy Hager has said with his song: I can’t drive 55. If you also suffer from what many jokingly call lead foot syndrome, you may also know how expensive speeding tickets can be. A radar detector can help with that. And Escort makes some of the best available. Their premium top of the line portable product is the Escort Max 360C. MSRP is $649.  It’s review will be completed the week ending  11/17/2019.

It’s so easy to get busy with our daily lives. One thing we tend to always wish we had more of is time. This can also be the case with meals and meal preparation. If you are looking for some great time savers, Gourmia has you covered. Some of them are great time savers, such as pressure cookers. And if you like BBQ, they even have a pressure smoker that will smoke your meats in only an hour! It’s their Gourmia GPS650, with an MSRP of only $259.  It’s review will be completed the week ending 11/17/2019.

When you look at new or newer cars, they have a ton of safety features. One of those are back up cameras. But you can also get side cameras as well as front cameras. Thanks to iBeam, these are also available in an aftermarket product. Their iBeam 360 3D is a four camera system that can be installed on a vehicle with a car stereo receiver that has a camera input. MSRP is $1,032.  Check out for the review of the iBeam 360 3D for the week ending 12/01/2019.

The quality of sound from flat screen TV’s have came a long way. But the sound is not great. Thanks to sound bars, the quality can easily be improved. Sound bars have also been greatly improved. There are now smart sound bars, where you can connect to them through wi-fi. And JBL has a great one with their JBL Link Bar. So now not only can you get great sound from your TV, you can also enjoy your music and more through the built-in Google Assistant.  MSRP is $399.  The review is scheduled for the week ending 11/24/2019.

JBL also has a great line of smart speakers. They feature Google Assistant as well, so you get a lot of great functioning. With the JBL Link View, they added an 8 inch high definition touch screen too. So now along with the great sound, now you can watch videos as well. Put it in the kitchen, and impress others with your culinary skills thanks to the help of cooking how to videos on YouTube.  MSRP is $299.  The review is scheduled for the week ending 12/8/2019.

If you like home theater, you want good sound.  And you may also need your speakers hidden in your ceiling. Whether you are looking for just mounting your surround sound speakers in the ceiling, or you have decided to add height channel speakers for the new Dolby Atmos surround format, you may need some good built-in ceiling mount speakers.  Not all ceiling mount speakers are created equal. One of the better brands available are Revel.  And I love their lifetime warranty! Even their entry level C263 model sounds great.  MSRP is only $175 each. Check out their full review here:

We rely on our smartphones for so much. Whether it’s calls, texts, photos or videos, even games, they are often a big part of our day. This means they can be used a lot every day. All this use takes an impact on battery life. Getting thru a full day on a single charge is not always possible. This means you may have to be able to charge your phone on the go. But why settle for just charging on the go?  SoloQi has provided a complete charging solution with their SoloQi 360. MSRP is $299. Review is scheduled for the week ending 12/8/2019.

The holidays can be a stressful time.  It’s a lot of fun, and a great time to spend time with loved ones.  But searching for gifts can be stressful.  We try to give a wide range of gift ideas.  Hopefully with the items in this years gift guide we were able to give you some good ideas.  And check back in for the full reviews.  These are all great products, with very good quality and built well.  Last thing that you want is to buy a cheap gift that breaks too quickly.  None of these should disappoint.  And from us here at Stereowise Plus, thanks for reading.  And Happy Holidays to your family from ours.

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