Sunday, December 29, 2019

2019 Annual Editor's Choice Award Recipients

There are a lot of great products that we review every year.  Those that provide a great value, earn our Value Award.  Some products are better than others.  So while some will earn our Recommended Awards, others will earn our Highly Recommended Award.  But some products are top of the line, and it shows.  It is time to honor those products, the best of the best that has come across our desk.   They receive our Editor’s Choice Award, and we honor those products in our Annual Editor’s Choice Awards.  Below is a list of all the recipients, and a link to the review.

Beyerdynamic Xelento Wireless In-Ear Monitors

Emotiva BasX A-500 5 Channel Home Theater Amplifier

E-Mu Teak Wooden Over The Ear Headphones

Escort Max 360c Premium Radar Detector

Gourmia GPC965 Digital Express Pot 13-In-1 Pressure Cooker

Gourmia GPS650 Smoker Pressure Cooker and Steamer

iBeam 360 Degree 3D SVM Vehicle Camera System

JBL Link Bar Voice Activated Sound Bar

JBL Link View Voice Activated Speaker

Kingston A1000 NVMe, UV500 SSD, and Memory Module, Laptop Upgrade Components

LG V40 ThinQ Smartphone

Otterbox Defender Series LG V40 ThinQ Case

SoloQi 360 Next-Gen Wireless Charging System

T-Spec V16 Car Stereo RCA Cables

Viper DS4+ SmartStart Pro with Remote Start Alarm System

2019 has been a great year.  We hope that it has been good for you, as it has been for us.  We know it has been for some manufacturers, as you can see from their products.  From our family at Stereowise Plus to yours, thank you for reading.  And we hope that you and your family have a Happy New Years.  Stay tuned for more reviews to come next year.

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Sunday, December 8, 2019

SoloQi 360 Next-Gen Wireless Charging System Review

Nowadays, everyone has a cell phone. And most of these have the ability to charge wirelessly. At least 4 of the 7 cell phones in our house have this ability. As nice as this feature is, it is one that is underutilized. Charging pads can be expensive for good quality and are hardly more convenient than cords for availability. Enter the SoloQi 360.

Features and specs:

SoloQi X Car/Desk Mount:

○ Fast 10W wireless charger with the latest Qualcomm Wireless Charging chip.

○ Perfect for any wireless device.

○ Super lightweight with an aircraft quality aluminum alloy body.

○ Power Input: 5V/2A, wireless charging output: 5V/1A

SoloQi Pro:

○ Charge any wireless or wired devices.

○ Charge two devices at the same time.

○ Perfect for any phone model.

○ Lightweight just 6.4 oz - 180 grams.

○ 7000mAh battery - up to 200% extra phone use time.

Power Input: 5V/2A - Wireless charging output: 5V/1A - Wired charging output: 5V/2A

SoloQi Slim:

○ Traveler's lifesaver. The SLIM is a portable power bank you can recharge anywhere via its USB plug.

○ Keep your phone powered everywhere you go, with or without a cable.

○ Perfect as a desk mount charger on a kickstand at home and at the office.

○ Super lightweight wireless phone charger just 3.8 oz - 106 grams.

○ 2750mAh UPS battery - 120-150 minutes extra phone use time.

○ Power Input: 5V/2A, wireless charging output: 5V/1A

The SoloQi 360 came in a great looking black and red box. The black portion was printed with the product name in shiny black creating a classy looking package. Opening the box revealed the product well protected in a molded plastic holder. Materials used in the construction was mostly plastic with metal for the connectors. Quality of materials used as well as fit and finish was very good. It is a solidly made product with good weight to the battery packs and flexibility in the joints. Included in the box were two battery packs/home chargers, two auxiliary chargers that could be mounted in car or on a flat surface, charging cords, both reusable and permanent magnetic stickers for devices and a quick start guide.

It was fascinating to see the different products included and their flexibility. This is a kit you can use practically forever! The manufacturer has obviously thought over the issue of switching devices and longevity of use. The reusable magnetic stickers were surprisingly durable, not losing any of their sticking power even after a dozen peel off and replacements.  They solidly kept the chargers attached to the back of your device for consistent, steady charging. They are not meant to use under a case, and that would be my only addition, something to place directly on the phone that is a slim enough profile for your case to be attached over, but with the reusable stickers, it is a minor annoyance.

The two battery packs were of different size, so you can choose what will be the most convenient in any given circumstance. The larger one gave my Samsung Note 8 smartphone a solid two and a half charges from empty and the smaller battery charged my phone one and a half times. They stay on the back of my phone solidly and have a built in stand so they can charge in an upright position. The smaller one can be connected by USB port directly to a power source in addition to being connected with one of the charger cords. The larger one lacks this option, connecting only through cords, but it is big enough that direct connection might be too much weight for the connection point.

The two multifunctional additional panels have a fascinating construction. They have a flat mount that can be applied to any flat surface; bedside table, desk, etc. That piece can be unscrewed from the charger, revealing a two prong vent attachment for car use. Between these two applications, the charger can be used in virtually any situation. They connect to the power source through a power cord. Not included is a car adaptor or a wall adaptor. But almost everyone has an abundance of these connectors around their house or car.

This kit seems to be set up to include anything you could want for your charging needs. This is the only kit you would every need again for charging wirelessly! I was extremely impressed with the flexibility of use. It even allowed you to charge 2 phones on the go at the same time.  And with a MSRP of $299 it was well worth the investment. Based on its design, features, quality and performance, the SoloQi 360 has earned our Editor’s Choice Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at

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JBL Link View Voice Activated Speaker Review

When it comes to audio, JBL has some great products. But it’s not just about audio. JBL is an innovator as well. They have some great audio products in their Link series that includes Google Assistant. Well, now they just upped the ante with the JBL Link View. It also includes an 8 inch HD screen.

Features and specs:

General Specifications

Transducer: 2 x 51mm (2”) full range driver

Output power: 2 x 10W RMS

5MP front facing camera: Yes

8” HD touch screen: Yes

2.4G Wi-Fi transmitter frequency range: 2412 – 2472MHz (2.4GHz ISM Band, USA 11 Channels, Europe and others 13 Channels)

2.4G Wi-Fi transmitter power: <20dbm p="">
2.4G Wi-Fi modulation: OFDM, DSSS, DBPSK, DQPSK, CCK, 16QAM, 64QAM

5G Wi-Fi transmitter power: <20dbm p="">
5G Wi-Fi modulation: OFDM, DSSS, DBPSK, DQPSK, CCK, 16QAM, 64QAM, 256QAM

5G Wi-Fi transmitter frequency range: 5.15 - 5.35GHz, 5.470 - 5.725GHz, 5.725 - 5.825GHz

Gross Weight: 1.9kg

Net Weight: 1.3kg


The integrated display of the JBL Link View allows you to get things done easily. According to the definition of networked equipment with high network availability functionality set out in commission regulation (EU) No 801/2013 amending Regulation (EC) No 1275/2008, the product is considered as a networked equipment with functionality of videophone. Therefore, JBL Link View exempts from the requirements for availability of standby/off modes, power management function and possibility of deactivating wireless network connections, if these requirements are found, it will be inappropriate for the intended use of the product. JBL Link View is in compliance with the European Union energy legislation. JBL Link View is in active standby mode once the device is plugged into a wall socket.

Active standby consumption: <4 .3="" p="" watts.="">
Trademark: Google is a trademark of Google LLC.

Audio Specifications

Frequency response: 60Hz-20kHz (-6dB)

Signal-to-noise ratio: >80dBA


Dimensions (W x H x D): 332 x 152 x 100mm

Control and Connection Specifications : Bluetooth version 4.2

Bluetooth transmitter frequency range: 2402 – 2480MHz

Bluetooth transmitter power: ≤10dBm (EIRP)

Bluetooth transmitter modulation: GFSK, π/4 DQPSK, 8DPSK

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

Powering Input

Power Supply: 100-240V~50/60Hz

The JBL Link View came in a great looking color printed box, with photos of the product as well as specs. Opening the box revealed a well protected product held in place by custom molded foam. Taking off the wrapping, I saw it was a well-made product, as I have come to expect from JBL. Materials used in the construction was mostly plastic, with some cloth to cover the stereo speakers. Quality of materials used as excellent, as was the fit and finish. Also included was the Owner’s manual, and a power cord.

I like the design of the JBL Link View. On the audio side, there are front firing stereo speakers rated at 10 watts each, and a passive radiator on the back to help with bass response. On the back is also found the detachable power cord at the bottom and volume controls at the top. And on the front is also found the 8 inch HD touchscreen display. Microphone array, as well as 5MP camera.  And its splash proof IPX4 rating is great to provide use in the kitchen.

All of these components give you some great features. The speakers and internal amp are designed for great sound. The touch screen display is great for watching YouTube videos or displaying photos. The built-in mic and camera will also allow video calls to family and friends!

Setting up the JBL View Link was very simple. Once you plug it in, the screen comes alive with a tutorial telling you to download Google Home. With Google Home setup on your smartphone, you can find and link the JBL Link View. It was pleasantly simple to connect it to our home network and Google account. Most of the controls were done thru the touch screen. And we were able to use it as an intercom to relay messages through the JBL Link Bar that we just recently reviewed. 

The 8 inch touch screen display also worked well. The display was nicely sensitive to touch. And the display also looked great! Colors showed great contrast and saturation, without being overly so. Whites were bright and blacks were blacker than expected.  It was fun to see it display photos on our Google account.  And playing music online was also nice. But it would have been really nice to have a USB port and SD card slot.  That way you can set up a specific photo slideshow, or music play list.

Now it’s time to hear how it sounds. Being in the holiday season, I turned to my favorite group for holiday music, Mannheim Steamroller.  God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, the cymbals were nice and crisp.  Horns were very smooth. Drums dynamic with good impact and authority and depth.  Keyboard sounded more natural than expected. String section was also nice and smooth with better than expected resolution and texture of the strings. The depth and width of soundstage was also much better than expected for a small portable speaker.

Pat A Pan, the shaker, tambourine, and temple block were really crisp and clean. The flute had very good smooth sound with a great tone more air than expected.  The bass had great low-end extension. Violin was smooth with great harmonics.   The drums were tight and had very good dynamics and impact.  There were a lot of instruments, and they were all portrayed very well.

Fum, Fum, Fum, the drums had nice impact with good depth and authority.  Triangles were really crisp and clean!  Violin had nice resolution and texture of the strings and bow.  Oboe had good texture of the reed.  Drums had very good impact, dynamics, and depth with good authority.  High hat was crisp and clean without being tinny.  The piccolo had very good tone, harmonics, and good amount of air.  I loved the part when the piccolo had some fun and jazzed it up a bit, and it came thru very well. 

The JBL Link View provided a great sound for a small product. Treble was crisp and clean, mids were pleasantly smooth, and bass had good impact, dynamics, and played deeper than expected for a small player. I was impressed with the width and depth of soundstage.  There were only a couple times when music sounded just a bit compressed.  With the number of instruments, its not a small feat.   I always expect good sound from JBL products, so its nice like in cases with the JBL Link View when the high expectations can be exceeded.

The JBL Link View proved to be a great product. While I would have loved to have seen a USB port and SD card slot, it still provides a ton of functionality! And what it can do, it does very well. With a MSRP of $299, it is very well priced and gives a big bang for your hard earned buck. Based on its design, features, quality and performance, the JBL Link View has earned our Editor’s Choice award. For more info and complete specks, check out their website at

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Sunday, December 1, 2019

Creative Nova Alexa-Enable Multi-Room Wireless Speaker With Light Spa Review

We all like to enjoy our music. This includes taking it with us on the go. But we also want to hear it with good quality. So you’ll want a product form a quality manufacturer. And the company having a good pedigree can also help. A company with a great pedigree for quality audio is Creative Labs. Their Creative Nova is a great example of a quality audio product you can take with you on the go.

Features and specs:

Dimensions (H x W x D):  165 x 165 x 283 mm, Cord Length: Approximately 1.8m

Weight:  1.4 kg (3.08 lbs), Power Adapter: 215 g (0.47 lbs)

Operating Temperature:  0°C to 45°C

Power Output:  2 x 8W Far-field Drivers, 1 x 15W Woofer, Total System Power: 30W

Drivers:  2 x 45mm Drivers, 1 x 68mm Driver, 2 x (8mm x 4mm) Passive Radiators

Frequency Response:  70 Hz ~ 20 kHz

Battery Type:  Built-in Li-ion, 2200 mAh

Battery Life:  7 hours

Charging by:  Proprietary Adaptor, 18V 2A

System Configuration:  One-piece

Bluetooth Operating Frequency:  2402 – 2480 MHz

Operating Range for Bluetooth Devices:  Up to 10 meters / 33 ft, (Measured in open space. Walls and structures may affect range of device.)

Bluetooth® Version:  Bluetooth 4.1

Bluetooth Profile:  AVRCP (Bluetooth Remote Control), A2DP (Wireless Stereo Bluetooth), HFP (Hands-free Profile)

Supported Codecs:  SBC

Connector Type:  Bluetooth, AUX-in

Other Features:  Supports Spotify connect, iheart radio, tunein, Napster, Amazon music and Tidal music streaming service, IP55 Certified

The Creative Nova came in a great looking color printed box, with photos and specs of the product. Opening the box revealed a well protected product held in place by cardboard. Pulling out the product showed a product that was made of mostly plastic with some cloth and metal. Quality of materials used as well as the fit and finish was very good. The Creative Nova is well made quality product, and it shows.  Also included was the owners manual and power cord.

I really like the design of the Creative Nova. It’s round with a white plastic top that lights up. The bottom half is wrapped in cloth, with the drivers firing out along with dual passive radiators. The bottom has a woofer that is downfiring. And I love the fact that it’s waterproof, so you can take it with you outdoors, like camping or the lake or beach. The built-in handle at the top is convenient for taking it with you. And all of the controls are centrally located on the top. Under a rubber seal on the back on the connections for power and an aux input. Let’s see how it works.

Being the holiday season, I turned to Christmas music, and some of my favorite is Mannheim Steamroller: God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman. Tambourine was crisp and clean, as was the cymbals. Horns were pleasantly smooth. Piano sounded sufficiently natural. Drums had very nice dynamics, with sufficient depth, but not quite as low of an extension as I had hoped for. But then again, it is a sealed system and the bass was clean.

Pat a Pan: the shaker and tambourine were crisp and clean. The temple block had very nice tone of the wood, the flute had very nice harmonics and air. The violin was pleasantly warm with nice texture of the strings. Drums were nice and dynamic and played with authority. And there was enough resolution to hear the breathing technique of the flute.

Fum, Fum: Drums had nice dynamics impact and authority. Triangle was really crisp and clean. Violin had very good texture and timbre of the strings. Piccolo had very good harmonics and air. Oboe also had nice resolution and texture and woodiness of the reed.

I was very impressed with the Creative Nova. It’s a well made product that’s also well laid out with controls that are self explanatory so their easy to figure out. Pairing it with my LG V40 ThinQ was very simple. And the Bluetooth performance was also excellent. I was able to go over 40 feet and half a dozen walls away, and not a single glitch or hiccup in the signal. With a MSRP of $179, it’s well priced. It also has additional features, like being able to be used as a speakerphone, a sleep timer for the music, wi-fi audio streaming to listen to your online music without the need for your smartphone, as well as multi-room control.  I really liked the sound spa mode, being able to go to sleep to the nature sounds like a creek or ocean waves, and the lights were also cool but can be turned off if it’s not your cup of tea.  And of course having Alexa built-in to check the weather is also a great feature.

The Creative Nova is a great wireless speaker system that is loaded with features.  Not only is it a great sounding speaker system, you have Bluetooth to stream from your smartphone and wi-fi to stream music from your home network as well as connect multiple Nova’s together for a multi-room system. And being waterproof means you can take it with you outdoors and not worry about it being rained on (just don’t submerge it in the creek or pool). Based on its design, features, quality and performance, the Creative Nova has earned our Highly Recommended Award. For more info and specs, check out their website at

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iBeam 360-Degree 3D SVM Vehicle Camera System with DVR

If you’re looking for something for your car, either a stereo, accessories or components, chances are Metra has you covered. One of the companies under Metra’s corporate umbrella is iBeam. They make some great car accessories, such as back-up cameras. They even make 4 camera kits, so not only do you see the back, you also see the front and both sides as well. Up for review today is their top of the line iBeam TE-360-3D. It’s their 360 degrees 3D camera system.

Features and specs:

Includes (4) high resolution 180-degree fish-eye cameras

Exclusive fish-eye distortion correction

Seamless 3D & 360 degree video merging

Dynamic & intelligent view angle switching

Includes calibration tools

Independent camera calibration

3D video de-interlacing and noise reduction technology for CVBS signal decoding

Digital 1080p recorder supporting up to 32GB USB flash drive or SD card

Smart power management to preserve battery power

Automatic recording for up to 28 hours

SD card sold separately (TE-16SD)

The iBeam TE-360-3D came in a nice looking color printed box, with photos of different views of the vehicle with the camera in use. Also shown was its features and photos of the equipment included. Opening the box, revealed a well protected product held in place with custom molded foam. Included is the interface, interface wiring harness, remote control, the 4 fisheye cameras, camera extension cables,  calibration tools, and installation instructions. They even included a hole saw, to cut the hole for the cameras. Materials used in the construction was mostly plastic for the wires. But the interface was a metal box. The 4 cameras were also made of metal for the housing, and the lens actually appeared to be glass. The quality of materials used was excellent, especially for the lenses. I was not expecting the metal housing. Fit and finish was also very good.


The iBeam TE-360-3D is unique. With the 4 cameras, each being 180 degree fish-eye cameras, you get a complete panoramic view of all 4 sides of the vehicle. Not only can you switch between viewing of the different cameras individually, it also does video merging. This video merging allows you to see around the entire vehicle at the same time. The interface also includes a built-in DVR with recording onto either a SD card or flash drive for up to 28 hours. The included remote allows for simple navigation in the interface. There’s even integrated triggers so when you back up, or turn, you get the image of the direction you’re heading. You even get alerts for potential collisions. And since the system can record even when the vehicle is parked, it’s also great for surveillance. It sounds like it could be too good to be true, so I am excited to see how well it actually works!

The included installation guide is very easy to read and follow. Typically that is often the weak link in a product, so I was very impressed! For you guys that are going to be installing this yourself, that’s very good news. It’s a fairly sophisticated system in its abilities. So if you are competent in your handywork, you should be fine by just following the instructions. And as long as your car receiver has a camera input, or video input, which most do, you’ll be golden for this camera system.  Now that it’s installed, lets see how it works!

The iBeam TE-360-3D integrated seamlessly with my Kenwood eXcelon Reference DDX9905S receiver.  The included remote worked well in getting everything set-up.   The menus are self explanatory, so getting everything set up was simple.  And I loved the way it integrated.  When I turn on my truck, my receiver turns on, and it shows the front of the vehicle.  When I back up out of my garage, it automatically switches view to the back of my truck so I can see what is behind me.   The same also happens when I turn.  Whether it is left or right, when I use the turn signal, it automatically shows the image of the direction that I am turning.  Once the turn signal is no longer engaged, it automatically goes back to display the source that I was listening to. 

I love the way it automatically goes to the direction I am going.  And once I am done turning, or backing up, it automatically goes back to the regular radio display.  Part of the set-up is you can select the type of vehicle that shows up on the display with the cameras.  It was a little confusing to me why it can’t just show the image of your vehicle that it is seeing, but no big deal.  My truck is a full-size Nissan Titan, and while it showed the image of the vehicle that was designated in the set-up screen, like a generic SUV, it still showed a very small part of my truck. 

The dual screen images was also really cool.  The screen is split in two. The right side of the screen displays where you are going.  If you are turning left, it will display the image from the camera on the left side of the vehicle.  If you are backing up, it will be the image of the rear camera that will be displayed.  And the image on the left side is the 360 degree image of the vehicle.  In the middle of the screen is an image of the entire vehicle, from the viewpoint of the top of the vehicle, as if you were looking down at it.  And it shows what is in front of the vehicle, behind the vehicle, as well as what is on all sides.  It is a stitched image from all four cameras to give you a 360 degree image of what is around the vehicle.  It’s pretty cool. 

While it’s really cool having a camera system in my Titan, and the image looks cool when it comes up on my display, that’s not the most important part.  It’s the added security that it gives me that is the most critical and beneficial.  Seeing vehicles next to me when I turn, or what’s behind me, can potentially be huge.  It can be an accident saver.  Especially when you’re backing up.  I’ve heard the nightmare stories of the toddler playing behind the vehicle that wasn’t seen by the parent backing up.  Now you can see what is behind you, immediately behind you.  The peace of mind alone is well worth any cost of the system.  Fortunately I have not needed to see how the built-in DVR works in the time of an accident.  But I am glad that it constantly records video onto a memory card, that way if there is an accident, you have it saved for law enforcement.


The iBeam TE-360-3D is iBeam’s top of the line system, and it showed. The quality of materials and the components were excellent, and a well written manual was provided. It should give many years of service. And it all came together in a great looking image on screen. It worked just as it should, which is one of the best compliments you can give. Based on its design, features, quality, and performance, the iBeam TE-360-3D has earned our Editor’s choice award. At an MSRP of $1,032 it isn’t cheap, but you do tend to get what you pay for. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at  A free sampling of the product being provided did not in any way impact the opinions in the review.

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