Friday, December 29, 2023

2023 Annual Editor's Choice Awards

2023 has been a bit of a crazy year with the way the markets have been, but it hasn’t stopped companies from bringing out some great quality products.  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.  There has been a great variety of products from home audio, car audio, portable audio, as well as gadgets, and even computer products.  This is to further recognize those products, and links to the individual reviews are also provided.


Audio-Technica ATH-CK2000Ti IEM


Citizen Smart CZ Hybrid Gen-2 Smartwatch


Cobra Pro 3000W Professional Power Inverter


Garmin dezl Headset 200 Wireless Headphones


Garmin Tread Audio System


Image Dynamic ID8 Ultra Low Frequency Subwoofer


JBL Authentics 500 Home Smart Speaker


Kenwood Excelon Motorsport XMR-XM500 Marine Digital Receiver


Kenwood Excelon Reference DMX958XR Monitor Receiver


Kenwood Excelon Reference DNR-1007XR 10.1” Navigation Multimedia Receiver


Kicker KPB1 PowerBar


Kicker PTRTP 12” Powered Subwoofer Enclosure


Master & Dynamic MW75 ANC Wireless Headphones


Nakamichi NDST500A 12 Channel DSP 10 Channel Amplifier


RBH Signature Reference Series 1212P-SF/R Powered Subwoofer


T-Spec V16 VSW1116  11 Conductor 16 Gauge Cable


Wāvtech Link1000.1 Mini Mono Amplifier


Westone Mach80 IEM


Withings ScanWatch Smartwatch


It’s has been a crazy year.  But it has still been a good year, with 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!

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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Citizen CZ Smart Hybrid Gen-2 Smart Watch Review

When it comes to making dress watches, Citizen has been making innovative, high quality dress watches for over a century. Their Eco-Drive watches that use light to power the watch is awesome. So it’s no surprise that they also make smart watches. Up for review today is their Citizen CZ Smart Hybrid Gen-2 smart watch, with $425 MSRP.


Features and specs:

MODEL: JX2006-52E


Google Wear OS: CZ Smart is powered with Wear OS by Google™ and is compatible with both iPhone® and Android™ phones.



BAND TYPE: Bracelet Stainless Steel

CASE MATERIAL: Silver Stainless Steel

CRYSTAL: Mineral Crystal Impact and shatter resistant

CLASP: Fold Over Clasp with Push Buttons

DIAL: Black

WATER-RESISTANCE: WR [Splash Resistant]

ADDITIONAL FUNCTIONS: Alarm / Day Date, Calendar, Chronograph / Alarm, Dual Time Zone, World Timer, Backlight, Bluetooth Connectivity, Calendar Event, Notification, Call Connectivity Features iPhone and Android Bluetooth

Vibration Alert: Email

Activity Progress Tracker - track steps, distance, calories burned, sleep, and personal goals

Activity Progress Tracker - track steps, distance, calories burned, sleep and personal goals

Take Remote Photos

Control Music

Volume Adjustment

Ability to track sleep

Digital Display

LCD Display


The Citizen CZ Smart Hybrid Gen-2 came in a great looking color printed box, with photos and specs of the watch. Opening the box revealed a well-protected watch held in place by custom molded foam. Materials used in the construction was mostly stainless steel, with mineral crystal. Quality of materials used, as well as fit and finish, was excellent. Also included is the charging cable and manuals.


I love the design of the Citizen CZ Smart Hybrid smart watch. The case is beefy and extremely solid, the quality that Citizen is known for. The face is covered by an attractive yet tough mineral crystal to combat scratches. The band is an elegant looking stainless steel, which unlike cheap bands has a smooth and unhindered movement to the links. The censors are located on the back of the case. Buttons are on the right side of the case, to control the functionality. And there are other bands available, such as leather and silicone, that can be switched out, depending on your preference and wardrobe.

One of the main keys of the design is its hybrid functionality. Most smart watches have the entire watch face as a beautiful color display. But that requires power, which often times needs to be recharged every few days. The Citizen design features analog hands, like the rest of their dress watches. But instead of the power-hungry color display, it features a digital and LCD display. This gets you battery life up to 18 days.


For the design, Citizen used the best of both worlds. There are a lot of smart watches to choose from, but most look like just regular cheap watches. Citizen took the look of their beefy and luxurious watches, and added a smart watch to it. Hence, the best of both worlds. You get the smart watch functionality in an excellent dress watch!


Whether you are new or experienced with smart watches, Citizen has you covered with smart watch functionality. You get your typical watch functions such as alarm, calendar, chronograph. You also get the smart watch notifications for call, texts, email, etc. Then there is the fitness functionality, such as steps, distance, calories burned, personal goals, sleep, etc. There’s even multimedia features, such as taking remote photos, music control and volume adjustment.


Citizen has been innovative in their dress watches with Eco-Drive. The innovation continues with their smart watches. You get traditional smart watch functionality, but through Citizen you will have access to additional innovative and unique functionality. Citizen incorporated technology from NASA and IBM Watson to create a wellness app proprietary to Citizen called YouQ. YouQ basically over around 10 days will learn your awake and sleep patterns. Through the apps AI, the app learns your sleep and awake patterns, and is then able to recommend “Power Fixes” or activities to increase your alertness and reduce fatigue. This helps you be more productive. It’s definitely an innovative feature!


Unlike some products, the owner’s manual was easy to read. It was also easy to follow, and therefore installation of the app on my smartphone was simple. And so was pairing the watch to my smartphone, through the app. The Quick Start Guide walked you through it. If anything, the Quick Start Guide may have been a little too simple with not much details that some users may need. It worked for me, and there is the customer service number for those that need assistance. Now that it’s set up and paired with my smartphone and app, let’s see how it performs.


Using the app is very simple. Even on the main page of the app, it shows your step count, minutes of activity or exercise, calories burned, heart rate, sleep time and blood oxygen percentage. Tapping on the icons, you can see tracking for each for day, week and month. Through the app you can also set up alarms, change the look of your watch face, set-up notifications, as well as set up your preferences.


Through the app, you also set up the watch’s functionality. You’ll need to update your gender, height and age, and weight, so your calorie burning is more accurate. There’s goal setting for daily steps, active calories, active minutes, and sleep time. You can even set up what apps connect to it. Thru the app you can also check that your watch is connected, battery life, and firmware version.


There’s a lot you can control and monitor from the app, but you will also need to use the watch itself. To control it you’ll use the three buttons on the right side. And you’ll really want to download the instruction manual. It goes through not only all of the features, it also explains the function of each button for each feature. So downloading and studying the manual is really critical. That way when you want to check a text, answer a call, or control your music, you’ll know how.


While these are all great features, there is one area where I feel like Citizen missed the mark. That would be with the SPO2 blood oxygen sensor. It measures your blood oxygen level in a percentage. This is a great tool for sleep apnea. It’s been estimated that approximately 1 in every 15 Americans suffer from a case of sleep apnea. That’s just in the US. You figure that globally, and that’s a lot of people. But only a small percentage get diagnosed. Studies also show that if you have a close family member with sleep apnea, you are at a higher risk for developing it.


In the app under SPO2, it shows and tracks your weekly average for blood oxygen percentage. It also shows your daily low, high, and average blood oxygen percentages. This is all great to know, just shy of the mark for sleep apnea. But Citizen seems really close to being a game changer for sleep apnea. The watch is clearly able to take the measurements. If Citizen made a change to the software to show the measurements at the time of the day, it would be more beneficial. You would be able to tell if any of the low readings were during your sleep. You would be able to track how often it happens. And if you need to see medical help for it. The feature works great. But with some tweaks, Citizen could have a real game changer on their hands that could help literally millions!


The Citizen YouQ app is also very innovative.  You start using the app by taking some Alert Checks.  You do that a couple times a day for the first 7-10 days until your chronotype is identified by analyzing your natural sleep and activity patterns. Once your chronotype is identified, you will see your energy levels at different times during the day.  The app will not only help show you your energy levels, but also help with energy fixes, ways you can boost your energy.  The app actually works well and is pretty cool.  Doing what I do working from home, it’s not really needed for me.  But I can see that depending on what you do for work, this could be extremely beneficial.  It’s definitely worth using, as it could help.  And I haven’t seen anything else like it before.


I absolutely love the look of the Citizen CZ Smart Hybrid Gen-2. It has the elegant and classy look of an analog dress watch with the functionality of smart watch. And it has the excellent build quality that Citizen is known for. It’s a classic example of synergy, where the whole is more than the sum of the parts. Now you can get all dressed up for a night out on the town or wedding with a great looking Citizen dress watch, and still get the vibration on your wrist so you don’t miss that important text. Based on its design, features, quality and performance, the Citizen SZ Smart Hybrid has earned our Editor’s Choice Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at

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Monday, December 4, 2023

Cobra Pro 3000W Power Inverter Review

When you think of Cobra Electronics, you may think of their radar detectors. But they have also been creating a name for themselves in other car electronics, like dash cams. They also have high quality power solution products. Up for review today Is their best power inverter. It’s their Cobra Pro 3000W. MSRP is $379


Features and specs:


Product Depth (in.): 13.07 in

Product Height (in.): 4.72 in

Product Width (in.): 10.47 in


Amperage (A): 26

Features: Overload Protection, USB Port

Frequency: 60

Included: Cord Set, Wireless Remote

Number of Outlets: 4

Product Weight (lb.): 7.83 lb

Returnable: 90-Day

Running Wattage: 3000

Start Type: Remote

Starting Wattage: 6000

Voltage (V): 115


The Cobra Pro 3000W came in a great looking color printed box, with photos and specs of the power inverter. Opening the box revealed a well-protected product held in place by custom molded foam. Materials used in the construction was mostly plastic, with some metal. Quality of materials used, as well as fit and finish, was very good. Also included is the remote controller, power and ground controls, mounting kit, and user guide.


I really like the design of the Cobra Pro 3000W. It’s a professional grade power inverter, with enough power to run just about anything. And the remote controller simplifies it’s use. Through the controller you can not only monitor the inverter, it also has fast charge ports. You can quick charge smaller devices such as smartphones or tablets.


While the remote controller adds some great useability, the brawn of the inverter is in the main body. It included 4 GCFI outlets, an LED display and comes with 2-gauge power and ground cables. That should tell you most of what you need to know about the Cobra Pro 3000W. It packs a punch. 3000 watts continuous, or 6000 watts peak. That’s enough to power just about anything. Appliances such as a microwave, fridge, or even power tools. No wonder it’s called professional grade!


For the installation, the user guide was easy to follow. Not all owner’s manuals are easy to read and follow. This one was. Installation was rather straight forward, and simple. Now that’s it’s installed, let’s see how it performs.


There’s not a whole lot to the Cobra Pro 3000W. The large red LED next to the outlets showed the voltage of my truck’s battery. The remote controller in blue LED showed both the input voltage from the battery, as well as the output in watts. The remote controller worked great at charging my smartphone. And the inverter had no problem powering a saw, and an impact wrench. When all is said and done, that’s probably the best compliment that can be given: that it performed as advertised. And that’s just what the Cobra Pro 3000W did.


Sometimes we need power on the go. Some of us may need more power than others. And it’s smart to be prepared for what you may need, and the Cobra Pro 3000W will have you covered. Based on its design, features, quality and performance, the Cobra Pro 3000W has earned our Editor’s Choice Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at

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