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Recent AV Gadget Reviews

iHome iBN97 Bluetooth Clock Radio Preview

iHome iBN97 Bluetooth Clock Radio Preview

iHome has cornered the market, in my opinion, on docking alarm clocks. They have great features (like dual alarms) and they just work. The new iBN97 is a new model that, for the first time that we've seen, adds NFC to an alarm clock. Of course, it also includes Bluetooth for wireless connectivity from virtually any mobile device. That makes this a fully wireless clock radio that has the same features as most of iHome's docking products—and likely they saved some licensing fees by eliminating the need for a lightning dock. And the best thing is that the iBN97 also costs the same as most of iPhone's other higher-end clock radios. The iBN97 is very similar to the iBT97 except that it adds NFC capability which, with a properly-equipped phone, means that you only have to get it close (placing it in the included docking bracket) to sync the devices together and stream audio to the iBN97.

The new iHome iBN97 Bluetooth clock radio adds NFC to an alarm clock. Of course, it also includes Bluetooth for wireless connectivity from virtually any mobile device. Check it out.

— March 16, 2014 06:00 in AV Gadget Reviews

Denon DA-300USB DAC Preview

Denon DA-300USB DAC Preview

With top-notch circuitry, proprietary Advanced AL32 Processing and High-Precision 32 bit, 192 kHz digital to analogue conversion, analog line outputs, and four digital inputs (including USB-B for your computer), the Denon DA-300USB DAC ticks all the right boxes. At $549, you can find cheaper options but none that have the prestige and know-how of Denon. If you are looking for an external DAC and headphone amp for your headphones, or a way to connect your computer to high quality studio monitors, the Denon is a good option.

The Denon DA-300USB DAC has top-notch circuitry, proprietary Advanced AL32 Processing and High-Precision 32 bit, 192 kHz digital to analogue conversion, analog line outputs, and four digital inputs.

— March 04, 2014 08:00 in AV Gadget Reviews

Seiki U-VISION 4K Upscaling HDMI Cable Preview

Seiki U-VISION 4K Upscaling HDMI Cable Preview

When you put out a display before a technology has matured, you are necessarily going to be behind the curve. Seiki's $1500, 55" 4K display impressed everyone with its price but the built-in scaling and upconversion was pretty disappointing. Rather than release a new display this year with better scaling and leaving all those customers with substandard sets, Seiki's U-VISION 4k upconverting HDMI cable fixes the problem and is being provided for free to owners. Non-owners that want to try it out can buy one for the bargain price of $40. At that price, we're betting there are a number of 4k early adopters that are already pre-ordering theirs.

Seiki's U-VISION 4k upconverting HDMI cable will take a 1080p signal and scale it up to 4k or a 720p signal and scale it to 1080p as well as other image improvement features for only $40.

— February 27, 2014 08:00 in AV Gadget Reviews

Pioneer AVH-X7500BT and SPH-DA210 AppRadio Review

Pioneer AVH-X7500BT and SPH-DA210 AppRadio Review

I got a chance to report from our "remote studio" testing out two of Pioneer's latest in-dash receivers. I'm looking at the AVH-X7500BT, that's a single DIN $500 unit that has a 7" WVGA screen that ejects out of it so that you can use the AppRadio apps. I'm also looking at the SPH-DA210 which has the same 7" screen and is a bit fancier model. It is a double DIN unit and has the omnipresent touch screen that lets you interact with AppRadio.

I got a chance to test out two of Pioneer's latest in-dash receivers, the 1-DIN AVH-X7500BT and the 2-DIN SPH-DA210. Both are $500 units that have a 7" WVGA touch screen with AppRadio capabilities.

— February 16, 2014 14:43 in AV Gadget Reviews

Audio Interconnect and Speaker Cable Myths and Facts Revealed

Audio Interconnect and Speaker Cable Myths and Facts Revealed

The audio industry has its share of marketing nonsense, especially when dealing with the topic of speaker cables and audio interconnects. It's important to keep in mind that AV cables are very profitable accessory items and there is often very little to no sonic differences between cables. Thus the birth of pseudoscience is often a necessary evil to make manufacturers products appear "unique" or "better". In this interview article and accompanying video, Hugo and Gene discuss some of the common myths surrounding audio interconnects and speaker cables and to also give general advice when shopping for cables. Now updated with Part II of the Youtube Video interview.

Audio interconnects and speaker cables myths and facts are revealed in this informative interview. What makes a good AV cable, and the real science behind them is discussed here.

— February 07, 2014 08:00 in AV Gadget Reviews

Emotiva XPS-1 High Performance Phono Preamp Preview

Emotiva XPS-1 High Performance Phono Preamp Preview

The Emotiva XPS-1 is a high-quality, in-line phono pre-amp for the bargain price of $149. With high quality, if likely off-the-shelf, components, attention to RIAA equalization, low noise floor, and vanishing distortion, the XPS-1 will be everything you need to integrate your turntable into your system. If you have a record player you can't use because your receiver lacks a phono input, Emotiva is trying to give you a compelling reason not to upgrade. We think they have succeeded.

The Emotiva XPS-1 is an high-quality, in-line phono pre-amp for the bargain price of $149. If you have a turntable you can't use because you lack the correct inputs, the XPS-1 is the solution.

— January 15, 2014 09:50 in AV Gadget Reviews

Cambridge Audio DacMagic XS USB DAC Review

Cambridge Audio DacMagic XS USB DAC Review

External DACs come in all shapes and sizes but few are smaller than the Cambridge Audio DacMagic XS. Cambridge Audio has a number of DacMagic offerings, currently three on their website, and this is by far the smallest and the least expensive. At $189, it undercuts the price of most external DACs on the market buy anything from a few dollars to many thousands. The Cambridge Audio DacMagic XS is focused on being portable and universal. It connects to your computer by a USB connection, has a 3.5mm output for you headphones or speakers, and volume control.

Review: The Cambridge Audio DacMagic XS. Cambridge Audio has a number of DacMagic offerings, currently three on their website, and this is by far the smallest and the least expensive.

— January 13, 2014 11:00 in AV Gadget Reviews

Emotiva Stealth DC-1 DAC/Preamp Review

Emotiva Stealth DC-1 DAC/Preamp Review

If the Emotiva Stealth DC-1 DAC, headphone amp, and preamp does what Emotiva intends, you'll never hear it. That's right, the whole point is to get out of the way and let your source shine. The $500 price tag would be worth it for the DAC and headphone amp or the DAC and preamp alone but Emotiva gave you all three for that price. That's amazing from a company that I thought was done amazing me. The Emotiva Stealth DC-1 - if it isn't on your Christmas list, you need to reevaluate your priorities. Highly recommended!

Review: The Emotiva Stealth DC-1 is a two channel preamp, DAC, and headphone amp all in one. The $500 price tag would be worth it for any 2 of those but Emotiva gave you all 3. Highly Recommended!

— December 15, 2013 10:00 in AV Gadget Reviews

DVDO Air3 Review: Wireless 3D HDMI for All!

DVDO Air3 Review: Wireless 3D HDMI for All!

DVDO’s Air3 Wireless HD HDMI adapter kit, an updated version of the AIR system, has helped to restore my faith in wireless HDMI. First off, it supports full 1080p 3D video and 7.1 DTS-HD MA at over 35' away. I tested it out with multiple devices, resolutions, audio formats, and distances. The results? It's not perfect, but performs better than any wireless HDMI solution I have ever used. Click through to read the full review.

Review: DVDO Air3 Wireless HDMI Adapter. We ran it through its paces passing 3D HD audio and video. Results? It's not perfect, but is arguable the best wireless HDMI solution we have ever reviewed.

— December 04, 2013 08:00 in AV Gadget Reviews

Samsung GX-SM530CF Smart Media Player Preview

Samsung GX-SM530CF Smart Media Player Preview

The Samsung Smart Media Player takes Samsung's Smart Hub and puts it in a standalone box. Giving you access to over 100 apps and streaming services is cool but not cool enough to justify the $150 price tag. Samsung is betting that including CableCARD support will change your mind. By allowing you to combine your cable and streaming media in one box, you can save money and hassle. The question is whether it will be enough savings for the price.

The Samsung Smart Media Player takes Samsung's Smart Hub and puts it in a standalone box with a twist - CableCARD support. Will combining cable and streaming convince people to buy the $150 Player?

— November 21, 2013 10:00 in AV Gadget Reviews

DISH Anywhere App Adds Transfers

DISH Anywhere App Adds Transfers

One of the coolest things you can do with the latest DISH content, is view it on your iPad or smart phone or mobile device. Now, however, DISH is readying an upgrade to its DISH Anywhere app that actually incorporates Transfers functionality to both iOS and Android phones and tablets. With this new DISH Anywhere app, Hopper with Sling technology will allow users to transfer their favorite shows for offline viewing to iPhones, iPads and Android phones and tablets. This is a free enhancement that is slated to be pushed out as an update to users of DISH's free DISH Anywhere app. The update is due out by the end of the year.

One of the coolest things you can do with the latest DISH content, is view it on your iPad or smart phone or mobile device. Now, however, DISH is readying an upgrade to its DISH Anywhere app.

— November 13, 2013 04:00 in AV Gadget Reviews

Akiko Audio Tuning Stick Spectral Preview

Akiko Audio Tuning Stick Spectral Preview

A late night visitation brings on horror as one of our reviewer's systems is infiltrated by Akiko Audio Tuning Sticks. If you were inconvenienced by the blackout, we are sorry. Audioholics everywhere - beware! Check your cables! If one of these sticks appears, contact us. We are building a special cage that emits high levels of EMF and micophony that we believe will contain them. Tell your friends!

A late night visitation brings on horror as one of our reviewer's systems is infiltrated by the Akiko Audio Tuning Sticks. Audioholics everywhere - beware! Check your cables! Don't let them in!

— October 31, 2013 00:00 in AV Gadget Reviews

Yamaha NX-P100 Portable Wireless Speaker Preview

Yamaha NX-P100 Portable Wireless Speaker Preview

The Yamaha NX-P100 is a Bluetooth speaker from Yamaha that is meant to be taken with you wherever you might go. It has an eight hour battery that can be used to charge your phone if it gets low. It is splash resistant so you don't have to worry about taking it to the pool. With built in speakerphone and Siri support, once you pair your phone, you won't have to worry about calls interrupting you. For those with NFC devices, the NX-P100 will pair with a simple tap of the phone. We've heard portable speakers from Yamaha and we have always been impressed. While $200 is a lot for such a small speaker, we bet Yamaha will sell more than a few of these.

Preview: The Yamaha NX-P100 is a Bluetooth speaker from Yamaha that has speakerphone and Siri support, apt-X for CD quality streaming, is splash resistant, and can even charge your phone. $200.

— October 30, 2013 08:00 in AV Gadget Reviews

VIZIO Co-Star LT Streaming Box Preview

VIZIO Co-Star LT Streaming Box Preview

Frankly, you aren't saving a lot of money by going with the Co-Star LT over VIZIO's initial Co-Star offering. But, then again, you aren't giving up much functionality either. You lose the Chrome browser (and GoogleTV platform), Ethernet port, and fancy remote. But, then again, you probably were using your phone or tablet to control the Co-Star LT anyhow. And who needs a browser when you have all those apps? If you want the most features, go with the Co-Star. If all you are going to do is stream, save $20 and buy the Co-Star LT. Either way you can connect wirelessly, stream 1080p and 3D, pass through 5.1 audio, and overlay the interface on top of your cable box signal.

The VIZIO Co-Star LT has almost all the functionality of the original Co-Star but costs $20 less. It has tons of apps, can connect wirelessly, stream 1080p and 3D, and pass through 5.1 audio.

— October 25, 2013 08:00 in AV Gadget Reviews