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Recent AV Gadget Reviews

Sony HAP-Z1ES 1TB Hi-Res Music Player System Preview

Sony HAP-Z1ES 1TB Hi-Res Music Player System Preview

Sony has been talking a lot of a new foray into hi-rez audio and now they've released three products to take advantage of this new commitment. The flagship of the line is the HAP-Z1ES. This silvery box is about as simple as you can get with a networked device. Inside there is a built-in 1 TB drive with expandable storage (through a USB port). It supports virtually all Hi-Res formats at any resolution you could want. Of course you have to connect it to your computer (via the network) to get your music (there is no drive). Afterwards, however, you can set it to automatically update its hard drive when you download new music. It has a DSD engine to upscale music file to DSD (5.6MHz) quality and a DSEE DSP to "restore" compressed music. Funny thing - they released two additional boxes that have more features and cost less. Go figure.

The Sony HAP-Z1ES is a hi-rez media streamer that can upscale your music to 5.6MHz (DSD quality). Funny thing - they released two additional boxes that have more features and cost less. Go figure.

— September 28, 2013 00:20 in AV Gadget Reviews

Unique Automation Bath-o-Vision

Unique Automation Bath-o-Vision

Now, I know that traditionally we cover audio and video stuff, but today I found something I particularly think you should know about. It's automation for your, well, cleansing needs. It's the iShower, Bath-o-matic and the iShower 36...I love it because all your automation is right there on these wonderful controls. Over at the shower station you can see that you can have an app control everything. One of the things I love about this company is that they've combined electronics and water—a great idea.

Now, I know that traditionally we cover audio and video stuff, but today I found something I particularly think you should know about. It's automation for your, well, cleansing needs.

— September 27, 2013 23:06 in AV Gadget Reviews

Panamax BlueBOLT Technology Preview

Panamax BlueBOLT Technology Preview

Would you like to be able to control appliances in your home from anywhere in the world (as long as you had an Internet connection)? Panamax is betting you do with their BlueBOLT technology. BlueBOLT Remote Power Management technology provides secure, hosted IP (Internet Protocol) system control. With BlueBOLT end-users can remotely monitor and control power to connected equipment by accessing power management components from anywhere in the world. From simple system reboots to comprehensive monitoring of power status, BlueBOLT provides the power to control complex A/V systems from their most fundamental level - their power source.

Would you like to be able to control appliances in your home from anywhere in the world (as long as you had an Internet connection)? Panamax is betting you do with their BlueBOLT technology.

— September 27, 2013 19:12 in AV Gadget Reviews

IOGEAR GWHDMS52 Wireless 5x2 Matrix Switcher Preview

IOGEAR GWHDMS52 Wireless 5x2 Matrix Switcher Preview

While it is pricy, the GWHDMS52 Wireless 5x2 Matrix Switcher from IOGEAR has applications not only in business but in the home. If you have a couple of sources and more than one room that might want access to them, it may make sense to purchase GWHDMS52. It is basically a five in, two out HDMI switch but it is wireless. Allowing you to display two full HD (3D, 60 fps) HD streams on two different displays is cool. The innate ability to connect a computer and control it using a wireless keyboard makes it perfect for turning your home theater display into a massive computer screen. At $400, the IOGEAR GWHDMS52 isn't cheap. But it is cheaper than putting an OPPO in two rooms.

The IOGEAR GWHDMS52 Wireless 5x2 Matrix Switcher is basically a five in, two out HDMI switch. It allows you to display two full HD (3D, 60Hz) HD streams on two different displays, wirelessly

— September 27, 2013 18:43 in AV Gadget Reviews

Arcam rBlink Bluetooth Music Converter

Arcam rBlink Bluetooth Music Converter

The Arcam rBlink Bluetooth music converter is a small but neat little box. It's a Bluetooth receiver that features a jitter removal circuit as well as a PCM 5102 24-bit digital to analogue converter (DAC). The output is left and right RCA but it also has a digital S/PDIF output in the event you want to use your own external DAC. The rBlink features Apt-X technology, so you can stream lossless-quality files via Bluetooth to any stereo or home theater system. Installation is easy with a simple pairing system for new devices. It also syncs with over 2000 devices, so if you're thinking about syncing all 2000 of your iPads and iPhones...or your friends' iOS devices...Well, go ahead have a party.

The Arcam rBlink Bluetooth music converter is a small but neat little box. It's a Bluetooth receiver that features a jitter removal circuit as well as a PCM 5102 24-bit digital to analogue converter.

— September 27, 2013 02:09 in AV Gadget Reviews

Atlona HDBaseT Matrix Switchers and Wall Plates Preview

Atlona HDBaseT Matrix Switchers and Wall Plates Preview

Atlona had a number of exciting offerings at CEDIA this year, all of which involved HDBaseT. The new AT-HDVS-TX-WP wall plates will send HDMI or VGA over HDBaseT up to 70 feet. It auto-switches inputs (there are manual buttons) but, most excitedly, it also has the ability to scale the video as well. Atlona also announced a couple of HDBaseT switchers. One is a six HDMI in, six HDBaseT out with two mirrored HDMI outputs. The other is an 8x8 matrix switcher but it is modular so that you can mix and match inputs and outputs including HDBaseT. All these are to be announced pricing. We are just excited to see HDBaseT start to come into its own.

Atlona had a number of exciting offerings at CEDIA this year, all of which involved HDBaseT. They introduced a wall plate and two switchers, one of them modular.

— September 27, 2013 01:20 in AV Gadget Reviews

V-MODA BoomPro Microphone Review

V-MODA BoomPro Microphone Review

The V-MODA BoomPro is a mic upgrade for any headphones with detachable cables that have a standard 3.5mm plug at the headphone. V-MODA is known for the high priced and fashionable but quite expensive headphone offerings. That's why we were surprised when their BoomPro mic add-on was only $30 MSRP. We were even more surprised when the BoomPro was worked with many of the headphones that V-MODA might consider competitors. While the mic input was a little hot for podcast recording, it could be tamed with a little care. Real world applications like Skype and smartphone use was universally lauded. If you have a compatible headset and want a mic upgrade, this is an easy recommendation.

Review: The V-MODA BoomPro is a mic upgrade for any headphones with detachable cables that have a standard 3.5mm plug at the headphone. The BoomPro performed well and are recommended.

— September 20, 2013 08:00 in AV Gadget Reviews

TiVo Roamio DVRs Preview

TiVo Roamio DVRs Preview

TiVo has always been expensive and that hasn't changed with the new Roamio boxes. If you are a true cord-cutter, the straight Roamio will be for you. This is the only one that has support for OTA. At $200, it isn't the cheapest solution on the market (and only has a 500 gig drive) but it will also stream your favorite services and, with a $130 peripheral, throw content to your iOS device (and hopefully Android soon). With four tuners, the famous TiVo interface, an IR/RF remote, and expandable storage, you may think it is worth it. If you have a cable service but want more than just the crappy DVR your provider offers, the Roamio Plus (1 terabyte) or Pro (3 terabyte) solutions, both with six tuners, are for you.

Preview: The TiVo Roamio will help you cut the cord with 4 tuners and 75 hours of HD recording. The Roamio Plus (150 hours) and Roamio Pro (450 hours) will upgrade your DVR w/6 tuners, stream, more.

— September 09, 2013 21:00 in AV Gadget Reviews

Leap Motion Touch-free Controller Review

Leap Motion Touch-free Controller Review

The Leap Motion Controller is a motion controller in the form of a small rectangle that you wave your hands above to control your PC or Mac. There are reasons that someone might need a Leap Motion but they are fairly specific and, if you are reading this review, probably don't apply to you. I really like it and absolutely think it was worth the $80 asking price. If you have $80 to burn and don't mind taking a chance on a device, the Leap Motion Controller is certainly worth it. As there are new updates and new apps released almost daily, I've very hopeful that the Leap Motion will evolve into something essential. As it stands, it is more of a curiosity.

The Leap Motion Controller is a touch-free motion controller for your Mac or PC. While I really like it, the Leap Motion is more of a curiosity than a necessity. At $80, it might be worth it to you.

— September 02, 2013 21:00 in AV Gadget Reviews

Astell&Kern AK100 32GB Music HD Player Review

Astell&Kern AK100 32GB Music HD Player Review

I love high resolution audiophile music, and today we're reviewing the Astell&Kern AK100 32GB HD Music Player from iriver. If you think your iOS device or Android phone is a high quality music player, then I would humbly ask if you also think a Big Mac represents the pinnacle delivery method for good beef. So how do you play back high definition music? Well, there are only a handful of hardware devices on the market that aren't tied to a PC-and most of those are dedicated music servers. There's also the Oppo BDP-105 Blu-ray player and this, the Astell&Kern AK100 Portable music player. The AK100 promises unadulterated delivery of Mastering Quality Sound at up to 24-bit/192 kHz resolution. That's equivalent to the high resolution files that come out of the mastering studio.

Today we're reviewing the Astell&Kern AK100 32GB HD Music Player from iriver. If you think your iOS device or Android phone is a high quality music player, think again.

— August 02, 2013 10:15 in AV Gadget Reviews

NuForce Icon DAC Preview

NuForce Icon DAC Preview

The NuForce Icon DAC isn't just a standalone DAC, it isn't just a preamp for your computer or Android phone, and it isn't just a headphone amplifier. It is all of these things for only $325 (or $299 depending on which listed MSRP you believe). With a USB input for you Android phone (some of them at least) or your Mac or PC, it functions as a DAC and headphone amp. With analogue and digital audio outputs, it functions as a DAC or a preamp. With analogue inputs (stereo RCA and 3.5mm), it can be any of these things for your other equipment. So, what do you need? The Nuforce Icon DAC is here to serve.

The NuForce Icon DAC isn't just a standalone DAC, it isn't just a preamp for your computer or Android phone, and it isn't just a headphone amplifier. It is all of these things for $325.

— August 01, 2013 08:00 in AV Gadget Reviews

Kaleidescape Cinema One Media Server Preview

Kaleidescape Cinema One Media Server Preview

Kaleidescape just blew our minds. Yes the Kaleidescape Cinema One media server is $4000. Yes, we realize that many people will say, "But I could build an HTPC for less!" But that HTPC wouldn't have Kaleidescape's interface, access to Kaleidescape's Store (which features Blu-ray quality video and audio AND full downloads with special features), and Kaleidescape's features and build quality. When you look at Kaleidescape's previous offerings, the Cinema One is seriously discounted. When you look at how fanatical their users are about their products, you have to be intrigued. If you've always wanted a Kaleidescape system but couldn't afford it, you owe it to yourself to check out the Cinema One. It might be just what you've been looking for.

The Kaleidescape Cinema One media server has access to Kaleidescape's store, it's huge library of metadata, space for 100 Blu-rays, and more. The Kaleidescape Cinema One will retail for $3995.

— July 23, 2013 08:10 in AV Gadget Reviews

Kimber Kable 8TC Speaker Cable Review

Kimber Kable 8TC Speaker Cable Review

The Kimber 8TC speaker cables, although rather pricey, probably offers some of the highest quality to value ratio I’ve seen in exotic cables. They measure considerably superior to standard 10AWG zip cord and they look a whole lot better too. I've been using Kimber speaker cables on my reference systems for a number of years now and can attest to fact these are well constructed cables and look, measure and sound great. Pride of ownership is off the charts with the Kimber 8TC cables. For those looking for a true reference cable that will do NO harm to the signal, the Kimber 8TC is your cable.

This is a review of the Kimber Kable 8TC speaker cables. They measure, look and sound great.

— June 03, 2013 11:45 in AV Gadget Reviews

Swann HD PenCam 720p Camera Preview

Swann HD PenCam 720p Camera Preview

Aside from video displays and televisions, we like to check out some other video gadgets. The Swann HD PenCam Mini 720p Video Camera & Recorder is a ballpoint pen that's like a real-life high-tech spying device. You can capture video and images with the push of a button. It's like walking around with an executive-quality black ballpoint pen that secretly houses a pinhole video camera. It's called a pinhole camera that's so small you almost can't see it. The HD PenCam shoots AVI video files at 720p (1280 x 720) resolution or JPEG still images at 1600 x 1200. The HD PenCam's memory card slot holds a swappable MicroSD card (not included), up to 16GB.

The Swann HD PenCam Mini 720p Video Camera & Recorder is a ballpoint pen that's like a real-life high-tech spy camera that lets you record everything on the go-without anyone knowing. Cool and creepy.

— May 07, 2013 22:30 in AV Gadget Reviews