Rdio

May 28, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

.

US Spotify rival launches in the UK and quickly wins hearts and minds.

Price as reviewed £4.99

Overall 9/10

Key Features

  • 15 million track library
  • Up to 320Kbit encoded music
  • Facebook, Twitter & Last.fm integration
  • Downloadable & browser-based desktop clients
  • iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Sonos & Roku apps
  • Rdio users’ social network

Update: An Rdio third party tool now lets you import Spotify and Last.fm tracklists. At this stage Spotify playlists must be imported one by one, but it is still extremely useful. Find this tool here.

Ever feel like no matter how hard you try you just can’t get your moment in the spotlight? Then you will be able to empathise with Rdio as it tries to fight the barrage of media coverage given over to chief rival Spotify. The big question is whether Rdio deserves to take centre stage…

Jump to Page 2: Rdio – Apps & Performance

Who Is Rdio?
Launched out of beta in August 2010, Rdio is what Skype founders Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis did next. Like Spotify, Rdio has deals with all four of the major record labels (Sony, EMI, Warner and Universal), like Spotify it offers near instantaneous streaming music on a monthly subscription format and like Spotify it is available on virtually every major PC and mobile platform. Unlike Spotify, Rdio opened first in the US and only this month did it head to the UK.

94 00002347a f9fa orh616w616 5 Rdio

This release strategy is the primary reason for Rdio’s relative obscurity in Europe, but conversely it means the service arrives in a form just as refined and polished as Spotify when it launched Stateside last year. Crucially it also has some noticeable differences and, ultimately, a subtlety different philosophy. You won’t immediately spot these at the sign up stage. Rdio charges a Spotify-matching £4.99 per month for unlimited use of its service on a computer and £9.99 per month for unlimited use on a computer and mobile devices.

More than Playlists
From here the differences appear. Key to Rdio is your ‘Collection’, quite simply your personal music collection, which can be sorted automatically by Artist, Album, Song, Recently Added or Play Count. Any content found in Rdio can be added to your collection and it can also scan your existing iTunes or Windows Media Player libraries (much like iTunes Match) to add all matched content into your collection. This is a slick and simple way to get off to a flying start and to take the vast majority of your beloved digital music collection with you. There can be some issues with album duplication (the same album being added multiple times in different country versions or special editions), but Spotify users will be hugely jealous having cried out for an alternative to the company’s rigid playlist-only system for years.

94 00002347c 1cc7 orh616w616 7 Rdio

A further refreshing change is Rdio’s approach to its available content… This is a sample. Read the full review at TrustedReviews

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

Audio Pro LV2e Wireless Speakers

May 28, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

.

High quality, wireless, room-filling audio has never been easier to achieve.

Price as reviewed £700.00

Overall 9/10

Key Features

  • Wireless, Lossless 100W speakers
  • Integrated Burr-Brown DACs
  • ‘House Codes’ zonal streaming system
  • Multi-volume control remote
  • USB Transmitter with integrated sample rate converter
  • Black, Red or White leather finish

Audio Pro has a problem with wires. The 34 year old Swedish audio specialist has developed a laser-like focus on wireless products in recent years and its latest speaker system takes this to new extremes.

The catchily named ‘LV2e’ is a wireless, lossless, speaker system aimed at space saving audiophiles with a hatred of clutter. The concept is simple: the LV2e system uses a dedicated, protected wireless protocol which is built into each speaker and allows transmission in full CD quality. The speakers automatically pair with a driverless USB dongle which can turn any computer, TV, HiFi or dock into the audio source. Easy.
94 0000234f6 6e91 orh616w616 AP1 Audio Pro LV2e Wireless Speakers
To enable complete independence each speaker has its own power cable and – since they take their stereo source from the dongle – have no need to be physically connected. This means you can position each speaker anywhere in a room. As for the dongle its USB connection can be plugged into a PC or USB AC adaptor and it has a 3.5mm jack for connecting virtually any device. Streaming is almost instantaneous (just a 20ms delay) and since it uses WiFi it has a range which should cover most households.

Where things get a smart added twist is Audio Pro’s dongle which can transmit in three different network frequencies, which it calls ‘house codes’. These can be adjusted on the dongles by simply sliding a switch between positions 1, 2 and 3. What this opens up is the ability to have multiple LV2e speakers around a home. If this sounds familiar it is because Audio Pro sells a similar dongle-only system, comprising the WF100 Wireless Transmitter and RX100 receiver, which is used to add wireless functionality between any source and speaker system. Think Sonos on a budget.

94 0000234f9 425f orh616w616 AP4 Audio Pro LV2e Wireless Speakers

This is a sample. Read the full review here at TrustedReviews

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

Popcorn Hour A-300

May 28, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

.

Extensive format support and playback suggest this should be a brilliant media player, so what are the flaws?

By  (for TrustedReviews)
Reviewed 09 May 2012

Price as reviewed £180.00

Overall 7/10

Key Features

  • Sigma Designs 8647 CPU
  • Comprehensive codec support
  • Houses 3.5in or 2.5in internal HDD
  • Backlit remote control

Does the world really need another media player? With the market flooded with models of all shapes, sizes and prices it would seem not, but no technology sector is ever content to rest on its laurels. More to the point, Syabas, creator of the hugely successful Popcorn Hour range of media players, is convinced there are a few more tricks left in the old dog yet.
94 0000231f1 dfd4 orh164w220 9 Popcorn Hour A 300
The Popcorn Hour A-300 is among the company’s latest range of flagship players (we shall be reviewing the cream of the crop, the C-300, shortly) and as such it comes full to bursting with features. Out of the box perhaps the biggest surprise is the A-300′s size. In an era of sweet-tin proportioned players, the A-300 is a more hefty 265 x 135 x 45mm and weighs in at 1kg. Part of the heft is the switch from the plastic casing of its predecessors to a more substantial aluminium enclosure. The rest is down to the A-300′s ability to house a 2.5in or 3.5in internal hard drive (more of later).

Being as long as a netbook means the A-300 can pack a raft of connectivity. To the casual observer the rear of the player may look like something from the space shuttle or a sound studio’s mix desk, with component video, composite video, audio out, SPDIF (coaxial and optical), S-video, USB 3.0, USB 2.0, HDMI and Gigabit Ethernet it may not be embarrassed by such company.

94 0000231ee c03d orh616w616 1 Popcorn Hour A 300

In contrast, the front of the player is far simpler with just a single USB 2.0 port and indicators for disk access, power and response to the remote control. One notable omission is integrated Wi-Fi and while a separate connector (the ‘WN-160‘) is available for £25, to charge extra we feel is a bit mean spirited – and wireless performance for Full HD content can be patchy.

This is a sample. Read the full review at TrustedReviews

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

Netgear WNDR4500 N900 Dual Gigabit Wireless Router

May 28, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

.

The best dual band router we have used, but there’s a snag…

Price as reviewed £130.00

Overall 8/10

Key Features

  • 2.4GHz & 5GHz simultaneous dual bands
  • Four Gigabit Ethernet Ports
  • Two USB ports
  • Netgear Genie mobile app support
  • Six antennas

It seems there is never a good time to buy a new piece of technology, but never has this been truer than with routers in mid-May 2012. For those not in the know late May will see the launch of a new wireless standard, 802.11ac, capable of speeds surpassing a gigabit so anything launching with humdrum 802.11n needs to be exceptional. Netgear thinks it has one such product.

With the long winded ‘WNDR4500 N900 Dual Band Ethernet router’ Netgear is throwing the kitchen sink at your home network. As the name suggests, the highlight is the N900′s dual 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands each of which is capable of theoretical speeds up to 450Mbit and can run simultaneously (hence the ’900′ reference). To achieve this Netgear has fitted the N900 with two radios and boasts improved range thanks to no less than six antennas.
2 Netgear WNDR4500 N900 Dual Gigabit Wireless Router

On top of this Netgear has unusually equipped the N900 with two USB ports: one for a printer, the other for networking storage from a memory key or external hard drive. There are also four Gigabit Ethernet ports, push button WPS Wi-Fi security and individual power and Wi-Fi off power buttons (the latter to cater for the wired-only crowd. What is missing is DSL as the N900 is a cable only and connects to a dedicated modem.

Ultimately however this is feature heavy and it is reflected in the N900′s size. To put it bluntly, the router is huge. At 258 x 172.5 x 81 mm it has a footprint as large as an 11in laptop and at 680g it is as heavy as an iPad. This isn’t the last of it either since the N900 takes a trip down memory lane requiring a hefty external power brick (though having the power supply mid-cable rather than on the plug does have its advantages). Despite all this the N900 is a good looking router with an admittedly fingerprint catching piano black finish and a clear stand which gives the impression it is hovering in the air. Surprisingly, given this bulk, the stand is fixed so the N900 sits upright only – arguably not the wisest choice.

1 Netgear WNDR4500 N900 Dual Gigabit Wireless Router
Routers aren’t usually so eventful in appearance, but thankfully the N900 is far less polarising when it comes to getting up and running…

This is a sample. Read the rest of the review at TrustedReviews here

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

Sony CMT-CX5

May 28, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

.

Don’t be seduced by cheap docks, Sony has a superior audio alternative.

Price as reviewed £160.00

Overall 8/10

Key Features

  • 40W RMS output
  • Slot loading CD drive
  • Physically separate speakers
  • DAB radio
  • Alarm and sleep timer
  • Apple dock connector

Phone cameras, MP3s, streaming video… there are many aspects of technology that have arguably sacrificed quality in favour of improving convenience. As guilty as any of these is the audio dock, which has largely replaced bulky Hi-Fi systems, booting out unseemly wires at the expense of sound quality. Sony is keen to remind mainstream consumers what they’ve been missing out on.
94 000023299 65fa orh616w616 11 Sony CMT CX5
On the surface the Sony CMT-CX5 Hi-Fi system is like a dinosaur from another age. Its boxy lines are pure 80s retro, its individually wired speakers (notably hidden in press photography) will have minimalists shrieking in horror, its inclusion of a slot loading CD drive will appear pointless to today’s legions of digital converts and the DAB radio seems to celebrate a standard that largely died before it got off the ground. Sony has gone so far as to include an Apple dock connector, but there’s no AirPlay or even Bluetooth. What was it thinking? Simple, the CX5 can take the fight to docks in two key areas: audio performance and price.

This is a smart business strategy, but to a superficial audience the CMT-CX5 will have its hands full. The design will divide opinion and build quality is reasonable, but the piano black finish of the Hi-Fi remains a fingerprint magnet. And the matt plastic finish on both its sides and the speakers seems particularly cheap, with edges like the Formica plastics that haunted kitchens in the 70s – and they will also pick up bumps and scuffs easily. Equally historic are the small button controls that run along the top of the CX5, but they are responsive (no touch-sensitive tech here) and clearly labelled with power, playback, volume, function, eject (for CDs) and ‘DSGX’ – more of which later. Inputs are equally straightforward: Apple dock connector, CD slot, a 3.5mm auxiliary jack and an aerial socket for DAB.
94 00002329a b5b3 orh616w616 21 Sony CMT CX5
Setup couldn’t be simpler (unless you own a dock) with the Sony CMT-CX5′s clearly labelled left and right speakers wiring into the main unit along with a power cable with hefty power brick. In practice the unit isn’t as bulky as Hi-Fi phobic consumers would expect. Including speakers, the CX5 measures 520 x 245 x 100 mm and weights just 4kg, which factors in the speakers at 1kg each.

This is a sample. For the full review keep reading here

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

Bose Wave Music System III

May 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

.

A premium CD player & radio that finds the competition tough.

Price as reviewed £599.95

Overall 6/10

Key Features

  • Bose Waveguide speaker technology
  • CD player & DAB radio
  • Sleep alarm
  • BoseLink adds peripherals
How much do you like CDs? This may sound a strange question to ask in 2012, but when considering Bose’s high end yet deliberately retro take on the modern music system it is one that is impossible to ignore.

Bose product refreshes are rare and for that reason alone the ‘Wave Music System III’ arrives with a significant amount of buzz and media attention. Its modus operandi: a one piece system to play your CDs, the radio and wake you up in the morning… for £600. For most companies this feature/price ratio would be unworkable, but Bose has built its reputation on attracting those who want the very best and are prepared to pay for it. So does the Wave Music System III still have a place in the Android/iOS centric world of today?

94 000023316 7f38 orh616w616 1 Bose Wave Music System III

Certainly Bose knows how to make an entrance. The Wave Music System III is beautifully packed and at just 369 x 219 x 106mm and 3.9Kg it is compact. Being a stickler for its own tradition (the Wave range has been around since 2004) the design hasn’t changed from its predecessor. This is both good and bad. The Wave line’s looks are iconic amongst Bose fans (if reminiscent of a blend of school projector and laser printer), but the 100 per cent plastic construction could do with the addition of more premium materials in this era of designer docks.

94 000023317 054b orh616w616 2 Bose Wave Music System III

There is also little change at the rear with virtually identical connectivity: an FM antenna, auxiliary and headphone inputs and a BoseLink connector. The notable addition this time around is that of a DAB tuner and accompanying antenna while Bose also claims to have improved the quality of the FM/AM tuner. The proprietary BoseLink is where additional functionality is added with the ‘Wave Bluetooth’ (£130), ‘Wave Connect Kit’ (£130) and ‘Wave Multi-CD Changer’ (£300) adding Bluetooth streaming, an iPod/iPhone dock and a three CD multi-changer respectively.

This is a sample. Read the rest of the review here.

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

Cloud Storage Group Test

May 7, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

.

Dropbox isn’t the only option anymore, but is it still the best?

Introduction

If you didn’t know much about Cloud storage, then the media storm surrounding the launch of Google Drive would suggest you are now well aware of the concept. What you may not realise is that Google Drive arrives late into a crowded market and with many key features missing. So which Cloud storage service should you actually use?

The reigning king is Dropbox, a service whose rise we covered just last month. Dropbox has been on the market since 2008 and attained more than 50m users. Its key is both its simplicity and ubiquity with it appearing on every major operating system: computer, smartphone and tablet. Google clearly thinks it can challenge Dropbox though and it is not alone. Microsoft’s SkyDrive service offers similar functionality and was actually first on the scene launching in 2007. At the opposite end of the scale we have iCloud, Apple’s Cloud storage and backup system for Mac OS X and iOS devices which was released only in October last year.

Intro Image original Cloud Storage Group Test

The sector is not limited to rivals from mega corporations either. Independent company SugarSync has been around for as long as Dropbox and gained numerous fans for its comprehensive functionality. Meanwhile security specialist Trend Micro has managed to win hearts and minds honing its security expertise with potent underdog ‘SafeSync’.

Which to choose can therefore be a matter of personal requirements, but we have found some universal elements to help make your decision that little bit easier:

Capacity - as the saying goes, size matters so how much storage is available on each platform and what are the limits on individual file sizes, if any?

Functionality - what can each Cloud service do beyond being a big online hard drive?

Availability - Cloud storage and synchronisation is meant to make your files available anywhere, but is that really the case?

Privacy - upload your data to a Cloud storage service and what can be done with it? Do you even still own it?

Pricing ­- how much free data is offered and is it good value to upgrade to large amounts?

Read the full article at ITProPortal for the results…

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

 © 2009-2014 GordonKelly.com All Rights Reserved -- Copyright notice by Blog Copyright