Sunday, January 1, 2017

JBL Flip Bluetooth Speakers



A Portable Speaker For Smartphones, Tablets & TV’s

© 2017 BOB SKIDMORE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

BOB SKIDMORE

CORRESPONDENT


The sound that emanates from a smartphone, tablet or computer is often less than desirable, especially if you’re listening to your favorite music. World-renowned JBL, a leader in speaker technology, has an interesting solution.

The JBL Flip 2 and 3 are small cylinder shaped portable speakers with a wide volume range. They easily connect to Bluetooth devices wirelessly, but include a mini input jack when Bluetooth is unavailable. On/Off, volume and an indicator LED are mounted on the side panel. The model 3 is even splash proof. All models are available in various colors and an optional travel case is available.

(TIP: Splash proof means it’s protected against rain, spills and the manufacturer claims you can even clean it with running tap water, something I have not tried.)

I tested the Flip 2 and found it to work very well for the intended purpose. When connected with a smartphone it serves not only as a speaker, but also as a microphone, allowing two-way communication when taking phone calls. This is ideal for conferencing a call with a group of people, making it a perfect small meeting room solution. As a portable speaker it easily connects to tablets, computers, portable satellite radio receivers and TV’s. Since some of these devices do not feature Bluetooth, a mini jack is provided. 

In a previous column, I discussed the Behringer HA400 distribution box. http://bit.ly/2gMj7Mb Either Flip will easily connect to it making it an easy way to provide TV sound close by without disturbing others. I used it between the pillows while watching late night TV. I’ve also used it as an external speaker for my laptop. The volume range and sound quality far exceeded the computer’s built-in speaker system. Since both models include a built-in battery, the mobility factor is greatly enhanced.

(TIP: Battery life is about 10 hours. Charging is possible with the included wall charger. In any power mode the speaker should not be covered up. It needs proper ventilation to prevent possible damage caused by over heating.)

The Flip 2 and 3 are great solutions to extending and improving the sound intensity of your devices. They are very durable, small, lightweight and portable making them ideal for use even by sound and video professionals. The applications are simply endless. FLIP is a sound solution to your listening experience!

GADGETEER’s RATING: ★★★★★

MSRP:  $69.95  ~ $79.95 ~ Travel Case $24.95

For more information go to: http://www.jbl.com/flip/

Graphic credits: Amazon

Bob Skidmore is a freelance writer, who may be contacted at bob.thegadgeteer.skidmore@gmail.com, or followed at twitter.com/bskidmore for the latest gadget industry news. He does not represent, or endorse any of the products he reviews and his opinions are solely his points of view and not those of the manufacturer. The manufacturer generally supplies products and press releases at no cost for the articles and no other compensation is received. THE GADGETEER is highly selective as to products he feels worthy of review so as not to waste the reader’s time, thus the reason for many superior ratings.
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Thursday, December 1, 2016

BEHRINGER HA400 ~ A Sound Solution

A Sound Solution.

© 2016 BOB SKIDMORE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

BOB SKIDMORE

CORRESPONDENT


If you’ve ever wondered how to distribute sound from your smartphone, iPad, TV or other device and not disturb others, the BEHRINGER HA400 may be the answer. Now, before you say, “but there’s Bluetooth”, know that many flat screens and other devices do not offer Bluetooth as an option.

The HS400 is a small amplifier with four ¼ inch phone plug outputs and one input.
Phone plug adapters are readily available to convert to mini or RCA configurations. 


It easily distributes sound to multiple or various individual devices such as headphones and portable speakers, or even a recording device. It offers the capability of up to four listeners to enjoy the sound content from various electronic devices. It also allows you to hard-wire small portable speakers such as the JBL FLIP, a speaker system I will review in a future column. Each output is amplified and individually controlled by its own volume control.

(TIP: Many flat screen TV’s offer an audio output independent of and not controlled by the speaker’s volume control. This allows for the HA400 to function with or without the sound emanating from the TV it’s connected to and is not affected by the TV’s volume control. If you do not have such an output a headphone jack will suffice. In this scenario the volume control will affect the signal going to the HA400. Since the HA400 has amplification this will not be a deterrent allowing for a low volume TV setting.)

The HA400 is powered by a supplied 120~240vac 12 volt adapter making it a worldwide product. Its small size, 2.5 x 5.2 x 7.5 inches, easily packs for travel. It’s lightweight at only 14.4 ounces. The sound quality is outstanding!

Applications include accommodating up to four headphone listeners. It is very handy for the hearing impaired and for late night TV watchers to avoid disturbing neighbors or other family members. The addition of plugging in a small speaker and placing it by your pillow eliminates the need for wearing a headset thus giving you the freedom of movement. Remember, you can still retain a low sound volume on your TV thus giving you a surround sound effect if your TV has an independent output jack. I find the BEHRINGER HA400 a quality German product that meets or exceeds expectations. It could be a peacemaker in your household or with your neighbors! It’s also suitable for musicians needing to distribute a full mix to band members and it aids the hard of hearing.

GADGETEER’s RATING: ★★★★★

MSRP:  $41.99

For more information go to: http://bit.ly/2foOg6c


Graphic credits: Behringer, Google Images

Bob Skidmore is a freelance writer, who may be contacted at bob.thegadgeteer.skidmore@gmail.com, or followed at twitter.com/bskidmore for the latest gadget industry news. He does not represent, or endorse any of the products he reviews and his opinions are solely his points of view and not those of the manufacturer. The manufacturer generally supplies products and press releases at no cost for the articles and no other compensation is received. THE GADGETEER is highly selective as to products he feels worthy of review so as not to waste the reader’s time, thus the reason for many superior ratings.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Shure MV88 iPhone Microphone


A Professional Microphone For Your iPhone.

© 2016 BOB SKIDMORE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

BOB SKIDMORE

CORRESPONDENT


Recording, like a pro, use to be quite the challenge. Not only did you need an extensive list of costly equipment, you also need the knowledge to go with it. Since the introduction of the iPhone with a lightning connector and Shure’s MV88 iOS Digital Stereo Condenser Microphone, professional recordings by the novice are even achievable.

The MV88 is a small stereo condenser microphone that plugs into your iPhone’s lightning connector.

(TIP: The iPhone 5 is the first iPhone to incorporate a lightning connecter. It replaces the previous thirty-pin connector found in older models used to interface various accessory items. Thirty-pin to lightning connector adapters lack the proper contacts to make adaptation possible.)

The MV88 rotates for flexible positioning making it easy to mount on a stand or camcorder and retain a proper pickup angle. Since iPhones do not include any mounting capabilities, I found the Arkon Tripod Adapter with phone holder the perfect companion. 


This adapter features a female quarter-twenty threaded interface making it easy to affix to a mic stand, or shoe adapter for camcorder mounting. http://bit.ly/2du9Jh4 . You might also find a small tabletop tripod such as the Targus 6˝ TG-CT7, a useful tool. http://amzn.to/2eBtRMe

The MV88 will work with most recording apps, however, Shure offers the ShurePlus MOTIV mobile recording app at no cost through the App store. 


What’s nice about this app is that it’s configured around the MV88’s features. You can select various pickup patterns that are totally adjustable in stereo widths of 60, 75, 90, 105, 120, and 135 degrees. 


A low-frequency cutoff filter is included to eliminate the rumble caused by environmental noises such as wind. Left-right channel swap is possible. It flips the left and right audio channels to match video that is recorded when the microphone is reversed in certain phone/tablet positions. You can record uncompressed audio at multiple bit sample rates. The MV88 also works well as a back-up audio recording when shooting videos. Placing the iPhone closer to the sound source may result in better sound quality. Since these recording are all digital in nature, syncing to video during postproduction editing should be a snap.

Other features include: 36 db adjustable gain; presets to automatically adjust gain; eq, and compression; 5-band equalizer; limiter; compressor and much more. Editing and saving to a camera roll, iTunes and Dropbox are all possible.

(TIP: Be sure to put your iPhone into the “Airplane Mode” prior to making a recording to avoid having the ring and other data notifications from being recorded. It’s also advisable to shut down all other apps so as to conserve battery life.)

The MOTIV product line is extensive and includes other microphones and accessories. I was certainly impressed with the MV88. I used it to record a jazz artist’s memorial service and jam session in a very poor acoustical venue surrounded with glass panels. The results were outstanding and gave the sound of a multiple microphone pickup making it possible to master a CD for distribution. The design is so simplistic that this microphone easily satisfies the needs of both the novice and the professional. You simply use as many or as few of the features as you understand or require, and the results will still be outstanding!

(TIP: When you upgrade to a new iPhone you might consider holding on to your old iPhone as long as it is lightning connector compatible. It could make the perfect stand-alone recorder with all the MOTIV features.)

GADGETEER’s RATING: ★★★★★

MSRP:  MV88 $149.00 ~ Arkon Tripod Mount $14.95

For more information go to: http://bit.ly/1U4fsFu

Graphic credits: Shure; Amazon; Google Images

Bob Skidmore is a freelance writer, who may be contacted at bob.thegadgeteer.skidmore@gmail.com, or followed at twitter.com/bskidmore for the latest gadget industry news. He does not represent, or endorse any of the products he reviews and his opinions are solely his points of view and not those of the manufacturer. The manufacturer generally supplies products and press releases at no cost for the articles and no other compensation is received. THE GADGETEER is highly selective as to products he feels worthy of review so as not to waste the reader’s time, thus the reason for many superior ratings.
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Saturday, October 1, 2016

LED Lightning and your devices


Inexpensive & efficient photographic lighting & more, made possible.

© 2016 BOB SKIDMORE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

BOB SKIDMORE

CORRESPONDENT


In the age of smartphones, iPads and digital photography, we’re always looking for ways to make our photographs and videos look great without the need of color correction. All indoor or outdoor lighting reproduces light of a specific color temperature. Outdoor lighting constantly varies based on the time of day and sky condition. Over the counter bulbs are available in many temperatures that are sometimes noted on the lamp. Photographic reproduction wants to mimic the closest temperature that’s produced by daylight (5000 to 6000 K) “Kelvin”, or indoor studio lighting at 2400 to 3500 K.

(TIP: The age, condition and exposure to the elements can cause the color temperature to change dramatically in a bulb.)

Digital photographic devices generally include some form of artificial lighting feature commonly known as a strobe. Such lights reproduce color temperatures close to ideal indoor or studio lighting. Since indoor lighting does vary based on conditions, the strobe light attempts to create a compromise. This works well for tight shots, but rapidly drops off when shooting large areas when you consider the dispersion drop off and the mix of various other lighting sources. If you are in your own environment where you can select the lamps for your home, office or business you can very easily rectify this condition.

Now, I’m not suggesting that readers should immediately rush out and convert all the lighting in their home, office or place of business. However, having some knowledge in advance of future purchases could offer many benefits and cost savings. Photography is only one of many benefits.

Florescent tube lights are a very popular form of lighting. They’re cheap, cool and typically offer long life. As they age the color temperature will change considerably, they begin to flicker and the required ballast, a/k/a a starter, in the lamp’s fixture wears out. This can be an expensive repair. So what’s the state-of-the-art solution?

LED technology has been around for a while, however, it’s now come of age. I recently interviewed the president of Vootu Coastal Energy Solutions, a distributor of the Vootu line of LED lighting, bulbs and tubes that are designed in Clearwater, Florida and produced overseas. I also tested their LED direct replacements for the standard T-8 and T-12 florescent style tubes. Here’s what I found. Vootu offers a 4´ LED Hybrid tube that works in fixtures with or without an electronic ballast. 8´ non-hybrid versions are also available. 8´ tubes do require the removal of the magnetic or electronic ballast. This is a relatively quick and easy process. Installation and/or modification requires knowledge of luminaires electrical systems. If not qualified, do not attempt installation. Risk of fire or electric shock is a possibility. Contact a qualified licensed electrician.

(TIP: Florescent fixtures commonly use a magnetic (M), or electronic (E) ballast, a/k/a a starter. This device is used to energize the gas in a florescent lamp. It is not needed with an LED replacement since they’re not gas filled. Hybrid tubes will work with an electronic ballast in the fixture, but presently 4´ LED tubes are only available as hybrids. Ballasts of either type require periodic replacement. They are costly, hard wired and somewhat clumsy to change out. A burning smell, flickering, buzzing noise, or no light at all are symptoms of the need to replace a ballast.)

The advantage of converting or replacing with LED tubes include that they are very energy efficient, produce more illumination, emit virtually no heat, offer around a 50% reduction in energy costs, lower cooling costs and are available in 4000K and 5000K color temperatures that are relaxing and perfect for photographic purposes. Vootu LED tubes operate at a 240 cycle frequency rate meaning there is virtually no possibility of detectable flicker. They also do not create a buzz or hum sound with audio gear or visible rolling hum bar with video displays, a common problem with fluorescents. Since they use no mercury or gas and are plastic they are environmentally safe to dispose of, which is not the case with fluorescents.

Vootu LED tubes are A+ quality and work well, not necessarily the case with competitive products I’ve inspected. Vootu offers many different styles of LED lighting, far too many for this article. The company supports this product with no-cost consulting and energy audits. Since tombstones, the name given to the bulb’s sockets, are universal, and the wide input voltage range of the tube (100-277vac), these LED tubes will interface with most fixtures worldwide. 


LED lighting technology is the perfect answer to home, condo, photographic studio and commercial applications. Wherever you need light, LED’s could be the solution!

GADGETEER’s RATING: ★★★★★

Products are available for USA & worldwide use directly from the manufacturer’s representative. Contact: NL@VCEnergySolutions.com 727.430.2685

For more information go to: http://bit.ly/2cQwewv

Graphic credits: Vootu & Amazon

Bob Skidmore is a freelance writer, who may be contacted at bob.thegadgeteer.skidmore@gmail.com, or followed at twitter.com/bskidmore for the latest gadget industry news. He does not represent, or endorse any of the products he reviews and his opinions are solely his points of view and not those of the manufacturer. The manufacturer generally supplies products at no cost for the articles and no other compensation is received. Installation of any products is at the reader’s risk. When in doubt always hire a professional.  THE GADGETEER is highly selective as to products he feels worthy of review so as not to waste the reader’s time, thus the reason for many superior ratings.


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