LATEST ADDITIONS

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Al Griffin Posted: May 05, 2015 0 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q I’m considering buying a home where the builder has options for structured wiring. The markup on this option seems a little high (a few hundred dollars to go from 16-gauge to 12-gauge speaker wire, etc.). I know the best time to run wire is during the construction process, but what is the best way to accomplish it: builder, custom installer, or DIY? One major concern is that the exterior walls will have spray-foam insulation, so once that’s in, I’m thinking those walls are hands-off.—Mike Sellers / Tomball, TX

Leslie Shapiro Posted: May 04, 2015 0 comments
Travel companions really have to stand out if they’re going to make the final cut on my packing list. They have to be small, pack a punch, and be fun to have along. The Soen Audio Transit XS (MSRP $180) Bluetooth-enabled portable speaker was begging to come on my next trip—a weekend at the beach. Was this small Bluetooth speaker up for the challenge?

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: May 04, 2015 0 comments
Sonos is one hell of a system. I’ve tested a lot of the wireless, multi-room, streaming audio systems over the years—including some of the latest “high performance” systems—and Sonos has remained my go-to system. It’s not because Sonos is the best sounding wireless streaming system, although it certainly does sound good. I use Sonos speakers in rooms where music is secondary (or tertiary) to the main activity, such as in the bathroom or kitchen. In these rooms, ease-of-use, convenient form-factor, and reliability trump ultimate sound quality—and Sonos is tops in each of those categories. But that doesn’t mean Sonos can’t be improved upon. And that’s where Flexson comes in.
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Lauren Dragan Posted: May 01, 2015 0 comments
The weather is warmer, and you can’t wait to pull your trusty 2-wheeler out of the garage. Or maybe you’re a dedicated bike commuter, saving the planet and burning off your morning donut on the way to work. The thing is, unless you live the country life, it can be a real (urban) jungle out there. Dodging traffic, animals, and other cyclists can be a bit nerve wracking. And, sadly, hit and runs happen. More and more motorcyclists have started wearing rear-facing cameras on their bikes or helmets, so why shouldn’t the pedal pushers of the world have their own solution? Enter Fly6, a rear facing HD camera and bike light that not only sees, but helps you be seen. I took one for a spin, and came back convinced. Read on to find out why.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: May 01, 2015 0 comments
Doing its part to make sure you never have to be without object-based audio, Dolby is dropping its newest format, Dolby Atmos Mobile. Like Dolby Atmos for the home and for the cinema, this portable version aims to render a more detailed, more lifelike soundfield from specially mixed/encoded software. Unlike the previous versions, Dolby Atmos Mobile does not require a specially wired theater, or newfangled or additional loudspeakers. Instead, it’s designed to work with any headphones. The technology relies on Head-Related Transfer Functions, taking advantage of the fixed positions of the stereo drivers left and right as they expand the soundtrack’s spatial information. For this reason, a wired or Bluetooth speaker cannot reproduce the Atmos Mobile effect.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 01, 2015 1 comments
I recently spent a few weeks exhaustively reviewing five headphone DAC-amps. They included the Schiit Fulla ($79), AudioQuest DragonFly v1.2 ($149), Oppo HA-2 ($299), Celsus Companion One ($595), and Sony PHA-3 ($1,000). Of course anyone who buys one of these products will find that the listening experience depends heavily on the headphones used with it, and there's no predicting which headphones an individual buyer may use, so I chose a varied selection: the Oppo PM-2 ($699), Sennheiser HD600 ($400), and Sony MDR-V6 ($110). Then I had to choose the demo music. That was fun—anyone who says a job like mine isn't fun should find another job—but it took some care and forethought. Just as associated gear affects perception of an audio product, so too does the music.

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Bob Ankosko Posted: May 01, 2015 0 comments
Screen Innovation says its new Slate .8 projection screen features the company’s most versatile ambient-light-rejecting technology to date.
Barb Gonzalez Posted: May 01, 2015 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $39

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Easy installation in any HDMI port
Straightforward, simple menus
ASAP technology loads full resolution videos instantly
Plenty of free content for Amazon Prime members
Minus
Missing some major apps including Vudu and M-Go
Global search favors Amazon results
Remote app is inconsistent and voice search may not work

THE VERDICT
A great streaming choice for Amazon Prime members, particularly those who travel.

In case the 3-inch-square Fire TV was too big for you, Amazon has released its follow-up to that high-performing streaming media player. Along with reducing size to fit on an HDMI dongle, Amazon has also reduced the price—to $39, versus $99 for the full-size Fire TV. While the Stick comes without the original’s built-in remote control microphone for voice search (a mic remote is an option) and uses a dual-core processor rather than a quad-core processor, the differences are hardly noticeable in use. Both Fire TVs make it easy for Amazon Prime members to stream over 40,000 free movies and millions of songs as well as access an unlimited number of personal photos stored in the Amazon Cloud. And the Stick’s small size and weight should make it perfect for tossing in your luggage for streaming in hotel rooms while traveling (assuming, of course, suitable Wi-Fi access).

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Bob Ankosko Posted: Apr 30, 2015 1 comments
The music industry has the Grammys to recognize outstanding contributions to the art of song composition. The Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association, aka CEDIA, which you might know from our coverage of the annual CEDIA Expo, has the Electronic Lifestyles Awards to honor the creativity and technical skill behind some of the most advanced home entertainment and home automation systems on the planet. Here we profile two of the 14 home theaters that made the cut in 2014.
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Barb Gonzalez Posted: Apr 29, 2015 0 comments
Hulu announced that it has licensed all 180 episodes of Seinfeld in an exclusive Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) streaming deal. The news was presented at the annual Hulu UpFront event for potential advertisers. Along with the Seinfeld deal, Hulu unveiled its new lineup of original content and another exclusive deal with AMC for future shows.

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