Linksys WRT610N Simultaneous Dual-N Band Wireless Router Review

Linksys WRT610N Simultaneous Dual-N Band Wireless Router Review
If you are in the market for a one stop shop router, look this way at the WRT610N Simultaneous Dual-N Band Wireless Router from Linksys.

In our tests we found the two simultaneous, separate, Wireless-N radio bands double your available bandwidth. The radios are compatible with all older technology like b and g networks so it wont hurt your pocket because you dont have to change all your equipment. This is great if you have laptops that are a few years old. It of course also works with the newer N technology and it does so simultaneously.

The router features a usb port that allows you to put an external usb hard drive or thumb drive. We tested this with an external usb hard drive and found it to be relatively easy to set up. The router allows you to set up a upnp server or even an ftp server that can be accessed from within your network or even through the web.

The 4-ports in the back are 10/100/1000 speeds so you can ultimately achieve connections that are up to 10 times faster than 10/100 connections. We feel this is the future of home networking since all new devices being introduced into the market support the gigabit speeds. One good example of this type of device is the very popular Plasy Station III or (PS3). The gigabit speeds are very noticeable when transfering large amounts of data from one device to another in a home network.

One thing to note is that the gigabit speeds will not make your internet any faster. Your bottelneck tends to be that of your links speed to the web via your internet service provider or ISP (upload / download speeds).

The Linksys WRT610N router features the LELA technology which is simply a push button setup to make connection simple, fast, and secure. In our trials we didn't attempt to use this as it was fairly easy to set it up with WAP2 security to give us our Wi-Fi advanced wireless security. The WRT610N has a powerful firewall that is also easily configured. It features access lists that can be programmed for specific times of day and everything.

Another cool feature was the Entertainment Optimized Network (EON), this technology allows you to prioritize your media traffic to optimize your experience. Lets say for example you are a gamer and grandpa came over to check his email on another computer in your network, you could easily set up the router to prioritize your gaming traffic and give granpa just the bandwith he needs to check emails from grandma...

We really enjoyed the setup as it was very simple to do and required minimal effort. The speeds were excellent on the wired sides and acceptable on the wireless side. Overall we liked the product and recommend it for anyone that needs the extra bandwith, or storage link features. We did however think that the $200.00 price tag was a bit much. In time the prices will go down and then it will make it an easy decision. For now the cheapest we have seen it is $159.00 on Amazon.

IN THE BOX
- Linksys WRT610N Simultaneous Dual-N Band Wireless Router
- Power adapter
- CD with installation software and manual.

THE GOOD
- Ease of set up
- Fast
- Aesthetically pleasing
- Simple ftp setup
- Easy upnp setup
- Straight forward graphical user interface

THE BAD
- When you grab the device your finger prints stay on it.
- Not stackable
- No way of changing https (secure) managment to a different port
- Did not get the distance we were expecting with wireless but it was acceptable.

WHERE TO BUY
-Amazon
-

  • Like Linksys WRT610N Simultaneous Dual-N Band Wireless Router Review on Facebook
  • Tweet Linksys WRT610N Simultaneous Dual-N Band Wireless Router Review on Twitter
  • +1  Linksys WRT610N Simultaneous Dual-N Band Wireless Router Review on Google+
  • Digg  Linksys WRT610N Simultaneous Dual-N Band Wireless Router Review
  • Share Linksys WRT610N Simultaneous Dual-N Band Wireless Router Review on Reddit
  • Share  Linksys WRT610N Simultaneous Dual-N Band Wireless Router Review on StumbleUpon
  • Pin Linksys WRT610N Simultaneous Dual-N Band Wireless Router Review on Pinterest
  • Share Linksys WRT610N Simultaneous Dual-N Band Wireless Router Review on Delicious
  • Share Linksys WRT610N Simultaneous Dual-N Band Wireless Router Review via Email
Posted In: Technology

Netgear GS608 8-Port Gigabit Desktop Switch Review

Netgear GS608 8-Port Gigabit Desktop Switch Review
Need a gigabit switch? Make sure you take a look at the Netgear GS608 8-Port Gigabit Desktop Switch. We tested one of these at our labs on a mixed network and were very impressed and unlike most network switches, it has a sleek design, so it blends in with any surrounding easily.

In our tests we set up the switch with four gigabit PC's, two 100 full, and a DNS-321 NAS box running gigabit speed. The performance was superb when transferring files. We recorded a 23.4GB file copy transfer from the NAS box to one of the PC's running on the gigabit side at a little over one hour.The gigabit speed is noticeable, giving you up to ten time faster speeds when transferring large files from one computer or device to another. The GS608 features 8 Ethernet Gigabit auto-sensing ports so it reduces the amount of work you need to do. The switch requires no software installation, so it is easy to set up. You basically plug in the UTP cables and play.

It is also easy to see which devices are running at gigabit speeds by the lights in the front. If the numbers are solid green you know you are running gigabit if it is orange you are running at 100MB.

We loved the Netgear GS608's simplicity and more than anything its price. You can find the switch for about $49.00 on Amazon - more than fair price for the work it does.

IN THE BOX
GS608 8-port Ethernet switch
Vertical stand
Power adapter
Installation guide
2 year warranty/support information card

THE GOOD
- Ease of set up
- Fast
- Aesthetically pleasing

THE BAD
- Can't think of any

WHERE TO BUY
Amazon

  • Like Netgear GS608 8-Port Gigabit Desktop Switch Review on Facebook
  • Tweet Netgear GS608 8-Port Gigabit Desktop Switch Review on Twitter
  • +1  Netgear GS608 8-Port Gigabit Desktop Switch Review on Google+
  • Digg  Netgear GS608 8-Port Gigabit Desktop Switch Review
  • Share Netgear GS608 8-Port Gigabit Desktop Switch Review on Reddit
  • Share  Netgear GS608 8-Port Gigabit Desktop Switch Review on StumbleUpon
  • Pin Netgear GS608 8-Port Gigabit Desktop Switch Review on Pinterest
  • Share Netgear GS608 8-Port Gigabit Desktop Switch Review on Delicious
  • Share Netgear GS608 8-Port Gigabit Desktop Switch Review via Email
Posted In: Technology

Extreme USB 2.0 Reader for CF (Compact Flash) Extreme III

Extreme USB 2.0 Reader for CF (Compact Flash) Extreme III
Looking for that extra boost of performance from your compact flash card? Make sure you are using the appropriate flash card reader. Although the Extreme III flash cards will work with virtually any compact flash card reader, this SanDisk SDDRX3-CF-A31 Extreme USB 2.0 Reader will give you the ultimate performance since it is designed for the Extreme III compact flash cards. You will get a whopping 30 MB/s.This reader takes advantage of the ESP (Enhanced Super-Parallel Processing Technology). The reader also comes with some handy Rescue Pro software in case you find yourself in a jam with lost files. Our Product Review staff just purchased this very unit you are seeing above for use with their extreme cards. This is also good equipment to have because downloading pictures from the camera directly not only doesn't let you use the camera in parallel but also drains your battery quickly. For 20 beans you cant go wrong with this little guy. Oh we almost forgot this little sucker measures roughly 2.5" L X 2.5" W X 3/4" H, Not too shabby.

Get yours on Amazon

Need the Fire wire Extreme IV version? We got you covered.

  • Like Extreme USB 2.0 Reader for CF (Compact Flash) Extreme III on Facebook
  • Tweet Extreme USB 2.0 Reader for CF (Compact Flash) Extreme III on Twitter
  • +1  Extreme USB 2.0 Reader for CF (Compact Flash) Extreme III on Google+
  • Digg  Extreme USB 2.0 Reader for CF (Compact Flash) Extreme III
  • Share Extreme USB 2.0 Reader for CF (Compact Flash) Extreme III on Reddit
  • Share  Extreme USB 2.0 Reader for CF (Compact Flash) Extreme III on StumbleUpon
  • Pin Extreme USB 2.0 Reader for CF (Compact Flash) Extreme III on Pinterest
  • Share Extreme USB 2.0 Reader for CF (Compact Flash) Extreme III on Delicious
  • Share Extreme USB 2.0 Reader for CF (Compact Flash) Extreme III via Email
Posted In: Technology

Roku Netflix Media Streaming player Review

Roku Netflix Media Streaming player Review
The Roku Netflix Player is a genius idea. In this day and age with media coming out your nose, it is easy to see how something like the Roku could come in handy. The Roku is simple device that allows streaming of movies and TV shows available through the Netflix instant watch service. With a valid unlimited viewing account of $8.95 a month or higher, you are granted access to a big library of content. For those of us on our computers the whole day or for those of us that can't stand watching movies on our PC screens, the concept is great.

IN THE BOX
The Roku includes a built-in ethernet port and 802.11g Wi-Fi networking options. It works with virtually all TVs with inputs like HDMI, component, composite, or S video. If you are an optical type of person it offers an optical audio port as well.

THE HARDWARE
The box is tiny and built very well with some nice design touches. The remote has a home button, rewind and fast forward along with a select button. Simple, but then again so is the Roku. There are no buttons on the box itself.

THE SET UP
When you initially plug in the Roku, it gives you an activation code which you must enter at your PC on the Netflix web site. A few seconds later a prompt pops up on your screen telling you the Roku has been activated and you are off. Very easy! After setting up our streaming queue on Netflix, we turned this bad boy on and started watching. Unfortunately, the Roku does not provide you the option to add movies to your queue from the device, so we had to go back to our computers to do so. That was disappointing.

THE INTERFACE
The menu is simple, but it works. It shows your movie queue, allows you to read a brief summary of the film/TV show, as well as ratings from other viewers. Once you are done watching, you can then rate the movie from your Roku or even delete it from the queue.

THE EXPERIENCE
Although the idea was great, the experience was not. After having reviewed players like the Vudu we can't say that the Roku matches it with the quality of service. When viewing the movies we never got above two out of four quality stars in our feed. This resulted in a video quality which felt only slightly better than YouTube quality on our TV screens. With a faster connection things get better (downloads over 3Mbs), but in average home speeds, the Roku disappointed. While we were watching a movie, one of our reviewers downloaded some specs from the web. The simultaneous download caused our movie to stop midway. It stopped playing because it ran out of data and had to wait for more of the movie to be downloaded (or streamed) into the device. This happened with our 3Mbs test various times. The Roku did not go above 1 quality star in our 1.5Mbs tests, the standard connection on most DSL lines. The video at 1 star quality was unwatchable on the 40inch television.

Another disappointment was the selection of movies titles. There are many older movies, but don't expect to see a new release on this device any time soon. The TV show selection was also geared towards older titles, with a few notable exceptions like season 2 of Heroes.

One thing we did like about the Roku is that it has upgradeable firmware, so new features can be introduced in the future without the need to purchase another device. The upgrade can also allow for bug fixes, although we didn't encounter any.

Overall the Roku Netflix Player was a disappointment. The lack of newer titles, might be a turn off for most people, but could be something that Netflix fixes along the way. The device does have an attractive price tag ($99 as of this writing), but unless you have an ultra fast internet connection (above 3Mbs), we simply can't recommend the Roku.


SPECIFICATIONS
- Currently over 12,000 movies and TV episodes available
- No change in monthly Netflix costs and you continue to get your DVDs by mail
- Easily connects directly to your TV
- Pause, rewind or play anytime - just like a DVD
- Lots of connectivity options for your TV

In the Box
- Netflix Player set-top box
- Infrared remote control
- Two AAA batteries
- A/V cables (composite video, stereo audio)
- Power adapter
- Getting Started Guide

THE GOOD
- Great price in comparison to similar devices
- Ease of use
- Simple setup

THE BAD
- Poor video quality at 3 Mbps Downstream
- Horrible video quality at 1.5 Mbps Downstream
- Not many new titles to choose from
- Unable to select movies from player without first having to go online and selecting title
- No hard drive (limited movie buffering)

WHERE TO BUY
Roku
Netflix

  • Like Roku Netflix Media Streaming player Review on Facebook
  • Tweet Roku Netflix Media Streaming player Review on Twitter
  • +1  Roku Netflix Media Streaming player Review on Google+
  • Digg  Roku Netflix Media Streaming player Review
  • Share Roku Netflix Media Streaming player Review on Reddit
  • Share  Roku Netflix Media Streaming player Review on StumbleUpon
  • Pin Roku Netflix Media Streaming player Review on Pinterest
  • Share Roku Netflix Media Streaming player Review on Delicious
  • Share Roku Netflix Media Streaming player Review via Email
Posted In: Technology

Portable USA PU-8W Digital Frame Review

Portable USA PU-8W Digital Frame Review
The PU-8W sold by Portable USA is an elegant wooden frame. The frame features speakers for music playback as well as a remote to guide you through the menus.

THE HARDWARE
The construction of the frame is solid (we feel better than the WB models) and the display is protected by a glass over a matted frame that hides the infrared sensor for the remote. The frame accepts SD/MMC/MS/CF cards.




THE SET UP
As far as simplicity the frame passed the test. When the unit arrived for review we plugged it in and inserted an SD card with some MP3 files and some jpg image files of our Service Villa annual picnic and instantly the pictures started to display. MP3's didn't start playing immediately, but according to the manual it is all based on the file name. The digital frame sorts your media in alphabetical order and plays it like that in auto mode. Although this feature is not a default feature, you can select an mp3 to play via the audio screen.

THE DISPLAY
The 8 inch display is really bright and clear.

The test images we used were all taken with a 12 megapixel Nikon D300, so they were high resolution to begin with. We enjoyed the quality of the pictures being represented as they appeared with little or no distortion. The colors were actually better than we had expected, with nice saturation and decent blacks. Unfortunately the audio playback failed to impress us as the quality of the speakers was not great.






These pictures don't do the frame justice as it was hard to capture a screen shot that would show the quality of the display when showing off the pictures. If you are interested in purchasing I would get a memory card ready with some of your favorite pictures and take it to BJ's Wholesale club, Ritz Camera or Circuit City. All three of these stores carry the Portable USA line of digital frames. Once you have decided which one you like, go to Amazon and purchase it there since it is much cheaper.

The frame can also play videos of the following formats MPEG1, MPEG2, and MPEG4 If you really wanted to you could probably watch a full length film as long as it fits in your memory card.

THE INTERFACE
Looking deeper into the frame's inner workings we found ourselves looking at a not-so-nice user control panel. The menu offers you all the necessary controls such as speed for slide show and transition type selection. You can choose transitions that range from: slide from the top towards the bottom, fade in and out, open like a door, or random, which is what we used to make use of all the transitions.




And the following are accessible via the remote only.
















Here are the menu buttons on the unit.




They don't give you freedom from the remote. These buttons are strictly for volume and display setup such as brightness and contrast. If you want to go to the actual setup for your media you are forced to use the remote provided.




We tried putting the frame in portrait view but there is no option in the setup to do this. You can have all your pictures in either portrait or landscape but your menu will always be in landscape. This makes it a bit hard to see the menu.

The PU-8W has a list price of $199.00, but we have seen them on Amazon for about $129.99.

Specifications
Specifications
- Bright 8" diagonal TFT Active matrix LCD display
- 640 X 480 resolution
- Compatible with CF, SD, MMC, MS, XD
- No PC needed to enjoy pictures


In the Box
- Digital frame
- Stand
- AC power adapter
- Remote control
- User's manual

THE GOOD
- Nice bright display
- Speaker to listen to audio mp3 files
- Full function remote control (priceless)
- Somewhat easy to use (if you use the remote)
- Good price in comparison to similar models

THE BAD
- Can't get to menus if you loose the remote. Only display settings can be changed with on board menu.
- Sound from speakers is not so great.
- No ability to make menu display in portrait mode.

WHERE TO BUY
Amazon

  • Like Portable USA PU-8W Digital Frame Review on Facebook
  • Tweet Portable USA PU-8W Digital Frame Review on Twitter
  • +1  Portable USA PU-8W Digital Frame Review on Google+
  • Digg  Portable USA PU-8W Digital Frame Review
  • Share Portable USA PU-8W Digital Frame Review on Reddit
  • Share  Portable USA PU-8W Digital Frame Review on StumbleUpon
  • Pin Portable USA PU-8W Digital Frame Review on Pinterest
  • Share Portable USA PU-8W Digital Frame Review on Delicious
  • Share Portable USA PU-8W Digital Frame Review via Email
Posted In: Technology

Portable USA PU-15WB Wireless Digital Frame Review

Portable USA PU-15WB Wireless Digital Frame Review
IMPORTANT NOTE: The Portable USA PU-15WB digital frame is almost identical to the Portable USA PU-10WB digital frame. The only differences between the two frames are the screen size (PU-15WB has a 15.0 inch screen size and the PU-10WB has a 10.4 inch screen size), screen resolution resolution (PU-15WB has a screen resolution of 1024x768 and the PU-10WB has a screen resolution of 640x480) and the on-board controls. Aside from the increased resolution, both frames performed the same way and functioned the same way. As such you will find that both reviews are almost identical in nature, with the only changes being references to screen size, product name and specifications.

The PU-15WB sold by Portable USA is an elegant wooden frame. The frame is wireless via bluetooth technology and features speakers for music playback as well as a remote to guide you through the menus. A bluetooth adapter is not included in the box, but can be shipped to you free after filling out a postcard and submitting it to Portable USA.

THE HARDWARE
The construction of the frame is good. Its display is protected by a glass over a matted frame that hides the infrared sensor for the remote. The frame accepts SD/MMC/MS/CF cards as well as USB memory sticks, and the bluetooth adapter that uses the USB port. It can also be plugged in to any PC or Mac to have images transferred over to its 256 MB of on-board memory. The bluetooth is useful for transferring pictures from your phone and makes it fairly easily. All in all it is pretty solid in the media format acceptance category.




THE SET UP
As far as simplicity the frame passed the test. When the unit arrived for review we plugged it in and inserted an SD card with some mp3 files and some jpg image files of our Service Villa annual picnic and instantly the pictures started to display. A couple of seconds after the images started, the mp3s begun playing in the background. The whole process took no more than 30 seconds.
As far as simplicity the frame passed the test. When the unit arrived for review we plugged it in and inserted an SD card with some mp3 files and some jpg image files of our Service Villa annual picnic and instantly the pictures started to display. A couple of seconds after the images started, the mp3s begun playing in the background. The whole process took no more than 30 seconds.


THE DISPLAY
The 15.0 inch display is really bright and clear.

The test images we used were all taken with a 12 megapixel Nikon D300, so they were high resolution to begin with. We enjoyed the quality of the pictures being represented as they appeared with little or no distortion. The colors were actually better than we had expected, with nice saturation and decent blacks. Unfortunately the audio playback failed to impress us as the quality of the speakers was not great.






These pictures don't do the frame justice as it was hard to capture a screen shot that would show the quality of the display when showing off the pictures. If you are interested in purchasing I would get a memory card ready with some of your favorite pictures and take it to BJ's Wholesale club, Ritz Camera or Circuit City. All three of these stores carry the Portable USA line of digital frames. Once you have decided which one you like, go to Amazon and purchase it there since it is much cheaper.

The frame can also play videos of the following formats MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, AVI, and DivX. If you really wanted to you could probably watch a full length film as long as it fits in your memory card.

THE INTERFACE
Looking deeper into the frame's inner workings we found ourselves looking at a not-so-nice user control panel.














The user interface lacks the crisp-looking graphics you should expect from a fancy digital frame. and it was somewhat difficult to navigate through the menu using the buttons on the frame itself. The full function remote however takes care of this problem. You can actually do more things with the remote than you can with the on-board buttons. The only thing we found the on-board buttons useful for was raising and lowering the audio volume on the frame.




The menu offers you all the necessary controls such as language (Chinese, English, Dutch, French, and Spanish), speed for slide show and transition type selection. You can choose transitions that range from: slide from the top towards the bottom, fade in and out, open like a door, or random, which is what we used to make use of all the transitions. Your clock could be set from the control panel along with a one time use alarm to remind you of something or wake you up in the morning. We didn't find the alarm useful because it has to be set every day since it is linked with the date on the frame.

We tried putting the frame in portrait view but there is no option in the setup to do this. You can have all your pictures in either portrait or landscape but your menu will always be in landscape. This makes it a bit hard to see the calendar, alarm clock, mp3 audio player etc...

The PU-15WB has a list price of $399.00, but we have seen them on Amazon for about $199.99.

SPECIFICATIONS
- Bright 15" diagonal TFT Active matrix LCD display
- 1024x768 resolution displaying up to 12MP images
- Compatible with CF, SD, MMC, MS, XD and USB media cards
- No PC needed to enjoy pictures
- 256MB on board memory
- Bluetooth wireless transfer compatible with cellphones, PC and MAC OS (requires separate adapter)
- Direct connection to computer with included USB cable.
- Ships with rich cherry and true-black frames, suitable for every decor.
- 12 month FULL warranty, parts and labor

IN THE BOX
- Digital frame with cherry wooden surround
- Alternate black wooden surround
- Remote control
- AC power adapter
- USB cable
- Locking Stand
- User's manual
- Card to submit to Portable USA to get your bluetooth dongle

THE GOOD
- Nice bright display
- Speaker to listen to audio mp3 files
- Full function remote control (priceless)
- Somewhat easy to use (if you use the remote)
- Good price in comparison to similar models
- Bluetooth compatibility is great.

THE BAD
- Alarm clock not very useful to have to set it daily
- Cheap looking setup / menu interface
- Good luck figuring out how to use the menus if you loose the remote.
- Sound from speakers is not so great.
- No ability to make menu display in portrait mode.

WHERE TO BUY
Amazon

MANUFACTURER
Portable USA

  • Like Portable USA PU-15WB Wireless Digital Frame Review on Facebook
  • Tweet Portable USA PU-15WB Wireless Digital Frame Review on Twitter
  • +1  Portable USA PU-15WB Wireless Digital Frame Review on Google+
  • Digg  Portable USA PU-15WB Wireless Digital Frame Review
  • Share Portable USA PU-15WB Wireless Digital Frame Review on Reddit
  • Share  Portable USA PU-15WB Wireless Digital Frame Review on StumbleUpon
  • Pin Portable USA PU-15WB Wireless Digital Frame Review on Pinterest
  • Share Portable USA PU-15WB Wireless Digital Frame Review on Delicious
  • Share Portable USA PU-15WB Wireless Digital Frame Review via Email
Posted In: Technology

iHome IH9 Review - iPod Enabled Dual Alarm Clock With Remote

iHome IH9 Review - iPod Enabled Dual Alarm Clock With Remote
If you are on the market for an iPod enabled alarm clock make sure you take a look at the iHome IH9.

After looking at other alarm clocks like the Emerson iTone iC200 SmartSet Alarm Clock Radio for iPod this one beats them all hands down. Sure it costs a little more, but up to now we haven't found anyone offering a product of this caliber at this price. The iHome iH9 features two alarm clocks that can be set independently and can be configured to "alarm" you either every day of the week, Monday through Fiday, or just on the weekends. Waking up to your favorite playlist is great and being able to shut up the alarm clock without getting out of bed using the remote control is priceless, but can also have a downfall: We think that one day you might shut off the alarm in your sleep without noticing and sleep right through your morning meeting.

The iHome IH9 allows you to wake up to your favorite tunes on your iPod, AM/FM station, or an old school buzzer. When it is time for the alarm to activate, it gradually increases the volume and wakes you up without a jolt. A feature that is my personal favorite is the full-function remote control. The remote allows you to control your iPod's menu as well as almost all aspects of the iHome IH9 alarm clock. The sound quality is also excellent for the price.

The display is bright blue on black and has several levels of dimming so you can set it to your favorite brightness. The iHome IH9 also features a backup battery, that allows your clock to function while the power is out (the radio/alarm features will be disabled during a power outage even with the back up battery). It is also a shame that you can't power this device completely by battery since it would have been great to take this little guy with us to the beach.

All in all the iHome IH9 is great unit and we would easily recommend it. The villa gives it two thumbs up based on its price and quality.


Features
- Wake to your iPod playlist, AM/FM radio, or buzzer
- Fall asleep to your iPod or AM/FM radio using the adjustable sleep timer
- Bass, treble, 3D, and balance controls
- High-fidelity stereo drivers in specially designed Reson8 speaker chambers
- Play and charge your iPod
- Auxiliary port for connecting other audio devices such as CD players
- Six watts total output
- High-fidelity stereo drivers in specially designed Reson8 speaker chambers
- Full-function remote control that interfaces with iPod and radio
- Universal dock with inserts to fit docking iPod models
- Gradual wake or sleep gently increases or decreases alarm/sleep volume
- Extra-large, backlit custom LCD display with dimmer
- DST switch for quick daylight savings time adjustment

Specifications
- AC power, 10V, 1.4A
- Dimensions (WxHxD): 9.05 x 4.25 x 3.54 in./23.0 x 10.8 x 9.0 cm

In the Box
- iHome IH9
- Docking inserts
- Remote control
- AC power adapter
- Two AA batteries (for power backup)
- User's manual

THE GOOD
- Alarm volume gradually goes up (no jolt)
- Full-function remote control (priceless)
- Full control of your iPod
- Great sound quality
- Nice display
- Easy to use

THE BAD
- A little bigger than a typical AM/FM alarm clock
- Price is a bit higher than we would like to pay for this kind of device
- You might mistakingly turn off your alarm while you are asleep using remote (read review for what we mean)

WHERE TO BUY
Amazon

MANUFACTURER
iHome Audio

  • Like iHome IH9 Review - iPod Enabled Dual Alarm Clock With Remote on Facebook
  • Tweet iHome IH9 Review - iPod Enabled Dual Alarm Clock With Remote on Twitter
  • +1  iHome IH9 Review - iPod Enabled Dual Alarm Clock With Remote on Google+
  • Digg  iHome IH9 Review - iPod Enabled Dual Alarm Clock With Remote
  • Share iHome IH9 Review - iPod Enabled Dual Alarm Clock With Remote on Reddit
  • Share  iHome IH9 Review - iPod Enabled Dual Alarm Clock With Remote on StumbleUpon
  • Pin iHome IH9 Review - iPod Enabled Dual Alarm Clock With Remote on Pinterest
  • Share iHome IH9 Review - iPod Enabled Dual Alarm Clock With Remote on Delicious
  • Share iHome IH9 Review - iPod Enabled Dual Alarm Clock With Remote via Email
Posted In: Technology

Portable USA PU-12WB Wireless Digital Frame Review

Portable USA PU-12WB Wireless Digital Frame Review
IMPORTANT NOTE: The Portable USA PU-12WB digital frame is almost identical to the Portable USA PU-10WB digital frame. The only difference between the two frames are the screen size (PU-12WB has a 12.1 inch screen size and the PU-10WB has a 10.4 inch screen size) and screen resolution resolution (PU-12WB has a screen resolution of 800x600 and the PU-10WB has a screen resolution of 640x480). Aside from the increased resolution both frames performed the same way and functioned the same way. As such you will find that both reviews are almost identical in nature, with the only changes being references to screen size, product name and specifications.

The PU-12WB sold by Portable USA is an elegant wooden frame. The frame is wireless via bluetooth technology and features speakers for music playback as well as a remote to guide you through the menus. A bluetooth adapter is not included in the box, but can be shipped to you free after filling out a postcard and submitting it to Portable USA.

THE HARDWARE
The construction of the frame is good. Its display is protected by a glass over a matted frame that hides the infrared sensor for the remote. The frame accepts SD/MMC/MS/CF cards as well as USB memory sticks, and the bluetooth adapter that uses the USB port. It can also be plugged in to any PC or Mac to have images transferred over to its 256 MB of on-board memory. The bluetooth is useful for transferring pictures from your phone and makes it fairly easily. All in all it is pretty solid in the media format acceptance category.




THE SET UP
As far as simplicity the frame passed the test. When the unit arrived for review we plugged it in and inserted an SD card with some mp3 files and some jpg image files of our Service Villa annual picnic and instantly the pictures started to display. A couple of seconds after the images started, the mp3s begun playing in the background. The whole process took no more than 30 seconds.
As far as simplicity the frame passed the test. When the unit arrived for review we plugged it in and inserted an SD card with some mp3 files and some jpg image files of our Service Villa annual picnic and instantly the pictures started to display. A couple of seconds after the images started, the mp3s begun playing in the background. The whole process took no more than 30 seconds.


THE DISPLAY
The 12.1 inch display is really bright and clear.

The test images we used were all taken with a 12 megapixel Nikon D300, so they were high resolution to begin with. We enjoyed the quality of the pictures being represented as they appeared with little or no distortion. The colors were actually better than we had expected, with nice saturation and decent blacks. Unfortunately the audio playback failed to impress us as the quality of the speakers was not great.






These pictures don't do the frame justice as it was hard to capture a screen shot that would show the quality of the display when showing off the pictures. If you are interested in purchasing I would get a memory card ready with some of your favorite pictures and take it to BJ's Wholesale club, Ritz Camera or Circuit City. All three of these stores carry the Portable USA line of digital frames. Once you have decided which one you like, go to Amazon and purchase it there since it is much cheaper.

The frame can also play videos of the following formats MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, AVI, and DivX. If you really wanted to you could probably watch a full length film as long as it fits in your memory card.

THE INTERFACE
Looking deeper into the frame's inner workings we found ourselves looking at a not-so-nice user control panel.














The user interface lacks the crisp-looking graphics you should expect from a fancy digital frame. and it was somewhat difficult to navigate through the menu using the buttons on the frame itself. The full function remote however takes care of this problem. You can actually do more things with the remote than you can with the on-board buttons. The only thing we found the on-board buttons useful for was raising and lowering the audio volume on the frame.




The menu offers you all the necessary controls such as language (Chinese, English, Dutch, French, and Spanish), speed for slide show and transition type selection. You can choose transitions that range from: slide from the top towards the bottom, fade in and out, open like a door, or random, which is what we used to make use of all the transitions. Your clock could be set from the control panel along with a one time use alarm to remind you of something or wake you up in the morning. We didn't find the alarm useful because it has to be set every day since it is linked with the date on the frame.

We tried putting the frame in portrait view but there is no option in the setup to do this. You can have all your pictures in either portrait or landscape but your menu will always be in landscape. This makes it a bit hard to see the calendar, alarm clock, mp3 audio player etc...

The PU-12WB has a list price of $299.00, but we have seen them on Amazon for about $169.99.

SPECIFICATIONS
- Bright 12.1" diagonal TFT Active matrix LCD display
- 800x600 resolution displaying up to 12MP images
- Compatible with CF, SD, MMC, MS, XD and USB media cards
- No PC needed to enjoy pictures
- 256MB on board memory
- Bluetooth wireless transfer compatible with cellphones, PC and MAC OS (requires separate adapter)
- Direct connection to computer with included USB cable.
- Ships with rich cherry and true-black frames, suitable for every decor.
- 12 month FULL warranty, parts and labor

IN THE BOX
- Digital frame with cherry wooden surround
- Alternate black wooden surround
- Remote control
- AC power adapter
- USB cable
- Locking Stand
- User's manual
- Card to submit to Portable USA to get your bluetooth dongle

THE GOOD
- Nice bright display
- Speaker to listen to audio mp3 files
- Full function remote control (priceless)
- Somewhat easy to use (if you use the remote)
- Good price in comparison to similar models
- Bluetooth compatibility is great.

THE BAD
- Alarm clock not very useful to have to set it daily
- Cheap looking setup / menu interface
- Good luck figuring out how to use the menus if you loose the remote.
- Sound from speakers is not so great.
- No ability to make menu display in portrait mode.

WHERE TO BUY
Amazon

MANUFACTURER
Portable USA

  • Like Portable USA PU-12WB Wireless Digital Frame Review on Facebook
  • Tweet Portable USA PU-12WB Wireless Digital Frame Review on Twitter
  • +1  Portable USA PU-12WB Wireless Digital Frame Review on Google+
  • Digg  Portable USA PU-12WB Wireless Digital Frame Review
  • Share Portable USA PU-12WB Wireless Digital Frame Review on Reddit
  • Share  Portable USA PU-12WB Wireless Digital Frame Review on StumbleUpon
  • Pin Portable USA PU-12WB Wireless Digital Frame Review on Pinterest
  • Share Portable USA PU-12WB Wireless Digital Frame Review on Delicious
  • Share Portable USA PU-12WB Wireless Digital Frame Review via Email
Posted In: Technology

Portable USA PU-10WB Wireless Digital Frame Review

Portable USA PU-10WB Wireless Digital Frame Review
The PU-10WB sold by Portable USA is an elegant wooden frame. The frame is wireless via bluetooth technology and features speakers for music playback as well as a remote to guide you through the menus. A bluetooth adapter is not included in the box, but can be shipped to you free after filling out a postcard and submitting it to Portable USA.

THE HARDWARE
The construction of the frame is good. Its display is protected by a glass over a matted frame that hides the infrared sensor for the remote. The frame accepts SD/MMC/MS/CF cards as well as USB memory sticks, and the bluetooth adapter that uses the USB port. It can also be plugged in to any PC or Mac to have images transferred over to its 256 MB of on-board memory. The bluetooth is useful for transferring pictures from your phone and makes it fairly easily. All in all it is pretty solid in the media format acceptance category.




THE SET UP
As far as simplicity the frame passed the test. When the unit arrived for review we plugged it in and inserted an SD card with some mp3 files and some jpg image files of our Service Villa annual picnic and instantly the pictures started to display. A couple of seconds after the images started, the mp3s begun playing in the background. The whole process took no more than 30 seconds.
As far as simplicity the frame passed the test. When the unit arrived for review we plugged it in and inserted an SD card with some mp3 files and some jpg image files of our Service Villa annual picnic and instantly the pictures started to display. A couple of seconds after the images started, the mp3s begun playing in the background. The whole process took no more than 30 seconds.


THE DISPLAY
The 10.4 inch display is really bright and clear.

The test images we used were all taken with a 12 megapixel Nikon D300, so they were high resolution to begin with. We enjoyed the quality of the pictures being represented as they appeared with little or no distortion. The colors were actually better than we had expected, with nice saturation and decent blacks. Unfortunately the audio playback failed to impress us as the quality of the speakers was not great.






These pictures don't do the frame justice as it was hard to capture a screen shot that would show the quality of the display when showing off the pictures. If you are interested in purchasing I would get a memory card ready with some of your favorite pictures and take it to BJ's Wholesale club, Ritz Camera or Circuit City. All three of these stores carry the Portable USA line of digital frames. Once you have decided which one you like, go to Amazon and purchase it there since it is much cheaper.

The frame can also play videos of the following formats MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, AVI, and DivX. If you really wanted to you could probably watch a full length film as long as it fits in your memory card.

THE INTERFACE
Looking deeper into the frame's inner workings we found ourselves looking at a not-so-nice user control panel.














The user interface lacks the crisp-looking graphics you should expect from a fancy digital frame. and it was somewhat difficult to navigate through the menu using the buttons on the frame itself. The full function remote however takes care of this problem. You can actually do more things with the remote than you can with the on-board buttons. The only thing we found the on-board buttons useful for was raising and lowering the audio volume on the frame.




The menu offers you all the necessary controls such as language (Chinese, English, Dutch, French, and Spanish), speed for slide show and transition type selection. You can choose transitions that range from: slide from the top towards the bottom, fade in and out, open like a door, or random, which is what we used to make use of all the transitions. Your clock could be set from the control panel along with a one time use alarm to remind you of something or wake you up in the morning. We didn't find the alarm useful because it has to be set every day since it is linked with the date on the frame.

We tried putting the frame in portrait view but there is no option in the setup to do this. You can have all your pictures in either portrait or landscape but your menu will always be in landscape. This makes it a bit hard to see the calendar, alarm clock, mp3 audio player etc...

The PU-10WB has a list price of $249.00, but we have seen them on Amazon for about $149.99.

SPECIFICATIONS
- Bright 10.4" diagonal TFT Active matrix LCD display
- 640x480 resolution displaying up to 12MP images
- Compatible with CF, SD, MMC, MS, SM, XD and USB media cards
- No PC needed to enjoy pictures
- 256MB on board memory
- Bluetooth wireless transfer compatible with cellphones, PC and MAC OS
- Direct connection to computer with included USB cable.
- Ships with rich cherry and true-black frames for every decor.

IN THE BOX
- Digital frame with cherry wooden surround
- Alternate black wooden surround
- Remote control
- AC power adapter
- USB cable
- Locking stand
- User's manual
- Card to submit to Portable USA to get your bluetooth dongle

THE GOOD
- Nice bright display
- Speaker to listen to audio mp3 files
- Full function remote control (priceless)
- Somewhat easy to use (if you use the remote)
- Good price in comparison to similar models
- Bluetooth compatibility is great.

THE BAD
- Alarm clock not very useful to have to set it daily
- Cheap looking setup / menu interface
- Good luck figuring out how to use the menus if you loose the remote.
- Sound from speakers is not so great.
- No ability to make menu display in portrait mode.

WHERE TO BUY
Amazon

MANUFACTURER
Portable USA


  • Like Portable USA PU-10WB Wireless Digital Frame Review on Facebook
  • Tweet Portable USA PU-10WB Wireless Digital Frame Review on Twitter
  • +1  Portable USA PU-10WB Wireless Digital Frame Review on Google+
  • Digg  Portable USA PU-10WB Wireless Digital Frame Review
  • Share Portable USA PU-10WB Wireless Digital Frame Review on Reddit
  • Share  Portable USA PU-10WB Wireless Digital Frame Review on StumbleUpon
  • Pin Portable USA PU-10WB Wireless Digital Frame Review on Pinterest
  • Share Portable USA PU-10WB Wireless Digital Frame Review on Delicious
  • Share Portable USA PU-10WB Wireless Digital Frame Review via Email
Posted In: Technology

VUDU The Future of Movie Watching? Almost. Our VUDU Review.

VUDU The Future of Movie Watching? Almost. Our VUDU Review.
Streaming digital entertainment is the future of movie watching at home — that much has been established. There have been a lot of companies hoping to capitalize on this, including: Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and so on. VUDU is another company hoping for a piece of the pie and like Apple and Microsoft (and now Netflix), they are one of the only companies with a direct link to where movie watching happens: Your television.


WHAT IS VUDU?
The VUDU Box is a set top box that you connect to your TV that let's you stream both standard definition and high definition content via the internet. The machine has an extensive array of video connectivity options including: HDMI v1.1, Component, S-Video and Composite. Audio connectivity options include: HDMI v 1.1, Digital Optical, Digital Coax, and RCA. You can connect the device as-is to the internet using an Ethernet connection. The device comes with an HDMI cable, VUDU Remote, an Ethernet Cable, Composite Video with Analog Stereo Audio Cable, and 2 AA Batteries. All of this for the price of $295.



The VUDU has a lot of connectivity options — except WiFi

Right away you might notice one big problem with the standard VUDU Box — the lack of WiFi right out of the box. We were surprised that such a forward-thinking company like VUDU would opt not to include such a basic functionality of a internet connected device in this day in age.


THE SET UP AND THE INTERFACE
After following four simple set up screens and connecting the cables, the device basically set itself up by choosing the correct network settings and video resolution. We were impressed at the ease of set up, however immediately after that, we were forced to download a firmware upgrade that took about 10 minutes to download and install and then we had to run a catalog upgrade that took nearly as long. So, though the device was easy to get up and running, the upgrades made plug-and-play more like plug-and-wait. In all, after downloading and upgrading the device, it took well over 30 minutes to get up and going. Though we understand forcing the upgrade to keep everyone at the same level, it would have been preferred if the device would do this overnight instead of during the initial set up.



The VUDU interface is amongst the best in this market

Once we got past that initial wait, we were presented with the VUDU interface. And what a beauty it is. The interface is colorful and modern with large copy that was easy to read in both standard and high definition televisions. You can browse the catalog in many different ways including: most watched, new on VUDU, by genre, and in HD. You are also presented with a slew of options to search for any catalog in the VUDU library (as of this review 6,000+ movies). VUDU also allows to watch a small preview of a movie, which is typically a trailer, for certain movies in their catalog. We must admit that it was fun browsing through the movie catalog, scrolling through for sometimes, I kid you not, thirty minutes. Once you are ready to either rent or buy a movie, you press WATCH NOW, pay for the movie, and off you go.



Exploring the VUDU catalog is actually fun


MOVIE/SOUND QUALITY
We tested movies in both standard definition televisions and high-definition televisions. Standard televisions had no issues playing back SD and HD content as the VUDU down-converted the HD movies to display on standard televisions. Likewise, high definition televisions performed well as the VUDU and the television upconverted the standard definition content and played back high definition content perfectly. That leads us to actual display quality.

VUDU standard definition movies looked sharper and more saturated than their DVD counterparts, though like the DVD movies being upconverted, the streaming VUDU movies showed significant artifacts in both dark and light scenes. Though it is hard to judge sound quality, we did not notice any difference in sound quality between VUDU and DVD movies.

VUDU high definition content was obviously better than the standard definition content showcasing a more colorful display, a sharper image, better contrast, and richer textures. When comparing VUDU high definition content to Blu-ray, the VUDU is not able to outperform the competing media. The VUDU high definition content was more in line with broadcast quality HD than with a physical media like Blu-ray. The sound quality edge goes to Blu-ray as some of their titles support Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio while VUDU audio support is limited to Dolby Digital Plus at the highest end.

Of course movie quality also varies from title to title with newer titles like "Fools' Gold" looking better than older titles like "Carlito's Way." "Ladron Que Roba Ladron" in HD looked miles better than "Abandon" did in HD as another example.

For the hearing impaired there is currently no subtitle support, but VUDU made it clear to us that they are working on that feature and it should be made available via a software upgrade in the near future.


THE PERFORMANCE
If you are watching a standard definition movie on a regular high-speed connection (DSL for example), those movies will start instantaneously. High definition movies on the other hand, will take some time to stream depending on your connection. During our tests, high definition movies became available typically after 1.5 hours of downloading. We were surprised that the VUDU service was 100% reliable in our tests. Day or night the standard definition movies streamed immediately and did not stop once during play back to catch up.


THE REMOTE
We wanted to briefly mention the VUDU Box remote control. The VUDU Box uses RF (radio frequency) instead of IR (infrared), meaning you can be 20+ feet away, behind a wall, and the remote still controls your VUDU Box. This is extremely useful and we are thankful for the mobility. The remote is ergonomic, molding to your hand while giving you easy access to the scrolling wheel (similar to that of a mouse) and the play and pause button. Navigating the screens was easy enough and we had no issues finding the very few buttons on the remote.

What we did have an issue with was the way the VUDU Box handled scrubbing on the movie time line. Scrolling the wheel upwards fast forwards the movie while downwards rewinds. Sounds simple? It isn't. Sometimes we were wrestling with the scrubber trying to get the movie to the place on the time line we wanted, making it frustrating to navigate.


THE COST
The biggest issue we have with the VUDU is the price. $295 is a big pill to swallow for a set top device that just plays movies you then have to purchase or rent. Like current Blu-ray players, the cost of admission is too high. We hope for VUDU's sake that the price of the unit can come down to the low one hundreds soon, specially since the device lacks WiFi.



VUDU gives you the choice to buy or rent in some movies

We felt that movie rentals are fair. $2.99 allows you to rent most old catalog releases and $3.99 are the typical prices for new releases. There are some movies available at $0.99, but those are hard to find. High-Definition movies will cost $3.99 to $5.99 per rental. The price of BUYING a movie also varies from $9.99 to $19.99, though we found a few HD movies with prices of $24.99.

Television shows cost $1.99 per episode to own and there was no option to rent. The third season of Prison Break ran us $25.87 for 13 episodes. We hope VUDU offers people the option to rent a TV show at a discount in the near future.

One HUGE disappointment with the VUDU (and all similar devices) is that movie rentals are valid for only 24 hours after you press WATCH NOW. We found ourselves time and time again not being able to finish a movie in domestic settings. VUDU offers extended play at a discount to help ease the pain, but not all titles support this feature and quite frankly, we prefer if they offered 48 or 72 view periods as standard. Since this is digital media, there is no excuse for 24 hour viewing periods.


THE VERDICT
The VUDU Box is a great device. We enjoyed putting the device through the paces. There is a great wealth of titles available, the video quality, particularly standard-definition, is outstanding, and the movie rental prices are fair. Unfortunately, the cost of admission is a big problem and the lack of WiFi right out of the box is baffling. We would like to see the 24 hour viewing restriction gone as well.

If you have the cash to spring for a VUDU Box and you have no problems with the device's issues, you will not go wrong with the comfort this device will afford you.


THE GOOD
Prices of movie rentals are fair
Sweet interface
Easy set up
Every output option imaginable
Great standard-def picture quality
Very stable box
Large hard drive
Great network performance


THE BAD
24 hour viewing period per title
No WiFi included (adapter can be purchased seperately)
Fast forwarding/rewinding needs work
Price of the VUDU Box is too high
Not all movies are available for rent
No subtitles
HD quality not up to snuff (Blu-ray has this by a mile)

WHERE TO BUY
Amazon

MANUFACTURER
VUDU, Inc

  • Like VUDU The Future of Movie Watching? Almost. Our VUDU Review. on Facebook
  • Tweet VUDU The Future of Movie Watching? Almost. Our VUDU Review. on Twitter
  • +1  VUDU The Future of Movie Watching? Almost. Our VUDU Review. on Google+
  • Digg  VUDU The Future of Movie Watching? Almost. Our VUDU Review.
  • Share VUDU The Future of Movie Watching? Almost. Our VUDU Review. on Reddit
  • Share  VUDU The Future of Movie Watching? Almost. Our VUDU Review. on StumbleUpon
  • Pin VUDU The Future of Movie Watching? Almost. Our VUDU Review. on Pinterest
  • Share VUDU The Future of Movie Watching? Almost. Our VUDU Review. on Delicious
  • Share VUDU The Future of Movie Watching? Almost. Our VUDU Review. via Email
Posted In: Technology



Blog   |   Archive   |   Reviews   |   About   |   Contact |   Disclosure