Kanto’s YU2s seem to come from a time when speakers were solid, simple structures; proud temples to sound that said of their owners, Hey, I’m serious about music, and I know what I’m doing. Aesthetics were important, of course, but unquestioningly took a backseat to sound. Sound was king.
If you haven’t heard of Kanto before, that’s OK — the Canadian outfit just sprouted up in the Vancouver suburbs around five years ago. The YU2s are Kanto’s latest speakers, the smallest of their lineup of a half-dozen or so, and they’re designed to fit unobtrusively on a bookshelf or desk and play music from your computer or mobile device.
The YU2’s performance during our review, however, was nothing short of astonishing — and they could very capably substitute for larger speakers in a variety of roles.
Surprise: These cans aren’t quite the flashy, youthful boombasts their outward appearance suggest (yes, that’s a good thing). And, surprise: There’s much more here than simply a nod at the term “active noise cancellation.”
SMS, which is helmed by Rapper 50 Cent, jumped into the headphone game just shy of three years ago. At that time the lion’s share of attention was directed toward their wireless Sync cans, which stream music via the somewhat uncommon Kleer technology. But that doesn’t mean the rest of SMS’s broad, diverse lineup should be ignored, and that assertion is well-supported by the performance — and, yes, dash of flash – of the wired, active noise-canceling Street by 50 ANC headphones.
Noise-cancelling headphones are suddenly all the rage. It certainly seems as if every big player in the audio game has at least one model that features active noise-canceling, usually accompanied by other luxury features — and with a corresponding luxury pricetag. Even manufacturers who’ve only recently begun making cans, like Logitech UE and Klipsch, prominently feature active noise-canceling in their model lineups.
It may even seem as if the technology has been added to some models simply because it’s become the feature du jour — an impression strengthened by the fact that not all noise canceling is the same. Not even remotely.
As video surveillance goes, Netgear’s VueZone system is about as easy and user-friendly as it gets. But does VueZone sacrifice power and performance for ease-of-use? We tested the two-camera system, which cam with two motion-detecting cameras, four magnetic mounts and the master gateway for $290. It also came with a one-month trial subscription to the Premier service subscription; the no-frills Basic service, which allows you to montitor up to two cameras remotely from your computer, is free.
I have a complicated relationship with gloves. On the one hand, I love that they keep my fingers from falling off in frigid weather. But then there’s the frustration at their complete lack of cooperation when I’m trying to use the touchscreen on my phone. As a result, I end up either constantly removing and re-donning my gloves in an endless cycle that freezes my delicate fingers anyway — or abandoning my phone altogether in disgust.
The problem is that most touchscreens rely on our fingers to act as conductors, and conventional gloves block that conductivity. But glove-makers have rolled with the times, and there are solutions — gloves that allow conductivity to pass through the glove’s fabric and onto the screen. One of the most buzzed about is Outdoor Research’s Sensor Gloves ($69), which use real leather that doesn’t appear or feel any different than leather used in non-conductive gloves.
We’re very stingy with our five-star ratings, and it’s even more rare for us to slap all five onto a gadget. So pay attention — because today we’re awarding the full five stars to the Logitech UE Boombox ($250), a portable, battery-equipped, eight-driver Bluetooth speaker that sounds absolutely astounding. In fact, the Boombox does a better job of rocking out than some non-portable, home systems costing much more.
These Scosche Realm RH656 ($130) headphones compete in the same league as with headphones like the Beats (formerly Monster) Solo HD, the Incase Reflex and the Fanny Wang 1000 Series. These ‘phones have a lot in common: they have smallish earcups that sit on the ear, instead of over; they all have track and volume controls (remember though that the volume control won’t work on Android devices); and they’ve all had a dash of fashion added.
But there are some key differences too. And as you’re about to find out, the RH656 does pretty well against its competition.
This is the original Parrot Asteroid Classic car stereo head-unit ($349), and it made quite a splash when it launched last year. The single-DIN, 4×55 watt receiver boasts a formidable array of features: Bluetooth connectivity, powerfully accurate voice recognition for both calls and music, a GPS receiver, a bright, 3.2-inch LED screen and a quiver of apps that run off its customized, upgradeable, early-vintage Android 1.5 OS (all of which require a data connection via a dongle).
Though this model was originally called the the Asteroid (no Classic), the Classic nomen was added to lessen confusion as three new models were announced a few months ago. However, the Asteroid Classic still very much in play; in fact, as this review goes live, the Classic is the only member of the Asteroid family currently available, as its new siblings haven’t shipped yet.
With its Android-based OS, you’d be forgiven if you thought the Asteroid Classic was more friendly to Android phones than the iPhone. In fact, the opposite is true, as I’ll explain later. And while it suffers from something that can probably be described as teething trouble, it’s still a lust-worthy system.
Let’s be honest, battery life on just about any mobile device is anything but ideal. Light to average users may make it throughout a day or two without needing a charge, but for the power users out there, carrying a charger/extra battery/juice pack/etc. is a necessity.
You’d think a handcrafted Nexus 7 tablet case made in the U.S. using time tested bookbinding techniques would be a rare occurrence, yet here I am, reviewing my third product of its kind. It’s not only surprising, but quite refreshing. I’m actually quite proud to see American craftsmanship being used to mesh old world techniques with modern day products. It’s both nostalgic and, well… modern.
This next case comes to us from Portenzo, a tried-and-true company known for creating fantastic made-to-order iPad cases. While I can’t promise the Portenzo BookCase for the Nexus 7 will be the last hardcover case I review, I can say this: it’s one of the best I’ve reviewed.