Blue Yeti USB Microphone


Blue Yeti Microphone Review


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Overview:

For months I monkeyed around with cheap microphones. After multiple lapel mics and desktop USB microphones I was tired of having to spend all my time filtering, editing, and dealing with all the horrible noise levels they produced.  That’s when I broke out the pen and paper and starting researching good quality USB microphones that have been tested and verified in the community to be amazing.  I spent half the day watching videos, reading reviews, and talking to people on multiple forums to see what they were using.  This research turned up some very valuable information about desktop USB microphones.

This is my review for the Blue Yeti USB desktop microphone.

Design:

Weighing in at more than 3 pounds, the Yeti Pro is a beast of a microphone. It really looks like a trophy on my desk from the real state it takes up. The foot-tall microphone consists of two parts: the stand and the actual mic. The stand is a 7-inch-tall piece of nearly solid steel, weighted to keep the mic from tipping over, and featuring a very large, adjustable pivot upon which the mic can move up and down.

Moving onto the microphone itself, it is a little under a 8inchs tall and shaped like a bullet with a sleek silver body and a chrome tip.  On the front you will find three dials and a Mute button, which is super handy to have. On the back there are two dials, the first lets you switch between stereo, cardioids, omnidirectional, and bidirectional. Each setting allowing you to record in different environments.  Defiantly look into each one of  these different settings as they can really change how your recordings sound. The second dial is for controlling the gain in your live recordings.

Last but not least on the bottom you will find the a single micro-USB 2.0 port, 3.5mm jack and a screw-mount for use when the mic is off the stand. The 3.5mm jack is a headphone pass through so you can listen in real-time what you sound like.

Performance:

For a single user or a group people the quality of the Yeti’s audio is excellent to say the least. The cardioid mode is great for podcasts and voice calls, while the omnidirectional and bidirectional modes are great for interviews and group discussions. Unlike my other cheap microphones the Yeti picked up my voice clearly and I can’t even begin to explain how relieved I was to not hear that dreaded white noise. The adjustable gain helped reduce ambient noise while keeping the clarity. I use this microphone for YouTube and some around the house recording.  The microphone is a powerful tool, and a worthy and overwhelming competitor to the not so great microphones I had purchased in the past.

Other Thoughts:

The wobbly plastic knobs used for volume and gain control felt a little flimsy but so far have held up to normal usage. Though if you doing things rough, a two-year warranty is there to help against defects.

Performance is something well know to the Yeti. To start, this is the first microphone to receive the coveted THX certification. The certification involves a multitude of factors, including tests for frequency response and signal-to-noise ratio, and–perhaps more importantly–proof of performance consistency across multiple product batches. In other words, the Yeti had to sound good and have a reasonable chance of sounding good for every user.

With such a reasonable price, this is a no brainer when to comes to purchasing. The Blue Yeti is on to something here and I cant wait to see what they will come up with next. If people do their research and  spent a little more money up front, they can avoid all the horrible microphones and the quality they provide.

Thank you


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Belkin Express Dock HD 2


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Belkin Express Dock HD 2 Hardware Review

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Overview:

I can’t really go into a whole lot of pros about this device, as it does really just about everything you would expect a dock to do. It’s a very elegant and eye appealing solution for any mac and some PC users. It allows you to take all that clutter on your desktop and make it so you don’t see 100 wires coming out of your Mac book or PC.

Supports:

  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • headphone/microphone
  • 3x USB 3.0  port
  • 2x Thunderbolt 2 ports
  • 4k HDMI port.

If you use a Thunderbolt 2-equipped MacBook Pro with Retina Display, Mac Pro, or Mac mini, or you’re planning for a future with Thunderbolt 2, check out Belkin’s latest expansion dock

Design:

The Belkin Express Dock HD is made out of a shiny piece of aluminum designed to match the finish of your Mac and Thunderbolt Display. On the back of the device you’ll find most of the ports – Ethernet, headphone, two USB 3.0 ports, the two Thunderbolt 2 ports, the HDMI port and a power connection. On the front are two ports – 1x USB 3.0 and a 1x microphone/headphone port.

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I couldn’t find a definitive answer or example of how many monitors this dock can support at once. Apple’s site says three 4k monitors at once while others say they could only get at most, two 4k monitors, and that was through one thunderbolt port and one hdmi port.

The Belkin dock also does not allow you to charge your laptop. And with that fact that this dock is 300.00 I would greatly expect to be able to charge my laptop off of this dock. And as another reviewer stated. “Remember, the Belkin HD was meant to reduce the number of cables going to the laptop”

I really don’t fully consider this a dock as I do a half-dock. Yes this does exhibit dock features and functions though it misses a few key jacks to fully make it a true dock. First is you’re not really docking your laptop, your plugging in a USB cable. I can’t charge my laptop off of this, and the price of this compared to other true docks such as a dell e-port plus is a huge difference. Price to port comparison is also not all the great.

And one nice little feature to end of the design portion of this review – Belkin includes a 1M (3 foot) Thunderbolt cable with the dock.

Functionality:

The device is very much plug-and-play; you just plug things into the proper ports, and everything is taken care of. Some simple testing of file transfer speeds to my external USB 3.0 drive showed absolutely no drop in throughput.

Likewise, the external monitor came up immediately when connected to the HDMI port. There were no issues, even when unplugging the HDMI cable and plugging it back in shortly thereafter. It was just like plugging an HDMI cable right into the MacBook Pro. The Ethernet port also worked with no extra driver required. When plugged into the Express Dock HD, the Ethernet port immediately showed up as another network adapter.

Conclusion:

I know my cons kind of outweighed my pros but don’t let that discourage you. This is a great device that is expertly built and is virtually plug and play. It’s light, very easy to move or carry around, and it can greatly help organize your desktop.

This is definitely marketed more for a Mac user more than it is a PC user, also just FYI it doesn’t support the raspberry pi. I had to try and see if I could get it to work.I would recommend this to a Mac user though I wouldn’t to a windows or Linux based user.

Thank you


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Linksys EA9200 AC3200 Tri-Band Smart Wifi Router

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Linksys EA9200 AC3200 Tri-Band Smart Wifi Router

 

Overview:

The Linksys AC3200 Tri-Band Smart Wi-Fi Router is designed for device-heavy homes with simultaneous wireless activities. Tri-band technology adds an additional high-speed 5GHz band for combined speeds of up to 3.2Gbps – up to double the AC performance of dual-band routers. Innovative Smart Connect technology optimizes the performance of your wireless devices by balancing them across multiple Wi-Fi bands. Its six active antennas – 3 external, 3 internal – provide six data streams and a 1GHz dual-core CPU ensures faster combined Wi-Fi speeds to even more devices without diminishing individual speed or performance. Four Gigabit ports offer a blazing-fastest wired connection, while Beamforming technology focuses and strengthens the Wi-Fi signal to your Wireless-AC devices.

Explaining the AC3200:

Thoughts:

Coming right out of the box I had some high expectations for this router. And for the most part they all were fulfilled. This Linksys AC3200 Wi-Fi Router is designed for any homes with multiple heavy hitting wireless devices. Supporting Tri-band tech, and adding in an additional 5GHz band for increased speeds. Though please keep in mind your never going to achieve the advertised 3.2Gbps speeds between clients.

Pros:

Talk about antennas, this router packs in six antennas – 3 external, 3 internal – providing a massive six data streams and a 1GHz dual-core CPU for each band makes for some fast internal Wi-Fi speeds. There are 3 integrated cpus that technically add up to 2.96Ghz but the 2.96Ghz is just an advertising scheme. You’re really only getting a 1Ghz cpu for whatever band you’re on. Thank you Cisco for adding in Gigabit ports,5 to be exact: 4 data and 1 uplink. And I don’t know about the rest of you but I am seriously done with the days of 10/100. I am also glad they added in 1x USB 3.0 and 1X USB 2.0 ports for connecting external devices, such as an external HDD or printer. Though please note that if you place this device into bridge mode those USB ports will be disabled. (See Cons below) Transfer speeds from the router to an external HDD I had were in the range of 25-35Mbs range. So not bad there for sure and worked flawlessly when I connect a brother printer to the second USB port for some wireless printing. Very elegant look as well, and by elegant I also me serious looking. When I first setup the device I couldn’t help but think that this device looks like it can handle some massive network traffic. Another thing I really liked was that there was no stupid wall wart for a power supply. It has a standard 2-prong (Would like to see 3-prong) plug and a power converted inline. So no more taking up 3+ outlets for one device. Setup and configuring this device was really just like any other Cisco Linksys router. Though the interface is quite a bit different, it’s still very straight forward. Mostly just a plug and play device.

Cons:

$300.00!!!!!!
That’s a lot of money for a router, though considering the supply and demand aspect of this device, and how right now that price is affect by the FAD affect, you’re going to pay more now than you will in say 6months. Streaming to the Xbox 360 (Using NetFlix) I had some serious LAG and slow speeds, plugged it directly into the router and decreased the speed issue easily by 80%. Xbox had full bars and I had even set media prioritization on it as well, but to no affect. This is not something for a business, it is more designed for a home power user who really wants to get the most out of his or her devices. A big issue that I see is when you place this device into bridge mode all of those fancy and usefully features all but disappear.

When in bridge mode you will only have the options to:
Change the Routers basic settings; Router login, wifi password, upgrade firmware, and a few other things.
Really just all of the troubleshooting features don’t work when in bridge mode. Logging, dhcp table view, ping…etc, which is really annoying when you’re trying to monitor client issues.
I can see some modes being disabled in bridge mode but this just about disables everything!

Other Thoughts:

All in all this is a nice router. It’s fast, reliable, and can support a crazy amount of devices and throughput. It is bit pricy, but you mostly get what you are paying for. I would recommend this device to a lot of people though I would also say wait a bit for the price to drop before you get it. I read some reviews as well that stated that this device would speed up your download/upload speeds as well, so I’d like to state that this is not a cable modem and will not increase your base internet speed. Your internet speed is based on what plan you have with service provider and on the cable modem you use. This unit ensures all the local data from all the devices in your home connect fast to the cable modem/dsl router provided your device is capable of it or you have a good adapter card/dongle.

Some things I would like to see in the next firmware update would be:
Support for more features when in bridge mode, especially the USB ports, media prioritization, and logging.

Thank you


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Bose SoundLink Mini

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 Original Article

It’s a good thing Bose has its logo splayed across the front of its new ultracompact wireless Bluetooth speaker, the SoundLink Mini, because if it didn’t, you just might think it was made by Apple.

There’s something very “i” about it — and not just the Mini that’s part of its name. Perhaps it’s the unibody aluminum enclosure that surrounds the two small drivers and front and back radiators. Or the fact that at 1.5 pounds it feels considerably more substantial than many of the tiny all-plastic Bluetooth speakers now on the market. Whatever it is, this is a sleek-looking, very compact wireless speaker.

It also happens to sound good. For what it is, anyway. After all, there’s only so much sound — or shall I say quality sound — that you can get out of a palm-size speaker. But as a whole there are enough enticements, including a bundled charging cradle, to make you overlook the small drawbacks, namely the lack of speakerphone functionality and a somewhat high price tag.

Design and features
As with its larger SoundLink Bluetooth Mobile Speaker II, Bose is targeting a broad audience with this product, and the Mini is designed to be very simple to use, with clearly labeled buttons on the top. Like all Bluetooth speakers, it will stream audio wirelessly from virtually any smart phone or tablet, plus any Bluetooth-enabled PC or audio player. The speaker remembers up to six devices, so you’ll only need to sync each one once. Your device should automatically pair again with the speaker if it’s in range with Bluetooth activated and the speaker is turned on.

The SoundLink Mini has a very clean and simple design. Sarah Tew/CNET

I liked that the unit comes with a desktop charging cradle. You can also plug the included AC adapter directly into the unit, so you don’t have to take the cradle with you when you travel. However, it does not charge via USB, so you do need the AC adapter (the prongs on the adapter fold flat, which is helpful, but it’s still another accessory you have carry around with you). On the plus side, speakers that require charging from an AC adapter tend to be more powerful and output more sound.

While the cradle is a nice extra, everything else will cost you. Bose is selling protective sleeves for a whopping $25 each, and a carrying case will set you back $45. I didn’t test the carrying case, but the sleeve, which comes in a few different color options, is nice. It doesn’t quite protect the whole speaker, but most of it — and the nice thing is that you can still charge the speaker in the cradle without removing it from the sleeve.

The back of the speaker (sitting in the charging dock). Sarah Tew/CNET

In terms of connectivity, there’s an auxiliary input on the side for non-Bluetooth devices as well as a Micro-USB port on the back for potential firmware upgrades.

I really liked the whole look and feel of the speaker, but like Bose’s step-up SoundLink Bluetooth Mobile Speaker II, it has no integrated speakerphone, which is too bad. I find it a little weird, only because the unit looks like it’s made to sit on a bedside table or home-office desk, where it would come in handy as a speakerphone. For most people this won’t be a deal-breaker (I suspect Bose has done its market research and determined that the speakerphone is an underused feature in Bluetooth speakers), but this is a must-have feature for some consumers.

The speaker in its optional $25 protective sleeve, which is available in a few different colors.

 

Thank you


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Belkin WeMo Maker

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Belkin WeMo Maker Hardware Review

 

Pros:

The WeMo Makers integration with wireless network is incredibly simple to say the least. The app integration is a great touch as well and just like connecting the WeMo Maker to your wireless network, it’s incredibly simple to set up on your smart phone or tablet.

Amazing support for IFTTT coding that lets you create powerful connections with one simple statement: IF this, then that. Some of the easiest coding in my opinion.

The app is very useful when it comes to commutation with the WeMo Maker, simple clicks of a button to turn it on or off, even creating customized automation rules and schedules to fit your personal preferences is easy for anyone with this app.

Now it is only for low power devices so there are quite a few options to choose from in the low-voltage/amp range.

For example you can, create a trigger to open the pet door for your dog at sunrise or when you log out of your work email for the day and even connect it into a fully automatic 25rd belt fed NERF gun. With WeMo and IFTTT, your imagination is your only limit.

If you a DIY’er and have some background in simple programming and electrical design then this is the device for you.

Cons:

Very little to no documentation on using this device and its supported outputs.

Very low voltage/amp devices are supported, it really could use some high-capacity output.

Pricy for what you are getting

Another reviewer mentioned this but the app is definitely flaky. It was very easy to set up but after the initial setup and power down, I couldn’t get my Nexus 7 (2013) tablet to reconnect back to the device. I had to reboot the WeMo three times for it to connect back to my tablet. Same thing for my phone.

 

Relay connections   24 V at 1 amp max (Good for one raspberry pi)

Sensor connections 5 DC at 100 mA max

This next part was confusing for me

[Powered by: WeMo Maker™ PSU: 5 V 100 mA max The maker receives its power from an outboard 5 V DC @ 2.1 A PSU via a micro USB connection. ]

Though on the USB PSU you get and Maker power input both are labeled with 5V 1AMP so does it only support 5V 100mA max ,5V 1AMP max or 5V 2.1AMP max? 5V 1AMP works great for me.

It can only control one device at a time. Which when you like to tinker with things this is a bummer. I would like to see the option for more than one device.

 

OTHER THOUGHTS:

For tinkers and electrical hobbyist this is a fun little device. Though price tag and flaky app/Maker wireless connection is a really bummer.   Price is defiantly a little high considering I can pick up a small wireless arduino uno and case for cheaper than this and it could control multiple devices.

You will need to do some research before you buy one of these, as Volt/AMP support is tiny and the fact that you can control only one device is also a bummer.

Belkin you made a good product but there are definitely some flaws that should be addressed. And your documentation really really really needs to be improved at least give two or three quick tutorials for setting up common questions, such as lights, door locks, temperature sensors…etc. These quick like how-tos would greatly help anyone who is not a tinker and would like to get involved with electronics.

All in all I do really like this WeMo Maker but it does have its flaws and can be quite a bother.

 

Thank you


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Seagate Backup Plus For Mac

seagate_backup_plusSeagate Backup Plus for Mac and Windows


 

The Backup Plus portable drive for Mac from Seagate is the simple way to protect and share your entire digital life—without getting in the way of the rest of your life.

  • Mac OS and Time-Machine® ready out of the box
  • Automatically save photos from your social networks
  • Share photos and video to social networks with a click
  • Easily increase transfer speeds by upgrading to Thunderbolt™ technology
  • compatible with Windows using our HFS+ Driver

 

Intro:

For this article I will be going over the Seagate Backup Plus for Mac.  This is small compact HDD with a terabyte of storage (930Gb usable) that you can take almost anywhere. And with USB 3.0 speeds you can transfer and store your data on this drive with lighting speed.

What’s in the Box!

Inside the box you will find your typical accessories.

  • Seagate Backup Plus drive
  • Seagate Dashboard pre-loaded on drive (And some other worthless data files)
  • 18-inch USB 3.0 cable
  • Quick start guide
  • 2-year limited warranty

Does it work with Mac?

Sure….I dont have a Mac, I run Windows for most desktops and Red hat Linux for all my servers. Its built for Mac so there really should be any issue with it being plug and play with a Mac.

Does it work with Windows?

Yes it does but you will need to download the HFS+ driver from Seagate in order to use the external HDD. You can download the driver here. Once you download this driver you will need to launch the installer and restart your computer.  Ya you need to restart your computer to have an external HDD driver work.  There is no plug and play with this HDD for windows.  Well let me clarify that there is plug and play after you run through the initial setup steps.

First Use, requires some first steps:

Once you install the HFS+ driver and restart you computer the Seagate Backup Plus will show up on your system as a usable drive.  Though when I clicked into this drive I was a little horrified by the amount of junk and worthless material in the drive. There was a damaged install for the Backup Dashboard and a undamaged version of it as well. Guess Seagate didn’t feel the need to remove this before shipping it out to consumers.  Also Seagate, I understand the idea of putting in videos showing users how to work with the backup dashboard, but my god do the videos have to be such poor quality!  320x180x is barely readable and not to mention that the videos as is take up almost 400mb of space of the driver due to the fact that each video is in 8 different languages.

Though I can’t really complain too much as its my standard operating procedure to just factory wipe devices that come straight from the factory and Seagate has the right to promote their product. But Seagate if you ever read this please take another look at the amount and type of files you put onto your external drives.

So I just went ahead and formated the entire drive to wipe out and clean the bloated junk that I was never going to use.  Also if I ever wanted to get them back its as easy as going to their website and downloading them again.

Dashboard:

The dashboard itself is very easy to use and has some interesting features that can be useful for some people. Take a look that the pictures below for installing and using the dashboard to back up your important files.

Speed Transfers:

Speed transfers can vary according to the type and format of the file  you are transferring. For example one 4.0Gb DVD movie transferred at 40Mbs while a 4.0Gb folder with pictures and documents in it transferred around 25Mbs.  Now this does not mean that the drive is bad or slow.  This just means a computer can transfer one file faster than it can with a 1000 images.

Overview:

All in all I like this external drive.  Now with that being said I wouldn’t say this is the best external drive in the world and the bloated features that come with the Seagate Backup Plus are not something to be mess around with and more or less with just give you hassle in the long run. Its best just to wipe the drive and start with a truly new and ready to use external drive. Though once you format the drive its will work prefect for storing files and keeping important information safe.

Thank you


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