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David Pearlman "sound fanatic" RSS Feed (Arlington, MA)

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The Wolf of Wall Street (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD)
The Wolf of Wall Street (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD)
DVD ~ Leonardo DiCaprio
Price: $19.96
12 used & new from $18.46

2.0 out of 5 stars Gratuitously pornographic. But the real problem is the lack of any protagonist or tragedy., April 13, 2014
First off, this film is well made. The acting and the sets are excellent. The money is on the screen, for sure. This is assuredly the film that Scorsesse set out to make, and he made it well.

Unfortunately, it's also not a film that rewards the viewer. Ultimately, you get three hours of over-the-top reprehensible behavior by a group of primary characters, not a single one likable. The sex and drug use is as over-the-top and graphic as I've ever seen in a mainstream movie (read: non-NC17).

You see bad men (and women) doing bad things.

Unfortunately, what you don't see, and don't get, is any reason to invest in this film. There isn't a single major character that is depicted as tragically flawed. There's no redemption. There's no penance. The main character, Jordan Belfort (Leanardo DiCaprio) is portrayed as ignorant, ghastly, shallow, and corrupt to the core. And he's pretty much this way from the first time we see him on the screen. There's no arc to his character. As far as we know, he's not a good man corrupted by the wolves of Wall Street. And he's not a corrupt man redeemed by later heroic behavior or self reflection. He is simply a bad man whose bad deeds compound as he gets richer. The same comments pretty much apply to everyone else with significant screen time.

As the movie progresses, one increasingly feels a sense that "I hate all these people, and the faster they go down, the better." But when they inevitably do, there's really no real payoff. Not in a single case. Again, we have no reason to believe that any of these people were ever good, or that when any of these pigs met their slaughter, any became good.

If there's a message here, I guess it's this: "If you combine the lesser elements of society with unfathomable amounts of money, all paths lead to the most base types of behavior." Perhaps in the era of Justin Bieber there's even a universal parable in there somewhere. But without showing us why we should care, that's scant payoff for three hours of screen time.

Amprobe IR-710 Infrared Thermometer - 0F to 716F, 10:1
Amprobe IR-710 Infrared Thermometer - 0F to 716F, 10:1
Price: $56.43
5 used & new from $54.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good build quality, accurate readings, super easy to use and laser pointer is a nice touch, March 18, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Years ago, I purchased what was then a pretty state of the art home use thermocouple temperature measurement device. It was reasonably accurate, but slow, and hard to use. It also used a weird, ultimately unreplaceable battery, so it wound up in a junk heap years ago. Since then, I've used infrared thermometers at work, but I've never had another one at home.

The ones I've used at work have mostly been industrial in design, which means built to withstand the rigors of mishandling. The Amprobe IR-710 isn't like that. It's plastic. But that said, it feels very well put together. The trigger doesn't have side wobble play, and the whole thing seems pretty good for a home use device. The LCD readout is kind of dim, even illuminated, and I've seen better, but it's fine...

In terms of accuracy...I took it to work and got the HVAC guy who was working down the hall to do a shootout with his (nearly $1000 high end Fluke) device versus mine. The result? Both guns gave readings withing 0.5 degrees in about half a dozen different spots when we accounted for the better distance-to-spot ratio of his gun (in other words, I had to be closer). The HVAC guy, who uses his gun continually every day, snickered when I asked to compare, but he was very impressed with the accuracy when the shootout was done. Other than build quality and a much better LCD screen on his gun, it should be noted that his distance-to-spot ratio is about 6 times better and he can measure temperatures below 0 degrees, whereas this gun cannot. So there are tradeoffs.

But if what you need is a light utility device for home use, you don't need pinpoint accuracy from a long distance, and you won't be measuring temperatures below zero (and most don't), this is a great little item to have...

This Is Spinal Tap (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
This Is Spinal Tap (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Offered by newbury_comics
Price: $23.99
29 used & new from $5.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Review of the VINYL issue, March 15, 2014
This is a review of the VINYL version. We all know the relative merits of this compilation.

As for the vinyl

Not bad, vinyl is quiet, but obviously the reissue vinyl is pressed from a compilation reel submaster, and not from the original mixdowns. This is particularly clear for Cups and Cakes, where they have (once again) used the inferior stereo compilation album remix version rather than the original mono single version, or even the stereo mix from the original album release.

Belkin Miracast Video Adapter
Belkin Miracast Video Adapter
Price: $79.99
18 used & new from $59.99

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Terrific way to turn your HDMI equipped TV into a smart device...Whether it justifies the price depends on how u plan to use it, March 1, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
You can be forgiven for getting confused by all the new HDMI "dongle" appliances that seem to be coming onto the market. You have android platforms on a dongle. You have the Google Chromecast device. And you have several vendors offering "Miracast" devices. What's a poor boy to do?

Well, here's the quick shake out:

1) Most of the full android platform devices are for geeks only. A lot of them are underpowered, are difficult to interact with, etc. To be honest, I'd stay away from those, unless you know exactly what you're doing. And if you do, then you're not reading my review, anyway.

2) The Google Chromecast has probably received the most attention. It's nice, and allows you to stream a few content providers (Netflix, etc.) to your TV "out of the box". Recently, Google has loosened the reigns on the device and toolkit, and now more apps are getting supported. You can also stream whatever is in your Google Chrome browser from some platforms. The upside is that the device is cheap ($35 list). The downside is, I've found, that it doesn't always play nice with platforms like phones, and the built in wifi (how it communicates with your world) is mediocre. It also offered extremely limited functionality until recently, although, as noted, that's changing.

3) The Miracast video adaptor, such as the one being sold here under the Belkin name. This is basically a wireless TV adapter. If your device is capable of wireless broadcasting of video, then it transmits its signal to the Miracast, which then pushes that to your TV screen. IMHO, and in my experience, this is more useful than the more limited Chromecast dongle. However, it's also about twice as expensive.

In my hands, I find that the Belkin Miracast works very well. I was able to set up a connection between my phone my Miracast/TV in about 1 minute without reading any manual. From that point forward, ANYTHING that was on my phone screen appeared on the TV, exactly as it appeared on the phone. I used it with video streaming (Netflix, Youtube) and found that the connection held quite well, and the picture quality was excellent. The one downside was that there were occasional pixelation glitches on the screen (but not on the phone). But these were a very minor nuisance (and a considerably smaller issue than when using the Google Chromecast, for comparison). After streaming for an hour and a half from Netflix, the adaptor didn't get too hot, and was still working fine.

On the basis of functionality, i.e. doing what it's supposed to do, it's great.

Breaking things down on a pro/con basis:


1) Super easy to set up if you have a Miracast broadcast (wireless monitor) enabled device
2) Easy installation
3) Held the signal well
4) Good picture quality
5) Dongle worked fine out of the box. No need for a firmware update. None of the nightmares (bad firmware) that people have reported with first generation Miracast devices from other manufacturers.

1) Requires USB power input in additional to HDMI connection. If your TV has a HDMI port on the back, this just means connecting that port to the USB input on the dongle, using the supplied cable. If you don't have a USB connector on the back of your TV, then you'll need to buy a USB power adaptor. This adds clutter. But again, the same is true of the Google Chromecast.

2) Only works with Miracast enabled devices. I have two cell phones at home. One, a top of the line Razr MAXX phone from a couple of years ago, does not support Miracast. My newer phone (Moto X) does. For the most part, only recent phones actually support Miracast. So check before buying if that's your use case. As for PCs, any PC that supports wireless and that came with Windows 8 or 8.1 supports Miracast--provided you've updated the OS to Windows 8.1. Older PCs that have been upgraded to Windows 8.1 may or may not support Miracast (check before you buy).

3) Miracast is essentially a second screen technology. That means that your source device will show the same picture as the Miracast device and you may not have a way of turning off the source device screen. On my phone, for example, I couldn't find a way to do that.

4) In the end, Miracast should be considered basically IDENTICAL in functionality to running a HDMI cable from your source device to the TV. There's no functional difference whatsoever. So if you have a source device and the idea of running a HDMI cable from your source device to the TV is not offensive/problematic, just do that--you'll save money and won't have to deal with the occasional data glitches inherent in wireless streaming.

So, in the end, would I recommend this? Sure, IF you need it, and if your source device(s) support it. Look again at #4 above: For many people, this is a lot cooler than a HDMI cable, but it doesn't get you anything the HDMI cable won't, if you can run HDMI cable from your source, and if that won't offend the aesthetic (wife) or accessibility gods. Although, of course, the idea of sitting with a Windows 8.1 table in your lap 15 feet from the TV and controlling what's on the TV is a little more enticing than having a 20' HDMI cable tethering your tablet to the TV--even if you CAN get the OK to do that.

And it needs to emphasized that a really useful use case for the Miracast is with your phone while traveling, since most phones don't offer HDMI out.

I took my Miracast on my latest business trip and found it a fun way to circumvent the $10/movie charges from the hotel. My new phone doesn't have HDMI out, so running a HDMI cable wouldn't be an option, anyway. The movies weren't great, but the smile I got from knowing that Hyatt wasn't getting a cut made it a lot better. (Don't forget the USB charge adapter, though).

On the whole, I was really impressed with how easily this device was to set up and was happy with the performance. I found it quite useful for situations where running a HDMI cable was impossible (phone source). If you have a similar need, this may well be the tech toy for you!

AmazonBasics Portable Fold-Up Travel Stand for the  iPad 4, iPad 2, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and 7.0, Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD, Kindle Touch (Black)
AmazonBasics Portable Fold-Up Travel Stand for the  iPad 4, iPad 2, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and 7.0, Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD, Kindle Touch (Black)
Price: $9.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Great ergonomics, will fit just about any size or dimension portable tablet, but be aware of the cheap construction, February 21, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I was looking for a fully adjustable stand to replace the one-position stand for my Microsoft Surface. This seemed to fill the bill and I ordered it.

The pros:

1) Fully adjustable. Very easy to put your tablet in almost any position from full 90 degree (standing up) to around 0 degrees (almost lying down).

2) Sturdy enough (touching the screen, the tablet stays in place).

3) The "sticky" rubber guides keep your tablet in place.

4) Easy to set up.

5) Will work with any standard tablet from 7" to 12" either portrait or landscape. It will actually work with larger tablets, but as things get too big, it's not going to be very stable.

Now the con:

1) It's almost entirely plastic, and it doesn't feel well enough constructed to last for the long run if you're using it as a travel device (where you'll continually be folding/unfolding it and possibly subjecting it to travel stresses). Should be fine if you just want to set it up somewhere and leave it.

I was disappointed with the plastic design. It looks like metal in the pictures here. It's not. I guess at the price I shouldn't have expected anything more. I am a little worried how well it will hold up in the long term. But the ergonomics are great, and it's kind of amazing that there are so few comparably good general use stands at this price. Basically, Amazon has this particular market to themselves.

On the whole, as long as you keep your expectations in check, this is a great little stand.

Lenk Separable Removable Wireless Bluetooth 3.0 Keyboard PU Leather Stand Case Cover w/Touchpad Auto-Sleep/Week For Microsoft Surface RT/Pro Windows 8 Tablet Black
Lenk Separable Removable Wireless Bluetooth 3.0 Keyboard PU Leather Stand Case Cover w/Touchpad Auto-Sleep/Week For Microsoft Surface RT/Pro Windows 8 Tablet Black
Offered by GeekBuying
Price: $35.48
26 used & new from $32.91

2.0 out of 5 stars Case is OK. Small size keyboard harkens back to the bad old days of early netbooks., February 13, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Thought I'd save a mint versus the Microsoft official Type keyboard and get this instead. Saw some good reviews, took a flyer.

Big mistake. On the plus side, you do get the leather case and the bluetooth keyboard for less than half the retail price of the Microsoft Type keyboard. And the case does fit the Microsoft Surface snugly. But...

...but the keyboard itself is hideous. First off, it's a very small keyboard--think the really bad miniaturized keyboards that some of the worst netbooks came with. And remember how some of the key layouts on those were bad. Yeah, this has that problem, too. I could overlook the chicklet feel of the keyboard, if the keys were bigger. But they're not. And that means it's a total chore to type on this thing.

But that's not all. The responsiveness of the keyboard is also rather pathetic. Thinking you'll get good use out of the mouse pad? Think again. Lag city. Sorry, but if I'm in keyboard mode, I need a mouse pad. I don't want to switch between touching the screen and typing on the keyboard that frequently.

On the plus side: It was easy to set up the keyboard and the bluetooth coupled fine.

On the whole, this is another one of those "get what you pay for" deals. I might be able to deal with the cheap chicklet feel if the keys were bigger. But they're not. I might be able to deal with the small keys if the touchpad worked properly. But it doesn't--it lags.

Oh, and did I mention that one of the straps that keeps the Surface in the leather binder overlaps the power button and sometimes pushes it for you, "just for fun."

Sorry to your money.

Lexmark MS410dn Mono Laser Printer
Lexmark MS410dn Mono Laser Printer
Price: $161.32
81 used & new from $149.00

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent basic monochrome laser printer for small office or home use, January 23, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
At the price point of this printer, you have a decent number of choices in terms of monochrome laser printers. In fact, you can monochrome laser printers with more functionality for as little as half the price. If you're looking for the cheapest solution for printing, you might want to look at one of those.

This particular printer is more aimed at workgroup use. That means better construction, higher reliability, cheaper consumables (toner), and a few well implemented features you won't find on the cheap printers, particularly duplexing (printing both sides of a page), which is almost never available on the cheapest printers (and almost always subject to mechanical failure when it is).

Setup is as easy as any laser printer: install the toner and imaging cartridges: It takes about 10 minutes, including unboxing and reading the instructions. Connectivity is solely wired, so either you connect to your network via an Ethernet cable, or to a specific computer using a USB cable. Both Windows and MacOS are supported. The underlying processor is dual core and 800Mhz and there is 256mb of installed memory. Both specs are way more than sufficient for the purpose and better than most cheaper printers. Build quality is good (weight is 31 pounds).

Print quality is very good, and offers up to 1200x1200 dpi resolution. The print quality is acceptable for both personal and business use. The printer is rated at up to 40 pages per minute, although my experience with real life monochrome documents (.pdf) was about 1/3 to 1/2 that once the document was loaded on the printer and it began printing. That's still way more than acceptable for a workgroup printer.

Printer options can be set using a small readout and buttons on the front panel, but I found this to be cumbersome. The network interface that is available once you install the printer is far easier to use and is recommended. (If you really insist on using the on-printer display/interface for setup, I recommend moving up to the MS510dn; but that printer costs a lot more and doesn't deliver better performance).

In printing several hundred pages on this machine, I did not experience any problems, either with the network interface, or with paper jamming. I was able to send heavier card stock through the bypass tray without issue, and it printed properly as well.

The main cons to this printer are A) the included paper tray is big enough to hold about half a ream of paper (250 sheets) and there is only one paper tray. In many business settings it's useful to have larger capacity and/or the ability to use at least two different paper supplies and B) there is no built in wireless connectivity (although you can solve that using a wireless access point, if you wish).

On the whole, this printer doesn't offer a lot of bells and whistles (no copier, no scanner, no fax, no wireless, no color), but if you need a very solidly built workhorse basic laser printer at a good price, with the added bonus of built in duplexing, this is an excellent choice.

Lang's Chocolates Toffee Almonds Certified Kosher-Dairy, 6-Ounce Pouches (Pack of 3)
Lang's Chocolates Toffee Almonds Certified Kosher-Dairy, 6-Ounce Pouches (Pack of 3)
Price: $28.67

1.0 out of 5 stars Lousy taste AND stale, January 10, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
First off: The expiration date on these is two months in the future as I write this review. That's how I received them from Amazon.

Second: They are stale, with a distinct off flavor from the old oils in the nuts

Third: Beyond that, these are not very good toffee almonds. The toffee flavor is very mild, and not at all what I typically find with toffee almonds. Mostly almond flavor with a bare hint of toffee.

I gave some of these as presents, and no one was impressed. I gave some to myself and I'm not impressed.

Don't make the same mistake I did: Avoid these.

Dell XPS 18 XPSo18-2728BLK 18.4-Inch All-in-One Touchscreen Portable Desktop
Dell XPS 18 XPSo18-2728BLK 18.4-Inch All-in-One Touchscreen Portable Desktop
Offered by PCNation
Price: $999.00
25 used & new from $770.84

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Is is a ginormous tablet or is it a really small All-In-One? If this cool product scratches your itch, it's nicely done, December 15, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Dell XPS-18:

Is is a ginormous tablet or is it a really small All-In-One?

It's both.

And as such, when I got it, I wasn't sure if it was really a case of neither fish nor fowl--a product without a niche. Certainly, before I got my hands on it, I hadn't been dreaming of the day I could have a five pound 18" tablet in my lap while watching TV. And I hadn't been hoping to replace the 24" touch screen All In One I have in the kitchen with one that's way small at 18".

In fact, this unit seemed so far from what I'd been dreaming of, I figured it just had to be better than I expected.

And it is, in fact.

Until you've played with an 18" tablet, you don't know what you're missing. Or gaining (about 2+ pounds). Interactive material (videos, web pages, etc.) is a lot more fun at the larger size.

And if you want to attract attention, just pull one of these out at your coffee house or other favorite hangout. It works. I tried it. In fact, it was like the first time I had a laptop that could play videos--ahead of the curve--and I pulled that out in an airport lounge. By the time I was 10 minutes into my movie, I had a crowd. Same with this thing. At least right this minute.

As for the portability factor. Well, it's 5 pounds. And battery life is kind of anemic by today's standards, at about (in my tests) a little under 4 hours. (Note: This uses the last generation Intel "Ivy Bridge" processor. The new Haswell line is now out, and when the next generation of this device comes out, I'd expect battery life to be bumped by at least 50-60%). A wireless keyboard and mouse come with the unit, but they're not integrated (like a laptop), so if you want to have a full solution to take on the road, you not only have the large-ish, heavy-ish tablet, you also have to take the separate mouse and keyboard. I file that under "not fun for road warriors". To be quite honest, for travel, I'd rather get a good 17" laptop.

Anyway, back to this device. If it's not perfectly suited to travel, then what's the point? Well, the point is supposed to be that you can easily move this from room-to-room at home, used as either an All-in-One OR a tablet. That's kind of cool--provided your home is big enough to justify it. You need to work that you for yourself.

On the whole, I found this to be (to my surprise) more fun and useful than I expected. No, once the "hey look at me" novelty wears off, I can't see taking this with me out of the house. But I did find the very large tablet mode continually alluring and I'm using it in lieu of my other tablets (smaller, lighter) more than I originally expected. In terms of performance, I found the I3 processor more than sufficient for anything I'd want to do (light gaming, heavy Web surfing, watching streaming video like Netflix or Youtube). It has no issues whatsoever running Microsoft Office, either, which is something my other tablets (other than a Surface RT) can't even begin to do. Ditto with Photoshop Elements, etc. CPU hogs like video encoding were predictably slower than when performed on my much more powerful desktop. But they didn't bring the system to its knees, either.

The ergonomics are fine: Rubberized feel around the edges is a nice touch, and there's a built in kick stand that allows only one stand-up position, but is fine for All-In-One use. (Demerits to Dell, however, for not including the nicer charger/stand and instead charging $100 for it as an option). Connectivity options are mediocre: A couple of USB 3.0 slots and wireless internet, along with a media card reader (thankfully...) But no HDMI, no video out of ANY kind (which means this device is a dog if you need something to take around with you for professional presentations...unfortunately).



Intel I3-3227u processor is sufficiently fast to do most anything you'd want to do on this tablet (there's an optional I7 processor; most people won't be able to tell the difference except for very cpu intense processes, such as video editing)
4Gb memory is sufficient (an optional upgrade bumps this to 8Gb; few will notice the difference)
Nice high resolution graphics: 1920x1080
Fast to boot
Bluetooth 4.0
Media card reader ("8 in 1")
Pretty good sound quality for a tablet

Built in front-facing webcam is adequate, not great (720p = 1280x720)
Included wireless mouse and keyboard are pretty generic
Uses basic Intel integrated graphics. Fine for most purposes. Will not thrill hardcore gamers
Glossy screen suffers standard reflection issues when viewed head-on

Uses last generation "Ivy Bridge" processor. New "Haswell" processors get much better battery life with same performance and will assuredly be in next version of this product
Mediocre battery life (~4 hours)
No video out (no HDMI, no video display port, nothing)
No wired eithernet port (you will have to buy a USB-to-ethernet adapter if you need wired ethernet. It has wireless, of course).
Base model uses a old style 5400rpm spinning hard drive, rather than a faster, more reliable SSD (SSD available in more expensive models)

Corsair USB 3.0 Flash Voyager GS (CMFVYGS3-128GB)
Corsair USB 3.0 Flash Voyager GS (CMFVYGS3-128GB)
Price: $109.48
34 used & new from $109.48

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great drive for raw file storage (great read and write speeds); somewhat stodgy and unimaginative case, December 2, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a hefty drive, both in terms of storage (128Gb) and in terms of physical construction (brushed aluminum). In an age where many of the recent drives are enclosed in plastic, a hefty metal housing is something of a novelty. That said, the design of the casing is strictly old school: Large, with a removable cap. Personally, I prefer designs that keep the cap attached to the housing--I have lost too many removable caps in my time...

But, ultimately, for any modern large capacity flash drive, the big question is: How fast is it? Because if you have 128gb to fill, and you can't fill them fast, you may well take hours to take advantage of that capacity (or even days, if your drive stinks).

I ran CrystalDiskMark 3.02 x64 (the standard drive performance test program) and attained the following results, averaged over 3 runs and a 1000Mb test size. Results are:

Sequential Read (block size = 1024KB): 281.2 MB/s
Sequential Write (block size = 1024KB): 173.4 MB/s
Sequential Read (block size = 512KB): 213.0 MB/s
Sequential Write (block size = 512KB): 1.516 MB/s
Sequential Read (block size = 4KB): 5.629 MB/s
Sequential Write (block size = 4KB): 1.287 MB/s
Sequential Read (block size = 4KB, QD32): 7.367 MB/s
Sequential Write (block size = 4KB, QD32): 0.790 MB/s

The read and write speeds for the moderate sized (1028KB) files are very very good, and are in line with the speeds promised by Corsair on the packaging and on their website.For most users who will use this drive to store and/or read standard data (e.g. music or video files, documents, etc.) this is the speed test of greatest importance. If you're in that group, you can't go wrong with this drive.

The read speed for the 512KB files is also very good.

The write speed for the 512KB files, on the other hand, is very slow. This is not unusual for flash memory USB drives, but it indicates that this drive is not optimized for writing very small files.

The 4K speeds are mostly of importance to those who either plan on running an operating system from this drive or else will be running certain types of programs from the drive. In these cases, a lot of small files (or fragments) will get written to the drive. The write speeds of this drive are relatively anemic and this drive is not well suited for this purpose.

If you don't plan to run an OS or programs directly from this drive, then the 4K (and 512K) speeds aren't that important, and you should, as noted before, simply focus on the 1028KB speeds.

Ultimately, this is a super fast drive if you're looking for raw storage--for a place to store your files for reading and writing. It's highly recommended for that purpose. Those looking for advanced functionality (OS on a stick, etc) should look elsewhere.

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