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David Pearlman "sound fanatic" RSS Feed (Arlington, MA)
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Dyson V6 Motor Head Cordless Vacuum
Dyson V6 Motor Head Cordless Vacuum
Offered by Amazing Store (No Tax)-
Price: $354.80
55 used & new from $286.50

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A light vacuum constructed around a high end rechargable handheld entirely defies expectations as a full service vacuum, June 19, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Dyson has another winner here: A light vacuum constructed around a high end "dustbuster" type rechargeable handheld entirely defies expectations as a full service vacuum.

Those who've followed my reviews know I had a love/hate relationship with an early version of Dyson's handheld. That model, from several years ago, was great at picking up dirt, but had a ridiculously short battery life run time, and also suffered from some electronics problems that manifest themselves after about a year.

Fortunately, Dyson learned their lessons on that model, and followed it up with a newer handheld that both improved battery life (mostly by cleverly adding a lower power mode that is still plenty powerful for most tasks) and improving the electronics. That one was a winner out of the box, and remains a winner in my household.

This, the Dyson V6 Motor Head cordless, basically adds full upright vacuum functionality to that second generation handheld.

I have to say that I was skeptical. I assuredly wanted this to work. While I have a decent top-of-the-line Sears/Hoover full-sized vacuum, dragging that beast around to vacuum the stairs is a pain and a half. Not to mention the difficulty one has using such a vacuum to get to hard-to-reach places such as under beds, in tight corners, etc. So if--IF--this Dyson worked the way they promised, it would be great. But it was hard to believe that relatively light handheld could properly power the rotating pickup heads and not suffer from weak suction.

Amazing, however, it DOES work. Considering how light and portable this thing is, you might even say it works shockingly well.

First, a note about run times. As mentioned above, in more recent portable models, Dyson introduced the concept of low and high power modes in their second generation hand helds. The default mode is low power, and run time in that mode is around 20 minutes. (In my testing, I got 22 minutes). In high power mode, you only get 6-7 minutes, tops. So the real question is: Is low power enough? I thought it wouldn't be. But in my cleaning experience, I found only a SINGLE instance where I needed to use the high power mode (removing a ton of cat hair from a cat bed). I think it's safe to say that in standard use, low power is adequate. And that means that the advertised run time of around 20 minutes is realistic.

Alright, so how does it do? To test it, I first used the vacuum (with the standard direct drive head) on a low rise, dense carpet that had JUST BEEN VACUUMED with my top-of-the-line Sears/Hoover vacuum). In other words, it was a carpet that looked pretty clean. I was amazed and perhaps shocked that from this supposedly clean carpet, the Dyson portable was able to pull a ton of additional dirt. (See the attached photo; this was the contents of the dirt jar after cleaning that "clean" carpet). OK, so now I'm a believer.

The vacuum worked equally well on hardwood floors, and had no trouble picking up standard dirt from such floors.

One thing I absolutely love about this vacuum is that because it's so light and nimble, and because the head is pretty much all cleaner head from end-to-end (unlike the large pickup platter on a standard vacuum), it can get into very tight corners, and can get really close to the walls. This means it's really good at picking dirt in those places that standard vacuums usually miss.

I also tested this vacuum on a particularly difficult floor: The one in the "cat's" bathroom, i.e. the room where the cat's litter box lives. The floor in that room is constantly a mess of wayward litter pieces and cat hair. (Yes, yuck). There, I found that I could do pickup with the standard head though that mess, but I found I had to make several passes and some of the litter pieces got strewn around several times before I got them picked up. (Higher end models of the V6, but not this one, come with a "soft roller" head that works better in these cases; if you have a pet who makes messes, you might consider one of those models. Note that the central vacuum in all V6 models is identical).

A few additional notes: This vacuum did a great job on heavier throw rugs with a tight weave, but was pretty worthless for plush shag throw rugs. When used on the latter, the rug would get sucked into the vacuum and the head would stop rotating. I imagine similar problems might be encountered on an installed plush loose shag carpet. Also, the hand-held vacuum around which this full length vacuum is constructed can, in fact, be used as a simple hand held. All the other pieces can be removed to allow you to use the handheld alone. For that use, I found that this vacuum was basically as good (no better, no worse) than the standard Dyson hand held. It's much more expensive than the hand held alone, of course, so if you don't plan to use the attachments, then you should just get the hand held.

On the whole, this is a great piece of engineering that functions remarkably well and defies reasonable expectations for what a portable handheld vacuum might be able to do. It works quite well even in low power mode, which means that run times of around 20 or so minutes are realistic.

Dyson offers four different models in this V6 series, and all are powered by the exact same handheld vacuum. The differences are in some of the included attachments and whether there's a post motor filter. My suggestion would be that if you don't have any animals at home, probably any of these models would be sufficient (look for cheaper, such as this one), but if you have a shedding animal, the added attachments that come with the higher models (soft roller head and mini motorized tool) may be worth the extra cost.
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Dyson V6 Absolute Cordless Vacuum
Dyson V6 Absolute Cordless Vacuum
Offered by GIANT SAVINGS
Price: Click here to see our price
43 used & new from $350.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A light vacuum constructed around a high end rechargable handheld entirely defies expectations as a full service vacuum, June 18, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Dyson has another winner here: A light vacuum constructed around a high end "dustbuster" type rechargable handheld entirely defies expectations as a full service vacuum.

Those who've followed my reviews know I had a love/hate relationship with an early version of Dyson's handheld. That model, from several years ago, was great at picking up dirt, but had a ridiculously short battery life runtime, and also suffered from some electronics problems that manifest themselves after about a year.

Fortunately, Dyson learned their lessons on that model, and followed it up with a newer handheld that both improved battery life (mostly by cleverly adding a lower power mode that is still plenty powerful for most tasks) and improving the electronics. That one was a winner out of the box, and remains a winner in my household.

This, the Dyson V6 Absolute cordless, basically adds full upright vacuum functionality to that second generation handheld.

I have to say that I was skeptical. I assuredly wanted this to work. While I have a decent top-of-the-line Sears/Hoover full-sized vacuum, dragging that beast around to vacuum the stairs is a pain and a half. Not to mention the difficulty one has using such a vacuum to get to hard-to-reach places such as under beds, in tight corners, etc. So if--IF--this Dyson worked the way they promised, it would be great. But it was hard to believe that relatively light handheld could properly power the rotating pickup heads and not suffer from weak suction.

Amazing, however, it DOES work. Considering how light and portable this thing is, you might even say it works shockingly well.

First, a note about run times. As mentioned above, in more recent portable models, Dyson introduced the concept of low and high power modes in their second generation hand helds. The default mode is low power, and run time in that mode is around 20 minutes. (In my testing, I got 22 minutes). In high power mode, you only get 6-7 minutes, tops. So the real question is: Is low power enough? I thought it wouldn't be. But in my cleaning experience, i found only a SINGLE instance where i needed to use the high power mode (removing a ton of cat hair from a cat bed). I think it's safe to say that in standard use, low power is adequate. And that means that the advertised run time of around 20 minutes is realistic.

Alright, so how does it do? To test it, I first used the vacuum (with the standard direct drive head) on a low rise, dense carpet that had JUST BEEN VACUUMED with my top-of-the-line Sears/Hoover vacuum). In other words, it was a carpet that looked pretty clean. I was amazed and perhaps shocked that from this supposedly clean carpet, the Dyson portable was able to pull a ton of additional dirt. (See the attached photo; this was the contents of the dirt jar after cleaning that "clean" carpet). OK, so now I'm a believer.

The vacuum worked equally well on hardwood floors, and had no trouble picking up standard dirt from such floors.

One thing I absolutely love about this vacuum is that because it's so light and nimble, and because the head is pretty much all cleaner head from end-to-end (unlike the large pickup platter on a standard vacuum), it can get into very tight corners, and can get really close to the walls. This means it's really good at picking dirt in those places that standard vacuums usually miss.

To test the soft roller attachment, I moved on to the "cat's" bathroom, i.e. the room where the cat's litter box lives. The floor in that room is constantly a mess of wayward litter pieces and cat hair. (Yes, yuck). I could do pickup with the standard head though that mess, but I found I had to make several passes and some of the litter pieces got strewn around several times before I got them picked up. Replacing the standard head with the soft roller, the vacuum then moved through the mess like butter. The stuff got picked up and sucked down like nobody's business. If you don't have a situation like that, I'm not sure I believe that the soft roller head (which does not come with lower modes of the V6) is something I'd pay extra for. But it's definitely nice for situations like the one I described.

The other attachments that only come with the higher end models of the V6 are the mini soft dusting brush (supposedly for vacuuming things like keyboards) and the mini motorized tool for sucking up heavy pet hair from furniture, etc. I found the mini soft dusting brush to be relatively inessential (the standard tools are fine if used with a little care). The mini motorized tool was nice for things like really getting into the crevices of a cat bed stuffed with cat hair. (And this is the one situation where I found myself using the high power mode). But if you don't have a pet, as is the case with the soft roller, I can't imagine it's worth paying to get the models with this attachment.

A few additional notes: This vacuum did a great job on heavier throw rugs with a tight weave, but was pretty worthless for plush shag throw rugs. When used on the latter, the rug would get sucked into the vacuum and the head would stop rotating. I imagine similar problems might be encountered on an installed plush loose shag carpet. Also, the hand-held vacuum around which this full length vacuum is constructed can, in fact, be used as a simple hand held. All the other pieces can be removed to allow you to use the handheld alone. For that use, I found that this vacuum was basically as good (no better, no worse) than the standard Dyson hand held. It's much more expensive than the hand held alone, of course, so if you don't plan to use the attachments, then you should just get the hand held.

Finally, it should be noted that this model has a second dust filter AFTER the motor (all models have a filter in front of the motor). The claim is that this second filter results in air coming out of the vacuum that is cleaner than standard room air. I have no reason not to believe this, though after substantial cleaning I did not see much evidence of a lot of particulate matter being captured by this second filter. So it may be a nicety, but I'm not entirely convinced it's essential. Then again, I am not extremely sensitive to dust. Those who are may feel differently.

On the whole, this is a great piece of engineering that functions remarkably well and defies reasonable expectations for what a portable handheld vacuum might be able to do. It works quite well even in low power mode, which means that run times of around 20 or so minutes are realistic.

Dyson offers four different models in this V6 series, and all are powered by the exact same handheld vacuum. The differences are in some of the included attachments and whether there's a post motor filter. My suggestion would be that if you don't have any animals at home, probably any of these models would be sufficient (look for cheaper), but if you have a shedding animal, the added attachments that come with the higher models (soft roller head and mini motorized tool) may well be worth the extra cost.
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Claber 8420 Aquadue Duplo Evolution Dual Outlet Digital Water Timer
Claber 8420 Aquadue Duplo Evolution Dual Outlet Digital Water Timer
Price: $101.69
4 used & new from $86.44

1.0 out of 5 stars Overpriced timer with limited longevity and lousy interface. Find another option., June 14, 2015
What you have here is a poorly made water timer with a terrible (non intuitive) interface. I owned the previous version of this timer (pretty much the same) and it lasted exactly two seasons before it started to leak water like crazy and became junk for the trash bin. I looked at this model (which a friend bought) and there are essentially no changes in the features that stink.

At the price they are charging, you'd expect better. You won't get it. Save yourself some cash and buy a cheaper timer with a better interface. There are lots of options. They won't last more than a couple of seasons, but neither with this one.

Buying one of these is a major regret on my part, one that I won't repeat, and one that I hopefully will convince you not to repeat.


WD My Passport Mac 1 TB Portable External Hard Drive (WDBJBS0010BSL-NESN)
WD My Passport Mac 1 TB Portable External Hard Drive (WDBJBS0010BSL-NESN)
Price: $69.00
12 used & new from $56.00

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sleek external hard drive with good ergonomics, and very good read/write speeds, June 5, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It's truly amazing how small external hard drives have gotten. At this point, it's hard to imagine there's any way they'd be able to reduce the size further without shrinking the actual hard drive inside.

This compact and sleep package holds a 1Tb laptop drive and features a USB 3.0 interface. The drive is small enough to EASILY store in your pocket. Not that anyone would typically do that, but that helps give you a sense of the size (actual dimension are about 4.25"x 3.25" x 1/2").

In addition to the compact size, another nice feature of this drive is that is entirely bus powered. That means you connect the included USB cable to a standard USB port on your PC and you're done. No power brick. And it doesn't use two USB ports (the way some externals do). Note that the included USB cable is fairly short--about 1.5 feet. That's enough to sit next to your laptop or PC, but only just. You could replace the included USB cable with your own, of course.

This drive comes pre-formatted for a Mac, and if you have a Mac, just connect it and away you go.

If you are using a PC, you'll need to reformat the drive. I use a PC, so I needed to do this. It's relative easy to do if you're comfortable with following directions. (Google "reformat hard drive from Mac to PC" ).

So then the question is: How well does this drive perform? Very nicely, in fact. Using the industry standard CrystalDiskMark to measure performace on a dedicated USB 3.0 connection, I got read and write speeds for large files of about 114 MB/s, which is very good, especially for a small factor laptop type (2.5") hard drive. (See screenshot attached).

On a USB 2.0 interface, I got read and write speeds of around 25-36 MB/s, so about 25% of the speeds across a USB 3.0 interface (to be expected). These is quite acceptable performance is demonstrates that for USB 2, the interface itself is the limiting factor (as you would expect/hope).

On the whole, given price, form factor, the nice ergonomics (fully powered by a single USB connection) and performance, this is assuredly a nice external to drop into your backpack/briefcase for on-the-go backups, or for a nice, quiet and uncluttered solution to adding some external drive space to a home PC.
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Glen Campbell - In Concert
Glen Campbell - In Concert
DVD ~ Glen Campbell
5 used & new from $421.85

4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully recorded concert from a mid/late career, cleaned up, re-energized Glen in great voice and full engaged., June 3, 2015
This review is from: Glen Campbell - In Concert (DVD)
What you have here is later-era Glen Campbell, after his unmatchable '60s/early '70s prime, but also after the really unfortunate late '70s-'80s era, when Glen was still working through his demons, the hits had dried up, and by any standard whatsoever live Glen was just phoning it in. (Very little guitar work, lots of lousy medlies of the hits, not much conviction in the singing).

By the time this show was recorded, Glen had cleaned up and he was once again obviously engaged with the music. And, somewhat surprisingly but most happily so, his voice is in very good shape, and he's still amazing on the guitar.

So what you have, then, is Glen when he had started to care again. And thank god for that. It's so nice to hear him sing the songs like they matter, and to sing them really well. He tries for, and hits, the hard notes. He takes a number of melodic guitar solo excursions that are wonderful to watch and which still serve the music.

And the orchestra is terrific.

On top of all this, the concert is extremely well recorded--both the picture and sound are top notch.

There are other live performances of some of these songs that are as good or better, and there are songs I wish were included here but aren't. But ounce for ounce, this is assuredly the very best live document of a full Glen Campbell concert that exists.

Any fan of Campbell (and, really, if you aren't, you should be...) really needs this.

PBS should reissue this post haste.


Datacolor S5EL100 Spyder5ELITE
Datacolor S5EL100 Spyder5ELITE
Price: $279.00
13 used & new from $244.12

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful & UNBELIEVABLY easy-to-use package for adjusting monitor colors Docked a star for problems with USB external monitors, June 3, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is one of those devices that--unless you're a professional working in computer based visual arts--you probably didn't know even existed. But once you know it exists, you can't believe you never used one before.

In a nutshell, this is a dead easy solution to calibrating your computer monitor. If you've ever tried to calibrate your monitor by eye, you probably discovered it's near impossible to do right. And what does "right" even mean? What are you adjusting to? Professionals have tricks and software and reference visuals to use. But even for them, it has traditionally been hard (and for some monitors, nearly a nightmare).

Enter Datacolor and their line of Spyder hardware. It's a great, complete solution: Software for calibrating is combined with a hardware detector. You install the software (available via a free download), attach the hardware detector to a USB port, hang the detector so it sits on your computer screen, then follow the directions. Extremely simple directions. And in about 10 minutes your monitor is properly calibrated.

I used the Spyder5Elite on several computers at home, calibrating different monitors. It was extremely simple to use and did a great job in improving the colors. Toggling the corrections on/off you could easily see the changes.

I'll admit that the uncorrected colors aren't absolutely hideous. But once they're corrected, you can also see how they were wrong. In particular, on one monitor the calibration removed a color cast that--one you see it--you can't believe you lived with before. The system even helped make a recent low end ASUS monitor that I own that has nightmare brightness issues (way too bright on lowest setting) almost bearable

That's the good news. The bad news? I found the software/system did not work properly with setups that used a Displaylink-based USB 3.0 adapter to add additional monitors to a system. This is a fairly common modern hardware solution to adding external monitors. But I found that the Spyder system failed to work properly with these systems. Either it would run through the calibration tests and then fail to apply any changes, or else, in one case, after calibrating multiple external monitors, it got confused and applied the wrong calibration to the wrong monitor. So if you have a system with external monitors connected via a Displaylink USB adapter, I don't recommend this solution.

The other thing to consider is cost. This package isn't cheap. So while I am utterly and completely happy and impressed with the performance on my monitors (for systems not using the Displaylink adapter), you have to ask yourself if this is worth the cost. As I mentioned, while the improvements this system makes are notable, it isn't as if the original colors are hideous and unusable. It's just that they aren't accurate. If you are a professional in the visual arts, I think these changes are UNQUESTIONABLY important and you just need to consider this an essential part of the toolkit. But if you are Joe Average who looks at his kids pictures on the screen once every few months, you may decide that the benefits--real as they are--aren't an imperative, given the cost.

In the end, I am extremely happy to have this, and I will be applying it to any new monitor or PC I purchase in the future. Amortized over a bunch of these, I think it will easily prove its worth.

I wish it worked with the USB based external monitors. That's unfortunate, and it's the reason I dock it a star.


Rockport Men's Luxury Cruise Penny Loafer, Tan, 10.5 M US
Rockport Men's Luxury Cruise Penny Loafer, Tan, 10.5 M US
Offered by Shoe Station
Price: $80.49
4 used & new from $80.49

4.0 out of 5 stars A hybrid penny loafer / boat styled shoe that offers more comfort than a lot of similarly styled shoes, June 1, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have more shoes than brains, including more dock shoes and penny loafers than I need. So these shoes don't so much fill a needed niche as they offer a bit of refinement on shoes I already have.

What does that mean?

Well, these Rockport penny loafers are actually kind of a hybrid of a traditional penny loafer and a dock shoe (think: Sperry Topsiders), with some athletic shoe notes.

Overall, the look is quite casual, and these aren't really appropriate as a dress shoe for work (unlike a more traditional penny loafer). In particular, there rubber heel runs up the full backside of the shoe, which suggests ideas taken from athletic shoes. The construction features some very prominent stitching taken from a dock shoe. And then there's the "penny" band on top. I'd call these appropriate with jeans or (possibly) shorts for weekend wear.

In terms of fit and feel, these definitely take more inspiration from dock shoes than from traditional penny loafers, which is to say that the shoe upper is generally soft and unconstructed--think a slipper.

Construction is decent. I'd say curb appeal is reasonable. These aren't going to make any jaws drop, but they get the job done.

As for fit: My pair fit pretty much exactly as expected for Rockport, i.e. correct length, correct width, and an adequately sized toe-box. These are cast for normal American feet, and your normal size will fit.

Comfort is pretty good. A lot of dock shoes fail here, offering nominal padding in the soul and often little/no arch support. These shoes, on the other hand, are nicely padded and there's a reasonable arch--although it feels as if it's positioned just a wee bit forward.

On the whole, I'd say if you're looking for a nice casual shoe in the boat/penny loafer category, these are well worth a look--particularly because they are a little more comfortable (due to cushioning and arch support) than many shoes in a similar category.


Monster Power Superstar High Definition Bluetooth Speaker (Black/Green)
Monster Power Superstar High Definition Bluetooth Speaker (Black/Green)
Price: Click here to see our price
20 used & new from $52.77

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Terrific portability and good ergonomics with average sound, May 27, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I think I'm going to need another room soon for all the portable bluetooth speakers I've accumulated. I don't share that with you because I'm asking for donations for my new construction project, but rather to let you know that I've listened to (and own) a LOT of these things. I've heard good, I've heard bad, and I've heard abysmal. They're aren't many of the latter, but neither are there very many that I'd call really good, either.

So how does this Monster Superstar stack up?

Well, before I tell you, let's talk about what you're getting here. You're getting one of the few bluetooth portable speakers that I'd call honest-to-goodness actually portable. As in, pocketable. It's a bit chunky, for sure, but it's small enough to fit in a big shirt pocket, or else in the pocket of a coat, and (unlike a lot of these so-called pocketables) it's not all that heavy--so you don't feel like you just put a 3 pound tube of Jimmy Dean Pure Pork Sausage in your pocket. It actually feels like it was designed to BE pocketable, and it's not just a word they put on the packaging when some marketing expert got involved at the last stage.

So I totally like that about this speaker.

The ergonomics and pairing are all pretty much par for the course. Everything works fine, the volume buttons on the box are easy to ID and use, pairing works like any Bluetooth device. There's nothing new to see here, so move along.

This speaker has a microphone built in, so you can use it as a speakerphone. That seems to work reasonably well. The people who listened to me when I tried it out said I sounded fine and they couldn't tell the difference between talking to me through this device and talking via the speakerphone mode on my actual phone. They didn't say I sounded BETTER through this portable speaker, mind you. So if you think this device will start to make you sound like James Earl Jones, think again.

Now comes the big enchilada: How's the sound quality? And here's where things fall down (hence my 3 star rating). First off, even at full volume, this thing is only kind of loud. For sure, it's way louder than your phone. But it's not loud enough to get the party started. Sorry Pink. It's pleasantly loud and you can use it to fill your small office with music. But that's about where things end. But, OK, it's also light(ish) and pocketable, so what do you expect? Unfortunately, the other thing about the sound is that this thing starts to distort at higher volumes. Bass? There isn't much in any case, but try listening to some bass heavy music at high volumes (as high as you can get out of this speaker, anyway) and you'll definitely hear some futzy distortion. Actually, I found the sound across the spectrum to be kind of annoying at full (100%) volume, so you probably don't want to go there on a regular basis. If you trim the volume down a bit, the distortion mostly goes away, but even there, I'd call the sound relatively clean, but not shimmering. Audiophiles need not apply. Actually, audiophiles will be appalled. So stay in your own private Idaho.

In the end, I like the ergonomics, and I really like how small/light this speaker is. I found the sound to be somewhat wanting, however. I guess that's the trade off. You can't really fool Father Physics, and there ain't no free lunches. Whether the trade off works for you will depend on...you guessed it...you...If you don't care as much for the portability factor, then I'd recommend something like the JVC Flip 2 or the JVC Jam: Better sound, but heavier and not really a thrill to drag around...Or if you don't need portability at all, there are a wide variety of larger bluetooth enabled speaker bars that plug in and (again, because Physics can't be denied) can offer better, fuller sound via much larger speaker elements.


Wilder Mind
Wilder Mind
Price: $10.61
52 used & new from $6.60

38 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ditch your banjomania expectations! This is a really solid collection of anthemic songs, May 5, 2015
This review is from: Wilder Mind (Audio CD)
You're going to read a lot of reviews where the reviewer can't get past the fact that, in terms of arrangements, this is a right turn for Mumford & Sons. Too bad for them. Because if you can get past that change, this is a really good album. In fact, to my ears, this is possibly their best album of SONGS. No, it's not a continuation of the nu-folk banjomania of the first two outings. But, honestly, I'm happy about that. That sound, which was a refreshing change from the status quo on the first outing, kind of started to feel like a hipster box by the second. I'm not saying I didn't like the first two studio albums, but I sometimes felt they were constrained by a reverence for a particular sound.

In advance of release, it was widely publicized that Mumford & Sons had, instrumentally, gone in a new direction here. My thought, when I read that, was "good for them; looks like they realized that that distinct sound was a straightjacket, and maybe they'll re-energize." Of course, it could have been a disaster. But it's not. Here you've got a clutch of tuneful anthemic songs that harness the best aspects of Mumford & Sons Mach I without a banjo in sight.

You could argue that the soundscapes here are not as distinct as on the first two studio albums. And I would concede that. But in the end, it always comes down to the songs and the delivery. And they score on both counts here. This is nearly everything good and important from the first two albums, sounding different but no less appealing.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 14, 2015 9:56 AM PDT


Philips Wake-Up Light with Radio, Silver
Philips Wake-Up Light with Radio, Silver
Price: $89.48
2 used & new from $84.51

4.0 out of 5 stars Cool clock radio that awakens you with both music AND light. Great for pre-dawn wakeups, less useful if you get up later, April 30, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
If, like me, you've ever had to get up in the middle of the night (to get to the airport, for example), you know how hard it can be. Not only are you getting up at a time your body is generally not prepared for, but the profound darkness makes it feel like you're 100 miles from the nearest bastion of sanity.

In a single word, it stinks.

And, if you're like me, then you've eventually discovered that if you leave the lights on when you go to bed, then it's not nearly as hard to get up at that ungodly hour. However, if you have trouble sleeping with the lights on, then this is hardly a solution.

Some clever minds at Philips have obviously had the same ideas. The result is this pretty cool clock radio. The idea is fabulously simple and yet effective: A clock radio combined with a light that slowly brightens the room as the alarm time approaches. You can set how long the light starts to ramp up before the assigned alarm time--up to 30 minutes. At full brightness, the light is reasonably bright, although it's not as if the alarm light would be a substitute for a room light under normal conditions. That said, it's DEFINITELY bright enough if the alarm/light is situated so that it faces you as you sleep--and that's the idea.

In my un-scientific tests (for three trips where I had to get up not only in the middle of the night, but in the middle of a COLD night--although this alarm does nothing to fix the temperature issue) I found that getting up with the light alarm was easier than it has typically been with a standard alarm and a dark room. I'm sold for this purpose!

Now some comments about the ergonomics and design. First off, this clock radio is sleek, easily passing the "cool looking" bedside test. It looks like it could be an iAppleSomething. In terms of alarms, you have three options: Two nature sounds (different variations on birds, which I don't like because they're a bit too soothing and don't have the necessary "oomph" to get me up in the middle of the night), and a standard FM radio. The FM radio was fine and seemed about average in terms of sensitivity. It picked up and held strong stations in the area, and that's all I need.

I found that setting the alarm and clock was pretty straightforward. The included directions are sufficient, but you can probably figure it out by trial and error if you have dealt with many/any electronic alarm clocks.

The light seems to ramp up pretty quickly once it turns on. I set it to come on 30 minutes before the alarm and it seemed to be at full brightness well within the first 10 minutes it was on.

This appliance has to be plugged in. It cannot be run off batteries, and really isn't designed for travel. So consider this a home appliance.

In total, I am sold on this as a clock radio for those nights where night doesn't turn into day before I have to get up. For normal evenings, where I have the luxury of sleeping well past the point where the sun rises, the usefulness of this clock radio over a standard clock radio is nominal. So day-to-day, if you are like me (and only occasionally have to rise before dawn) you may find yourself sticking to whatever it is you call ol' tried-and-true. But you COULD use this light/radio all the time.

One caveat: The time readout on the clock radio is always somewhat bright--even when the light is not on. I find this fine; I'm a sound sleeper. But if you the kind of person who requires ABSOLUTE pitch black to sleep, this will not be your best choice.


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