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Logitech Multimedia Speakers Z213 (2.1 Stereo Speakers with Subwoofer)
Logitech Multimedia Speakers Z213 (2.1 Stereo Speakers with Subwoofer)
Price: $29.99
8 used & new from $29.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Good value for the price, July 1, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
If you are looking for value in terms of sound quality from desktop speakers versus cost, then the Logitech Z213 speakers deliver. Over the years, I have tried speakers from several speaker companies for my computers and I have always returned to Logitech. I use the speakers with my laptop as well as my iPod. The sound quality of these speakers is very good, but not amazing. However, you really cant expect more at this price. The highs are not very bright and I would certainly say that the speakers tend to emphasis the low frequencies. This is especially true with the option of producing a lot of bass from the subwoofer. You can control the amount of bass using a knob on the subwoofer. I rarely have the woofer turned up very far on a day to day basis because the subwoofer can really deliver to the point of being excessive. But, the offer of a lot of bass is very nice if you are playing games or watching movies.

The two speakers are small enough to sit on a desktop without claiming a lot of space. The speakers are angled so that the drivers can be directed toward the ears of someone sitting at the desk. I have the subwoofer sitting under the desk. A cable runs from the port on my computer to the control pod which sits on my desktop and then to the speakers. The control pod allows you to control the volume and to turn the speakers off without having to find the power switch on the subwoofer like some other models. And a nice feature if you wear headphones at times is that there is a 3.5mm-compatible headphone jack on the control pod. The port is convenient if you have a desktop which is under your desk.

Overall, the Logitech Z213 multimedia speakers are good value for the cost.


WordPerfect Office X7 Standard
WordPerfect Office X7 Standard
Price: $213.99
28 used & new from $213.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much more streamlined than Word and a good alternative, June 26, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was happy enough with Word 2007 with its ribbon and new look. But, when work switched to Word 2013, I began to get frustrated with the software. To save a file in Word 2013, you have to change where you are on the ribbon and go through several clicks. A new document? Several more clicks. It seemed that everything from inserting shapes to changing document metadata became more complicated. So, I was looking for a viable alternative to Word 2013 and found it in WordPerfect X7.

I am typing this review in WordPerfect X7 after having used it for a few days. Going to WordPerfect from Word 2007 or 2013 is a surprise because the layout is very much like the earlier, 2003 version of Word. The top row has the familiar headings of File, Edit, etc and the buttons are listed below. Gone is the ribbon that appeared in Word 2007 which while slick, added more keystrokes to perform the same tasks. Buttons were all right there at the top of the page and making edits only required one click rather than going through the ribbon.

It took some time to get used to the new program, but that is expected. Typing was easy, but setting up my default file the way I liked it too some time. As a word processor program, it is straightforward once you learn where everything is.

A feature that WordPerfect supports that Word does not is Reveal Codes. The Reveal codes alloy you to control the document formatting. Word does this with styles but all it takes is to have your settings wrong in Word when you are pasting text from different sources and suddenly you have a tangled mess of styles in one document. Reveal Codes makes it easier to set the formatting for specific lines of text. The codes are not for everyone and by default, they are shut off.

Another nice feature is the flexibility of the file formats which you can edit and save. If you want to save as an Open Document (.ODT), it can do that. Or as a PDF, WordPerfect (WPD) or HTML. A bonus is that you can create fillable PDF files with WordPerfect. The person using the PDF will be able to enter information into the field you create and save the file. If you want to share documents with Word users in the current, docx format, you will need to download a plugin from Microsoft. WordPerfect tells you this the first time that you try to save in this format and directs you to where you get the download.

Overall, I have been pleased with the simplicity and flexibility of the program once I customized the way it was setup. However, customizing the toolbars was not as straightforward as it should have been. There was one button on the text property bar at the top of the page that kept flashing up each word I typed. It was very distracting to see something constantly blinking as I tried to concentrate on what I was doing. I tried to remove the button from the property bar, but without success.

There are a few other problems as well that should not exist in a mature software package at this price. For example, WordPerfect can not update the number words on the page or the number of pages in a document automatically. You have to click on the number to refresh them.

Overall, WordPerfect is a good alternative to Microsoft Word for word processing. The streamlined design and formatting are easier to use that Word 2013, once you get used to the layout. If you are unsure, you can download a trial version from the Corel website. It allows you to try the software for 30 days before you buy.


Power PDF Standard, English
Power PDF Standard, English
Price: $76.24
18 used & new from $75.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid PDF software, June 19, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
With a streamlined interface and enough controls for most users, Power PDF is a good choice for a PDF writer.

I have a copy of Adobe PDF Professional, but I needed PDF writer on a second computer which is why I considered Nuance Power PDF. The primary reason that I was interested in a PDF writer was to create PDF files of Word 2007 documents that include equations. Saving the documents with equations using Word’s option to save as a PDF results in files without equations. I also wanted the ability to mark up PDF files, to write comments and to secure and encrypt the files for distribution, all of which required a PDF writer. Power PDF was capable of these tasks and more.

The interface for the software is for the most part uncluttered and straightforward. After initially playing with the software for a few minutes, I had no problem from that point finding the commands that I was familiar with in Acrobat. I actually prefer the layout in Nuance Power PDF than the Acrobat X Professional that I am currently using. The menu headers at the top and the big buttons are visually cleaner than the Acrobat interface. However, I didnt like the way that Nuance has followed Microsoft in that when you click on the File heading to save the file, the document is hidden and all of the document properties are shown. You then have to click on a different heading to be able to see the document again. But that is minor annoyance.

The creation of PDF files from Word documents using the Power PDF tools in Word was straightforward. Using the tools in Word, I could change the settings so that Power PDF used the document headings as bookmarks, for example. However, an annoyance while creating PDF files from Word documents is that while Acrobat Professional just creates a PDF file and then opens it for you to view, Power PDF shows all of the actions in Word during the process. I really don’t need to watch the software as it highlights links and then moves to the next one. I just want it to work silently in the background and then open my file. Power PDF does neither by default.

Settings such as the security settings are very much like those of Acrobat where you can restrict editing and you can set what elements are encrypted.

Overall, I was surprised at how easy Power PDF was to use. There are enough options for most users and there is an advanced version available for those who want more capability. There is also an option to try before you buy via the Nuance website, but they only have a trial version of the Advanced version, not the Standard version.


CyberLink PowerDVD 14 Ultra
CyberLink PowerDVD 14 Ultra
Price: $77.99
4 used & new from $77.99

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great player, but the software changes your file associations and searches your computer for media files without first asking, June 12, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Summary
Power DVD 14 Ultra is a multi-media powerhouse that is capable of playing all of the multimedia on you computer whether it be movies, photos or music. The interface is easy to use and for ease of use I would give five stars. However, the software is very invasive in that it changes your file associations and searches your computer for media without asking.

Review
I have used Power DVD for years since it came preinstalled on my Dell laptop. However, the version installed on my laptop would not play Blu-Rays and so it was time for an upgrade. VLC media player is an option for those who are willing to go through the effort of making that work, but for the majority of people who just want to effortlessly play movies, Power DVD is probably one of the players under consideration.

The interface for Power DVD is very slick and probably one of the nicest looking players currently available. The controls are intuitive and straightforward. I found changing settings to be easy, but sometimes I had to change the settings more than once for Power DVD to take my changes.

PowerDVD 14 is a universal player in that it can play almost any type of video file, including Windows Media (WMV), QuickTime (MOV), MKV and AVI formats. The program can also be used to view your digital photographs and play your digital music files. The Blu-ray player software supports all high-definition audio formats, including DTS and Dolby Digital as well as 4K. For the majority of people, Power DVD will be able to play all of their media.

Normal playback includes hardware acceleration, but there’s also a CPU mode with TrueTheater enhancements which will make media such as playback from a DVD look more high definition. I had a play with this and the controls are great. You can even split the screen so that you can see the changed and unchanged versions of the video.

However, there were several really annoying problems with the installation of the software. By default, Power DVD wants to be your media player and once installed, will scan your computer searching for your photos, music and videos. If you dont want Power DVD to search your computer, you need to find the menu which lists the folders included in the software's library and remove them. However, while you are doing this, the program will be busy searching until you convince it to stop. I didnt want Power DVD to be my media player or to organize all my files and so removed the My Music and My Photos folders from the library, but then had to do it again when Power DVD added the folders again.

Power DVD associated all media files with Power DVD so that by default, they open with the program. Other programs such as the VLC media player ask before doing this because it is very invasive, but Power DVD gave no warning. I found that my photographs in raw as well as TIFF and DNG formats were no longer associated with Photoshop, but instead opened with Power DVD. Since I want to open those files with Photoshop for editing, I had to the Power DVD settings, disassociate the file types and then associate them correctly in Windows Explorer. This was really annoying since I had to spend time fixing everything to the way it was and the Power DVD should have prompted me first to see of changing all of my file associations was acceptable.

PowerDVD 14 comes with a one-year 10GB subscription to Cyberlink Cloud, which allows you to sync media to the Internet and play it with the Power Media Player app. There is also a Power Media Player app, which supports streaming or copying your media across iPad, Android and Windows 8 devices. Lastly, there is an application for both iOS and Android devices for controlling playback on your computer via your phone.

Overall, a great movie player packed with features. However, be aware that the program will try to incorporate all of the media on your computer. If you are ok with this, it is a handy feature, but it really should be an optional one.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 12, 2014 2:35 PM PDT


Datacolor SHD100 SpyderHD (Black)
Datacolor SHD100 SpyderHD (Black)
Price: $344.00
4 used & new from $344.00

5.0 out of 5 stars A complete color management kit for both photographs and video, May 25, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Color management is essential if you want your images to look as good on other monitors or in print as they do on your own monitor. I have been using the Spyder4Elite for several years and have been pleased with the calibration results. I used to use the Xrite i1 Display Pro, but found that the Spyder4Elite gave more consistent calibration results if you change the default settings in the program.

The use of the Spyder Checker and the Spyder Cube allows for an easy and convenient way to obtain white balance and tonal corrections that can be applied across multiple images which have been shot under the same lighting conditions.

Overall, the product is a complete color management kit. The only downside is a lack of documentation which can be corrected in part by downloading the manuals from the Datacolor website.

My review looks at the use of the Sypder4Elite, the Spyder Checker and the Spyder Cube separately since they are used to perform separate tasks.

Whats in the box?
- Spyder checker
- Spyder cube
- Sypder4Elite
- Several discs including:
- Spyder4Elite HD software
- Spyder4TV HD Blu-ray Disc Test Patterns
- Spyder4TV HD DVD PAL Test Patterns
- Spyder4TV HD DVD NTSC Test Patterns
- Straps provided for mounting the Spyder4Elite on a television.
- Very nice metal case for carrying it all

Documentation
The documentation provided with the kit is minimal. I went to the Datacolor website to download PDF files of the manuals.

Setup
The software installed easily on my Windows 7 64 bit and Windows XP 64 bit computers. However, I had problems registering the software which is a necessary step to use it. Each time that I tried to activate it online, I would get an error, so I contacted customer support via the Datacolor website. I received a response within 24 hours despite initiating my request on a Saturday. Customer Support told me the problem was my firewall or my security software not allowing the Datacolor software to send information over the internet. The solution was simple. I tried to register again, but this time, I chose the "register by mail" option. This then allowed me to go to the Datacolor website to enter my codes manually to activate my software instead of the software sending the codes. This was a simple workaround to the problem.

Once the software was installed, I plugged the colorimeter into a USB port, but found the device was not recognized. The documentation specifically states that the colorimeter should not be plugged into front ports, powered hubs, monitor or keyboard ports. The documentation also recommends unplugging all of your peripherals, but that seemed overkill to me and I left my keyboard and mouse plugged into their USB hub. My laptop only has three USB ports and the Spyder4 Elite colorimeter would only work if plugged into one of them. If found the same problem when I plugged in my Spyder4 Pro colorimeter. However, I had no problem with desktop computers not recognizing the colorimeter, even when I used the front USB ports which the Spyder4 documentation recommends against using.

Calibration
A nice feature about the Spyder4 software is that calibration is straightforward for simple calibrations. You simply choose the type of monitor that you want to calibrate (laptop versus external LCD or a CRT). You set the target values that you would like for the calibration and recommended values for the Gamma, Brightness and Temperature are noted and you choose which monitor is to be calibrated if more than one display is attached to your computer.

The first step is an optional ambient light check. Based on the ambient light, new values for the brightness and temperature are recommended. You are next instructed to use the monitor controls if applicable to adjust the RGB settings. The default setting of the Spyder4 software only allows you to use the monitor controls to adjust the RGB gains if your monitor allows you to set temperatures. This in my opinion is a problem since other calibrator allowed you to change each RGB channel. However, under the advanced features, there is the option to adjust each of the RGB gains. Although setting the temperature is faster, I have found that setting the individual sliders brings the RGB gains more in line with what you are trying to achieve than the monitor's temperature settings. I certainly recommend only using the sliders and not the temperature settings.

In addition to setting the RGB gains, you are asked to adjust the brightness of the display to the desired target. Instead, you need to change the brightness using the monitor controls and then click a button and wait for a new measurement. Once the brightness is set, the calibration resumes. You are asked to change the display's brightness again before the presentation of the color swatches begins.

At the end of the calibration process, the software displays an image that you can view both with and without the new color profile. It is possible to tweak the calibration using SpyderTune which allows you to use sliders to change the white point, gamma and brightness. It is also possible to see how well the calibrated monitor matches the sRGB, CMYK and Adobe RGB color spaces. I really appreciated being able to determine how well my monitor produced the color spaces. You can also compare past calibration results to the current calibration to see which better matched the color space. The best that I was able to achieve was 98% sRGB and 76% Adobe RGB. However, I also like to view the RGB curves to be able to see how much each needed to be adjusted to match the desired Gamma and temperature. Fortunately, this is possible under the Tools pull down menu at the top of the screen.

Analysis of the Profile
The Elite versions offer an advanced analysis option for analyzing how well the calibration met the settings you selected. The analysis includes:
- Gamut
- Tone response
- Brightness and contrast - at different settings of the brightness but only brightness, not contrast settings
- White point at different OSD settings
- Screen uniformity
- Color Accuracy
- A final report card of the monitor's performance based on the results of the tests

I found these tools to be very useful for helping me to understand how well my monitors were matching the temperature, Gamma and brightness that I wanted. However, a limitation is that you can not change the set of colors which are used for the assessment. The Xrite software allows you to choose different patch sets for the analysis.

SpyderChecker
The purpose of the SpyderChecker is to correct the colors produced by your camera in different lighting conditions. This is done by creating a custom preset for different conditions in Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) that you can then apply to other photos.

The steps to create the preset include taking a photo of the Spyderchecker patches with your camera. The SpyderChecker patches can be mounted on a tripod and this is important because to create the preset, the dimensions of the patches in the photo need to be correct relative to each other. The calibration shot is loaded into Lightroom and after some adjustments to the image based on the 20% grey, the white and the black patches, the image is sent to the SpyderChecker software. Once in the SpyderChecker software, the program automatically determines the positions of the swatches and fits each with a sampling square. If you took your calibration shot from any angle other that straight on, the sampling squares wont align properly and you will need to start again. If everything looks good, you save the profile as either a Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw preset and then exit.

To load the preset into Lightroom, you must first exit the program. However, I never found the preset to load automatically. I needed to manually import it into Lightroom. Loading the preset in to ACR was done through the HSL tab and I did not need to exit ACR first. The way that the SpyderChecker preset works is that it adjusts the Hue, Saturation and Luminance (HSL) color sliders. Normally these are zeroed when you import a photo. That SpyderChecker changes the sliders to non-zero positions is a negative in my opinion. As I work with the photo, I cant tell what changes the preset made and what changes I made later. I would have preferred that the sliders be zeroed before I started any other work.

The SpyderChecker documentation advises that changes to the photograph will be slight when the preset is applied and this is very true.

SpyderCube
A reference image taken with the SpyderCube is used to set the correct white balance, as well as to define the white, black and mid-tone points by measurements based on the white, black and gray faces respectively. This in turn identifies any clipping, where areas in the image fall between the black face and the black trap, or between the white face and the chrome ball.

The SpyderCube is practical because it is portable and can be hung, stood or tripod mounted. The SpyderCube is a great because it provides suitable reference points for images which might otherwise be difficult to meter. The adjustments can then be applied to all subsequent images captured in similar lighting conditions, regardless of whether it is for raw processing or for a batch of JPEGs or TIFFs.

As with the other Spyder components, I found the manual that came with the kit to be lacking, but I was able to get more information from the DataColor website. However, nothing was straightforward with the SpyderCube. For example, the instructions tell you to make adjustments until the grey is correct, but there is no indication of how to do this or what target values should be chosen. A Google search revealed the target values for my color space and it seems that DataColor could have included targets for a few of the most common color spaces in the instructions.

Recommendations
The Spyder4 Elite offers a very effective means of easily calibrating your monitors. Overall, I was really impressed by how well the Spyder4 Elite worked using the advanced features. The whole calibration experience was a lot less frustrating than that using the Xrite software. I would recommend the Spyder4 Elite over the Xrite i1 Display Pro due to:

- the Spyder 4 software is more user friendly than the Xrite sotware
- both offer the same features if you are willing to look for them in the Spyder4 software
- the Spyder4 can calibrate multiple monitors on the same computer

The SpyderChecker and the SpyderCube offer convenient ways to obtain consistent white balance and color in the images. If you then take a number of photographs under the same lighting conditions, the use of the SpyderChecker and the SpyderCube is a real time saver since you apply the same presets to all of the images. Could you color correct on your own base on components of your image? Yes, but the use of the SpyderChecker and the SpyderCube it is much easier and the results are more consistent.


Bose® StayHear® Tips - Medium (2 Pairs)
Bose® StayHear® Tips - Medium (2 Pairs)
Price: $10.34
4 used & new from $8.99

3.0 out of 5 stars If you have the Freestyle earbuds, consider buying the StayHear+ Tips instead, May 9, 2014
I have the Bose Freestyle Earbuds, Ice Blue and these StayHear Tips are the ones that came with the earbuds. I reviewed the Freestyle earbuds and thought the sound was average at best. I received a comment to my review that I should try the Bose® StayHear®+ tips - medium (2 pairs) instead of these ones. The StayHear+ Tips forms a cup around the earbud which gives a very good seal around the earbud which has the benefits of making the earbuds very comfortable to wear and sealing off the ear canal from outside noise. The sound quality of the Freestyle earbuds improved dramatically. The tighter seal allowed for better lows and a much richer sound. Plus the StayHear+ tips are more comfortable to wear.

I recommend considering the Bose® StayHear®+ tips - medium (2 pairs) instead of the StayHear Tips if you have the Freestyle earbuds. They are the same cost, but the StayHear+ Tips cause a significant improvement in the sound quality and are more comfortable to wear.


Bose Freestyle Earbuds, Indigo
Bose Freestyle Earbuds, Indigo
Price: $129.95
12 used & new from $119.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Average sound quality but for a few dollars more, the sound quality can be dramatically improved, May 8, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I originally found the sound quality of the Bose FreeStyle ear buds to be only slightly above average. The gel tip for the ear buds provided very little isolation from environmental noise and I found that they didnt fit very well. However, Robert Esposito (see comments below) suggested that I try the Bose® StayHear®+ tips - medium (2 pairs) instead of the gel tip that came with the ear buds. It was a brilliant suggestion. For ten dollars more (the cost of the gel tips), the sound isolation was improved and more importantly, the sound isolation improved the sound quality of the ear buds dramatically. Plus I find that the StayHear+ gel tips are more comfortable. If you buy the FreeStyle ear buds, please also buy the StayHear+ tips in your size.

Original Review -----------------------------------------------------------
I have several Bose headphones and ear buds and I have always been impressed by the Bose products. Impressed that is, until now. Although the FreeStyle earbuds reproduce a wide tonal range including bass despite not having a good seal around the earbuds, the sound quality is only a bit better than average which is not what one would expect for the price.

Fit and Comfort
Bose earbuds are different than other brands because they include an extended flexible wing which is basically a extension of the gel cover that sits on your outer ear to add stability and therefore comfort. I never feel the flexible wing once it is in place, but I do feel that it does help to keep the earbuds in place.

What Bose calls the StayHear Tip is a gel cover for the earbud. Three different size StayHear Tips are provided with the earbuds. The gel material is soft and supple. The tip is formed into a funnel shape and the funnel extends into your ear canal when the earbuds are in place.

However, although I tried using all three size tips, I never felt that I could get a good fit in my ear. I also have a pair of Bose 20i earbuds and the gel tips for the 20i are very different. The gel cover of the 20i forms a cup around the earbud which gives a very good seal around the earbud which has the benefits of making the 20i very comfortable to wear and sealing off the ear canal from outside noise. In contrast, the FreeStyle gel tips never really feel like they sit properly. They are still comfortable and the lack of a tight seal means that I can wear them all day. However, the lack of a tight seal means that the FreeStyle gel tips provide very little noise isolation.

Cord
The cord of the FreeStyle earbuds is relatively short (a little more than 3 ft long) compared to headphones, but this makes sense since the earbuds are meant for use while being active and you dont want a long cord bouncing around while you are running, for example. There is a bright, red clip on the cord to hold it in place. There are also controls on the cord for use with Apple products. I tried to use the controls with my Android phone and although I could stop and pause music and answer calls, I could not control the volume using the controls on the cord.

Sound Quality
I have been using FreeStyle earbuds for the past week while listening to different types of music. I have found the sound quality of the FreeStyle earbuds to be uninspired. There is nothing really wrong with the sound quality in that they give a well rounded, wide tonal range from the sub bass of dubstep to the highs of classical music. But, although pleasant enough, the sound is not rich. The lows are there but dont stand out and the highs are not bright. Although these aren't studio headphones, the sound is probably close to a flat response. At this price range, I would expect to be amazed by the sound and I wasnt.

I compared the sound quality to that of my Bose 20i earbuds and they were a world apart. The sound quality of the 20i was so much better. However, to be fair, the 20i have an inline amplifier for when the noise canceling is on. But, even with the amplifier off, I thought the 20i were still better.

Summary
Overall, the Bose FreeStyle earbuds are average earbuds. The sound quality is good but not great. I found the fit of the earbuds to be a bit off. Nor do the gel covers provide much isolation from environmental noise.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 6, 2014 1:11 PM PDT


Bose SoundTrue Headphones Around-Ear Style, Black
Bose SoundTrue Headphones Around-Ear Style, Black
Price: $179.95
11 used & new from $159.99

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly clear, balanced sound and extremely comfortable to wear, May 1, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Whats in the box?
In the box you will find the SoundTrue headphones, a carrying case and the cord to connect the headphones to a device. I like that the cord can be completely removed from the headphones which makes the cord easy to replace. The carrying case is different than that for the Bose QuietComfort headphones in that it is rectangular and not as rigid.

Appearance
The headphones are very subdued. Mine had a matte black finish. The Bose logo is also in black and barely noticeable.

Comfort
Bose excels at making comfortable headphones to wear and these are no exception. The cushions on the headband and earcups are soft and comfortable. My Audio-Technica ATH-M50 feel tight on my head, but the Bose SoundTrue headphones are not. The earcups rotate and the length of the headband is adjustable, allowing the user to get a good fit. The SoundTrue headphones are extremely lightweight. So much so that I forget that they are on my head. I could easily wear these headphones all day.

Sound Quality
I evaluated the SoundTrue headphones using my iPod, an Android phone and two computers, none of which were attached to an external amplifier.

The first time that I put on the SoundTrue headphones, I felt that they had a very flat, uninspired response. I normally use as pair of Audio-Technica ATH-M50 which have a richer response. But, as I listened to a range of music including classical, pop, rock, ambient and dub step, I realized that I was hearing components of the music that I have never heard before with any of my headphones including my Bose AE2 headphones. The clarity of the music was astonishing. It is not a rich sound, but it is very clear. What I was hearing was surprising and I kept lifting the headphones off of my ears because I wanted to make certain I wasn't hearing environmental noises.

For example, when listening to Why So Serious? on the Dark Knight soundtrack, I was surprised by how much low frequency rumbling I was hearing. I had never heard this part of the song before. The guitar played in Sueño Con Mexico by Pat Metheny was amazing and I heard every note played and the fingers moving on strings.

The wide range of sounds produced by the headphones is also amazing. I listened to the new Lindsey Stirling album, Shatter Me and I found that the violin was sharp as were the sub bass components.

However, if you are looking for muddy, booming base then these are not the headphones for you. The flat response means that the low frequencies are not emphasized. Instead what you get is a very accurate reproduction of the music. Nor are these studio headphones. There is still some enhancing done by the headphones.

Microphone
The controls and microphone are for use with Apple devices. I could use the controls to pause and start the music on my Android device, but that was the only functionality available.

Conclusions
Overall, these are amazing headphones. Music is reproduced with such clarity that I hear components to songs that I never knew were there. The sound reproduction and the comfort make this a recommended pair of headphones.


Fluke Networks LSPRNTR-200 LinkSprinter 200 Network Tester with WiFi
Fluke Networks LSPRNTR-200 LinkSprinter 200 Network Tester with WiFi
Price: $299.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast, easy to use network diagnostic tool, May 1, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The LinkSprinter is from Fluke Networks which is a division of Fluke Corporation. The LinkSprinter is a small, network trouble shooting tool. It is great for testing the wired side of the network prior to installing a wireless access point. The LinkSprinter offers network testing features found on some of Fluke's more expensive devices but without the screen offered by the other devices. However, results can be viewed online or on your mobile device.

The LinkSprinter is tiny and can easily fit into a shirt or pants pocket. The LinkSprinter is yellow, of course. There are six LEDs on the front face to display the test status. There is an Ethernet port on the bottom. The LinkSprinter uses two AA batteries. Alternatively, when connecting to a Power over Ethernet switch, the LinkSprinter doesn't require batteries.

Setup
Setup was very easy and the supplied instructions were very good. You must first set up an account. This includes the usual getting a validation email. You then enter the code on the back of the unit and then plug it into an Ethernet connection. After that, the website did the rest including updating the firmware.

There are a few options under settings. One option is to test 1Gb which is by default shut off. Disabling the 1GB test saves battery life, but limits the device to testing 10/100 speeds. Other options include Auto-Off, the IP address which is either DHCP or static, the target website for testing and the name of the wireless network as it appears on your wireless device. I found that changes to the settings did not take immediately. I usually had to run a test or two before the new settings such as the target web address were implemented by the LinkSprinter.

Testing
The testing is very easy. Simply connect the LinkSprinter via a Ethernet cable and press the power button. That initiates the test and the LinkSprinter does the rests. Lights on the front of the LinkSprinter show the progress of the test. The results of the test will be logged on the LinkSprinter website a few seconds later and an email is sent to your email account with the results. The results include:

- PoE: LinkSprinter even runs without batteries on Power over Ethernet
- LINK: Ethernet connectivity, Link Speed 10/100/1000 BASE-T, Full/Half Duplex, Receive wiring pair and Polarity.
- SWITCH: Discover Ethernet Switch Name, Model, Slot, Port and VLAN
- DHCP: Request an IP address, or use your own static IP
- Gateway: Verify the router/gateway address and Ping response time in milliseconds (ms).
- Internet: Verify internet connectivity by connecting to a website and port you designate or pining a specific address.

The results are stored on the cloud. From the website, you can search for specific events and reports can be generated as PDF files.

Wifi
One of the nice things about the 200 is that you can view the results over a wireless device. Setup is straightforward. You press the power button on the LinkSprinter twice, enabling wireless. Then on your mobile device, you choose the LinkSprinter wireless connection and type a the given IP address (172.16.9.9) into your browser. Only the browser on the wireless device is used. The testing does not require the installation of an Ap. Once connected, the network is tested and the results shown on your wireless device.

I found the first connection with the LinkSprinter to be very slow. But after that, once connected to the wireless device, the results too about ten seconds to acquire.

The wireless connection is a nice feature. However, since you could also just browse to the LinkSprinter website or just read the email that you receive from LinkSprinter after a test, the wireless connectivity of the 200 is really a decision of cost versus convenience.

Cloud Service
Up until the 22 April, Fluke was asking for a fee to use the cloud service for viewing and storing test results. Fortunately, Fluke has dropped this fee so now the purchase price is the only cost involved.

Summary
Very portable and very easy to run tests. I certainly recommend the LinkSprinter 200.


Amprobe AM-560 Commercial HVAC Digital Multimeter
Amprobe AM-560 Commercial HVAC Digital Multimeter
Price: $80.71
5 used & new from $79.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Great multi-meter loaded with features but lacking true RMS measurements, April 26, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This was my first Amprobe multi-meter and I have been pleased with it so far. According to Amprobe, the AM-560 is designed for HVAC measurements such as temperature with dual thermocouples, a low pass filter and capacitance. In comparison, the AM-570 is specified for professional electricians. It appears that the main difference between the meters other than the cost is the 570 offers true RMS voltage measurements whereas the 560 gives an average of the peak to peak cycle.

The meter feels rugged and has survived a few bumps and drops. The display could be larger, but I have had no problems reading the numbers as long as there isnt a glare on the plastic screen cover. The display can be backlit with the push of a button, but the light turns off after a few seconds. The rotary switch spins easily enough even when the meter is propped up using the stand. There is a hierarchy of settings for each position of the rotary switch. The different settings are shown in white and yellow on the face of the meter, but I have a difficult time distinguishing the two colors in certain lighting situations such as bright light on the meter face.

The meter comes with two Type K thermocouples and two test leads. If you try to connect any of the test lead incorrectly for the selected measurement, the meter will beep repeatedly to tell you that you have made a mistake with the setup. The meter also beeps whenever buttons are pressed and there doesnt seem to be a way to turn this feature off.

The features of the multi-meter include those that you would expect such as:
- AC/DC voltage up to 1000V
- AC/DC current
- resistance
- frequency
- capacitance

Additional features include
- flashlight which can be handy
- dual thermocouples to simultaneous measure temperature in two locations and to compare the values
- low pass filter for measurements on variable frequency drives
- non contact voltage detection where the meter can detect voltages nearby without being connected via the probes
- diode test
- auto and manual range testing
- peak hold
- min / max memory

The manual is ok, but very little information is given beyond the basics. Different measurements setups are shown and there are figures showing how to connect the test leads.

Pros include:
- lots of features for the price
- the test leads can be stored in slots on the back of the multi-meter
- a carrying case is included that fits the test leads and the multi-meter well

Some negatives include:
- the fuses can not be accessed without taking off the rear cover
- the audible beep can not be turned off
- the backlight for the display stays on for only 25 seconds. While I can understand the need for it to turn itself off to conserve battery power, it would be nice to be able to manually keep the light on for instances that you are making measurements over time.
- the non-contact voltage detector is only for voltages above 90 V.
- the lack of true RMS

Overall, a good multi-meter which is loaded with features. However, if you need true RMS, consider the 570 instead.


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