Amazon Fire HD 7

October 14th, 2014

Amazon have just released their new tablet range, the Fire HD 7. The range offers 8 and 16 GB options, and a series of colour options, black, magenta, white, citron and cobalt.

Fire HD 7, 7″ HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black

Price: $139.00

3.9 out of 5 stars (173 customer reviews)

1 used & new available from $139.00

The tablets are coolly priced at $139 for the 8GB model and $159 for the larger 16GB one.

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Polk Audio N1 Gaming Sound Bar

September 1st, 2014

With the gaming fraternity squarely in its cross-hairs, the Polk Audio N1 Sound bar offers ‘The Single-Speaker Secret to Great Gaming Audio’. A wild claim may be? Not according to the reviews that are floating around for this piece of kit.

Polk Audio N1 39-Inch Bluetooth Soundbar

Price: $149.97

3.7 out of 5 stars (45 customer reviews)

25 used & new available from $149.97

The N1 will connect up to the gaming console of your choice with its 6 foot (2 metre) digital optical cable and will blast forth the audio from your gaming sessions. Microsoft has collaborated on the Polk N1 and it consequently has a couple of modes specifically for Halo and Forza Motorsport.

Our concern with the N1 is that by providing an output for a sub-woofer that this implies the bass is a bit lacking in the unit. This is mentioned in some of the reviews but of course at least the sub-woofer output allows you to beef up the sound if required.

Polk Audio N1 Sound Bar features and specifications

• Collaboration of game designers and audio engineers.
• Connects directly to your console
• Dolby® Digital and Polk’s patented SDA® Surround Sound Technology
• Customized, optimized audio built in

Polk Audio N1 Sound Bar reviews

Amazon – 4 out of 5
PC Mag – 4 out of 5
Crutchfield – 4.8 out of 5

Pros – Simple setup, design, multiple inputs
Cons – not for audiophiles

An average score of 4.3 out of 5 based on these 3 reviews.

The reviews are very positive claiming the Polk Audio N1 works well across the spectrum of audio. So whether you’re into gaming, movies or music, the Polk Audio N1 could well be your audio solution.


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Bose CineMate Series II

October 30th, 2012

We’ve been looking at Bose gear a lot recently, so rather than halt the trend we’re going to continue with a quick peek at the CineMate Series II 2.1 sound system today. This compact 2.1 home theatre system sports Articulated Array speakers and is specifically aimed at users looking to hook up a sound system to their TV. There’s a simple setup, with a four button easy to use remote control.

Bose CineMate Series II specifications

* 2.1 channel configuration
* 2 speakers and sub-woofer, all wired
* Integrated Amplifier
* 1 x Optical audio input (SPDIF)
* 1 x audio line-in

The key with the Bose CineMate Series II is it’s ability to fool the user into believing that they have full surround sound produced by just two speakers. Bose reckon they do this, and describe the process with a couple of boffins in the video below.

Bose CineMate Series II video

Bose CineMate Series II reviews

Amazon – 4 out of 5
CNet – 3.5 out of 5
Epinions – 3 out of 5
BestBuy – 4.4 out of 5

Pros – Ease of use and setup, sound quality
Cons – Lack of treble/bass controls

An average score of 3.7 out of 5 based on these 3 reviews.

Whilst the 3.7 score for the Bose CineMate Series II doesn’t exactly light up the home theatre sound system world, the reviews are not massively negative. So if you’re looking for a sound system for a spare room or may be just have a small lounge the CineMate Series II may be what you’re after.


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Bose CineMate 1 Speaker Bar

August 27th, 2012

We confess, we like soundbars, nice shiny soundbars. Of course they may not pump out the greatest quality sound in the world but if you’re looking for a compact alternative to multiple speakers and trailing cables then a soundbar is what you are after. And today we are looking at the CineMate 1 soundbar from quality speaker manufacturer Bose. Unfortunately with that ‘quality’ tag comes a high price and US$1,499 is not cheap by anyone’s standard. But let’s first look at the numbers and then the reviews before closing our wallet on the CineMate.

Bose CineMate 1 SR Home Theater Speaker System (Black)

Price: $799.95

4.0 out of 5 stars (111 customer reviews)

30 used & new available from $799.95

Bose CineMate 1 features and specifications

* Wall-mounted option for soundbar
* ADAPTiQ audio calibration system – funky system that sets up the CineMate to suit your room
* PhaseGuide sound radiators work with TrueSpace technology to ensure the sound gets to where it’s supposed to be!
* SmartSource input selection system to ensure the best quality sound source is selected
* Wireless Acoustimass module – no nasty cables!
* The remote control is programmable to enable use with other gear
* Soundbar – 4.9 x 36.8 x 2.4 inches ; 7.8 pounds
* Acoustimass module – 11.1 x 14.7 x 7.6 inches ; 13.8 pounds

Bose Cinematic Video Review from B&H

Bose Cinematic 1 SR reviews

Amazon – 4 out of 5
BestBuy – 4.4. out of 5
Crutchfield – 5 out of 5

Pros – Design, wireless subwoofer, easy calibration
Cons – Cost, no HDMI inputs

An average score of 4.47 out of 5 based on these 3 reviews.

Despite the glowing customer reviews, we’re going to give the Bose CineMate 1 SR speaker system a thumbs down. There are too many negatives that just grate for our liking, no HDMI, no iPod dock and there are a number of ‘satisfied’ customers who readily admit that for movies and games they’d rather have a 5.1 system. Whilst we realise that a soundbar is never meant to fully replace a surround sound system in terms of audio experience, asking someone to pay $1500 for an inferior product is a touch cheeky if you ask us.

If you disagree and/or have the Bose Cinemate 1 SR then please comment on your experience below


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KEF T305 Home Theatre System Package

March 5th, 2012

The slim line T Series speakers from KEF make their T305 Home Theatre System worth checking out. As well as being space-saving the 35mm thin speakers look stylish too and despite their small size they deliver on power. And in general the reviews say that the sound quality, which of course is what it’s all about, of the KEF T305 matches the stylish slimline looks. Interested? Then read on ….

KEF T305 Home Theater System – Black

Price: $2,199.99

4.9 out of 5 stars (9 customer reviews)

2 used & new available from $2,199.99

KEF T305 Home Theatre Specifications
T301 speaker
• (2) 4[1/2]-inch woofers
• 1-inch tweeter
• Included wall mount plate and desktop stand
• Horizontal T301c center speaker also available
• 23.6 x 5.5 x 1.4 in; 3.3 lb.

T2 subwoofer
• 10-inch driver powered by 250-watt Class D amp
• Line-level input only
• 15 x 14.6 x 7 in; 28.6 lb.

KEF T305 Home Theatre Reviews

Amazon – 5 out of 5
Home Theater – 5 out of 5

Pros – styling match for panel displays, excellent sound, strong subwoofer
Cons – Price

Whilst we struggled to find a lot of reviews for the KEF T305 Home Theatre System, the ones we did all gave it 5 out of 5. The only fly in the ointment was the cost but we feel in the speaker system market you do pay what you get for. Want better sound quality? You pay more money, as simple as that. So needless to say the KEF T305 Home Theatre Sound System package gets a big thumbs up from Our Picks.

An average score of 5 out of 5 based on these 2 reviews.

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Bose SoundDock Series II

February 12th, 2012

Today we’re taking a quick look at the stylish Bose SoundDock Series II iPhone/iPod speaker system. This music system certainly looks the part with the usual high standard Bose design and apparently it packs a punch too. The only downside that we can find is that a may be a bit too pricey for some people’s taste. However the SoundDock Series II certainly gets top marks on sound quality which of course is what it’s all about with a speaker system.

Bose SoundDock Series II 30-Pin iPod/iPhone Speaker Dock (Black)

Price: $169.95

4.3 out of 5 stars (940 customer reviews)

26 used & new available from $128.06

Bose SoundDock Series II Features

* Award-winning performance plus versatile features
* Ideal for use in kitchen, bedroom, living room—practically anywhere in your home
* Remote controls basic iPod® functions including playlist navigation
* Auxiliary input for use with other sound sources, like MP3 or DVD/CD player
* Compatible with most iPhone® and most iPod models
* Remote control (extra) handles power, volume, track seek and iPod playlist navigation from almost anywhere in the room
* Auxiliary input lets you play other audio sources, such as a portable DVD player, CD or other MP3 player

Bose SoundDock Series II Reviews

Amazon – 4 out of 5
CNet – 4 out of 5
iLounge – B recommendation
iPhone Speaker Reviews – 9 out of 10

Pros – Sound quality, Ease of use, Design
Cons – Cost

Despite it’s price tag, the quality and style of the Bose SoundDock Series II forces us to give it a big Our Picks thumbs up.

An average score of 4.2 out of 5 based on these 3 reviews.

Here’s a quick video from a Target store taking by a customer of the Bose SoundDock Series II demo.


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Sony HT-CT150 3D soundbar system

June 8th, 2011

Today we’re going to take a look at the Sony HT-CT150 3D sound bar system currently on offer at Amazon for $195. Obviously with such a low price tag you’re not going to get a great soundbar system but judging by online reviews for the HT-CT150 it’s not a bad system either. The main feature that all reviewers seem to mention is the 3 HDMI inputs which of course means you can hook up all sorts of hi def gadgetry to the soundbar. According to the Sony blurb rear sound is not generated by bouncing the sound off walls but rear sound is generated from the front two speakers using sophisticated digital sound processing which we hope means it may be easier to set up that a ‘wall-bouncer’ system. But of course it’s all about the sound quality and here are some snippets from the reviews we found

Other sound bars have caught up in terms of sound quality; we found that the HT-CT150 still sounds very good, but it’s not a standout performer as the HT-CT100 was. – CNet
well tuned for movies – voices are clear and distinct, even at low volume – ProductWiki
surround effect is clearly audible, simulates rear audio well – ProductWiki

Of course, hearing is believing, so it’s probably best you check out the audio quality for yourself, but the reviews do seem to speak well, if not highly, about it. Anyway enough rabbiting from us, here are some hard facts and reviews with a video review as a bonus

Sony HT-CT150 soundbar description

* Audio Power Output: RMS: 75W x3 +75W Subwoofer (180-20kHz, 4 Ohm, 1% THD)
* Digital Amplifier: Yes
* S-Master Amplifier: 24bit
* Coaxial Audio Digital Input(s): 1
* DIGITAL MEDIA PORT: 1
* 3 x HDMI Video Inputs
* 1 x HDMI Video Output
* 2 x Optical Audio Inputs
* 2 x RCA Audio Inputs
* Bass/Treble control
* Night mode
* Preset EQ: Standard/ Movie/ Drama/ News/ Sports/ Game/ Music/ 2ch Stereo/ Portable Audio
* Power Consumption (in Operation): 75W
* Power Consumption (in Standby): 0.3 Watts
* Power Requirements: 120V, 60Hz
* Dimensions (Approx.): Subwoofer: 7-3/4″ x 17-3/4″ x 16-1/4″ (196 x 450 x 410 mm); Sound Bar: 31-1/2″ x 2-9/16″ x 2-5/16″ (800 x 66 x 60 mm)
* Weight (Approx.): Subwoofer: 23 lb 3 oz (10.5 kg); Sound Bar: 2 Lb 13 oz (1.3 kg)

Sony HT-CT150 soundbar reviews

CNet – 4 out of 5
ProductWiki – 60 ProScore
Amazon – 4 out of 5

Pros – 3 HDMI inputs, excellent sound quality
Cons – limited placement options, subwoofer isn’t wireless, bar needs to be mounted off floor

Our Picks verdict

There are a number of limitations on the Sony HT-CT150 soundbar, namely the remote control receiver being on the sub-woofer, its unsuitability for larger rooms, but of course with such a low price tag there will always be minuses to any product. However it’s sound quality does seem to get a thumbs up, given a small room, so we like the Sony HT-CT150 and give it our own thumbs up.

An average score of 3.66 out of 5 based on these 2 reviews.

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