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Before You Buy 124
Coming up! You want the Moto X but you can’t afford it? We’ll take a look at the brand new G. Some new speakers that don’t look like rocks, and a pot that charges your smartphone. Plus Paul Thurrott here for his review of the brand new Surface Pro 3. It’s time to watch Before You Buy!
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Leo Laporte: Before You Buy is on the air. This is the show where we get the greatest, latest products, and sometimes some silly ones, and we give them to our staff and let them use them in real world circumstances to give you a great idea of what it would be like to actually own these. And then we tell you whether you should buy, or not buy them. We’re going to kick things off with a Brand new Surface Pro 3, Microsoft announced it last week. Paul Thurrott was at the event. He is, of course, the host of Windows Weekly, took his Surface pro 3 home, and he’s been using it for the last week. And he’s got a review. Hi Paul!
Paul Thurrott: Hey, how are you doing?
Leo: Thanks for doing this, a little bit of extra this week.
Paul: No problem.
Leo: You and Mary Jo both got Surface Pro 3s. Have you been using it like as your main computer for the last week?
Paul: Yeah. Every day. I really, really enjoyed this device.
Leo: Now we should say you’ve used every Surface…this is the third, obviously, in 18 months. You’ve liked all of them, is this the best surface yet?
Paul: Yeah, I mean these devices have always come with some kind of a compromise. The surface RT, Surface 2 run Windows RT which I don’t like. Surface Pro devices run windows 8, which I do like. But they were small for a laptop, the screens were small, they were kind of thick and heavy, they didn’t get great battery life. This device pretty much addresses all those complaints.
Leo: People are raving about the thinness of the surface pro 3.
Paul: Yeah, I mean, last year when they launched the surface 2, I thought how awesome would it be to have a pro device that was that thin, and it seemed inconceivable, but here we are less than a year later, and we already have it.
Leo: And this isn’t a compromise device in terms of the processor. This is kind of a standard PC specs, right?
Paul: Yeah, the review unit is an I5, 8 gigs of ram, 256 gigs SSD, but you can get it up to an I7, and if you don’t have as much to spend, you can get it with an I3.
Leo: How’s the screen on it?
Paul: Screen is beautiful. So it’s 2160 x 1440. Which is kind of a strange resolution but it’s a 3X2 aspect ratio. So it’s a little bit more like a piece of paper than your typical 16x9 screen, which looks really stretched out when you put it in portrait mode.
Leo: I can’t think of another windows laptop with a 3X2 screen. This is an unusual aspect ratio.
Paul: There’s nothing like it. I mean, you know, the iPad air, iPad mini have a 4x3 screen if I’m not mistaken. Which is close.
Leo: The only 3x2 device I know of is Google’s Chrome Book pixel, they’re a very expensive touch screen pixel, and at first it felt a little weird, but it’s a natural aspect ratio for Paper. For working with documents, things like that.
Paul: It makes me wonder why the PC world has gone to 16 x9 because 16x9 is great for movies, but how much time do we really spend watching movies on these devices.
Leo: So very high res screen. Is it 10 point multi-touch?
Paul: Yeah, 10. Multi-touch. It’s got an electromagnetic pen, which is awesome. I don’t personally use that kind of thing a lot, but it’s got one click access to one note. Its super sensitive, 256 levels of pressure sensitivity. It’s beautiful. The whole thing is, it’s a beautiful looking device. Its fast, it’s great. I mean, it’s not necessarily the first choice for a tablet, if you just wanted a tablet, I maybe look elsewhere, but if you want a device that kind of does it all, and is first and foremost a great Ultra-book, I don’t think there’s anything like it.
Leo: That’s what seemed interesting about this. Microsoft is positioning it more as a laptop than as a tablet. It’s kind of a laptop that can be a tablet if you really needed it to be.
Paul: Yeah, the Pro line has always been positioned against ultra-books. The RT/2 line has been pushed to tablets, but you know, this kind of follows that idea. It’s definitely an ultra-book first, and then a tablet second. But, you know, most of us need both of those devices. And for some people, especially people who travel a lot and really want to lighten the bag, this is a great idea. I feel like I should be showing it.
Leo: Yeah show it, let’s see it.
Paul: This is it in portrait mode, you see it’s not as reflective there, but it’s not super stretched out.
Leo: Yeah, it feels good. That’s one
advantages of 3X2 in portrait, it makes sense. And the pen, how many buttons?
Is it just a one button pen?
Paul: There’s actually three buttons. There’s a button on the top, and if you press it, it should go right into one note. And it does. To a new note.
Leo: That’s cool!
Paul: It’s neat because it works above the locked screen too, so if the machine is asleep and you walk into a meeting and you want to start taking notes, hit the button, and you’re in note taking mode immediately. And I really like that. There are two additional buttons on the barrel on the pen. One of them is for selection instead of writing, so if you want to grab things with the pen. The other one is for erase, instead of having the eraser be on the top, you can just push the button and erase with the tip of the pen.
Leo: The guy who does the penny arcade cartoon said, it’s the best machine he’s ever had for drawing his cartoons. So that means, I’m sorry, I’m going to call it a stylus. Microsoft want to call it a pen right?
Paul: It’s a subtle distinction, I don’t think we need to worry about the semantics of it. There was some concern because the Surface pro 2, and the original pro had a walkem stylus, or pen, and that had a 1024 pressure sensitive levels, but this one has less, but as Microsoft is telling us, and I’m not an artist, but just in playing with it myself drawing and so forth.
Leo: Yes you are! Wait a minute! You study graphic design! You are an artist’s!
Paul: I’m not longer an artist. I have in fact sold a painting professionally. But let’s move on, the point it I honestly, in my experience, this works perfectly well. I would think this looks great.
Leo: I would guess. I don’t know what the difference is between 256 and 1024 is, I don’t know how you could tell the difference frankly.
Paul: I don’t think most people could.
Leo: Battery life?
Paul: So I’m testing that. Microsoft claims up to 9 hours of web browsing battery life. I’m getting about 7 for streaming video. Actually it’s just video playback, it’s not streaming. That’s better than Surface Pro 2, but not as good as what they’re claiming. I’m going to take it on a road trip this coming weekend and give it some more real world time, but right now, in the office, I’ve been just blasting movies through it every day and seeing long it lasts.
Leo: That’s pretty good.
Paul; yeah, it’s pretty good.
Leo: So 12 inch high def. screen. The thinnest surface to date. Windows 8.1 Lets talk about the keyboard real quickly. It still has the type keyboard, which you snap on.
Paul: Yeah, and it’s a little different this time around. Obviously it’s bigger to match the device, but there’s a second magnetic connection that can occur. And what that does is allow the keyboard to attach more securely to the device. And also put the typing, sorry the keyboard part of it at an angle.
Leo: It does this little wedge up thing.
Paul: Yeah, and it looks hokey, which I first saw that I thought this is not going to work. This magnetic type thing, I’ll be pounding on the keyboard.
Leo: It’s weird:
Paul: But honestly, the typing position is good, and the stability is excellent. I’ve been very surprised by that.
Leo: Penne said it has lap ability.
Paul: Not my lap, but…
Leo: Alright. Traditionally on this show we’ll do pros and cons. On the pro side?
Paul: Well pro side, it’s a full PC, so you get the full windows experience, and you get all the versatility of windows in one box. That means pen, multi-touch, keyboard, track pad, with gestures in the track pad too by the way. Track pad is hugely improved in this mouse, obviously if you want that. The screen, I think, is the single greatest thing. The whole form factor is just amazing. 3x2, super thin, really portable, good battery life it seems, I’ll keep testing that one. Much less of a compromise than before.
Leo: How’s the audio?
Paul: Actually the audio is fantastic. The speakers, Microsoft says the speakers are 45 percent louder, and I have to say I only looked that up because I noticed how good the speakers were. I had music playing and I thought, that sounds like it’s coming out of a speaker system. That’s really nice. I’ve actually been kind of surprised by that.
Leo: Are there any cons?
Paul: Yeah, I mean, on the con side it’s still a PC, so you get that kind of baloney. It’s complicated, I’ve had issues with this device, and I think other users have, with power management. Microsoft says there’s a fix coming there. It’s a little big and a little unwieldy to use as a tablet, so if your primary directive here to get a tablet, I don’t think Surface Pro 3 is necessarily your best choice.
Leo: It’s a laptop, it’s really a laptop.
Paul: It’s a laptop first, but it can do that other stuff.
Leo: The pricing has to be a little bit of a con. It’s interesting, at the announcement, Microsoft compared it, they said it’s dollar for dollar exactly the same as the MacBook pro. Which could be very expensive.
Paul: That’s like it’s pound for pound as safe as a Volvo. They’re a little bit more expensive. So I think the I3 version, I believe, is $799, but that’s before the keyboard. You have to factor in the 130 dollars for the keyboard so that’s 930 dollars.
Paul: Which is upper end for the PC price scale. It goes all the way up to, I want to say 1950 bucks.
Leo: It’s almost two thousand dollars.
Paul: Before the keyboard.
Paul: So just under two thousand. That’s a pretty serious machine though. They’re getting the premium end of the scale.
Leo: Buy, try, don’t buy?
Paul: It you’re in the market for a PC, and you want a little more than your average ultabook, absolutely buy. This thing is really impressive. This is the Surface Pro I wish Microsoft had built two years ago.
Leo: There you go. That’s the tag line, the surface pro I wish they’d built two years ago. One thing before we let you go. I noticed they’re still advertising the Surface pro two?
Paul: Yeah, I noticed that to. I pointed that out to my wife, of course, we’re like everybody else and we skip the advertisements whenever we can, but it was the football player, and I stopped and went back, isn’t that the Surface 2? I can’t explain it, but this device doesn’t come available to buy until June 20th so obviously they want to get the existing inventory used up.
Leo: Will they sale both, at any point?
Paul: just until it’s sold out. The surface Pro 2 is going away.
Leo: This is the replacement for the Pro 2?
Leo: Just wanted to be clear. I wasn’t sure if there was two lines, or? But this is the replacement. Paul Thurrott, hosts Windows Weekly. He’ll be back tomorrow in fact, every Wednesday, 11 AM Pacific, 2 PM eastern Time, with Mary Jo Fully. He writes probably the definitive blog for Windows at WinSupersite.com and has many books to his credit, including the Windows 8.1 book. Which is @windows 8.1.com
Paul: That’s right
Leo: Hey thanks Paul, I really appreciate you doing that review.
Paul: Nice to talk to you.
Leo: It’s a buy, kids! Take care, Paul. We’re bringing in the experts on this show, because there’s really nobody more expert at reviewing PCs than Paul, Nobody better than to review an Android device than the host of All About Android, Jason Howell is here.
Jason Howell: Well thank you!
Leo: It’s nice to have you.
Jason: It’s good to be here.
Leo: And the Motorola G. This is the one Republic wireless is selling for what? 121 bucks?
Jason: Yeah. It’s pretty inexpensive. They have, I believe, no wait, now you’re thinking of the Moto E, the Moto E is the super low price of 129 dollars. This one is 179 3G.
Leo: That’s unsubsidized.
Leo: So a very low priced phone.
Jason: And it’s been around for a while now. It’s been around for I’d say 5 months but it’s become relevant again, because when it initially released it was only 3g, and it was priced at $179, still priced there, but they now have an LTE version for 229 dollars, all in. If the speeds are really important to you, you can get it for 229 bucks! That’s it! No subsidy!
Leo: Now let’s set the ground work here, do you like the Moto x? The high end Motorola?
Jason: I really do. My wife has the Moto X, I think it’s a fantastic, easy to like device.
Leo: Right. How does this differ?
Jason: This is, so it’s a little bit, it’s peeled back, and you have to imagine they had to cut some corners in order to get the price down further than the Moto X. It’s a 1.2 gigahertz, quad core snapdragon with 400. It actually lacks the S8 chip, which is the chip that had a lot of dedicated processing for…
Leo: That’s important. That’s the always on chip that’s listening.
Jason: Yep. So as a result, you lose a few extra things like active notifications, which is pretty great. Okay Google now voice commands, completely hands free, you don’t really have that here. The flick of the wrist to launch the camera. These things aren’t on the Moto G.
Leo: So this is pretty much making it just a plan Android phone. In fact they sell a Google play edition. Is that what we’re looking at now?
Jason: No. This is just the straight up Moto G. 3G version, it’s not the LTE version.
Leo: Although the Moto X was pretty much like a Google play phone.
Jason: Yeah, no this is too. I’m not aware of a google play version of the Moto G. I certainly haven’t used it. But yeah, you know, all things considered. The design takes a lot of the ques from the Moto X. It has the same style of back plate. And actually through Moto style, you can customize and get your own back plates.
Leo: Oh you can?
Jason: So you can get your style. The lowest cost one that was just recently announced, the Moto E, I’m not sure you can necessarily do that. But you know, it’s pretty great in that regard. One gig of ram so it’s cut down a little bit there. It’s a 4.5 inch HD display at 329 pixels per inch.
Leo: Smaller display. Same resolution, but smaller display.
Jason: Yeah, and I’ve got to say, the display is one of the shining points here. I think the trick when you’re peeling back from something like the Moto X from the Moto G and trying to save costs, you want to cut costs in ways that aren’t noticeable, or in ways that are passible, and I think the definitely did that. Super sharp, vivid screen. It was a perfect compromise in order to get the price down. You don’t really notice it. Design is definitely a little bit thinker than the Moto. I’d say a little bit heavier, but overall it still has that really nice kind of curved appeal to it. It feels really good when you’re making a call with it and you have it in your hand. It doesn’t feel like it’s going to slip out really easily, and all that kind of stuff. Definitely one of the down sides is the camera. It has, you know, a lot of the software functionality. You can do slow motion
Leo: That looks just like the Moto X.
Jason: Yeah, it’s got the same kind of UI and everything.
Leo: But you know, the camera on the Moto X wasn’t very good. So I wouldn’t expect this to be better.
Jason: No its definitely not, and actually Bryan if you want to take a look, some of the images came out okay, in good light. It was a mixture of good. That was decent light. And then the next one, you’ve got a lot of smudging.
Leo: It’s hard to keep up with moving kids.
Jason: Yeah, well particularly. Graininess. This is a video, I don’t know if it’s going to play, maybe it won’t play for you, but shout with the rear facing camera and, there we go. Just kind of choppy a little smeary.
Leo: Low frame rate it looks like.
Jason: Yeah. It wasn’t that good at shooting video. The times that I tested it out. It has an HDR mode, which I know I took a picture here in the studio with HDR and it really improved things.
Leo: We love watching your kids. I’ve got to tell you. Savanna is just adorable.
Jason: This is outside. Reasonable light, sharp. If you’re getting pushed in just a ton of light, you’re going to get reasonably good pictures out of it. Kind of blown out in the whites there.
Leo: Never very good on the low light shots, I have to say.
Jason: This is your HDR shot which kind of balances it out a little bit more, but maybe a little on the dark side. Liz was moving so obviously.
Leo: You can’t get a picture of Liz that’s not blurry.
Jason: She was bouncing there. So there you go, I think ultimately with the camera it’s another place they peeled back a little bit to get the price down, and you definitely notice it. So if pictures are essential, really important to you, something to consider there.
Leo: Now the Moto X didn’t have a removable battery or SD card, and this doesn’t either.
Jason: No it doesn’t. And that’s actually another downside. 8 gigs of storage on this, when you’re talking about no micro SD card slot. 8 gigs of storage, you can get 16 gigs of storage, I think, for 20 bucks more. You probably should do that. But that runs out fast. After all the stock stuff on here, you’re left with 5 gigs left over. And that fills up fast, if you’re a gamer. It performs well with gaming, but Dead Trigger 2 took up 500 Megs just on the download alone. So you’ve got to keep that in mind.
Leo: But you’ve got to remember, this is not a high spec phone for the high end of the market. This is a low cost phone.
Jason: No, but it’s reasonably specked considering that, you know.
Leo: Yeah. How about dual Sims. Is that a dual SIM phone? I think it is. I’m trying to remember, if they’re dual SIMS it tells you it’s not for the US market particularly.
Jason: No and it definitely stretches outside than just the US market for sure as far as that’s concerned. And then of course, same with the Moto X software is pretty much stock android. There’s a couple of extra aps in here. I already discussed enhancing the camera.
Leo: It has assist that’s great!
Jason: it has assist!
Leo: I love assist!
Jason: Great sleeping mode, meeting mode, that kind of stuff.
Leo: mmhmm. It knows when you’re driving.
Jason: That’s different. It doesn’t have the driving mode in here that I can find.
Leo: Oh, another missing feature.
Jason: Yes. Easy migration with Motorola migrate. There’s a Motorola FM radio that uses your headphones antenna.
Leo: Yeah, that’s the international market again, I think.
Jason: So that’s kind of nifty. I couldn’t get much reception out of it to be honest, but still kind of cool. And then like I said, it’s missing some of those other features like active notifications.
Leo: pros and cons?
Jason: pros; definitely the price, when you’re talking about unsubsidized 179 dollars for really pretty reasonable hardware here, you can’t beat it. The display, like I said, love the display. The design, I like it, I noticed some people who thought it was a little pudgy, but I honestly don’t feel that way. I thought in the hand, it’s a pretty comfortable phone to use. The software, I’m a succor for the kind of, less enhanced software overlays. Which is what you get here.
Leo: A cleaner Google experience.
Jason: A cleaner experience, exactly. And then the cons, the camera, and the storage, which I’ve already talked about, but all in all I think if you’ve got 180 dollars to spend or..
Leo: For a kid.
Jason: Absolutely, or if you want the LTE version 229 dollars is not too much to spend for these specs, I’d say buy.
Leo: A buy from All About Android Host Jason Howell. He’ll be up in a little bit, in fact, less than an hour
Jason: With Miriam Juara actually, Tank Girl.
Leo: Love Miriam Juara.
Jason: She was at a satellite even for the LGG 3, so she’s going to be talking all about the device that she played with.
Leo: Very good. Well that’s great. Thank you Jason.
Leo: Coming up we’re going to be taking a look at some wireless speakers, but before we do, how about a pot, that charges your phone? Let’s take a look.
Fr. Robert Ballecer: I’m Father Robert Ballecer, the digital Jesuit, and I’m taking a look at some geeky camping gear from Power practical. Meet the power pot 5, and you’ll never guess what this nuclear bomb looking device does. Actually you probably will, because it does what it’s named after. It’s a pot, for cooking, that provides power, but how it provides that power is what’s so geektastic. The power pot looks like a well-made 1.4 liter camping pot, a 2 piece design with the lid doubling as a bowl to scoop in whatever you might be cooking. Heat resistant wire handles fold flat against the bowl. Flipping out to give you carry capabilities. In use, the power pot is actually a damn good camping pot. The small size and 18 oz. weight is perfect for pack and it’s durable. Very durable. In fact, with somewhat careful usage, and storage for three months, I barley put any scratches into the hard anodized aluminum surface. What makes the power pot not just another well-made camping utensil, is the thermal electric generator and heat spreader built into the base of the pot. A thermal electric generator, or GTE is a device that converts heat energy into electrical energy. Not too long ago, I reviewed another thermal electric generator. The biolight camp stove, and it was brilliant because it allowed campers and outdoors folks to efficiently burn just about any slightly flammable material, while converting some of that heat into electric energy that both charged an internal battery, and powered whatever USB device you might connect to the stove. The power pot works much the same way at the biolight stove, converting heat into electricity. But while the biolight stove had a blower, a combustion chamber, batteries, and support members. The power pot is a solid state device with no moving parts. All TEGs work the same in that there’s a hot side and a cold side. When heat moves from the hot side to the cold side, you generate electricity. Now the trick is to keep the cold side cold. You need some sort of process to maintain that cold state, which means you need to draw the thermal energy away. If you don’t, the two surfaces become the same temperature, and then, actually it just stops generating electricity. But if you let that heat continue, eventually you’ll destroy the generator. The Biolight stove uses the electric fan to make sure the cold side stays the requisite number of degrees below the cold side. But without any moving parts the trick to the power pot is that it uses whatever you’re cooking as coolant. Okay, that’s enough of the theory. I’m sure there are people asking, that sounds all good, but how well does it charge? Well the answer in six words is it depends on what you eat. At full tilt the power pot can supply between .5 and 1 amp of five volt USB power. Enough to charge my galaxy S4 with about 4 hours of decent fire. However, since your food is a coolant and since the amount of power the power pot puts out and the amount of power transfers from the hot side to the cold side, the amount of power the power pot can provide, depends on what it’s heating. The power pot is designed for straight water, boiling water is perfect for generating power, because the steam carries away much of the heat. Keeping the cool side cool, letting you charge faster and longer. In fact, you must boil water to make the power pot charge properly. When I tried cooking kadetkuda, one of my favorite Pilipino dishes, I realized that i was about to destroy my power pot, because the high heat retention of the dish, eventually made the retention between the hot and cold side too small to generate power. Also, but seriously, without water you’ll destroy your power pot. The power pot five is available now. You can find it online for about 150 dollars. Let’s start with the pros and the first pro, has to be the durability. This black anodized surface is really good at warding off bumps and scratches. In fact, this is perfect for a pack or something that needs to be ready to go, or something that needs to be used outdoors. In the months of usage I see a little bit of wear, but most of the major dents have been avoided because of the construction of the device. The other thing, let’s be honest about this, it’s just cool. It’s cool to be able to generate power out of fire. We all like to have a device in case of an emergency, or in case of camping, we can charge the devices we want to keep charged with just a little bit of elemental fire. On the con side, I’d have to say the first thing is price. 150 dollars is a lot, even for a well-made camping pot. The other thing is that, well, in order for this to work properly you have to be boiling water. Now I have used it as a double boiler so that I can boil something else. Or I have gotten into the habit of boiling water and the pouring the water into the bowl. The other thing is that you need to keep some water at the bottom otherwise you will destroy the thermal electric generator. It’s a bit fragile at times and I worry about that. Still considering all those pros and all those cons. If I had to give the power pot from Power Practical a buy, try or don’t buy, the geek inside of me says it’s an absolute buy. I’m Father Robert Ballecer, with Before You Buy.
Leo: So a thumbs up with the charging pot from the… Am I wrong or did Father Robert Ballecer already review a pot that charges, I believe this is his second.
Chad: That was a different type of pot.
Leo: And you did it for the GizWhiz?
Chad: No, Dickey Dee, did it for the Gizwhiz, right.
Leo: I think we’ve given you sufficient coverage, we are the charging pot station.
Chad: Enough camping material that charges your devices.
Leo: Now everybody, this is OMG Chad, Chad Johnson, host of OMG craft, our cheese craft show. He makes handmade cheeses;
Chad: Card board and Yarn, not excluded.
Leo: He’s also the host of the newest show on the network, Reddit up.
Chad: So new it doesn’t exist.
Leo: So new it hasn’t happened yet, but it will any minute now. No we’ve done 6 betas now, and it’s a great show for people interested in Redddit. What is this here? This is a speaker lineup?
Chad: We have a plethora of speakers. I feel like the used car salesman of speakers. We’ve got speakers in Wood, we’ve got speakers in plastic, and we’ve got speakers in wool!
Leo: These two, the first two look normal, this one looks a little bit like a tuffit, so we’re going to get to all three of these speakers. Should we start with the Wren?
Chad: Yeah, so we’ll just go down.
Leo: Beautiful cherry wood, or mahogany.
Chad: Before we get to each individually, there’s some general things I want to say. These are all wireless speakers. For pros for all of them, they all have axillary inputs, and for the cons on all of them, none of them have pause, play, next buttons, on them. Except for this one which does have a single button right here, which you can click for pause and play.
Leo: but these are multimedia speakers that can be controlled by your phone or your tablet.
Chad: By your phone or tablets, absolutely. So with the Wren. This is only Bluetooth. Here’s how this lineup works. We’ve got Bluetooth only, Bluetooth airplay, Airplay only. So with the Bluetooth only, it’ll work with your IOS devices, Android devices.
Leo: Tablets, anything with Bluetooth.
Chad: Absolutely. That’s the rosewood finish, it also comes with bamboo.
Leo: It is more than a finish, it really feels like solid wood, it’s very nice.
Chad: They say that it’s a veneer but that is the best veneer I’ve ever seen. Because it actually has, I can see in our studio lights it has dimples where it looks like there’s real wood grain there.
Leo: It’s not only pretty, it looks like a good speaker.
Chad: Absolutely. This was my favorite in terms of design.
Leo: How about sound?
Chad: So let’s go ahead and play that. I have my iPad here, and I’m just going to use google play music to…
Leo: So you’ve pared all these to your iPad?
Chad: I have, so each one is going to work differently.
Leo: This one will work with anything right? Because you just need Bluetooth.
Chad: Right, because you just need Bluetooth. Right now it’s already pared, so I’ll just play some of this caravan panic, which is a band.
Leo: Wow that is some bass. I think that sounds pretty good.
Chad: So with this one it is good to know there’s two different audio. There’s the audio, the iPad is sending VIA Bluetooth, and this also has an AMP built in, so you can control the volume kind of twice. Which was a little confusing.
Leo: There is a volume control on the side here.
Chad: There’s a volume control on the side, there’s also a source selector on the side, and…
Leo: I’m looking for something that Henry could use, he could play from his IPhone in his college dorm room. I sent him a Sonos and it was no good because he can’t access the WIFI.
Leo: This you could use with Bluetooth, plus you can also plug something in, which is really important. Can you do stereo paring with this? Or is it only one.
Chad: No, it’s just one, it doesn’t have that sort of software.
Chad: Now the range on this is about 30 feet with Bluetooth. I was super surprised at how good the quality was. So pros, high quality Bluetooth audio, and just absolutely wonderful design and construction. On the cons, no airplay, if that’s the thing that you need, or if for some reason.
Leo: It’s not a con, it’s a limitation.
Chad: It’s a limitation, that’s true.
Leo: But let me hear the price, because that might be a con, this looks expensive.
Chad: Price is 399 dollars.
Leo: Yeah, okay!
Chad: That is something that all of these are in that price range. This is the upper class Bluetooth, you know.
Leo: Alright, 400 bucks, good sound though.
Chad: So buy, try, don’t buy? I’m going to give that one a buy. I really, really enjoyed that stereo.
Leo: Now this one is a little more portable, in fact, it even has a handle on it. It’s pretty heavy though.
Chad: Right. This one is from Cambridge Audio. Cambridge audio is a pretty big name in all audio gear.
Leo: They’re owned by Logitech, but they were standalone for a long time.
Chad: It’s slightly more portable, because it does have a handle, it also has a lot, it has, this is the most feature rich out of…
Leo: Look at all the buttons on the top.
Chad: The button on the top, that’s start, stop,
Leo: Presets too.
Chad: And all of these on the side, you have your normal power, volume, up and down. And these are buttons 1-5. Which can be kind of confusing if you’re expecting…
Leo: its presets though, right? To what?
Chad: For internet radio stations.
Leo: Okay, but that’s using their App, you have to use their app to make that work?
Chad: You have to use their app, not it comes with a preinstalled, but this was a British company so it comes with BBC1, BBC2, BBC3..
Leo: BBC1-5. That’s good, alright.
Chad: So if we hit two right now, we’ll be listening to BBC2.
Leo: And it turns it right on.
Chad: Yeah, it should just jump right over there.
Leo: Alright. Look at all the connectors here too. Ethernet, why Ethernet?
Chad: Because it’s an airplay as well, so it does Bluetooth and airplay, so to connect to your home internet system…
Leo: It has auxiliary in which is great.
Chad: Right, and it’s the only one that has that connect, so if you have a home theater.
Leo: RCA left and right. It also says MP3 and I don’t think that…
Chad: That’s your AUX jack.
Leo: That’s just your AUX jack. That’s mislabeled.
Chad: It does connect using WPS whish is the only one.
Leo: So it’s WIFI also.
Chad: Yes, so now this is connected VIA WIFI.
Leo: Sounds good.
Chad: Yes, so we’re listening to BBC2, I can easily…
Leo: But you can change those stations…
Chad: Yes you can, and you can even listen to TWiT if you want…
Leo: That sounds good. Maybe not quite as good as the Wrens, but Cambridge audio is a well-known name, in fact I use to have Cambridge audio speakers, loved them.
Chad: Right, and if we want to compare, we can with the same song. Now the big downside on this one is the app, the app is slow, buggy, cluggey and it’s just a …
Leo: It’s specifically from them.
Chad: It’s from them. This is their app.
Leo: But you don’t have to use it, because you can use anything that would airplay.
Chad: Absolutely. But right now, we’re kind of in this weird loop where it’s deciding to play internet radio, where if I want to take control of it…
Leo: It’s because you pushed these buttons.
Chad: Right, it’s because I pushed those buttons, and the app was too slow.
Leo: So you have to launch their app to stop.
Chad: Yeah exactly. It was able to decide this was the last command so now it’s going to take…
Leo; You know what’s cool, just by changing the settings in your player, you’ve taken it away from the Wren player, and you’re changing it to this other speaker.
Chad; Right, most of the apps, YouTube, Pandora they all, because of how, this is the IOS thing…
Leo: They have airplay too. It’s pre… so this is airplay or Bluetooth.
Chad; Yes, and that was playing via airplay right there. So pros, it’s both Bluetooth and airplay, it does have internet radio stations, which you could play on your own, but it’s nice that it’s all built in with presets if you have station that you really, really like.
Leo: So you could do the same with any of these with your device.
Chad: Right, it does come with a remote, which none of the other ones do. The remote basically has buttons just to start up your internet radio that you’ve already predefined. And it has much more inputs than all the others, with the RCA jack, on the back and the Ethernet.
Leo: That was wild. Okay.
Chad: And then cons, it is a little bit difficult to set up, you have to set up an add hawk Wi-Fi network, go in there, type in your IP address, type in your Wi-Fi stuff, that was a little bit confusing.
Leo: Oh, because the first time, you only have to do that the first time, you have to get it on your network.
Chad: You only have to do it once. But it’s a portable system, so anytime you decide to take it from the office to the… You have to do that over. And the app was a big con. It was just not so great.
Leo: How about sound?
Chad: I think this sounded the best out of all of them. This one got the loudest with the least amount of distortion, being very, very loud, and I think that’s because of their background.
Leo: Is this stereo, or is it mono?
Chad: It’s stereo.
Leo: its left and right.
Chad: Here, I can play some more. Booming music.
Leo: So that’s Cambridge audio, the Minx. You had the Wren, and now you have the Minx.
Chad: Yep, and this come in at, this is 100 dollars more, at 499 dollars, MSRP is $600 and $599, yeah but street price, you can find it for 499 dollars.
Leo: Also I noticed it’s a little slow…
Chad: That’s airplay. That’s a con of airplay, airplay is super slow, so I can hit pause over here, and it now just paused. Airplay is a big downside, and with that said, we’re moving on to our third one…
Leo: Airplay only.
Chad: … which is airplay only.
Leo: What is this called? This is an interesting design.
Chad: The Libratone.
Leo: The Libratone, very cool looking.
Chad: It’s very neat looking. In fact, I thought that I would hate the design, but the moment I put it next two, on the counter net to my, either in the kitchen or next to my bed, I don’t know why but it just blended in, I just really ended up kind of liking the design.
Leo: I love the design. Can you remove the quilt? No.
Chad; No. It is a little bit unstable, because it just has three feet at the bottom. So I did notice whenever a cat would bump up against it I was a little bit scared.
Leo: And drunks are going to try to set on it because it looks like a little tuffit. And that’ll break it for sure, so don’t let drunks on your house.
Chad: This is airplay only, so we can listen to this with the same music that we did the other ones, and you can kind of see just how slow airplay is. I hit play right now…
Leo: So that’s just airplay, the way it is.
Chad: That’s airplay’s problem.
Leo: But you know, once it’s playing, it’s fine.
Chad: You can see the front of it move.
Leo: Wow, this is loud.
Chad: This is one of the loudest ones, but it gets the most distorted at high volumes.
Leo: But at that volume it sounds just fine.
Chad: It would fill up a room for a party.
Leo: This is a dance party waiting to happen.
Chad: Yeah. Sooo... Sorry, not to take you out of the music jig, but this will also hold on a wall. It comes with an attachment…
Leo: That’s not bad either, I think it would look cool on your wall.
Chad: yeah, so you screw this into your wall, just like that.
Leo: It easily goes on and comes off.
Chad: Yeah, you attach this to your wall, and this to the back.
Leo: it’s intended to be removable.
Chad: yeah, it rests on the wall…
Leo: Let me remove the tuffit from my wall so we can go in the other room.
Chad: My musical tuffit.
Leo: I kind of like that, how much is this?
Chad: This one costs 399 dollars.
Leo: The least expensive of the bunch.
Chad: The least expensive. And it was the easiest to set up.
Leo: Yeah, because it doesn’t do anything. It’s airplay only.
Chad: Yeah, the nicest thing is you could just use a…
Leo: So this will only work with IOS, it won’t work with Android, or anything else.
Chad: It will not work with Android, that’s a huge con. There’s a USB plug on the back, next to the aux plug.
Leo: What’s that for?
Chad: You just plug in your lightening cable, and plug it into your iPad, and it says, can we take the Wi-Fi information of your iPad. Just a small popup, you hit okay and it’s pared.
Leo: Much easier.
Chad: Super easier, very nice set up. So let’s do the pros and cons. For the pros, it does come in 8 different colors. So if you want a red one, a black one, a purple one, that’s really nice.
Leo: What color is this?
Chad: This is like shell, or stone, or slate, gray basically. It is wall mountable, none of the others were wall mountable. And the set up was absolutely the easiest out of all of them. On the cons, its airplay only, which means its IOS only, and you can’t use it with a PC. You could use it with an airplay compatible Macintosh.
Leo: Good. So buy, try, don’t buy.
Chad: This one, I’m going to say don’t buy. The fact that it’s airplay only, limits me. This is the one I had to remember to use, that I had to keep coming back to, because...
Leo: Only buy it if you’re really in the Apple ecosystem, and you want to hang something on the wall. And frankly, anybody who thinks this looks good probably is an Apple user, because it’s so modern.
Chad: Right, oh and this one also had the buttons on the front which included volume, up and down, and a play, pause button.
Leo: And a chicken.
Chad: And a little bird. It’s funny, because that was the Wren, and this one has like…
Leo: The Libratone has a little bird on it.
Chad: Yeah, absolutely. And so that’s just about ti. Coming in at 399 dollars, don’t buy. To go back over the Cambridge audio was a buy, and the wren was also a buy.
Leo: Okay so two buys, maybe a qualified don’t buy.
Chad: Maybe a try. It’s hard to recommend something.
Leo: You know if you want something.
Chad: Right you know if you want to it. It’s hard for me to recommend somebody buy this, if I don’t know their setup, and I don’t know if they’re stuck to an ecosystem. This is a really…
Leo: It’s a hipster speaker.
Chad: I couldn’t tell my grandma to buy this.
Leo: No, no but if you’re a hipster you should buy that.
Chad: Right. Absolutely.
Leo: And that makes sense, there’s a speaker for everyone. Chad Johnson, the host of OMG Craft, and Reddit up. Thank you Appreciate it.
Chad: Thank you.
Leo: A little correction from last week’s episode. Remember the BBQ dragon. Love that thing. But I misquoted the price, I think we got it right on the lower third, but just to make sure it’s clear. I saw 25 dollars on the website, that’s two easy monthly payments of 25 dollars. So it’s actually 50 dollars. And at that price, you know a hairdryer would probably work just as well. So maybe it’s a little overpriced. But I miss it now because it was becoming a good friend.
Chad: Yeah, you were saying that earlier.
Leo: Well thank you all for doing the show and coming in. Thanks to all of our reviewers, Chad Johnson, Robert Ballecer, Jason Howell, and of course, Paul Thurrott, we do Before you Buy, right after security now every Tuesday. I hope you’ll stop by and watch the show, we don’t do it all in order, but that’s okay because when you download it you don’t have download it all in order. In fact when you go to youtube.com/beforeyoubuy you can get individual reviews of all the products, in case you want to share them with an interested party. You can get the full show at twit.tv/byb, or wherever netcasts are stored. And don’t forget, and you were using it just earlier, our TWiT apps, there’s so many great apps on all the platforms, including Android, Roku, IOS, those are a way to listen to each and every show. Thank you for joining us, we’ll see you next time. Remember you’ve got to Watch, Before You Buy!