Before You Buy 149 (Transcript)
Show Tease: Coming up! We’ve got a gaming keyboard, a video intercom system for your door, a network attached storage device, and I’m about to get Pono’d. It’s all next! Time to watch Before You Buy. Netcasts you love, from people you trust. This is TWiT. Bandwidth for Before You Buy is brought to you by CacheFly, at CacheFly.com. Before You Buy is brought to you by Jack Erwin. Jack Erwin sells men’s shoes made from the finest materials at honest prices. And they ship them right to your door. Check out their shoe collections at jackerwin.com/twit. That’s jackerwin.com/twit.
Leo Laporte: Welcome to Before You Buy, the TWIT product review show where we get some of the latest and greatest stuff in house, we give it to our talented staff, and we say, “What do you think? How would this be? How has it been living with this?” Chad Johnson is here. OMGchad, you can find him on patreon.com/omgchad. That’s where he’s raising money for his OMGcfaft series on YouTube. Youtube.com/omgchad.
Chad Johnson: Omgchad and omgcraft. There’s two different.
Leo: Oh you’ve got two channels?
Leo: Why do people do that?
Chad: Because Omgcraft is much more of a show. I feel like…
Leo: So you have your personal stuff…
Chad: Exactly, on omgchad.
Leo: Chad makes sandwiches, macaroni and pizza sandwiches is one channel.
Chad: Exactly. And then omgcraft is really highly produced, super edited, so people can decide which one they want.
Leo: It’s great to see you.
Chad: Thank you.
Leo: Also the host of the Gizwhiz with this guy named Dick. I don’t know.
Chad: He’s an up and comer. You know.
Leo: A young guy.
Chad: We’re hoping he pans out just fine.
Leo: Chad has a very nice looking keyboard. We’ve seen Roccat stuff before. They make mice and keyboards, mostly for gamers, right?
Chad: Absolutely. The gaming market is absolutely where this keyboard is marketed. It’s one of these fancy mechanical keyboards, which I’ve talked about on the show before. They click. This is a specific version of brown switches. So…
Leo: Now we’ve heard about cherry.
Chad: These are cherry, so cherry is the brand. So then there’s cherry red, cherry blue, cherry brown. That sort of thing.
Leo: These are cherry brown switches.
Chad: These are cherry brown. So…
Leo: What’s the difference in the colors?
Chad: So the different things they do. Yeah, there’s black as well, that was the other color. So red is like clicky. It’ll have that defined click. Some will do a travel, like when you’re clicking it’ll feel exactly the same all the way down, until you hit the bottom. Some of them have a different feel so that it gives you like seventy percent actuation force at the top.
Leo: Is this like pro bowlers, they have 8 different balls depending on the shot?
Chad: Absolutely, absolutely.
Leo: Gamers have like specific needs and tastes in keyboards.
Chad: Exactly. So this one has, I think it was the seventy percent actuation force, but then also it doesn’t make an audible click once you have compressed the keys.
Leo: So there’s good travel but not a clicky click.
Chad: So if I try to, I can force the click from just punching the key down really hard. But if I wanted to be quiet, I could.
Leo: I like that.
Chad: I have, it means that on all the other keyboards I’ve reviewed I’ve had to use it on a different computer than the one I actually gamed on, because the one I gamed on and record games on, I can’t have that gigantic click.
Leo: Because you’d hear it on the mic.
Leo: This one you could though?
Chad: You can, you can. Absolutely. The other thing that makes this one different is the TKL, which is tin keyless
design. Which means it doesn’t have a NUM pad. It’s missing your NUM pad.
Leo: Some people like NUM pads. Mostly accountants.
Chad: Well I love NUM pads. I really love NUM pads.
Leo: For gaming?
Chad: Just for life. And with this one I just kept hitting the arrow key for enter. Because it’s just like I work on something, enter. And it just wasn’t there because my NUM pad wasn’t here.
Leo: Well sometimes gamers use a number pad too.
Chad: Absolutely. But some gamers really want no NUM pad.
Leo: It adds to the length of the keyboard.
Chad: Exactly. It adds to the length of where your hand rests in relation with your other hand when you’re gaming. Or…
Leo: Maybe you want your mouse hand a little closer.
Chad: Your mouse hand closer. So this 10 keyless design is a design that some gamers are really, really badly going to want. So if that’s an issue for you, they make other keyboards that do have the NUM pad, but this is a feature that it does not have the NUM pad with this keyboard. The other thing is the lights. The lights are really, really nice on this keyboard. Where is my function key, here we are. It has six levels of.
Leo: Turn down our studio lights, I want to see this. Ohh!
Chad: It has six levels of lights.
Leo: Is it pulsing?
Chad: What’s happening is I’m hitting the function key which is illuminating the function keys.
Leo: But there’s something going on in the back. Whoa!
Chad: So that is our cameras. They’re causing, the LED flash.
Leo: They don’t look like that in real life.
Chad: They don’t look like that in real life.
Leo: Whoa! Do they look like that in real life?
Chad: Yeah they do. It’s absolutely a neat feature. There’s some really cool stuff you can do with the lighting. This is my first profile that I have set up. My second profile is whenever I hit a key it’ll stay on and it’ll fade out after a while
Leo: So you can see what you did.
Chad: And the WASD... Yes exactly! So you can be like what? I hit E to open my inventory, and R is over here, so you can be like No, you didn’t! So that’s kind of nice as well. Or if you want to snoop on someone’s password.
Leo: And you can keep the WASD lit, so you can see your movement keys.
Chad: Yeah, and this one doesn’t have that features so it’s not all that distracting. And then another profile I have is just always on.
Leo: How flexible are these profiles? Can you say do anything?
Chad: Basically. So I have…this is the drivers set up over here, the software that you use. You can see I’m in profile number 4 right now, you can hit the keyboard and it’ll switch.
Leo: This is more complicated than the quake console!
Chad: It really is! It’s super complicated! You can see that after one minute it’ll go down to 40% illumination. This is your key assignment so you can say when you hit your easy zone key, you could change your number one to also be P, or something to do, you know, whatever the heck you want versus in the game. Here’s the key illumination panel, where you can easily select, say something like, I want to select all of the keys, or just the WASD keys. Or, you know, whatever, and then assign over here. Do they blink, do they breath, do they fade, which is what I had done. Like when you hit the key, the key lightening effect is when you hit the key. So it can delay it and fade out. Or the ripple is what you saw with that really cool thing before. Then you have a few others. You have your update, and more macro sort of support here. So the drivers for this, for all of Raccats products, are always kind of a really high point. And using everything. On top of that, everything is stored to the keyboard. So let’s say you get everything just perfect, you can unplug this keyboard, take it to your friend’s house, plug it in at a LAN party, which is really, really nice.
Leo: This is windows only I’m thinking?
Chad: It’s windows only.
Leo: But gamers don’t use MACS.
Chad: It’ll work. It’ll be a keyboard that has mechanical keys and is really nice.
Leo: But all that fancy driver stuff…
Chad: All the fancy driver stuff is windows only. So on the hardware side, along with the mechanical keys this is really solidly built. Also it has this built in wrist rest. Which I really like. I started really enjoying these when I got a few other gaming keyboards. And the wrist rest, I just have to say, the material it uses a no smudge plastic, which I literally have never seen a smudge on this thing! It’s, I don’t know how they do it. It’s using nanobots or something. Also, all of, the whole construction is really solid. On the back, you have different tracks so that you can put your wires in different directions that you really want.
Leo: Look at that! Wow.
Chad: Which is really nice. And then of course, it has foot pads with non-slick on all the corners.
Leo: It’s so interesting, because this is a keyboard not for the person who types a lot.
Leo: I mean, if you type for a living at work, you would have a much simpler keyboard. This is for the person, this is over the top for the over the top gamer.
Chad: It really is. Now it does have an over the top price.
Leo: Oh that’s nothing.
Chad: It’s not the most expensive in the gamer’s realm.
Leo: I mean, you can get a keyboard for $5.
Chad: People that think over a hundred dollars for a keyboard, that’s absolutely ridiculous! But in this market that’s actually a pretty normal price.
Leo: Really, for a gaming keyboard. And that’s going to last you right? You’re not going to worry about that?
Chad: It really is. The switches they use are rated for way over 10,000 depressions.
Chad: Strokes exactly. Another thing to mention is that all the keys are mechanical. Sometimes you’ll get where the function keys aren’t mechanical or they try to skimp on your home buttons and stuff like that. They don’t skimp on this. So pros, fully mechanical keys. I really like the brown keys. The illumination options are super, duper pro and jus the full construction of the keyboard. The cons, would be maybe the cost! Maybe the fact that it doesn’t have the NUM pad? But all of those are also, well especially the NUM pad could be a pro. It’s really hard. Oh, the other con is no multimedia keys. There’s no play pause.
Leo: What’s at the bottom? Isn’t that play/pause?
Chad: Well you can do it through function keys. But it doesn’t have dedicated multimedia keys.
Leo: What are those three at the bottom then?
Chad: These right here?
Leo: No the very bottom?
Chad: Oh these are how you select through the different profiles. So you have your profile selections right here. You can use this in combination with other key things as well.
Leo: And I presume if you were crazy enough to be Dvorak keyboard user, you could swap the keycaps.
Chad: Yeah, I’m pretty positive these key caps come right off. Exactly.
Leo: I’ve always wanted to do that, but then I thought you could never use anybody else’s keyboard. You’re kind of out of luck.
Chad: You’d have to be key bilingual if you did that.
Leo: yeah. Would you use this for yours?
Leo: That’s a buy?
Chad: This is a buy. I cannot tell you how much, I’ve used the red switches before. This is the first time I’ve used the brown switches. I’ve got to say I think that’s the switch for me.
Leo: Cherry brown is better than Cherry red for you?
Chad: Absolutely. Because I need to not have that click, but it still feels so amazing. That’s another thing, if you go to a Best Buy or something and you can touch this keyboard, please do! It’s a buy with a lean towards a try because you kind of need to try it.
Leo: Yeah, it’s a personal decision.
Leo: You just made me want to buy a keyboard. You’re insane!
Chad: It’s a tool! It’s a tool to kill other people in video games. You get a lot of fun out of it!
Leo: Alright. A definite buy, try.
Leo: Mostly buy.
Chad: But you’d probably want to try it.
Leo: From Chad. Omgchad Johnson. Great to have you here. Omg. Do you have a website omgchad.com?
Chad: I do. It’s basically a great about page.
Leo: Yeah, and then it links, though, to everywhere else we can find you.
Leo; Thank you Chad, great to see you. The Gizwhiz every Thursday. It’s five still?
Chad: Yep. Absolutely. 5PM pacific. * PM eastern time on the TWiT network. 0100 UTC.
Chad: You’ve been working on that.
Leo: I did. I figured it out. I have a pneumonic.
Chad: You have a formula in your head?
Leo: A formula in my head. For UTC. Next, let’s say hello to Aaron, is this Aaron Newcomb? Aaron Newcomb! You’ve seen him perhaps on floss weekly, occasionally on All About Android. I guess apparently he has unwelcome visitors at his home. So we gave him the Swann door phone video intercom to try out.
Aaron Newcomb: Hey everybody! Aaron Newcomb here with another review. This is going to be the review of the Swann Doorphone video intercom. It’s a pretty cool little product. I’ll tell you a little bit more about it. Let’s start, how much it costs, actually. So this on Amazon currently is 119 dollars. And you can actually get that on Amazon prime if you’re an amazon prime customer. But this is an electronic doorbell if you well. It has a little video camera that goes. This gets mounted on your door, and then this part is mounted inside your house somewhere. And when someone comes up and presses the doorbell you can have a video screen to show you who is at the door. So it can be incredible useful, certainly a lot better than looking through the little peep hole. And, like I said, it’s 119 dollars. Here’s what comes in the box, in case you’re curious. You get some nice mounting hardware and screws to connect everything together. Those are interesting. You also get this little guarantee and some stickers. You can put them on your window, whatever. It says protected by Swann, I don’t know if this is really protecting you at all, but you know, it’s a nice little add that they threw that in there. The other thing that you get of course, is essentially four other things. You get the doorbell, the piece, the doorbell that, with the camera and the thing that you press here. You also get this lovely monitor that you mount inside your home. It has a speaker, and it doesn’t have a camera on this end, so the person at the door can’t see you, you can just see them. Which is kind of good if you’re in your pajamas or underwear or whatever. And then you get this really bulky, I don’t know how many feet this is, like 50 feet or something, of cable to connect the two. And the connections are pretty simple actually, if you look on the back of both of these devices if you’ve ever done a, hooked up a sprinkler system or something like that in your house, this will be very familiar to you, very easy. Essentially the connections that are numbered 1-4, and you hook up the four cables here and then you can hook up the corresponding four cables on this side. 1-4, and then there’s a little power adapter. That’s the fourth thing, by the way, that I didn’t mention before, is the power adapter. The power adapter just plugs into that slot, and then you mount these on the wall. I think the most difficult thing for people that are looking to implement something like this is it will require you to drill through your wall at some point. You’re going to have to feed this through your wall. That’s the most difficult thing, I guess you could probably try to get this through a window, maybe you could kind of hide the cable through some cable raceway or something on your wall going through a window and then back inside if you wanted to. That would be the easy way. But I think for most people they’re going to want to drill this through your wall and maybe hang this right on the door. So that’s the only difficulty I see with getting this installed. Otherwise, once you hook it up, once you hook up the cables and power up the system, you’re essentially good to go. So someone would come up like this to the doorbell, they would hit the doorbell. And see it’s pretty loud. It’s going to actually just pop right up on your screen, so you can answer it. If you can see, it’s kind of hard to see. There we go. That’s me, and then if I wanted to answer it, I would just press the talk button. Let me bring it back down and do that. It’s going to complain because I’ve got the two so close together. I don’t know if you can hear that but it actually is picking up my voice. I can say hello, hello, anybody there? And then they could hear that on the outside. I’m going to hang up now, because that’s annoying. But that’s essentially how it works. So someone comes up, hit the doorbell. The other nice thing about this, I guess it’s nice, is if you’re into chimes, it comes with like 25 different chimes. So if you press the little button on the side, by the way, there’s also controls for contrast, color saturation and volume. The little button on the side hits which chime it actually rings when you press it. So that’s the one that’s on now. Yeah, that’s kind of annoying. So basically all the rings in here are annoying. They do have some for Christmas, which is nice. They have a couple Christmas ringtones, but the rest of the ringtones are pretty annoying. But hey, at least you have a choice, it’s not just the ding dong thing. So that’s it. That’s the Swann doorphone video intercom. So let’s talk about pros and cons. The pros, very simple componentry here. You’ve got the screen, you’ve got the doorbell. You don’t have to mess with any extra parts. Price, I think this is actually a good price, 119 dollars for what you get here. That’s really good, I was trying to cost this out for a do it yourself raspberry pie implementation. Because everyone knows I love to do do it yourself projects at home and make things. I was trying to do this with the raspberry pie and it was going to come out to about the same price. Especially when you factor in the cost of the case, the cost of the small TNT display and by the time you add everything that you need plus, it’s going to be difficult to get the audio. There’s no light being put by default in the raspberry pie. So to get the audio and video and everything, it’s actually going to be a little bit more than 120 dollars to do it all yourself. So this is actually fairly easy and cost effective project, I think, for someone to put together. The cons, as I mentioned before, you’ve got all this cable to worry about. You have to run this cable through the walls, it mean you’re going to have to drill into your wall and stuff. Some people, cosmetically may not like that, and certainly, if you’re not necessarily a do it yourself kind of person, that’s going to be the only downside really. So in the end, I think this is a pretty good project, both for price and complexity. And if you’re looking for something like this to put in your home, I would definitely say buy it. That’s my recommendation! I’m Aaron Newcomb, thanks for watching!
Leo: Aaron Newcomb! He works at Netapp. Right? During the day. But occasionally you’ll see him on Floss Weekly, All about Android. We love Aaron, because he brings donuts. And he says, you should buy this Swann Door phone video intercom! Coming up we’ve got Father Robert in here to take a look at a network attach storage, but I want to show you my shoes first.
Chad: I’m really excited about your shoes.
Leo: This is kind of kooky. We’ve got a new sponsor, it’s a shoe sponsor and I’ve never been happier! I love this! These are Jack Erwin shoes. A new approach to men’s shoes. Chad is wearing some Jack Erwins too. I love these, these are the baroques’. Now don’t worry about your SpongeBob socks! It’s okay, we’re not looking! You’re wearing some nice loafers there! These are amazing! Dress boots! This, now I don’t know, you have to be my fashion adviser Chad.
Chad: Look at the bottom of these shoes! The bottom of these shoes look better than the tops of most of my other shoes.
Leo: These are using the same tools, craftsmanship and materials as the most expensive shoes in the world. Tanneries from Italy and France. Artisans in Spain making gorgeous shoes. I’m going to show you some of them, and then I’m going to tell you what a great deal these are. You buy them online, they’re free shipping and returns are free too. So as always when you first buy shoes, you’re going to want to try them out, because and one thing I should tell you, they’re about a size bigger than you’re used to.
Leo: So for instance, Chad is normally a ten and a half, you’re wearing an 8 and a half and they feel comfy.
Chad: These, are I actually cannot say enough that these feel like gloves on my feet. The way that this curves right here.
Leo: The leather is so nice.
Chad: There’s such a subtlest amount of, you know of the shoe against my foot. It feels super comfortable!
Leo: Look at these! I feel like you would wear these! At least to hide your SpongeBob socks!
Leo: This is all the range now. These half boots.
Leo: Very popular. Look how gorgeous that is. Wear that to your holiday party.
Chad: Look at that wing tipped thing.
Leo: Isn’t it beautiful?
Chad: It’s so beautiful.
Leo: Leather soles. Everything is perfectly made. Handmade. Basically this is stuff you would pay 800 dollars for at a men’s shop. But because they are not going through a retailer but going directly to you with free shipping, free returns, you’re going to spend about 3… one quarter to one third less. Look at the prices, they’re 220 bucks, 195 dollars. These are shoes you will be proud to wear. Remember to get the fit right. Jack Erwin’s are cut a full size big, so you subtract one full size from your shoe size. If you wear US size 10, purchase a size 9. I’m really, these are 8.5 Ds. I usually wear a wide 8.5 or 9, and because of the extra size these actually fit beautifully! Look at that! Isn’t it a gorgeous shoe?
Chad: It’s almost like an heirloom shoe.
Leo: You know what? You should dress for the job you want. If you want to look good at a meeting. If you want to look good for the ladies. If you want to trip the light fantastic with your honey on your arm, you better believe that ladies look at shoes. You know this guys. They will judge you by the shoes you wear! Stop wearing the sneakers, start wearing some Jack Erwins. Jackerwin.com/twit. Now these are handmade, so the offerings are limited and they change frequently. So if you see a pair you like, get them! Because they want be there for long. To see the shoes I’ve been showing you, and Chad’s been showing you, or any of their shoes, go to jackerwin.com/twit. We’ve got Leos picks there. Oxfords, loafers, wingtips, these beautiful new dress boots. I love this, they even have eyelets on them. The little hooks.
Chad: I remember that!
Leo: Comfort, style, and a great price. Jackerwin.com/twit. And we thank them for. This is their first time on the show!
Chad: Yeah. They’re shoes you can fall in love with is what I feel like!
Leo: You just made up a new slogan!
Chad: Shoes you can fall in love with.
Leo: Have you ever had a nice shoe?
Chad: I don’t know!
Leo: I think not!
Chad: I don’t know, I think they’ve always been hand me downs.
Leo: Can I tell you, I’ve had very expensive 800 dollar shoes, and these are nicer. They smell good, they’re made well. You should have nice shoes. Everybody should have at least one pair and wear them for those very special occasions. Oh they smell good! Alright. Let us move on to Father Robert Ballacer, the digital Jesuit. He’s the host of This Week in Enterprise tech, coding 101, Know how, he knows his enterprise gear and he has something for us! We’ve all talked about network attached storage before. We have a variety of prices, a variety of styles. What do you get for a 6,000 dollar NAS? Let’s take a look at the ioSafe, with Father Robert. Robert?
Father Robert Ballacer: Boom. Burn. Sizzle. Crack. Crunch. Zap. Disaster is how ioSafe made its name in the storage business. They made fantastically tough storage devices that don’t just store your data, but protect it against fire, flood, crush, and the like. With the release of the 1513+, IoSafe takes the indestructible storage game to another level, but we’ll get back to that because I don’t want to lose the fact that even without the destruction grouping, the 1513+ is one heck of a machine. The ioSafe 1513+ is a 5 bay network attached storage box. Equipped with a dual core 2.113 gigahertz Intel atom and 2 gigabytes system memory expandable to 4 gigabytes. The first thing you’ll notice about the 1513+ is that it’s a beast. It measures 14.4 7 inches by 8.5 inches by 12.5 inches and weighs about 60 pounds with drives. The reason that the size and weight is that ioSafe has partnered with NAS specialist sinology to encase the heart of a sinology DS1513+ inside ioSafe’s amour. Opening the front of the box with a hex driver exposes a sealed water tight compartment. The boys at ioSafe looked through the data and found that most data loss in fires comes from the water being used to douse the flames. So they designed the 1513+ to survive full immersion in 10 feet of salt water for at least 72 hours. However, should drive replacement be necessary, the compartment opens with a single hex bolt that gives you access to its five bays. In our review unit, filled with cool running 2 terabyte Toshiba hard drives in slide out trays. Everything is incased within a layer of high strength steal, wrapped around in ioSafes proprietary data cast insulation. Water and fuse ceramic, that releases that water in the form of steam, the cast gets above 150 degrees Fahrenheit. The ablating ceramic keeps the assembly cool enough to avoid drive damage and the steam creates positive pressure in the case to keep out super-heated smoke and soot. Combined with ioSafes active airflow cooling vents, which allow airflow to the electronics to the operation but melt shut in a fire the 1513 + can protect it’s drives from 1550 degree heat for 30 minutes. A note about performance, the ioSafe 1513+ is fast! Really fast for a network attached storage device. Who put in rate 5 mode is rated for 350.94 megabytes per second read, and 2.234 per second right. And in our speed test we were able to simultaneously plug the gigabyte Ethernet ports of three task machines. Each to their practical maximum through put without topping out the 1513+. Of course, to do that you can’t just put one or two Ethernet ports on the back of the NAS, because the show point would just move to the ness. The 1513+ overcomes that limitation by having 4 bind able gigabyte Ethernet ports. In addition the 1513+ sports 4 USB 2.0 ports. 2USB 3.0 ports, and 2 ESATA ports. All of which can be put to good use, either in expanding the capacity of the 1513+ or expanding its features. With specially designed ESATA connectors, you can link a 1513+ to two ioSafe N13S expansion units for a total of 15 drive bays. Pared with 6 terabyte drives, that means you can have up to ninety terabytes of raw capacity. Since the 1513+ uses sinology’s disk station operating system, it can use all of sinology’s apps. That means that the box is not only a super-fast disaster resistant storage array, but also a plus media sensor, a private cloud storage device, a network security camera recorder. Amazon glacier sync, radius server, an anti-virus serer, radio streaming server, a torn box, email server, LDEP directory, data replicator, ITunes server, apple time machine, a VPN server, and pretty much anything else you can imagine. It supports FDP, FDPS, SNP, NFS 6 as well as I scuzzy. It’s been certified by DM wear and hyper feed for those who want to use the 1513+ in an SMP or virtual server environment. But it doesn’t end there. You can use the USB ports to plug in USB storage devices. But you can also use them to connect 802.11 ABGN, AC or Bluetooth adapters for hot spot functionality. You can connect 3G 4 G USB dongles for internet access. It can be a print server, a router, and combined with the DTB stick it can even DVR and stream programming from OTA antennas for your cable provider. The 1513+ is louder than ioSafes previous NAS boxes, a result of the two cooling fans in the back, but it’s still quiet enough to have under or behind your desk. The regular operating sound level is 25 decibels, while full cranking will bring it to 50 decibels. In other words, if you have even a moderately noisy office, you’re not going to hear the 1513+, unless it’s next to your head. Of course, the single feature that binds all ioSafe products together is their data recover service guarantee. The loaded version of the 1513+ automatically gives you one data recovery event with the length of your plan. If you lose any data, for any reason, fire, flood, earthquake, gunshot, or just an IT worker accidently deleting your data, ioSafe will cover 5000 dollars of the recovery cost. On the pro side the ioSafe 1513+ is an incredible combination of speed, features, and durability. Also sinology’s DRS makes the purchase price worth it. Even without a best in class mask. On the cons side, price. Just the price. Between 3 and 6 thousand dollar for a fully equipped unit with multiple years of DRS, it’s way beyond the range of even a power user. But then again, with this feature set performance and DRS it’s a bargain for small to medium businesses or the home professional. In the end, it’s really simple. If you don’t have data that’s worth 3 to 6000 dollars than it’s a don’t buy. But if you do! Then the ioSafe 1513+ is a no-brainer buy. The ioSafe 1513+ is available now. You can find it for between 3 and 6 thousand dollars.
Leo: Alright, thank you Father Robert Ballecer! I should say that those ioSafes start at 3,000 dollars, that was 6,000 dollars as configured. But hey, if you need somewhere to store your data that is safe, that’s a buy! Let’s talk about high res. Music. I want to review something that I got from my friend Neil Young. Maybe you remember the Kickstarter for the Pono player. Neil Young, the rock and roll star has been talking about this for at least a couple of years. I saw him on letterman more than a year ago talking about his idea that people aren’t getting all the music that they should be. He says, you’re not hearing what we’re making. He wanted people to have the experience of the music the same way a musician might have the experience of the music. And to do that requires a number of things. First of all, you got to get rid of the MP3 and the AAC, the highly compressed digitally compressed music. And start moving to a format that’s closer to the original masters. In some cases, identical to the original masters. I’ll call them high-res, sometimes they’re called high def. These are tracks that are often distributed at a higher quality even than a CD quality. I’ll talk a little bit about that in a second. But then you have to have hardware that can play it back, and your MAC or your Windows machine generally can’t. They need specialized playback hardware, digital to analog converters that can handle the high resolution files, and play them back. And, of course, the last step in the chain is something really good to reproduce it. You’re not going to play it back through your little computer speakers, you either need a great stereo system or a great pair of headphones. The world is changing. A lot of us have been listening to iPod on kind of, let’s face it, not the greatest headphones for almost twenty years now. 10, 13 years since the iPod came out. And just in time here comes the Pono player. So as soon as I heard Neil talking about this for a long time, as soon as the Kickstarter project went up, I pledged 400 dollars. That’s what it cost to be an early adopter. It’s actually what it still costs to get a Pono player. Finally they’re starting to come out. They’re starting to ship. In fact, you can even go to Ponomusic.com and order one for yourself. They come in aluminum, yellow seems to be the only color right now. But, and again, you’ll be preordering for early next year to get your Pono player. What is the Pono player? And why is it so strangely shaped? Well, for one thing, they are putting high quality circuitry in here. They’re using high quality digital to analog converters. DACs. Very high quality headphone amps. So this, by itself reproduces high resolution music as accurately as possible. You’ll have to go out and get a good pair of headphones. It doesn’t come with a headphone. It does come with music. Every Pono player comes with one Neil Young song, and depending on which one you bought, if you bought it on Kickstarter, you may get other stuff. He signed up many, many musicians to put their albums on the Pono player. In fact, the music community has really been embracing this idea of high res music. This is a Neil Young signature edition, you can see it says, it’s got his signature and it says limited edition 251 of 500 players. Truth is I’m not sure that’s such a great deal, because you can see the fit and finish are a little bit rough. These are obviously the first Ponos out of the market, out of the factory. The Pono player itself has a touch LCD screen that you can use to select songs. It will import music, it won’t work with ITunes. You will have to install the Pono music world app. Which is available for free for Pono owners on the site ponomusic.com. And then synchronize, synchronization is fairly slow. This is a USB 2.0 device, and these are really big files. And yes, of course, it’ll play your MP3s and your AAC backs but it, it’s mostly designed for high res files recorded in the Apple lossless format of FLAQ. Which is the kind of open source format that I use, and I think is probably the best choice. Not for quality but just for compatibility going forward. So I’ve put a number of albums on here, you see the album mart is carried along. Some of these tracks I purchased form Pono music. Most of them I purchased from other outlets. HDtracks.com. I also, Bowers and Wilkens the English stereo speaker company also has something they call the society of music. That’s where Peter Gabriel has been selecting songs. This is one of the great albums of all time. Peter Gabriel’s So. They’re using the premastered edition, and these are, as far as I know, the original master recordings. Most albums these days are recorded digitally using a PCM uncompressed PCM format, and generally recorded, well let me explain first that a CD, when you get a CD it’s, the recording technology samples the sound 44,100 times per second. 44.1 Kilohertz. And each sample is 16 bits. But when they record these albums they record them at a higher resolution. This album for instance was recorded at 24 bits samples and 48,000 samples per second. The highest resolution this will play, and the highest resolution I’ve ever seen is 192,000 samples per second at 24 bit. In fact, many of these albums are recorded that way. This is Michael Jacksons Thriller. So the ability to listen to what is essentially a master recording is really exciting. You’ll also find some other differences. For instance, generally the audio compression is less on these. Now the use of the term compression can be confusing. There’s two kinds of compression, there’s the digital compression that makes a file smaller. MP3, or AAC. And then there’s audio compression that reduces the dynamic range. It makes the quieter passages and the louder passages the same sound. And all the music you hear on the radio, almost all the music you hear on your iPod is compressed heavily in that audio fashion. It gives it more punch, and it sounds getter on the radio, but frankly it harms the musicality. Much so in pop music, significantly in classical music. When you listen to a symphony by Brookner, or Stravinsky’s Right of Spring, Right of Spring begins with a single Bassoon playing in a whole orchestra and then it ends with the entire orchestra playing at almost top volume. That’s a huge dynamic range. And you’re not going to hear that on an MP3, you really aren’t! But believe me, when you listen to those songs on an appropriate hardware like the Pono player, you hear more definition in the music, you hear more airiness, a much higher dynamic range. The obo is quiet. The full symphony is loud and you hear it all. You almost feel like you’re in the middle of the concert. And while there is some discussion over whether high res music really sounds better, and probably for an old man like me, it doesn’t sound as much better as it might for somebody with younger ears. I definitely can tell the difference and I really enjoy the difference. Albums in high res format on Pono music world will probably cost around 18 or 19 dollars. That’s a premium of maybe 5 bucks over the CD in the music store. If you can find a music store. It’s not hugely expensive. And albums that are recorded carefully like this Nora Jones, Come Away With Me, in digital format, just sound beautiful. So the review of the Pono player really is much more than just a review of the player, it’s really a discussion of this whole notion of can music sound better? And if you buy better quality music, can you play it back on a better piece of hardware like the Pono player, and you listen to it on great headphones. I’ve been using my edamotix in ear headphones. They’re very good quality. About 300 dollars. I’ve also been using even more expensive headphones to listen to my Pono player, things like my high fine man, HT560s. That’s a 900 dollar pair of headphones. Now one thing you should probably note is that headphones, in ear headphones like these, which don’t require a lot of juice work fine with the Pono player, but a magnetic planer headphone like the high five man, you can use it, you’re not going to get a lot of level out of it, you’re probably doing to want to add an amplifier, a good quality amplifier in between the Pono and your headphones. The Pono comes with two outputs, there’s no digital output and that makes sense I you think of this as a digital to analog converter. That’s’ really a lot of what the Pono does. So it has headphone level out, and line level out. You can plug that into your stereo if your existing stereo can’t handle these high res songs, you can think of the Pono as a kind of external converter that will convert the high res songs. And then pass it through the line out into your stereo for later listening. I’ve tried it that way, it turns out my stereo, my On-cue 616 has excellent digital to analog converters that can handle high res music, so I just put the high res music, in fact all of these songs on USB and plug the USB key into the on-cue receiver and listen to it, and it sounds fantastic on a big stereo system with nice speakers. You’ll definitely hear the difference, but you’ll even hear it with good headphones on the Pono player. So let me talk a little bit about the pros and cons. The pros, it is a way of putting really high quality music in your somewhat oversize pocket. Great for a car if you have an analog input to your car stereo, or your home stereo system. If you don’t have a DAC already. It’s a good headphone amplifier, the digital analog converter in this is a very high quality one. Widely praised by audio files. I think the user interface is pretty good. I’ve got to say the software, the desktop software is a little wonky. It’s early days yet, and some of the, sometimes the Pono doesn’t show up on the desktop as easily as it should. Some of it’s a little weird. This software is based on Android, at least as far as I can tell. It seems to be the Android file system, but it does some fun things. It generates automatic playlists, 100 random songs you’ll see there. There is no random, I don’t think there’s any random playback otherwise, but you can use this 100 random songs playlist. Songs imported this month. Not recently played, recently imported, that kind of thing. It’s a decent player, it’s, and you know what? We’ve come a long ways since the IPod came out, and most players nowadays are probably going to be very similar in usability to the IPod. You can turn the level up and down, let me plug in some headphones so you can see it, with the big plus and minus on the front of it. It has a nice indicator as to the level. You know, headphones like these edamotix run pretty well at about 50 to 75 percent with the higher impedance headphones, you’re going to want to turn it up all the way. You can pause by pressing the middle button. It does not work with the special controllers designed for the iPod. You’ll have to do it manually. You know, in a way it’s a little bit of a primitive portable music player, especially if you’re used to an IPod, or even an IPhone to play back your music, but it does do something that the Phone and IPod can’t do, play back those high res files. We’re seeing more and more phones that can, but remember it’s not merely the ability to play the files, it’s the ability to play the files well, and I’m a little concerned about the quality of the digital to analog converters in some of these phones that can do that. Such as the Harmon Cardin edition of the HTC1. Sony is making a Walkman similarly priced that also plays back. We reviewed it earlier that plays back high res files. So there will be some competition for the Pono, in fact there already is. Most of it is very expensive, but a lot of it will come down in price, I think, now that this is established as a 400 dollar product. So it does play back the music, it sounds great, the DACS and headphone amps are good. Adequate for in ear headphones or earbuds. Sanhizers, that kind of thing. I you have a high impedance headphone, you need a separate headphone amp. The cons, it’s very expensive, 400 dollars and you may already have this kind of capability in your stereo system, in your phone, or in another portable player, so there are other choices in that regard. But all in all, I want to say buy this, because I want to support this notion that music can really sound a lot better. It does. It really does sound a lot better if you listen to high res music on the proper hardware. You shouldn’t buy it unless you can hear the difference. So I encourage you to listen before you buy if you can. If you can find somebody with some high res music and some good play back equipment. See if you can tell the difference. A lot of people probably can’t, on the other hand it’s also a learned ability. I believe that we’ve all gotten used to the junky sound of MP3s and, in fact, I couldn’t really tell the difference until I actually sat down and started to pay attention. Got some instruction from people as to what to listen to and as you start, it’s like drinking good wine. As you start to listen to better and better music, you’re suddenly a little more aware of what you’re looking for and of the difference. And I think there really is a difference and it really is worth going for. So I’m going to say buy this if you don’t already have a way to play high res music back. I’m excited about the future of music, I think we may look back in a few years. Now that there’s plenty of storage, hard drive space isn’t limited. Bandwidth is, for the most part, pretty high. We don’t need to compress these songs as highly as we did with MP3 and AAC. We could start to listen to uncompressed music, which sounds a lot better and maybe even for some of us uncompressed high res music, which sounds about as good as it gets. So I have a feeling we may look back in time and say, yeah, that MP3 era was a terrible time, wasn’t it? Anyway, I think a buy for the Pono player, and I thank Neil Young for making the effort to bring this product to market and getting us all to think about the music we listen to. Well that does it for this edition of Before You Buy. I want to thank our reviewers, Aaron Newcomb, omgchad, and, of course, Father Robert Ballacer. I hope you will take a look at some of the products we reviewed and let us know what you think. Our email is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also request products for future shows. We make this show available in two different ways. You can go to the website twit.tv/byb and get the whole show, beautifully edited and put together like hand crafted, or you could also go to the YouTube channel youtube.com/beforeyoubuy and see each review individually. That’s great if you want to share a particular product review with a friend or family member. You can also subscribe to the show, we’re on every podcast client. 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