Smartphone Audio Quality Testing and more
Posted on: 12/09/2013 12:10 PM
Here a roundup of today's reviews and articles, including Smartphone Audio Quality Testing, Zotac Zbox Nano Plus ID64 RAID update review, Should You Buy a Sound Card? An Enthusiast's Perspective, Func KB-460 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review, and MSI AG2712 Gaming All-in-One review
Smartphone Audio Quality Testing @ Anandtech
We spend a lot of time watching and listening to our smartphones and tablets. The younger you are the more likely you are to turn to them for watching a movie or TV show instead of an actual TV. For a lot of us it is our primary source of music with our own content or streaming services. Very rarely when new phones or tablets are announced does a company place any emphasis on the quality of the audio.
Read more: Smartphone Audio Quality Testing @ AnandtechLyrix Jive Water Resistant Bluetooth Speaker Review @ TestFreaks
For today’s review we will be looking at a novel Bluetooth speaker from a company called Digital Treasures. The Jive is a portable wireless speaker encased in silicone rubber, which makes it water resistant. It has a suction cup at the base allowing it to stick to most smooth surfaces including tablets and phones; thus making it function as a stand as well.
The Jive wireless speaker is ideal for locations that most other Bluetooth wireless speakers can’t survive in such as on a boat, camping or in the bathroom and shower. It uses the AVRCP (Audio/Video Remote Control Profile) and has advanced Bluetooth 4.0 capability.
Read more: Lyrix Jive Water Resistant Bluetooth Speaker Review @ TestFreaksZotac Zbox Nano Plus ID64 RAID update review @ Hardware.Info
Earlier this year we reviewed the Zotac Nano ID64 Plus mini PC. It's similar to the Intel NUC, but has more flexible options such as the choice between a hard disk or two mSATA SSDs. We tested it again with two SSDs, so today you can read about having RAID in a mini-PC.
The Zotac Zbox Nano ID64 Plus is a mini-PC that fits in the palm of your hand. Its compact size is deceiving, it's a pretty potent and versatile little computer. The hardware is similar to that of an Ultrabook, and our test sample contains an Intel Core i5-3337U Ivy Bridge dual-core processor. It has lots of external connectors with four rear USB 3.0 ports, two frontal USB 2.0 ports, infrared, a card reader, HDMI, DisplayPort and eSATA. WiFi is built in and with the included adapter you can mount it on the back of a TV.
Read more: Zotac Zbox Nano Plus ID64 RAID update review @ Hardware.InfoFractal Node 304 White Computer Case Review @ Madshrimps
While visiting Computex Taipei 2013, the MadShrimps crew encountered a lot of mITX-ready cases at the different enclosure manufacturer's booths. Fractal Design, Sweden's leading case manufacturer seemed to have picked up the trend too and sent us the little Node 304 Cube. Two 304 Node versions are available based on the color scheme; either opt for the classic black one or go for the more sparkling and stylish white version. Also big thanks to Gigabyte for sending us a mITX Z87 board to allow us to finalize our build. Without any further ado, let's open the box.
Read more: Fractal Node 304 White Computer Case Review @ MadshrimpsShould You Buy a Sound Card? An Enthusiast's Perspective @ Techspot
I've been on the fence about buying a discrete sound card since building my first PC in 2002. The equation for buying most desktop parts is pretty straightforward: a video card can handle your games or it can't, a hard drive has enough storage for your data or it doesn't, memory is compatible with your platform or it isn't, and a chassis can accommodate your hardware or it can't. Audio gear is trickier.
There's no clear-cut metric to use as a guideline if you're shopping for a sound card. Lengthy audiophile reviews are available, but they generally don't offer a quantifiable takeaway if you have a limited point of reference and don't know much about the subject to begin with. I fall into that category. I've never had anything except onboard sound and my knowledge of acoustics couldn't fill a thimble.
Read more: Should You Buy a Sound Card? An Enthusiast's Perspective @ TechspotCaseLabs Mercury S5 Case Review @ Hardware Canucks
Most cases that claim customizability actually only offer a limited number of options but CaseLabs’ approach is both unique and appealing. Unlike enclosures like Cooler Master’s HAF Stacker, the CaseLabs products offer a long list of factory options which allow gamers and overclockers alike to built additional functionality into their selection or go with a bare bones approach.
At this time, there are two different ways to get access to one of these cases: either order it directly from CaseLabs or buy it from an online retailer. There are positives and negatives associated with each. Online retailers have preconfigured setups that will often cost less than the fully customizable cases on CaseLabs’ site but you’ll be sacrificing the one thing that makes these cases so unique: the ability to personalize your purchase.
Read more: CaseLabs Mercury S5 Case Review @ Hardware CanucksSamsung 840 EVO mSATA SSD Review (120/250/1000GB) @ HardwareHeaven.com
Today we take a look at Samsungs first consumer mSATA SSD range which includes the first 1TB mSATA model to hit the market. Based on the 840 Evo range of desktop drives this mSATA version looks to offer the same features and capacity in the mobile form factor.
Read more: Samsung 840 EVO mSATA SSD Review (120/250/1000GB) @ HardwareHeaven.comFunc KB-460 Cherry MX Backlit Gaming Keyboard Review @ HiTech Legion
One of the great advantages of tech forums is that we get to learn from other’s mistakes. If you are questioning the sense of doing something and/or the safety of your components as a result, just Google it. Someone has tried it. They will either be reveling in the fact that it worked, or complaining that it caused their system to catch fire, burn down the apartment building they lived in and left them homeless to post from the local Starbucks. No matter how outlandish your idea may be, someone has tried it. If it is a mistake, don’t do it. If it works, go for it….provided more than one person has tried it and had good results….and the poster is reputable….and it doesn’t involve sticking your tongue in an electrical outlet.
So, yes, you can learn from others, and from observation of what others have done and are doing. Manufacturers do this all of the time. I mean, really, you don’t think Phanteks just showed up out of nowhere with no market knowledge to own the two price points in air cooling they compete in, do you? Of course not. They saw what worked and what didn’t, tweaked what worked to make it better and never cut any corners. Func did the same thing earlier this year when they decided to have their own mouse to glide across their well-known gaming surfaces. They didn’t invent the mouse with the MS-3, they just made it a mouse that addressed the real needs of a gamer. With all of their time in the gaming industry, it is pretty obvious that they are going to know more than a thing or two about what really works. Now they are bringing it into hardware.
Read more: Func KB-460 Cherry MX Backlit Gaming Keyboard Review @ HiTech LegionFunc KB-460 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review @ OCC
The bottom line is that the Func KB-460 is a very good looking keyboard aesthetically and has enough features to make it flexible. At $119.95 the price is pretty high, but not out of reason. The KB-460 feels extremely well made. Almost like it could get in a fight with a cinder block and walk away. I find it hard to believe that this is the first keyboard ever from Func, simply because of the quality and ease of use. But, it is the very first for the company, and it delivers a solid performance worthy of its price range and competition.
Read more: Func KB-460 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review @ OCCEasyAcc Wi-Stor Wizard 4 in 1 Portable Device @ NikKTech
Wireless connectivity is amongst the most popular technologies right now so it's only natural to see it gain more ground over wired connectivity each day that goes by although currently we have to admit that it's nowhere close to the second. However much like with most "new" technologies that matters very little so most companies out there focus in manufacturing devices that have something to do with Wi-Fi and the amongst the very last products to hit the market are the wireless streamers like the Kingston MobileLite Wireless or the RaidSonic ICY BOX IB-WRP201SD. Not only do such devices allow consumers to wirelessly share files onto Wi-Fi compatible devices but they can also act as wireless range extenders and in some cases even as portable batteries (power banks). Well it seems that EasyAcc things this is a market they can also do well in and so today we will be taking a look at their Wi-Stor Wizard 4-1 Wireless Storage.
Read more: EasyAcc Wi-Stor Wizard 4 in 1 Portable Device @ NikKTechSilverstone One ARM ARM11SC Single Monitor Arm Review @ eTeknix
Following my recent look at a monitor arm from Peerless AV, I’ve been a little intrigued to see what other options are on the market and after a little searching around and finding a number of other arms, I found a new line of products from no other than Silverstone. For the most part, we commend Silverstone for the high level of quality that go into their cases and power supplies and also their many other system accessories such as magnetic fan dust covers.
Monitor arms are a new line for Silverstone, and without even getting a chance to get the arm out of the box, I have the impression already that what I’m about to play with is going to be an item of top quality, both in its feel, but also looks and more importantly its use.
The arm that we are having a look at today is capable of holding a single panel, whilst there are also models that can hold two or more panels accordingly. As we can see from the top right of the box, the ARM11 comes with one of three mounting solutions but we’re going to have a look at the most commonly selected option – a desk clamp. The rest of the box gives us an indication on the design of the arm and inside the arm comes in a number of parts with a user manual to show you through the setup process. Silverstone promise that this arm can handle panels up to 10kg in weight, so for the purpose of this review I’ll be using on of Dell’s 30″ monsters – the 9.2kg U3011.
Read more: Silverstone One ARM ARM11SC Single Monitor Arm Review @ eTeknixGigabyte G1.Sniper Z87 Motherboard Review @ KitGuru
Targeting mid-range gamers Gigabyte's G1.Sniper Z87 features a Killer E2201 NIC, support for 2-way SLI and CrossFire, and an eye-catching green and black colour scheme. Further enhancements are provided in the form of a unique audio system centred around Nichicon high-end audio capacitors, interchangeable operational amplifiers, and Creative's Sound Core 3D audio processor.
Read more: Gigabyte G1.Sniper Z87 Motherboard Review @ KitGuruZotac GeForce GTX 780 Ti AMP! @ Bjorn3D
The GeForce 780 Ti is today the fastest single-GPU card available. This doesn’t stop companies like Zotac to tweak it to get even more performance out of it. Today we are testing the Zotac GeForce GeForce 780 Ti AMP! Edition, a card that comes pre-overclocked out of the box.
Read more: Zotac GeForce GTX 780 Ti AMP! @ Bjorn3DMSI AG2712 Gaming All-in-One review @ Hardware.Info
All-in-one PCs are an exciting concept, but in terms of performance they're usually not that interesting. They look cool and have a modern design with touch features, but for serious work or gaming a traditional desktop is still the better option. For every rule there's an exception, such as the high-end Apple iMac 27 and the powerful HP Workstation Z1 aimed at professionals. MSI wants to join that select group with the MSI AG2712, a gaming all-in-one.
Read more: MSI AG2712 Gaming All-in-One review @ Hardware.InfoFunc KB-460 keyboard @ Bjorn3D
The market for mechanical gaming keyboard has exploded the last few years. More and more companies have started to offer these types of keyboard and today we look at the first mechanical keyboard from the company Func, the KB-460. This is a cheap keyboard using the Cherry MX Red micro switches which also comes with back lighting and macro support.
Read more: Func KB-460 keyboard @ Bjorn3D