Categories
General

I’m an “audiophile”… and no one needs ultra HD displays

I play music for a hobby; I am a musician part time. As of now I have about 270 guitar/piano videos on my Youtube (which you can check on the media page on the side). So yeah, I care about audio alot and audio tone. The irony is that I care about audio more than I care about video. Mainstream consumers are the opposite. They love their 4K super high resolution displays and stuff, but for me, video quality has always been secondary to audio quality.

I remember when HD first came out (720p / 1080p) I couldn’t see much of a difference between that and 480p DVD quality videos. But maybe my eyes are just used to 240p/480p VHS/VCD/DVDs. All my computer resolutions have been 720p (that is, 1366×768) and lower, until this year. That’s right! It took me until 2015 to get a computer with a full HD resolution! so yeah no 4K for me for a while. I also don’t like 4K because I would have to redownload all my movies and tv shows and anime in 4K which takes up a ton of space. I would prefer just a FHD OLED display instead.

Now we have smartphones rocking 4K resolution. Which is absolutely ridiculous because 4K is questionable even on a flat screen TV. At the distance we sit from the TV I doubt many people notice the difference in resolution. Having super high resolution also impacts another big factor in battery life. I like my stuff with good battery life thats why I chose a regular 720p laptop which gets me 20 hours of battery life (thanks to the dual batteries in the Thinkpad X240!) and a regular 720p phone as well, the Sony Xperia Z3C which gets me 2 days of battery life. For my 17 inch gaming laptop I “only” have a full HD resolution. Having Ultra HD 3200×1800 resolution on a laptop will both kill the battery life and alot of windows apps don’t scale well beyond FHD anyways.

Anyways for me audio quality has always been more important, thats why I own tube amps and a record player and 180gram vinyl LPs. I listen to FLACs (lossless) whenever possible (My Sony Xperia Z3C has a built in walkman and support for high res and lossless audio), and have owned countless pairs of headphones and earphones. The irony is the average consumer doesn’t really care about audio that much. They are happy listening to their lossy MP3s, listening on their Mac or PC with a terrible built in DAC, or using cheap quality iPod or Beats headphones.

Let me take a head count here. How many of you have heard of these audio companies: Bose, Sennheiser, Fender, Marshall, IK Multimedia, Apogee, AKG, Beyerdynamic, Shure, Etymotic, Ultimate Ears, JBL, Altec Lansing, Cambridge Audio, Boston Acoustics, Polk Audio, Klipsch, Onkyo, Dynaudio, Denon, Pioneer, Philips, Creative Labs, Monster, Beats, Hifiman, Woo Audio, Linn Audio, Meridian Audio, Apple, Audioquest, Focusrite, M-Audio, SRS Labs, Jays, Dolby, DTS, Audyssey, Wave Audio, Grado Labs, Audeze, THX, Grain Audio, Audioengine, Master & Dynamic, Audio Technica, Skullcandy, Sony, Samsung, LG, Harmon Kardon, Bowers and Wilkins, Bang and Olufsen, Infinity, Sol Republic, Yamaha.

I even know most of the various amp, effects, and guitar pickup makers: Fender, ESP, Gibson, Jackson, Ibanez, Dean Martin, Epiphone, G&L, Gretsch, Rickenbacker, Kramer, Vox, Marshall, Mesa Boogie, Dr Z, Two Rock, Victoria Amps, Tone King, Line 6, Digitech, Orange, Crate, Boss, Behringer, BBE, Korg, Roland, Maxon, Dunlop, MXR, Way Huge, Xotic, Lovepedals, Keeley, Dimarzio, Seymour Duncan, Lace, Lindy Fralin, Bill Lawrence, TV Jones, Fishman, Electro Harmonix, Visual Sound, Teese, Fulltone, Analog Man, I could go on and on….

That’s a wide range of audio companies, from mainstream to boutique, from headphone makers to DSP and effects makers. But anyways you get my point; I know all these companies because I care alot about audio. I even made an article about the best portable bluetooth speakers, and the Best over ear headphones.

Here’s the audio gear I currently use:

Guitar equipment:
Swart Atomic Jr (Tube Amp)
Fender 60s Strat relic w/ handwound Alnico III/V single coil pickups
Martin OMJM acoustic guitar
Boho Moonshine guitar
Boss Looper
Digitech Trio
Lovepedals Dover drive
RambleFX Plexi Drive
Xotic compressor
Xotic booster
Maxon TBO9
Seymour Duncan 805
Keeley magnetic echo
Keeley Oxblood
BBE Wah

Audio recording equipment:
Shure MV88 iphone mic
Shure MV51 computer mic
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB interface
IK Multimedia iRig 2
MXL 770 Condenser Mic
Shure SM58 Dynamic mic
Behringer XENYX502 Mixer

Listening equipment:
Philips Fidelio X2 open back headphones/monitors
Sennheiser Momentum closed back headphones
Master & Dynamic ME03 Earphones
Bose Quietcomfort 25 Noise-cancelling headphones
Creative Soundblaster E5 USB DAC/Amp
Creative Soundblaster Roar 2 bluetooth speaker
Audio Technica LP60 Turntable
Creative T4W Speakers (for connecting to anything including record players)
Klipsch R10B Soundbar

Not a bad setup. Unlike some people, I don’t have particular brand devotion to anything. Some people like to have all their equipment the same brand, but I actually embrace diversity of brands. I like experiencing difference. My TV is Panasonic. My phone is Sony and Apple. My tablet is Apple and Nvidia. My computer is Asus and Lenovo. My keyboard is Aorus. My mouse is Logitech. My microphones are Shure. My speakers are Creative and Klipsch. My headphones are Sennheiser, Philips, and Bose. My camera is Nikon and Canon. So yeah I am not a ‘fanboy’ of anything although you could say the closest I come to that is Sony. I have a Sony phone, Sony camera, Sony UMPC, Sony PS4 and Sony PS Vita. But even then.. I like to diversify.

Categories
Music

Top 20 Over ear headphones

I already did a round up of the top 20 best portable bluetooth speakers in the $100-$200 range, now I want to shift over to headphones.. for on the go listening. I’m going to be taking a look at the $200-$300 range of over-ear headphones, which generally produce the best sound quality compared to on-ears or in-ears.

1. Philips Fidelio X2

Philips Fidelio X2
Philips Fidelio X2

Techradar rating: 5.0/5.0
Amazon price $299.00

2. Sennheiser Urbanite

Sennheiser Urbanite
Sennheiser Urbanite

PCMAG rating: 4.5/5.0
Amazon price $181.00

3. Audio Technica ATH-M50x

Audio Technica MTH-M50x
Audio Technica MTH-M50x

CNET rating: 4.5/5.0
Amazon price $163.00

4. Klipsch Status

Klipsch Status
Klipsch Status

DigitalTrends rating: 8.5/10
Amazon price $99.00

5. Sennheiser Momentum

Sennheiser Momentum
Sennheiser Momentum

CNET rating: 4.0/5.0
Amazon price $168.00

6. Sennheiser HD598

Sennheiser HD598
Sennheiser HD598

CNET rating: 4.0/5.0
Amazon price $155.99

7. Samsung Level Over

Samsung Level Over
Samsung Level Over

PCMAG rating: 4.0/5.0
Amazon price $280.99

8. Sony MDR-1R

Sony MDR-1R
Sony MDR-1R

CNET rating: 4.0/5.0
Amazon Price $174.00

9. Bose Quietcomfort 25

Bose Quietcomfort 25
Bose Quietcomfort 25

CNET rating: 4.0/5.0
Amazon price $299.00

10. Beats Studio 2.0

Beats Studio 2
Beats Studio 2

CNET rating: 4.0/5.0
Amazon price $199.00

11. Bang and Olufsen Beoplay H6

Bang and Olufsen Beoplay H6
Bang and Olufsen Beoplay H6

PCMAG rating: 4.0/5.0
Amazon price $399.99

12. Master & Dyamic MH40

Master & Dynamic MH40
Master & Dynamic MH40

CNET rating: 4.0/5.0
Amazon price$399.99

12. Polk Audio Ultrafocus 8000

Polk Audio Ultrafocus 8000
Polk Audio Ultrafocus 8000

PCMAG rating: 4.0/5.0
Amazon price $214.99

13. Grado SR325e

Grado SR325
Grado SR325

CNET rating: 4.0/5.0
Amazon price $295.00

14. AKG K550

AKG 550
AKG 550

TrustedReviews rating: 8/10
Amazon price $188.99

15. Harmon Kardon NC

Harmon Kardon NC
Harmon Kardon NC

CNET rating: 4.0/5.0
Amazon price $179.99

16. Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro

Beyerdynamic DT990
Beyerdynamic DT990

WhatHifi rating: 4.0/5.0
Amazon price $167.99

17. Bowers and Wilkins P5

Bowers and Wilkins P5
Bowers and Wilkins P5

CNET rating: 4.0/5.0
Amazon price $299.00

18. Soul by Luda SL300

Soul by Luda SL300
Soul by Luda SL300

CNET rating: 4.0/5.0
Amazon price $159.00

19. Parrot Zik

Parrot Zik
Parrot Zik

CNET rating: 3.5/5.0
Amazon price $299.00

20. Street by 50 Wired

Street by 50 Wired
Street by 50 Wired

PCWorld rating: 3.5/5.0
Amazon price $118.00

20. Creative Aurvana Platinum

Creative Aurvana Platinum
Creative Aurvana Platinum

Techradar rating: 3.0/5.0
Amazon price $250.00

Categories
Tech

I collect small gadgets

If you have read my previous posts, like this one, or my other gadget collection posts, you would know that I love collecting gadgets. In fact I should probably be a full time reviewer from the number of gadgets I collect.

I love collecting small electronic devices, with these criteria:
-The device should be usable for many years. It should not rely on any data servers that might be outdated. For example, the Tmobile Sidekick relied on Danger’s servers for data, else it was a paperweight. I want devices that are just as usable 10 years ago as now.
-It should be really portable, and the screen size <= 7 inches. 7 inches is probably the maximum.
-weighs under 2lbs
-It should have something special or unique about it, either hardware wise and/or software wise. For example, if the tablet looks just like any other tablet out there, then its not going to be as desirable as say, a tablet that can turn into a laptop or has a slide out keyboard.
-Unique software is always a plus. For example, if the device runs Maemo, or Linux or MeeGo or Firefox OS.
-Reasonably obscure and rare. So, an iPhone wouldn’t really score as high as a Nokia N9 for example.

With that in mind, let’s look at the some of these devices:

Casio BE300 (2001)

Casio BE300 Pocket manager
Casio BE300 Pocket manager

Price: $65 on eBay
Device type: Palm sized PC
Special features: touchscreen, special build of Windows CE 3, easily hackable
OS: Modified Windows CE 3.0
related: Casio Cassiopeia Pocket PCs, HP Jornada Pocket PCs

Sony Clie UX50 (2003)

Sony UX50
Sony UX50

Price: $50 on eBay
Device type: PDA
Special features: touch screen, camera, keyboard, screen rotates
OS: Palm OS 5.4
related: Sony CLIE PDAs, HP iPAQ Pocket PCs, Palm PDAs, Handheld PCs

Psion Netbook Pro (2003)

Psion Netbook Pro
Psion Netbook Pro

Price: $100 on eBay
Device type: netbook
Special Features: the original and first netbook ever, runs Windows CE .NET
OS: Windows CE 4.2 .NET
Related: HP Jornada Handheld PCs, Toshiba Libretto Handheld PCs, NEC Handheld PCs, Psion handheld pcs, Sony CLIE PDAs

Sharp Zaurus C1000 (2004)

Sharp Zaurus C1000
Sharp Zaurus C1000

Price: $200 on ebay
Device type: Handheld PC
Special features: one of the last handheld pcs, runs linux, unavailable in USA, touch screen, camera, keyboard, screen rotates, last Zaurus made
OS: Linux
Related: Psion Handheld PCs, NEC Handheld PCs, Toshiba Libretto Handheld PCs

Nokia N95 (2006)

Nokia N95
Nokia N95

Price: $60 on eBay
Device type: smartphone
Special features: dual slider, camera, one of the greatest non touchscreen phones
OS: Symbian
Related: Nokia E series, Sony Ericsson walkman & cybershot phones

Sony Vaio UX (2006)

Sony Vaio UX
Sony Vaio UX

Price: $200 used on eBay
Device type: UMPC
Special features: most powerful UMPC ever, slide out keyboard, touch screen, runs full Windows
OS: Windows XP
Related: OQO model 2, Samsung Q1, Viliv S5, Vulcan flipstart

Philips PMC 7230 (2006)

Philips PMC7230
Philips PMC7230

Price: $90 on eBay
Device type: PMP
Special features: last Media Center OS PMP, has kickstand, built in TV recording abilities
OS: Media Center OS
Related: Creative Zen Portable Media center, iRiver PMC

Creative Zen Vision M (2006)

Creative Zen Vision M
Creative Zen Vision M

Price: $60 on eBay
Device type: PMP
Special features: The last hard drive based mp3 player from Creative, one of the most best mp3 players ever, touch strip, plays many video/audio formats, FM radio recording and voice recording
OS: Creative OS
Related: Apple iPod, Archos PMPs, Cowon PMPs, iRiver PMPs

Nokia E90 Communicator (2007)

Nokia E90 Communicator
Nokia E90 Communicator

Price: $100 on ebay
Device type: Smartphone
Special features: the last communicator made, dual screens, dual touchpad and keyboard
OS: Symbian
Related: Nokia N series

Nokia N810 (2008)

Nokia N810
Nokia N810

Price: $50 used on eBay
Device type: tablet
Special features: slide out keyboard, runs Maemo, pre-Android tablet
OS: Maemo
Related: Sony Mylo 2

Archos 5 (2008)

Archos 5
Archos 5

Price: $200 used on eBay
Device type: PMP
Special features: the last PMP with DVR recording capability, plays many video/audio formats, touchscreen, can go on internet, can be GPS and FM radio
OS: Archos OS
Related: Apple iPod, iRiver PMPs, Cowon PMPs, Creative Zen Vision W

HP iPAQ 210 (2008)

HP iPAQ 210
HP iPAQ 210

Price: $100 on eBay
Device type: Pocket PC
Special features: touchscreen, one of the last and best Pocket PCs, last iPAQ made
OS: Windows Mobile 6
Related: Dell Axim pocket pc, Palm Treo pocket pc

Microsoft Zune HD (2009)

MS Zune HD
MS Zune HD

Price: $60 used on eBay
Device type: PMP
Special features: Last Zune model, multi touch screen, can go on internet, inspired Windows 7 Phone OS
OS: Zune OS
Related: Apple iPod Nano

Fujitsu UH900 (2010)

Fujitsu UH900
Fujitsu UH900

Price: $500 used on eBay
Device type: netbook
Special features: smallest and best netbook, runs full windows, 2 usb ports, 2gb ram and SSD, multitouch high res screen
OS: Windows 7
Related: Sony Vaio P series, Asus EEE PCs, Viliv S7/N5

Toshiba Libretto W100 (2010)

Toshiba Libretto W100
Toshiba Libretto W100

Price: $700 on eBay
Device type: UMPC
Special features: Last Libretto PC made, one of the last UMPCs, dual 7inch touchscreens, virtual keyboard
OS: Windows 8
Related: Netbooks, Fujitsu LOOX, Fujitsu Stylistic

Dell Venue Pro (2011)

Dell Venue Pro
Dell Venue Pro

Price: $40 on eBay
Device type: Smartphone
Special features: Dell’s last smartphone, multitouch screen, slide out keyboard, one of only 2 windows phones to have a keyboard
OS: Windows 7 Phone
Related: HTC 7 Pro

HP Pre 3 (2011)

HP Pre 3
HP Pre 3

Price: $80 on eBay
Device type: smartphone
Special features: slider, camera, keyboard, the last phone to use WebOS
OS: WebOS
Related: Blackberry, iPhone, Android phones

Nokia N9 (2011)

Nokia N9
Nokia N9

Price: $100 on eBay
Device type: smartphone
Special features: multi touch screen, camera, only phone to run MeeGo
OS: MeeGo
Related: Blackberry, iPhone, Android phones

Sony Tablet P (2011)

Sony Tablet P
Sony Tablet P

Price: $130 used on eBay
Device type: tablet
Special features: the only tablet that can be folded, dual screens, multi touch screen
OS: Android 3.1
Related: Apple iPad, other Android tablets

Pandora console (2012)

OpenPandora Console
OpenPandora Console

Price: $600 on eBay
Device type: UMPC
Special features: combination game console/pda/umpc hybrid
OS: Linux
Related: Pepperpad 3, GCW Zero, GP2X Caanoo

Samsung Galaxy Golden (2013)

Samsung Galaxy Golden
Samsung Galaxy Golden

Price: $600 on eBay
Device type: smartphone
Special Features: dual screens, flip phone form factor, phone keypad
OS: Android 4.2
Related: LG Wine Smart

Nvidia Shield Portable (2013)

Nvidia Shield Portable
Nvidia Shield Portable

Price: $130 used on eBay
Device type: tablet
Special Features: combination game console/tablet, built in controller, multi touch screen, game streaming from PC
OS: Android 4.2
Related: Wikipad, Archos gamepad 2, Sony Xperia Play

Blackberry Passport (2014)

Blackberry Passport
Blackberry Passport

Price: $500 on eBay
Device type: smartphone
Special features: Square form factor, gesture enabled keyboard
OS: Blackberry OS 10
Related: Apple iPhone, Android phones, Blackberry Classic

Amazon Fire Phone (2014)

Amazon Fire Phone
Amazon Fire Phone

Price: $200 on eBay
Device type: smartphone
Special features: multi touch screen, dynamic 3D perspective, Firefly, Mayday, runs Fire OS
OS: Fire OS
Related: Blackberry, iPhone, Android phones

Neptune Pine (2015)

Neptune Pine
Neptune Pine

Price: $300 on eBay
Device type: smartphone/smartwatch
Special features: Smallest phone/tablet to run full Android, touchscreen, camera
OS: Android 4.2
Related: Moto 360, Apple Watch

I’ll have pictures and video up soon for these gadgets, as I own most of them. Stay tuned!

Edit: review is up!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5UdDM83Spm0

Second edit

One of my pipe dreams is to build one of those old school like UMPC devices except with modern components. The problem with new tablets these days is that they still can’t match up with the old UMPC form factor – like the old OQO model 2 or Sony Vaio UX, its just cool to have a 5inch Windows PC with keyboard in the palm of your hand.
Its fully possible to build a much slimmer, much faster PC, with better battery life these days using modern components. Unfortunately with Windows 8 tablets, there’s still no tablet thats 8″ and below and has full USB and keyboard support. You can use bluetooth sure, but thats not the same. That’s 2 devices you have to carry. I’m talking about one device. If I build a device it would have the following components:
-5″ IPS FHD capacitative touch display (1080p)
-a sliding keyboard form factor a la the OQO model 2 / Sony Vaio UX or a convertible display a la the Sony Clie UX-50 or Fujitsu U820
-an HD front camera for web conferencing
-an 8MP back camera for pictures
-micro-HDMI output
-miniUSB for charging
-SD card reader
-2 USB 3.0 slots
-Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11ac wireless
-fingerprint reader for security
This won’t be a tablet.. its a full PC running Windows 8.1
Running internally:
-Intel broadwell processor ensuring its fanless – speed should be ~1.3-1.6Ghz
-4GB RAM
-256GB SSD
…I’m sure if Lenovo can make a fanless 13″ convertible, then they can make this.