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Google Nexus 7 teardown reveals more hits than misses

August 28th, 2012 master No comments

Cracking Open the Google Nexus 7

Asus and Google sacrificed a few features to keep the Nexus 7′s price low. There’s no rear camera, no HDMI output, no cellular support, and no external memory card slot.

but after cracking thetablet open, I found a lot to like inside the Nexus 7. and, its hardware is definitely a step up from Amazon’sKindle Fire.

Full TechRepublic teardown gallery: Cracking Open the Google Nexus 7

(Credit:bill Detwiler/CNET)

What I likeI really like how easily the Nexus 7′s case opens. Like the Kindle fire, but unlike theiPad, the Nexus 7′s back cover pops right off, giving you quick access to the tablet’s internal hardware.

The device’s removable components are another positive.  The battery is not soldered to the motherboard and is easily removed. The speaker assembly, headphone jack, and USB connector can all be disconnected and replaced. Even the camera, upper microphone, motherboard, and internal frame are simple to remove.

ComplaintsMy only complaints about the Nexus 7′s construction are minor.

(Credit:bill Detwiler/CNET)

First, Asus used two large pieces of copper alloy shielding inside the device. one piece covers part of the motherboard and display, including the ribbon cable for the headphone jack and Micro-USB port assembly. The other shield covers the LCD connector. Both copper shields are held in place with adhesive. You could tear them during removal.

Second, the Nexus 7′s LCD and front glass panel are fused together. This construction method is common on smartphones and tablets, but it means that when you break one part, you’ll need to replace both.

Edge over Amazon Kindle fire (for now)

So how does the Nexus 7 stack up against the other big $200 tablet — Amazon’s Kindle fire? (Credit:bill Detwiler/CNET)

Google’s tablet definitely has the edge in hardware. its quad-core Tegra 3 processor and 1GB of RAM are a step above the Fire’s dual-core TI OMAP 4430 processor and 512MB of RAM. The Nexus 7 is also available in both 8GB ($199) and 16GB ($249) models. The fire only comes in an 8GB version.

Analysts, however, expect  Amazon to release an updated Kindle Fire later this year. Apple may also introduce a smaller, cheaper iPad in the Fall. The Nexus 7 won’t be the most powerful 7-inch tablet for long.

A more detailed version of this story was first published on TechRepublic’s Cracking Open.

Google Nexus 7 teardown reveals more hits than misses

JVC Everio GZ-GX1

July 20th, 2012 master No comments

There are a number of ways for a consumer camcorder to distinguish itself from the pack, including features like, say, a waterproof housing, a built-in projector, or Wi-Fi connectivity. The JVC Everio GZ-GX1 ($899.95 list) adds the latter, with a robust set of Wi-Fi features that can turn the camera into a home-surveillance device you can access from anywhere, or let your smartphone act as a wireless remote/viewfinder. Outdoors, video details are sharp, and the ability to shoot 1080p60 video is a boon for fast moving action. Indoors, however, details become mired by a fuzzy softness that is especially troublesome in low light. and for a few hundred dollars less, you can get similar video quality and the same Wi-Fi features in the JVC Everio GZ-VX700 ($499.95, 3.5 stars). despite its wireless prowess and good video quality in bright light, the GZ-GX1  is overpriced, and it can’t match the crisp video captured by less-expensive competition including the Canon Vixia HF M50 ($649.99, 3.5 stars).  

Design, Features, and Wi-FiMade almost entirely from glossy black plastic, JVC’s high-end consumer camcorder measures 2.25 by 2.5 by 5.2 inches (HWD) and weighs 14.2 ounces. You’ll find the zoom rocker and Record button in the standard locations, along with dedicated Image Stabilization and Still Image buttons on top of the cameras. above the hand strap on the right side is a flap that opens to reveal the DC power input, while a flap on the bottom hides a slot that accepts SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards up to 64GB in size. The LCD recess houses Video/Still, Play/Record, Power, and Silent mode buttons. also inside are mini USB and mini HDMI ports, with a 3.5mm headphone jack for monitoring audio and a 3.5mm microphone input for improved sound capture.

The large, bright 3.5-inch 921k-dot LCD of the GZ-GX1 is bigger and sharper than the 3-inch 230k-dot screen found on the Vixia HF M50  and 2.7-inch 230k-dot screen of the Sony HDR-PJ200 ($439.99, 3 stars). The size makes touch-screen navigation easier, though the menu overlays are a bit more confusing on this camera.

There are a number of really useful Wi-Fi options included with the GZ-GX1. The easiest to set up is the free smartphone app for iOS and Android, which turns your mobile device into a wireless viewfinder and remote control for the camcorder. The system sets up an ad hoc network between your phone and the camcorder, allowing you to review footage, take still images, and record video. you can also access the same features from a computer by either using an ad hoc connection, or setting up outside viewing on the camcorder. Setting up outside viewing is a bit more tricky, requiring you to register an account through JVC and then access a lengthy URL generated by the camcorder itself. it does, however, turn the GZ-GX1 into a veritable security camera that you can monitor from pretty much any computer connected to the Internet. you can also set the camcorder to Detect/Email mode, which uses motion detection to take still images that are then sent to email addresses you specify. 

Performance The 10x zoom of the GZ-GX1 covers a 29.5-295mm (35mm equivalent) range. The wide f/1.2 aperture allows for a shallow depth of field and collects about twice the light as the Vixia HF M50, which opens up to f/1.8 at its widest. that depth of field allows you to get that nice bokeh effect in your shots, with a narrow focus and soft backgrounds. JVC uses a relatively large 1/2.3-inch backlit CMOS image sensor. A larger sensor usually leads to better low-light performance, but the GZ-GX1 came up short in that department. Indoors, especially in lower light, the GZ-GX1 struggled with grainy and soft video. Image noise wasn’t a huge issue, but it’s possible that digital noise reduction is being employed here, sapping the finer detail quality. Colors looked accurate, but I did notice some fringing at the edges, both in low and good lighting. Some dark areas were a bit underexposed, leading to a loss of detail within the shadows. 

Outdoors, the GZ-GX1 feels like a different camcorder all together. Video is crisp, with vibrant colors and accurate focus. The grain found during indoor shots was nearly imperceptible outdoors, and video looked much better. Exposure was also accurate, though I noticed certain hotspots were overexposed, exhibiting an almost pulsing quality. Again, color fringing was a problem outdoors, especially with bright backgrounds and moderately lit foreground objects where edges took on a purple hue.

The GZ-GX1 has a number of video-quality modes, topping out at 1080p60 in AVCHD format. most consumer camcorders record 1080i60 (60 interlaced, rather than progressive, fields per second), which is then played back at 30 frames per second. For most applications, that quality is fine and you typically won’t find progressive scan in a consumer camcorder. The advantage is during fast moving action, where 1080p60 video will look smoother, with greater detail and less motion blur. There is also a Super Slow Motion mode, which captures footage at 300 frames per second, but is limited to a resolution of 720 by 480. The result is impressive, with video automatically slowed down and played back at 30 frames per second. The details and video quality are low definition, but if you want to capture some interesting slow-motion action shots, the GZ-GX1 has an advantage over most other consumer camcorders—though it can’t match action camcorders like the GoPro HD Hero2 ($299.99, 4 stars).

Image stabilization was generally good, but at its telephoto reach, mild shakes were sometimes jarring. Audio quality was average, and while the camera did a decent job at wind cancellation, I noticed it picked up a distracting level of racket from an indoor air conditioning system. Voices sound clear at reasonable distances.

Still image quality is fair at best, with very soft and grainy shots indoors, much worse than the grain in the video. Images can be taken at up to 11-megapixel resolution, but fine details appear fuzzy and too pixelated to be used for anything but casual purposes. you can take still shots while recording, even at the highest quality, but the results were downright awful, with very grainy shots and plenty of image noise.  

There is a single card slot that accepts SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards up to 64GB. The mini HDMI port allows for playback onto HDTVs, while the mini USB port lets you transfer images and videos to a computer. JVC uses a proprietary AC adapter to provide charge to the included removable battery.

Conclusions The JVC Everio GZ-GX1 is well equipped, with a lot of really useful Wi-Fi extras that go beyond much of the competition. Outdoor video looks great, but indoors, the quality drops precipitously. Then there’s the price. The GZ-GX1 is a full $250 more than the Canon Vixia HF M50, which will give you better video quality indoors and out. The GZ-GX1 can double as a wireless security camera, an added bonus that might justify the price for some, but the same wireless features can be found in the $500 GZ-VX700 . The ability to shoot full 1080p60 video will be desirable for those looking to capture a lot of action, but disappointing low-light performance doesn’t justify the high price. 

More Digital Camcorder reviews: •   JVC Everio GZ-GX1•   JVC Everio GZ-VX700•   Pivothead Video Recording Eyewear•   Sony HDR-CX210•   Sony HDR-PJ200•  more

JVC Everio GZ-GX1

Testing & Results

July 16th, 2012 master No comments

Table of Contents: Page Index Corsair Vengeance 2000 Wireless Headset Closer Look: Vengeance 2000 Vengeance 2000 Detailed Features Testing and Results Final thoughts and Conclusion Page 4 of 5

The Corsair Vengeance 2000 Wireless 7.1 Gaming headset was tested in a range of scenarios such as listening to music, watching movies, voice communication and most importantly, its main purpose – Gaming. Since there are no benchmarks that can produce comparative results I will give my impressions on the performance of the Vengeance 2000 including important factors relating to comfort and ease of use. Since this is a wireless headset there are other factors to consider such as range and battery life.

By design the Vengeance 2000 gaming headset is a stereo headset that uses Xear software with Dolby II technologies and Corsair’s optimized HRTF positional audio technology to provide virtual surround sound. as a stereo headset the Vengeance 2000 is very impressive, and it is important to set the equalizer in the control panel for the right scenario to get the best results when in surround mode. When listening to music you can choose from four pre-defined ‘Audiophile’ settings or you may fine tune for yourself. When watching movies Corsair recommend selecting the ‘Movies Mod-X’ setting. this setting helps restore the ‘X-Curve’, an equalization curve that movies are typically mastered in which is optimized to make the audio sound great when you’re sitting in a theatre. When gaming you have a choice between FPS and MMO pre-defined settings.

The Vengeance 2000 control panel is simple yet effective. The "Bypass" button in the top left turns the virtual 7.1 surround on or off and there are three modes for surround environments on the bottom right; Studio, Cinema and Hall. over to the right is the equalizer settings, there is a drop down box with eight pre-defined settings for simple configuration switching when you go from movies to games to music etc. For those who like more control you can set the equalizer to your exact preference by adjusting the individual sliders, personal profiles can be added or removed by using the ‘+’ and ‘-’ buttons.

Real world Usage: The Corsair Vengeance 2000 Wireless 7.1 Gaming headset is very impressive in both stereo and surround modes. The only time the virtual surround faltered was with voice communications, the effects just felt like super imposed echoes (think empty room/hall). Otherwise it was a thoroughly enjoyable and recommendable experience. I do not consider myself an audiophile but I know and can appreciate the difference between poor quality and high quality audio equipment, before the Vengeance 2000 I have been through many low quality gaming headsets and up until I started using the Vengeance 2000 I have been using a pair of Senheisser HD 407 headphones and a tie clip microphone because I couldn’t find a decent quality gaming headset that doesn’t cost the earth.

The Vengeance 2000 delivers excellent quality audio across the whole range and offers very powerful bass that does not overwhelm the audio experience. The virtual surround was also very effective, not only in gaming and movies that were created for 5.1/7.1 surround, but also in giving added depth to stereo music. I had to play with the settings to suit my preference but the pre-defined settings are more than sufficient for a quality experience. The microphone was very clear indeed, you won’t need to set the level very high otherwise background noise becomes an issue (despite Corsair’s claims of noise cancellation). 

Comfort: The Vengeance 2000 headset is reasonably light considering it has a built in battery and receiver/transmitter, I had expected it to be much heavier. The padded headband and micro-fiber covered memory foam ear pads make the headset a pleasure to wear, there is a slight adjustment period but in no time at all you will forget that you even have it on. my main problem was that it initially felt quite tight to wear but the freedom from wires has no equal, wireless is definitely the way forward but we really do need to work on bringing the size and the weight down. 

Wireless: Wireless devices typically need to be paired or synchronized manually but the Vengeance 2000 automatically pairs with the USB dongle when you turn it on. The Vengeance 2000 uses adaptive channel hopping to solve the problem of channel collision to avoid interference and loss of signal, using a number of algorithms to determine if a channel is already in use or otherwise shouldn’t be used, and then stays away from those channels. during my time using the Vengeance 2000 headset I have not noticed any interference at all and it performed just as well as a wired headset.

Range and Battery life: Corsair claim that the Vengeance 2000 has a range of up to 40 feet, I personally feel that this is overly generous and maybe in lab conditions where there is direct line of sight then it may be possible. In real world conditions with walls and floors etc the range drops to a little over half of that. Battery life on the other hand is very good indeed, while I don’t have the time for mammoth 10 hour gaming sessions to test out Corsairs claims, I can say that on average that Vengeance 2000 has between an 8~9 hour battery life with intermittent use over two days between charges. The real bonus is that even if the battery gets too low you can still use the Vengeance 2000 while it is charging via the USB charging cable.

Dangerous Science: as wireless devices become more proliferant around our homes it is wise to know what will interfere with these devices. during a conversation with a friend of mine about the Vengeance wireless headset, he told me that he had killed his previous Logitech wireless headset by getting too close to his microwave oven while it was operating. I knew the risk but I was curious. what would happen if the Vengeance 2000 got too close to my microwave oven while both were in operation?

In the true myth busters fashion I had my wife turn on the microwave while I was at a 2m distance and nothing happened, I got closer but it wasn’t until i got within 2ft of the microwave oven that anything happened. The headset began crackling and eventually lost its signal and the microwave went into an absolute frenzy. The Vengeance 2000 survived the ordeal unscathed but the microwave has not been the same since, and I think it might need replacing (my wife refuses to even go near it let alone touch it). Lesson learnt and advisory warning – do not use the Vengeance 2000 in close proximity to a microwave while it is use!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Operating any wireless device near a microwave will cause interference. It is safe, but not suggested, that you wear wireless headphones near to an operating microwave.

CORSAIR’S RESPONSE: Damage to a microwave is not possible. A microwave uses a magnetron that transmits about 1,000W of RF power at 2.4GHz. It has no receive capability. Vengeance 2000 transmits about 1mW of RF power at 2.4GHz (1 millionth the level of a microwave). Also, the microwave has shielding that provides about 60db of attenuation, reducing any signal by a factor of another million. It’s simply impossible for the low level of our product to cause any permanent damage. if it were possible, then any Bluetooth device or other 2.4GHz transmitter would cause the same problem. In fact, wifi routers and suchlike are 100 times more powerful than V2000

where there is some truth is interference in the other direction. A typical microwave transmits about 1100W (700W ERP), with 60db of shielding as I mentioned. this means you might see up to 1mW (legal max. is 5mW) of leakage which is on a par with the power level from our headset, so when the headset is in very close proximity to the microwave source, it’s radio can definitely be effected. But even here, it’s impossible for the leakage from the microwave to cause any damage to the headset – worst case is temporary loss or breakup of signal that goes away as the distance is increased between them due to our receiver being overloaded by the broad spectrum dirty signal from the microwave.

Testing & Results

Sony Xperia Ion (AT&T)

June 27th, 2012 master No comments

With terrific TV connectivity and a 12-megapixel camera, Sony’s Xperia Ion ($99.99 with contract) is the ideal Android phone for folks who want to take their movies everywhere, showing them on any screen available. It’s quirky and not an industry leader in other ways, though, with weak phone calling performance and some other bugs.

Physical DesignThe Xperia Ion is a large phone, the way phones seem to be nowadays. It’s 5.2 by 2.7 by .4 inches (HWD) and a solid 5.1 ounces, all in black with a curved metal back that makes it wobble a little bit when placed down on a table. It feels like it’s made of premium materials: The screen is cold glass, and the top and bottom of the back are soft-touch plastic. You’re getting your money’s worth here.

The front is mostly a 4.55-inch, 1280-by-720-pixel TFT LCD screen. The screen has unusually deep blacks, thanks to a technology Sony calls “mobile Bravia.” below the screen there are the usual four silkscreened soft buttons for Android actions. The headphone jack is on top, and there’s a dedicated camera key on the side.

The Xperia Ion’s battery isn’t removable, but a sliver of the top of the back cover is, letting you pop in a microSIM card and MicroSD memory card.

Call Quality, Wireless and BatteryI didn’t find the Ion to be a very good phone. Reception isn’t the problem—volume is. The Ion’s speaker is quiet, and its speakerphone is so quiet as to be barely usable. Making a call in a noisy outdoor area I could hardly hear my wife on the other end of the line, in either mode.

There’s little noise cancellation in the microphone, too, so background noise comes through very clearly on the other side of calls. A call made from the Ion sounded a bit scratchy on the other end, and a call made from the Ion’s speakerphone sounded muddy. In this case, a Bluetooth headset actually improved things.

The Ion is an AT&T-compatible LTE phone with national and global HSPA+ roaming, although it doesn’t support T-Mobile’s 3G band. AT&T only has LTE in 39 cities right now, but where it does, speed is scorching, usually exceeding 10Mbps down. The phone works as a Wi-Fi hotspot with the appropriate service plan.

Bluetooth and GPS make their usual appearance, and the GPS locked into our location without a problem. The Ion also supports two lesser-used wireless technologies: ANT and NFC. ANT+ is mostly used for health-and-fitness devices. NFC’s most prominent app right now is Google Wallet, but Google Wallet isn’t available in the Ion’s Google Play market.

Battery life was mediocre, but not awful, with 5 hours and 20 minutes of talk time. 

PerformanceThe Ion runs Android 2.3.7 (Gingerbread) on a Qualcomm S3, 1.5GHz dual-core processor. this doesn’t offer quite the speed we’ve seen from the S4 processor in the likes of the HTC One X ($199, 4.5 stars) and Samsung Galaxy S III ($199, 4.5 stars), especially when it comes to gaming frame rates, but it does fine on benchmarks. The interface was generally responsive, but the soft buttons at the bottom of the screen sometimes didn’t respond to touches.

Sony’s approach to Android adds a relatively light skin and some bloatware. you have various options to sort apps in the App Tray, for instance, and a very useful new Power Manager app which can turn off power-hungry radios when your battery is low.

Optional Facebook integration lets you add Facebook contacts and calendars to the phone’s contact and calendar apps. If you’re a fan of Sony’s old Timescape, Rolodex-like display of social networking updates, you can install it as an app.

Sony’s LiveWare Manager is another interesting utility: It lets you automatically launch an app when you connect an accessory, for instance launching the music player as soon as you plug in your headphones. this approach also comes into play with a new accessory called Xperia Smart Tags, little NFC-enabled stickers that can be configured to change your phone’s settings or launch apps when you tap the phone to them. LiveWare Manager also provides a central place to manage the extensions for your Sony SmartWatch ($149, 3.5 stars), which puts email and social networking alerts on your wrist.

Of course, this being Android, it’s compatible with all the 400,000-plus Android apps. Sony has made an unusually strong commitment to updating its phones, which makes us hope for an Android 4.0 update soon. but it’s still disappointing that the phone comes with an older OS, especially now that the Samsung Galaxy S III  and HTC One X  are both shipping with Ice Cream Sandwich.

Sony Xperia Ion (AT&T)

Analysis: Spanos Takes Leap of Faith

January 26th, 2012 master No comments

San Diego Chargers president Dean Spanos announces the return of head coach Norv Turner and general manager a.J. Smith at Chargers Park in Mission Valley on Jan. 3, 2012. he was considering their dismissal after the team missed the playoffs for a second consecutive season.

Whichever way it went, the decision was certain to split Spanos’ audience.

Falling backward, he needs his faith in the same men to be rewarded.

"We may do some things a little bit differently than we have in the past," Spanos said. "That’s something that Norv, a.J. and I are talking about in terms of player personnel as well as coaching … there may be things I could’ve done differently. I know that coaching has contributed somewhat. Player personnel selection has contributed somewhat. I think injuries have been a huge factor. there are all sorts of reasons why we are where we are. We need to change those things going forward."

Spanos said a "series of meetings" with Smith and Turner is coming, involving a thorough discussion of potential changes. 

For starters, Smith called his 2011 in-season policy of largely no media availability a "mistake," and he is "open-minded" to being more aggressive in free agency this offseason, should the class warrant it.

The roster depth certainly has room for improvement, in light of high-profile draft misses and key free-agent departures, such as running back Darren Sproles.

"People underestimate the effect one or two players can have on your entire team," Turner said. "I’ve seen it around the league this year where teams have added a draft pick or made a free-agent signing, and it made a big difference on one side of the ball. We have a lot of good players, and if we can add a couple of those guys that change games … then it’ll help us take a step, on both sides of the ball."

Current players must step up their game, too.

They’re getting their head coach back after a vocal campaign of pushing for his return. Rivers led the charge on behalf of Turner, who is under contract through 2013, but he wasn’t alone among the team core.

"We wanted him to lead us," safety Eric Weddle said. "We as players, we got to go win it for him and make Dean right, that he made the right decision. We’re excited to keep our head guys here and keep the continuity and energy up.

"We know what we have, but we also know that it’s on us. So we have to improve not only for the coaches but for us as players. We’re here, and we want to win. That’s the bottom line."

A decision this divisive can go awfully wrong without winning.

Spanos took a leap, putting his coins in the same machine, trusting that it won’t.

Did Spanos make the right decision? tell us what you think. Comment below, find us on Facebook or follow our Twitter @nbcsandiego.

Analysis: Spanos Takes Leap of Faith

BBP Announces Mobiband Bluetooth Stereo Headphones — NEW YORK, Dec. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ –

December 29th, 2011 master No comments

     

NEW YORK, Dec. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — BBP announced today that it will expand its product offering to include Bluetooth stereo headphones. a complementary extension of the BBP product offering, the new Mobiband headphones reflect the brand’s expertise in designing and developing ergonomic and urban lifestyle products.

Photo: http://bbpbags.com/index_html_files/284.jpg

“We researched literally hundreds of headphones, both wired and wireless, and we concluded wireless is definitely the future of headphones. the experience of wireless freedom just cannot be matched by wired headphones,” stated Sean Lee, BBP CEO. “Our Mobiband headphones additionally have a clean, minimalist look that any person would want to use whether walking down a city street or working out at the gym.”

The Mobiband Bluetooth headphones deliver natural audio sound without wires or plugs that can easily tangle. the lightweight design is ideal for people on the go and the hidden microphone offers the convenience to use as a hands-free Smartphone headset. the compact folding design allows the headphones to be packed away easily while the stealthy rubberized matte black finish and clean lines add to its aesthetic appeal.

“Most people have never tried wireless headphones, but once they do, they will not want go back. It’s similar to automobiles that have Bluetooth for hands free phone calls. Consumers will value the wireless freedom and they will not want to go back to wires. Everyone is listening to music or making phone calls so wireless headphones with a microphone just makes sense,” said Sean Lee, BBP CEO. “Offering headphones along with our award-winning bags just expands on our vision to provide well designed mobile accessories at a good value.”

BBP’s Mobiband Bluetooth Headphones are available now. to learn more, visit http://www.bbpbags.com/mobiband.html.

About BBP Bags

Founded in 2005, BBP designs and manufactures urban laptop bags and cases, laptop backpacks, messenger bags, iPhone cases, iPad 2 cases, Bluetooth headphones, and other mobile accessories, including the award-winning ergonomic Hamptons Hybrid Messenger Backpack.

Bluetooth is a trademark owned by Bluetooth SIG, Inc. USA, and licensed to BBP Industries, LLC. iPad and iPhone are registered trademarks of Apple, Inc.

For more information, visit: http://www.bbpbags.com

PR Contact: Nigel Washingtonnigel@bbpbags.com | (212)931-8539

This press release was issued through eReleases(R).  for more information, visit eReleases Press Release Distribution at http://www.ereleases.com.

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BBP Announces Mobiband Bluetooth Stereo Headphones — NEW YORK, Dec. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ –

DORCHESTER: Rapper benefits from young musician fund

December 26th, 2011 master No comments

8th December 2011

A YOUNG rap artist from Dorchester has been given a new microphone and stand thanks to the Fund for Young Musicians.

A fundraising concert in Bridport, celebrating the life of former local folk star Fin Gunn, will be raising funds for the fund later this month.

The first local performer to benefit from the night is Dorchester based rap prodigy Aaron Riley. 

Fin Gunn’s daughter, Rowan Birkett, presented Aaron with a vocal microphone, stand and leads at Harmony Music last week.

Fin Gunn was a self-taught singer/songwriter and instrumentalist who came to prominence on the local folk scene in the 1980’s singing and playing in bands such as Tripping Upstairs and Dr Burkes, amongst others, and later with the Ceilidh band Up and Running.

Fin died at the age of 59 in the spring of 2010 and his friends and fellow musicians held a tribute concert to celebrate his life and music. 

Many of the original members of Dr Burkes and Up and Running performed and the event was an outstanding success, a sell-out concert. 

Because it was so successful, and to continue to celebrate Fin’s musical legacy, there will be another concert this month.

The concert will be held at the Bridport Arts Centre on Sunday, December 18th at 7:30pm. 

Tickets are £10 and all funds from the concert will be divided between the British Lung Foundation and the Fund for Young Musicians.

PICTURE: Fin Gunn’s daughter, Rowan Birkett, presents rap artist Aaron Riley with a vocal microphone, stand and leads at Harmony Music last week

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DORCHESTER: Rapper benefits from young musician fund

Robin Thicke performs 'Merry Christmas Baby' on ‘A Very BET Christmas’ (Video)

December 17th, 2011 master No comments

Robin Thicke took the microphone on a Very BET Christmas on Sunday night and gave his own spin to a couple of classic songs. Singing  White Christmas, Thicke changed up the lyrics to make it more of a “Peaceful Christmas.” while getting rather literal, the entertainer’s fans didn’t mind as his voice was smooth as silk. Getting the audience in the mood, he then performed an Otis Redding classic single called Merry Christmas Baby. 

The artist had the fans in the studio out of their seats for the second single as Robin Thicke had the song giving a groovy feeling. Sharing his strong vocal abilities, the entertainer didn’t’ miss a beat as he kept the song going.

Sharing a holiday tradition, Robin Thicke was joined by Trey Songz, Mindless Behavior, Monica, Lloyd,Kurtis Blow, Jacob Latimore as they took time to belt out holiday tunes that everyone could sing along with. Keeping the party going, it was the perfect special to watch gathered around the fire and dreaming of a white Christmas.

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Take a look at the Robin Thicke performing on a Very BET Christmas special.

Robin Thicke performs 'Merry Christmas Baby' on ‘A Very BET Christmas’ (Video)

Microphone Mythbusters, Vol. 9 – Do Wireless Bodypacks Have Phantom Power?

December 1st, 2011 master No comments

November 23, 2011  |   Posted in Blog, Gino Sigismondi, Microphones   |   0 Comments   Tags:

The short answer to this question is “no.”  The long answer is “not exactly.”

It’s a fairly common misconception that a bodypack wireless transmitter must have phantom power present at its microphone input, otherwise, how could condenser lavalier or headworn microphones work with them? It works because most condenser microphones that are meant to plug directly into wireless bodypacks do not utilize the preamp that is required when they are used in a wired application. The preamp is the portion of the complete condenser microphone that requires phantom power. without the preamp, only a bias voltage is necessary for the microphone to work, and this is typically supplied by the bodypack transmitter. Let’s take a look at the difference between phantom power and bias voltage.

Phantom power is a dc voltage (11 – 52 volts), which powers the preamplifier of a condenser microphone.  Phantom power is normally supplied by the microphone mixer, but may also be supplied by a separate phantom power supply.  Phantom requires a balanced circuit in which XLR pins 2 and 3 carry the same dc voltage relative to pin 1.  So if a mixer supplies 48 volts of phantom, XLR pins 2 and 3 of the microphone cable each carry 48 volts dc relative to pin 1.  of course, the mic cable carries the audio signal as well as the phantom voltage.

Mixers that supply phantom power contain current limiting resistors that act as control valves.  if the microphone or cable is improperly wired, these resistors limit the flow of current to the microphone and thereby prevent damage to the phantom supply circuit.

A balanced dynamic microphone is not affected by phantom power.  However, an unbalanced dynamic microphone will be affected.  Although the microphone will probably not be damaged, it will not work properly.

Bias is a dc voltage (1.5 – 9 volts typically) that is provided on a single conductor.  Unlike phantom power, bias does not require a balanced circuit.  Bias supplies power to a Junction Field Effect Transistor (JFET) connected to the output of an electret condenser mic element.  The JFET acts as an impedance converter that is a necessity in any microphone design that uses a condenser element.  a condenser element has a high output impedance (>1,000,000Ω).  The JFET input loads the output of the condenser element with an even higher impedance (>10,000,000Ω) to minimize loss of signal level.  Also, the JFET output provides low source impedance (<1,000Ω) to feed the microphone preamplifier or bodypack transmitter.

Practically, this means that handheld, gooseneck, or studio microphones that have integrated preamps cannot be connected directly to a wireless bodypack. an external, battery-powered phantom power supply would need to be connected inline, before the bodypack, to properly power the microphone. However, most condenser microphones with detachable preamps will work just fine when connected directly to the bodypack, without the preamp. Note that when using a microphone from one manufacturer with a transmitter from another manufacturer, the connector and/or the wiring configuration will likely be different. always check with the respective manufacturers for assistance. Note that in some condenser microphones, the bias voltage must be supplied on the same conductor as the audio.  Condenser elements with a built in JFET use this configuration and employ a single conductor, shielded cable.  Other condenser microphones utilize separate conductors for bias and for audio.

A dynamic microphone can be connected to a wireless bodypack without issue, provided the bodypack utilizes separate conductors for audio and bias. a dynamic microphone should not be connected to an input that supplies bias voltage (such as a wireless transmitter) because the audio and the bias voltage will travel down the same conductor.  if this occurs, the frequency response of the microphone may be altered or the audio signal distorted. if a dynamic microphone must to be connected to input with bias voltage, a blocking capacitor must be used.

Remember, in a typical electret condenser microphone, it is the JFET that requires unbalanced bias and the preamplifier that requires balanced phantom power.

Microphone Mythbusters, Vol. 9 – Do Wireless Bodypacks Have Phantom Power?

Panasonic 3D Home Theater, Camcorder, a Real Blast

November 11th, 2011 master No comments

Full marks for the HDC-TM900 camcorder and the TC-P50GT30 plasma. Both are excellent products that perform their anointed tasks beautifully.- Jim Bray  Tuesday, October 18, 2011 (0) Comments | Print friendly | Email Us

What do you get when you blend an excellent 3D plasma TV with a 3D Blu-ray home theater in a box, a fine high def camcorder with 3D capabilities, three sets of 3D glasses and a couple of 3D demo discs?

In my case, it was hours of otherwise productive time sitting in front of the idiot box, 3D glasses on my face, trying to figure out if this 3D push is worth the time of day. I’d been dying to try an honest-to-goodness 3D home theater in Chateau Bray to help me find out if 3D is for real or – as I assumed – just hype, so when Panasonic offered to lend me all I’d need (short of a 3D projector) for a fair test I jumped at the opportunity.

The heart of the system was Panasonic’s $1900 TC-P50GT30, a 50 inch 3D plasma that’s a real beauty. the first thing that struck me about it was how slim it was: I have a two-year-old plasma of identical screen size that serves me extremely well and which I had thought has a nice thin case – but compared to this brand new Panasonic it looks almost like a CRT!

Okay, that’s obviously a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s a valid point. These things are getting so thin you’d almost think you could roll them up when you’re not using them!

Anyway, the Panasonic TC-P50GT30 plasma’s picture looks even more fantastic than its profile. Blacks are superbly deep, colors lively and real and the whole picture just about pops off the screen at you even in 2D. It’s a wonderful experience.

Panasonic uses “fast switching phosphors” in all its full HD models to, the company says, reduce afterglow, which they claim should help the TV differentiate the left-and-right-eye images better.

Setup is easy, thanks to menus that are thought out logically, and the remote is easy to figure out as well.

According to Panasonic, the television uses “Full-HD Frame Sequential technology to create its 3D images. Images recorded in 1920 x 1080 pixels for both the right-eye and the left-eye alternately flash on the screen at the ultra-high rate of 120 frames per second. When you view the screen through active-shutter glasses that open and close each lens in sync with the alternating images, you see breathtaking FULL HD 3D pictures with stunning power and realism.”

Maybe. Actually, we noticed some flicker at times while watching “Avatar” in 3D, and the overall experience made my eyes feel tired, though not as badly as I had feared going into the test.

The TC-P50GT30 has enough inputs to choke a horse, including four HDMI, three USB and one for your computer. you can also network it, and either partake of the fleshpots of cyberspace directly from it, or from the also-networkable SC-BTT770 Full HD 3D Blu-ray Disc home theater system Panasonic also sent.

The TV’s weakest point, as with most of them, is the audio output. its specs claim a mere 20 watts per channel through full range speakers, which is competitive but hardly earth shattering. I didn’t care, however, because the only time I actually use the TV’s audio is with programs for which sound quality isn’t important. When sound does matter, I fire up the separate audio system and have at it.

Sound Advice?

Speaking of audio systems, the SC-BTT770 audio system with which Panasonic paired the plasma comes complete with a 3D Blu-ray player/audio head unit and full 5.1 surround speakers, including a small subwoofer whose deep bass surprised me quite pleasantly, and “kind of wireless” rear speakers.

Setup of the head unit and its speakers is pretty simple, with color coded speaker terminals and a decent quick start guide.

The system puts out decent sound for its $599 price, with very good channel separation. I thought it a tad challenged with the higher frequencies, though, enough so that I mentioned it to my compatriots as we basked in the glow of the fantastic 3D presentation of “Avatar.” They tut-tutted that it sounded fine considering its price and its mandate and assured me that most people would be perfectly satisfied with it. They’re undoubtedly correct; I’ve just been spoiled by living with higher end equipment.

There’s a a dedicated Netflix button on the audio system’s easy to use remote and the on-screen interface is straightforward as well.

It also has built in WiFi access to a variety of streaming delights (including Skype), comes with a built in iPod/Phone dock (a very nice touch, indeed), an optical audio input, two HDMI Inputs and one output.

3D or not 3D?

I used the SC-BTT770’s second HDMI input to hook in my PS3 so I could try driving a couple of Gran Turismo 5 races in 3D. It was pretty cool, but I’d like a second opinion from someone who sees more depth than I.

That’s because, to me, 3D doesn’t pop out of the screen. rather, it appears as if the TV screen is a window onto a 3D world beyond it, which can still be pretty cool but which, apparently, isn’t all 3D can be. I discovered this, much to my chagrin, when my wife and my friends starting talking about how the images were appearing in the space in front of them, almost as if they could reach out and touch them. yet I saw none of that! It was very weird and quite depressing. I cried myself to sleep that night.

Panasonic also sent a demo disc and a second 3D movie, “Ice Age: Rise of the Dinosaurs.” the Ice Age movie was so bad my wife and I bailed on it after about half an hour, spending the rest of the evening with the demo disc, whose Italian cars, soccer, golf, weird artsy-fartsy stuff, game excerpt and the like was far more entertaining than Ice Age.

This just goes to show that whiz bang 3D effects don’t make up for lousy writing.

The 3D glasses are kind of cool, if annoying; my guinea pigs were unanimous in saying that 3D isn’t anywhere as long as you have to wear them and it wouldn’t surprise me if they’re right. Oh, it’s easy to charge them via USB, and they aren’t as silly looking as those red and green glasses of old tech 3D – but if you wear glasses already you have to wear the 3D glasses on top of them and the flicker and eye fatigue are enough to make me use 3D only for special occasions.

And, of course, your audience is limited by how many sets of the $180 glasses you can afford.

Sweet Shots…

Panasonic also sent me the HDC-TM900 3D camcorder, with the VW-CLT1 3D conversion lens, and I took them on vacation to check them out. the camcorder is a beauty, tiny enough for single handed operation yet it can put out up to 1080p video that’s stunning. you can also use it as a “still” camera, in case you want to take pictures of a moonshining operation.

The heart of the camcorder is a three-sensor 3MOS Sensor Panasonic says provides a resolution of 7.59 million effective motion image pixels (2.53 million x 3). the sensor splits light entering the Leica lens into the three primary colors and processes each with its own sensor. the claim is that “This reduces light loss compared to the 1MOS sensor, and renders colors, details and gradation all with intricate detail and natural beauty.”

I’m not an expert on such things, but I can tell you with confidence that the camcorder records spectacular images. 

The 12x optical zoom and 20x “Intelligent Zoom” work well, though of course the more you zoom the more you’ll want to steady your arm on something, even considering the camcorder’s build in image stabilization.

As a digital still camera, the HDC-TM900   will capture 4×3 images of up to 14.2 megapixels and 12.2 megapixels at my preferred 16×9 aspect ratio.

Put that 3D adapter on the camcorder and it becomes another beast entirely. the converter, which is an ordeal to install, turns the regular HD video you’re shooting into a pretty decent 3D, but at the expense of flexibility: you can’t zoom or do much else in the way of tweaking the picture and the best 3D depth of field comes between something like four and 12 feet away, which really limits its use. 

On playback, the 3D images don’t fill the entire screen, though it’s fairly close. the 3D effect is pretty good – or at least as good as my obviously flawed eyes could tell. my guinea pigs thought they looked great.

If you really want a 3D camcorder, this one will definitely do the job for you. It’s a better 2D camcorder/still photo camera, though – in fact it’s a superb one, and it’s a lot easier to haul and use without the 3D adapter on it. 

I took a variety of shots – mostly in 1080p or AVCHD, ranging from wide open mountain vistas to dimly lit bedrooms. Nothing I shot really pushed the camcorder’s capabilities – which are prodigious; I basically used the camcorder pretty much the way most people on vacation would: point and shoot, and it was very easy to use.

Switching to 3D involves more than just screwing the adapter on carefully; there’s a calibration process in the mix as well, done via the camcorder’s LCD touch screen. It isn’t particularly onerous, but it is a rigmarole.

Five electret condenser microphones give you supposedly 5.1 sound, and I was quite pleased with the audio playback quality, which had a nice ambiance that helped make the audience feel more a part of the action. A Zoom Mic function is supposed to improve its noise-reducing abilities at higher zooming powers.

The unit comes with 32GB of flash memory, which was more than I needed for the trip, and you can add an SD card if you run out of storage space. the controls fall to hand well and the touch screen interface is easy to get the hang of.

You can output your work via mini-HDMI or USB, to play back and/or copy material from the unit to your computer or TV. I had a one meter HDMI/HDMI adapter, which meant I had to leave the camcorder over by the plasma TV to use it; fortunately, it comes with a little remote you can use from across the room.

The HDC-TM900 camcorder made me marvel at how far consumer video has come since I first hoisted a “portable” video camera onto my shoulder back in the late 1970’s. the $1100 unit offers fantastic performance in an easy to use package – with enough manual adjustments to make it attractive to more serious videographers.  the fact that it can do 3D may be an extra selling point, though I don’t think the extra few hundred bucks the adapter requires are really worth it unless you’re very serious about 3D.

The Verdict?

Full marks for the HDC-TM900 camcorder and the TC-P50GT30 plasma. Both are excellent products that perform their anointed tasks beautifully.

The SC-BTT770 Full HD 3D Blu-ray Disc home theater also offers good performance, as long as you aren’t an audio/video snob with high end tastes. It doesn’t take up much space, it’s flexible enough to let you hook in a second player or game console, offers a kind of wirelessness for the rear speakers, and yet it’ll still rock your room nicely when you crank it. for six hundred bucks, including the Blu-ray player, the amplifier and the speakers, how can you go wrong?

But 3D itself? I’m still not sure if people are going to care enough about it – and I obviously don’t get the effect out of it that others do – but apparently it does offer a bit of a “gee whiz” experience for those whose eyes function correctly. Whether it’s hanging in the air between you and the TV or in that 3D world that exists behind the TV, the 3D 1080p picture quality is excellent.

As good as it is, though, it never looked “real” to me. Instead, it reminded me of those old fashioned “View-Master” stereoscopic slide thingies I had as a kid, offering definite depth but with a sense of unreality as well.

I guess we’ll all find out soon enough whether people think 3D offers enough value to be worth their after-tax disposable dollars. in the meantime, no one’s going to hold a gun to your head and force you to watch stuff in 3D even though the equipment is capable of it. And to that end, these Panasonic 3D home theater components not only excel in three dimensions, they do at least as good a job in 2D as well, so even if the technology doesn’t take off you’ll still have a fine home theater.

Copyright 2011 Jim BrayTechnoFile.com

Panasonic 3D Home Theater, Camcorder, a Real Blast