Showing posts with label Review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Review. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Sonos Wireless HiFi – Mini-Review


About a month ago, while watching Sunday afternoon football, I saw this commercial:



Now, I had heard of Sonos before, and I knew their price-point was high, and their equipment clunky looking.  However, the equipment in the commercial looked good, and the ability to stream different music to each speaker at the same time had me totally hooked.

I started researching Sonos, and found they had a pretty good reputation and their new Play series was looking good.  Plus, at the time, they were giving away a free bridge with a Play speaker purchase.  That was always the catch for me; to make the expensive speaker work, I had to purchase another piece of expensive equipment just to make it work.  Now that it was free, I was very interested.  I just needed to hear them in real life.  Would they sound like they do in the commercial coming from my home theater system, or would they sound like tin cans, like every other portable speaker ever.

Off to Target!  Just so happens that my local Target carried Sonos equipment and had a demo display set up.  Now I could answer the last question: How do they really sound?  Short answer: Awesome.  In the big open area of Target, the sound was impressive and surprisingly immersive.  The bass response from the Play:3 and the Play:5 was above what I expected.   The Play:1 was about what I expected.  It tried, but just couldn’t make it.  However, being resistant to humidity and very small made it perfect for someplace like the kitchen.  You don’t need super audio quality while banging pots and pans together, just some background noise.Now, being the kind of person I am, I left Target after my successful trial run, and placed and order through Amazon for a Play:1, Play:3, and a Play:5.  Amazon was also providing the free bridge with purchase.  2 Days later,


The setup of this system couldn’t be much easier.  First thing you install is the Bridge unit.  It hardwires into your home network and can be placed next to your router or anywhere with a cable drop, if your house is wired for Ethernet.  Our Bridge sits on the video game storage cabinet in the living room, and you’d never notice it.

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Plug in the power and it does the rest. 

Next you need to download the Sonos app.  There are iPad, iPhone/iPod, and Android versions of the app, making it pretty universal.  Once the app installs, it asks you to press the button on the Bridge to establish a connection.  Then that’s it.  Your Bridge is ready for speakers and the app is ready to control them.

Speaker setup is just as easy.  Plug in the speaker, tap the Add Speaker button in the app, press a button on the speaker, and done. 2013-12-11 12.33.27
Sonos Play:5 in our living room.

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Sonos Play:3 in the master bedroom

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Sonos Play:1 in our kitchen.  This one also comes with me down into the basement/lab when I’m working down there.

Sonos even pushes out firmware and other updates the same way.  The app alerts you to an update and the push goes from there.  This was so simple, it’s a technology I’d consider giving to my parents.

In the store, I was impressed with the audio performance of these speakers.  At home, I was blown away.  The Play:1 has the most incredible bass response I’ve heard from such a small speaker.  The Play:3 fills a room evenly and beautifully with well balanced music.  If anything I’d say I was the least impressed with the Play:5.  To be such a large unit, the smaller two really outshine it.

The app is also really easy to use.  You can connect it to your Pandora, Amazon Cloud, Spotify, or even home media server quick and easy.

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iPad interface

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iPhone/Android interface

Q&A Time

Is the Sonos system a little pricey?  Yes, but in my opinion, it is worth every penny.

Does the Sonos system pass the spouse test?  With flying colors, yes it does.  My wife loves this system.  Once of the really cool, kind of hidden features is the sleep timer and alarm clock features in the app.  This is getting a lot of use in our house.

Would you buy more Sonos pieces?  Yes.  I really want at least a Play:1 in every room of the house, and am working toward that too.

Once you set them up, can you move the speakers?  Yes.  You just unplug the power, move it to another room, plug it in and go.  Over Thanksgiving, we moved the Play:3 into the dining room and had music as we ate.

The only true downside I can find with the Sonos system is the cost, but so far, its been well worth the investment.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mini-Review Round Up

Taking a break from the regular posts to make two small reviews.  One will be on the thermoplastic product known as Worbla and the other will be on my adventures into airbrushing.


Where on Earth has this product been all my life?  Oh, yeah, over in Europe. 
Worbla is a newer type of thermoplastic similar to Wonderflex.  However, Worbla does not have the fabric mesh that Wonderflex does.  This means that you can get much more complex shapes and curves.  Worbla is also self adhesive and a zero waste product.
First, what is a thermoplastic?  Essentially it is a plastic that reacts to heat allowing you to shape and mold it.  Just like any plastic, but his has a much lower melt point, so you can use either a heat gun or even a hair dryer.
Worbla is sold by the sheet and each sheet has two sides.  The smooth side has all the adhesive and the other side has a rough texture to it.  You can sand down this texture if it doesn’t suit your needs, or you can also apply compounds like Bondo or regular joint compound over to smooth it out.
One of the biggest plusses to Worbla is the zero waste aspect.  All the scraps you have left from cutting out your design can be melted together and then used for trim, details, whatever you need.  This is going to be what the rest of this review focuses on.
So, what’s it like to actually work with the stuff?  It’s a lot of fun actually.
You will need a heat source, a work surface that won’t melt, and a pair of gloves.  I highly recommend the gloves.  This stuff gets a lot hotter than you would think.
Next gather up your scrap pieces.  We’re going to melt them into a big Worbla ball to make the trim on a set of armor.
One Worbla ball….sort of.
Getting there.  Just keep heating the ball and rolling it in your hands like clay.  Then you can start to roll it out into the shape you need.
One Worbla turd.
Heating and rolling to make the trim piece.  Be careful to keep the piece moving while heating.  It is self adhesive, but will also glue to any surface.
Here, we’re placing it over the detail lines.  It is a little rough, but more heating and sanding take that down.
Now that the trim has been applied to the piece, it is time to shape the piece.  This will do two things, get the overall piece to the shape we want, and cause the trim to glue to the base.
Hey, you should have known PVC was coming.  I wrapped it with aluminum foil so that if the Worbla did glue to the pipe, it would just be to the removable aluminum foil and not the actual pipe.
Piece in place.  Now we heat.
Melting to form.
A little help to get the edges smooth.  Gloves come in handy here too.
Well crap.  I melted a hole in it.  No problem.
Extra scrap piece, shiny side to shiny side for best adhesion. and heat.
Hole is gone and a little sanding and heat to smooth and it was never there.
I’m really enjoying Worbla, and I’m looking to really push it just to see what it can and can’t do.

Mini-Review Part 2 – The Airbrush

An airbrush is a tool that I’ve needed for a long time.  Using spray paints, towels, rags, steel wool, etc. to create my painting effects gets old (and toxic) at times.
I was lucky enough to get a complete set of three airbrushes and a compressor for Christmas.

The Brushes
This one is great for pin point and narrow detailing.  So great, in fact, that I clogged it up first time using it.  It is honestly a case of user error and not a problem with the brush.  Also, if you do suspect a clog in the brush, do not try blowing a puff of air into the ink tank while there is still ink in the tank.  Ink speckles everywhere, and you feel like an idiot.  Once you figure out what just happened, that is.
This monster is the paint roller of airbrushes.  Covers large areas with a nice even coat.
This is the fancy one.  Paint jars and it has a variable nozzle.  This means that it can do pin point and narrow all the way out to paint roller.  Very handy for when you’re not really sure what pattern you’ll need until you’re neck deep into it.

The Compressor

This one is a small compressor designed for airbrushing.  It’s quiet and just powerful enough.  The instructions say to run for 15 minutes at a time, then power off for 15 minutes.  This is because it gets really hot when working.  It does have a thermal overload switch that shuts it down in the event of an overheat.  This would have also been a good thing to have read before I started using it.  Burning one’s hand trying to figure out why the compressor just shut off is not fun.
The compressor had a really handy “holster” attachment that allowed the two brushes to hang in there between uses.
My new paint area is set up in a well ventilated area and as level as I could make it.  The canvas in the middle of the table was to do a test spray to check the color, intensity, pattern, etc.  Get a good feel for it before you paint the actual piece.
These are just rough examples of trying to go from Tootsie Roll to Tootsie Roll with lines on it.  After a couple of hours of practice and a lot of paint, I did get a really cool wood texture effect.  At least I like it.
I’m really pleased with both the airbrush set up and the Worbla.  The areas of application for these new tools is nearly limitless.  Look for more to come!