by Alex Lee
Everybody knows about the Apple iPod series of products. It has revolutionized the portable MP3 player, but are other manufacturers creating a better product? I'll look into a few of these including the Creative Zen V Plus, iRiver T10, and the Sony Ericcson's V630i. All three of these are feature-packed devices that are definitely legitimate competitors of the iPod.
Creative Zen Nano Plus
The bold styling of the Creative Zen V Plus definitely catches your eye at first glance. It's very, VERY small and is available in 10 different colors. While the screen is much smaller than your average iPod, the menus are very clear and it is still easy to navigate. Another plus of the Creative Zen is that you can just drag and drop your music files onto the player, instead of having to use proprietary software such as iTunes to transfer files.
Some other features of the Zen is that it includes a radio tuner and a voice recorder, and can play most of your typical formats such as MP3, WMA, and WAV files.
Some downsides, however is that it only comes with 512mb of memory which is good enough for about 250 songs. Also, there is no rechargeable battery included with the unit. It runs of an AAA battery which lasts about 16 hours. However, priced at only $59.99 for the 512mb version, this is a very strong option when compared to the iPod Shuffle.
The iRiver T10 is an interesting looking device that screams "LOOK AT ME." The three color options are a bright lime green, cherry red, or orange yellow, depending on what size drive you get. There is a 256mb option, 512mb option, or 1gb option. The screen is 1.1 inches but can display an incredible 64,000 colors. It also comes with a built in equalizer and FM tuner.
It runs off a single AA battery and can last approximately 45 hours. It uses USB 2.0 to quickly transfer files from your computer to the device as well. Weighing in at only 1.7 ounces, you can definitely take this with you anywhere you go. However, you will have to pay a premium for all the extra features in this tiny unit. The iRiver T10 retails at $199.
Sony Ericcson's V630i
Okay, the V630i is not a true MP3 player; it is just a mobile phone that has MP3 capability. However, one huge reason why somebody might want this player is that it not only plays your music files that you load onto the phone, but it can also stream internet radio live! This means you will finally be able to listen to Wine and Music radio on the go! The phone uses the Vodafone service to connect to the internet anywhere you go. The phone also has high quality audio playback so you will get the full sound quality that Wine and Music radio provides.
However, the phone is not yet released in the United States, so you may have to go to a phone store that sells international phones to be able to use this service.
These new alternatives are all very strong competitors to Apple's iPod products, and are good ways to bring your music on the go. The introduction of new products keeps all manufacturers competitive and the competition drives them to provide the best product for the people.
by Alex Lee
A majority of people will tell you that the most frustrating aspect of installing a home theater system is running wires. Consumers used to have only two choices; either spend the time and money to run the wires in the wall, or run the ugly wires through the room for everybody to see. Recently, wireless technology has given consumers a third option.
Although many companies claim to sell "wireless" speakers, most of the systems are not truly wireless unless you plan on changing batteries all the time. You still need to plug in a power cable to power the speaker. In addition, many systems require a wireless transmitter to be plugged in near the speaker and a speaker wire from the transmitter to the speaker. Many of these claimed "wireless" systems only eliminate the need for running a signal wire from the speaker all the way back to your home audio receiver, which is usually the most difficult wire to run.
While some very expensive high-end home theater equipment are fully wireless, most wireless home theater systems today only include wireless rears because affordable consumer technology is still not good enough to run dependable main speakers and retain accurate sound. All-inclusive home theater packages such as the Samsung HT-WP38 DVD Home Theater System put together everything you need for a home theater system with the convenience of wireless surrounds. This particular system is a true 5.1 system and includes a DVD player/receiver, 5 speakers, and a subwoofer. The system puts out 135Wx5 for the fronts, surrounds, and center channel as well as 130W for the sub channel for a total of 800 watts of power.
Other features of the system include a USB input right on the receiver which will allow you to play MP3 and WMA files straight off your portable hard drive or flash drive. You can also view your JPEG pictures on your TV. The 5-disc DVD player will play DVD-audio, DivX, JPEG, MP3, and WMA discs as well. This versatile system can be found for under $350 on Amazon.com.
However, there are still some issues when using wireless speakers. Positioning the rear transmitter may not be completely plug and play. Some users experienced a faint hissing with the rear surrounds. However, repositioning the transmitter usually lessened or eliminated the problem. The transmitter may also pick up interference from wireless routers, cordless phones, or even microwaves because all these devices operate in the same wavelength. While these problems do occur, most people have no issues with the system. The sound quality is good enough for most people, but may not be as accurate as a true audiophile requires.
Wireless speaker technology is becoming better very quickly, but a wired solution will still sound better to the most demanding listener. For most people looking for a budget system, the Samsung is an outstanding choice for those looking for a system that provides easy setup, lots of functionality, and good sound quality.
Roku - Listen to the internet through your stereo for under $200!
Listen to internet radio through your stereo speakers anywhere you have internet access. The Roku SoundBridge M1000 - Network Music Player with Wi-Fi lets you do this for as little as $199.99. Simply plug it into the power source for your speakers, go online on any computer that is on the network, choose your favorite stations, and enjoy the music. You can also use it to access your personal media library on any computer in the house. It is small, easy to place, and sounds great too! If you are having a wine tasting party you can tune into wineandmusic.com and rest assured that the music will provide the perfect mood for your special event.
Sonos - The new way to listen at home
These days, it is so much easier to go to the internet and download your favorite album or song than it is to go to the store and buy the CD. And where do you store all of those CDs? Most people still rely on the CD player and stereo systems of the 90's to provide music for the home, but even the components to these older systems are bulky and hard to hide. We have found a solution to this in a product called Sonos.
Sonos is offered with a wireless remote that allows you to program different songs for different rooms if you wish. The speakers connect wirelessly to a station that recieves music from your computer which can be located any where in the house. It is priced at about $1800 which includes enough speakers and stations for 2 room and the remote. More rooms can be added as needed.
You can throw out your old stereo system and plug into sonos. Sonically it is pretty amazing as well. The speakers are small and easy to place, but they sound very full. The best part is that if you are having a party and someone suggests music that might go great with the bottle of wine they brought, you can go to your computer, download the music from Rhapsody and play it throughout your house.