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Author Topic: Gadgets, Devices, Things and Stuff  (Read 5863 times)
Cyrrex
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on: June 13, 2017, 03:09:38 AM

Some of you may have noticed that I am a bit of an electronics/gadgets freak.  At least in terms of major and typical consumer electronics stuff, but I also tend to dive headfirst into new trends as well (VR anyone?) from time to time.  That said, I gotta believe there are at least a few more of you out there on a forum such as the one we have here that either have the same disease that I have, or just in general want to discuss such topics and share/seek advice.  So!  I don't know if there are any old threads out there that could be re-used, but I think we need a general, mostly non-PC kind of thread where we can share info, ideas and opinions on all manner of stuff.  First hand product reviews, even, from people you might trust slightly more than the average Amazon shill.  I usually do my homework when I buy stuff, because I like to get the most possible value out of my money.  That also often means that I avoid the really high-priced stuff, unless I get a deal or buy it second hand.

I'll get the ball rolling in a second post.

Never, ever assume someone that short and fat has their shit together. - Schild
Cyrrex
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Reply #1 on: June 13, 2017, 03:40:01 AM

Okay, so possibly my biggest obsession:  sound.  Home theater, car audio, portable music, etc.  My latest purchases have all been around improving the portable audio experience.  I listen to music a LOT, and a good deal of that is time spent at the gym where I have something portable.  I currently have an iphone 7, which in terms of audio ouput is a legitimate piece of shit.  I mean, the actual signal itself is probably just fine if you have good source materials (flacs or other hi-def sources), but the power output itself is unacceptably terrible.  So weak.  They apparently get away with this, because most people don't notice it, or simply don't know what they are missing.  I have a lot of portable devices, and this thing which was more expensive than all of them is possibly the worst in this area.

So among other options (including headphones, IEMs and even other portable devices), I have recently spent some cash on this little thing:

https://www.amazon.com/FiiO-Portable-Headphone-Amplifier-Black/dp/B00MFMW29I/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1497341871&sr=8-2&keywords=fiio+a3

In short, it is a portable, rechargeable amplifier for portable music players.  It is quite basic in its functionality, but all you really need to know is that it will boost the power of your device by a crazy amount.  I don't know if it is possible to get specs on an iphone 7 power output, but I would guess it to be somewhere around 50mW or possibly even less.  A great audio smartphone will probably not exceed 100mW, though I haven't checked.  This Fiio A3 is putting out 450mW, so many times the power of what you are probably currently getting.  What it does to your music...it is dramatic.  At lower volumes it just improves the depth and quality of the sound over the whole range, and by a great deal.  And if you like it loud, like I do....Oh my.  Earth shattering loudness, and not just a distorted mess.  Full, powerful, mind-blowing.

I read all kinds of argumentation that if you are running a pair of 16 ohm headphones or IEMs, particularly if they are high sensitivity, that you do not benefit from any kind of external amplification and that it is unnecessary overkill.  After testing a number of phones that fit those parameters, I can say this is categorically false.  The difference is astounding, even with very efficient, low impedance IEMs.  Also, this will basically connect to anything via a 3.5mm plug, so no reason you couldn't also hook it up to your pc headphones. Testing a pair of Steel Series (Siberia, I think?) headphones produced amazing results from the iphone, and I am sure hooking up to a PC would be similar.

The primary and only drawback I can put my finger on with this thing is that, even though it is quite small, you get quite a sizable brick when you piggy back it onto your device and want to put it in your pocket.  Aside from that, it is an insanely good and worthwhile upgrade, for the hilariously low price of 60 USD.


Never, ever assume someone that short and fat has their shit together. - Schild
Sky
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Reply #2 on: June 13, 2017, 09:55:21 AM

Do not listen to your music loudly in headphones. You may think hearing loss and tinnitus won't happen to you, it will. And it sucks. In fact, use headphones as little as possible, because the temptation to listen too loudly is too great.

I mostly use a Creative SB Roar to listen to music/movies on my devices. I think I've gotten every artist in the area into the habit, it's nice to always have good music to draw/paint to.

Other than that, the only tech I have that isn't about pc games or backups is a little bit of music gear. I find tech too gadgety, expensive and short-lived.

Merusk
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Reply #3 on: June 13, 2017, 11:47:59 AM

Agreed. I have some significant loss at top and bottom-end and can't make-out people's voices in crowds at all due to listening to headphones at max everyday during my teen years. You can be standing 1' from me and you sound like the background noise if it's above a murmur.

So now noise-cancelling headphones are my go-to instead of trying to boost the audio over the ambient noise. This also makes yardwork a lot easier on my ears. I'm the only guy in the neighborhood who wears ear protection when mowing/ trimming/ leaf blowing and I get looks, but fuck 'em. The loss I have is bad enough I don't need more.

I picked-up a shock-proof/ water-resistant Bluetooth speaker for $15 at Best Buy the other day for the rest of my outdoor use. Sounds great and I never would have expected it from such a cheap device.

The past cannot be changed. The future is yet within your power.
Viin
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Reply #4 on: June 13, 2017, 12:18:42 PM

I have one of these kits: https://www.boxedkitamps.com/solop-headphone-amp-kit for building a little headphone amp, but I keep forgetting to put it together. I've never tried one before, so thanks for the post - now I have a reason to dig it out and give it a whirl.

My other project is a little self contained shelf speaker with a Bluetooth-enabled amp, using one of these boards: http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-TPA3116-Bluetooth-Amplifier-Board-Class-D-50W-2-Amp-Board-CSR4-0-/261802317897 (2 channels, 50W each)

- Viin
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Reply #5 on: June 13, 2017, 12:48:48 PM

The concept of amplifying headphones is terrifying to me for the above stated reasons.

This is a gadget I am eyeballing:  http://www.dji.com/mavic

I've been thinking about getting a photography drone for a while but they've never quite seemed idiot-proof enough for me.  This one has a battery life of about half an hour, automatic obstacle avoidance, a signal range of a few miles, and it knows how to automatically pilot itself back to its origin point if it loses signal or starts to run low on battery.  Being able to fly this thing pretty much anywhere in the city and feel reasonably confident that I won't lose it sounds pretty dang cool...

"Nice attempted blast about my "drinking".  I do enjoy a nice cuppa, but that is because I am a bon vivant of gregarious nature and cheery disposition." - Ab
ynotgolf
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Reply #6 on: June 13, 2017, 03:34:04 PM

.

So among other options (including headphones, IEMs and even other portable devices), I have recently spent some cash on this little thing:

https://www.amazon.com/FiiO-Portable-Headphone-Amplifier-Black/dp/B00MFMW29I/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1497341871&sr=8-2&keywords=fiio+a3

In short, it is a portable, rechargeable amplifier for portable music players.  It is quite basic in its functionality, but all you really need to know is that it will boost the power of your device by a crazy amount.  I don't know if it is possible to get specs on an iphone 7 power output, but I would guess it to be somewhere around 50mW or possibly even less.  A great audio smartphone will probably not exceed 100mW, though I haven't checked.  This Fiio A3 is putting out 450mW, so many times the power of what you are probably currently getting.  What it does to your music...it is dramatic.  At lower volumes it just improves the depth and quality of the sound over the whole range, and by a great deal.  And if you like it loud, like I do....Oh my.  Earth shattering loudness, and not just a distorted mess.  Full, powerful, mind-blowing.




Your post came at a perfect time, as I have been complaining to myself about the quality of sound from my iphone.  Ordered it today, looking forward to trying it out Thursday.  Thank you Cyrrex!
Polysorbate80
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Reply #7 on: June 13, 2017, 11:28:48 PM

I took my noise cancelling headphones to the Tesla/Poison/Def Leppard concert last week.  During Poison's set I wore the headphones over my earplugs, and spent the time drowning them out listening to acts I'd like to go see but can't, like Chris Cornell and Rush.  Leppard is holding up pretty well though  awesome, for real

But yeah, I use them all the time for mowing/on the tractor/powertool use.  I've got about 40db of loss above 3khz in my right ear from noise exposure, and I don't want to aggravate it any more.
Cyrrex
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Reply #8 on: June 13, 2017, 11:50:10 PM

I know it is one of those kinds of things where I should watch out a little, but for me it is kind of one of those "out of my cold, dead hands" things.  I take unusually good care of myself in most respects, but I need my music to be loud.

In any event, it doesn't change my recommendation.  Even at moderate  and lower volumes, the little device I linked is a great boost to the overall sound quality.

Never, ever assume someone that short and fat has their shit together. - Schild
Mandella
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Reply #9 on: June 16, 2017, 12:01:31 PM

So what's a good wireless/Bluetooth headphone that can be used with both Windows PC and Xbox 360? Something that won't break the bank, but will let me crank up the volume late at night while the rest of the house is asleep? Been using an old set of wired headphones, but would be nice to have more mobility...
Mandella
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Reply #10 on: June 16, 2017, 12:08:33 PM

The concept of amplifying headphones is terrifying to me for the above stated reasons.

This is a gadget I am eyeballing:  http://www.dji.com/mavic

I've been thinking about getting a photography drone for a while but they've never quite seemed idiot-proof enough for me.  This one has a battery life of about half an hour, automatic obstacle avoidance, a signal range of a few miles, and it knows how to automatically pilot itself back to its origin point if it loses signal or starts to run low on battery.  Being able to fly this thing pretty much anywhere in the city and feel reasonably confident that I won't lose it sounds pretty dang cool...

Sorry to all for double posting, but goddam that is a nice drone! I was honestly expecting the final price to be a whole lot more than a grand too.

Now I want one, dammit.
Sky
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Reply #11 on: June 16, 2017, 10:20:03 PM

Yeah, those look really cool.

Cyrrex
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Reply #12 on: June 28, 2017, 04:23:06 AM

Done something lately I wouldn't normally think of doing:  Buying headphones second hand.

First, these little beauties:  

https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Headphones-Earphones/Betron-Earphones-Headphones-Definition-BlackBerry/B00S2P0M4Y/ref=sr_1_2_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1498640802&sr=8-2&keywords=betron+ysm

Really impressive sound quality for a very low price.  Huge upgrade over anything Apple ever came up with, and even a significant upgrade over a nice pair of free HTC IEMs I have.  High sensitivity / low impedance also means they play pretty well for the anemic power output from lots of devices.  

Secondly, after much deliberation and hesitancy, I bought a pair of (wired) Beats Solo 2 headphones.  Got them gently used, for something like 35% of the full retail price, so not a huge risk.  I know that Beats stuff is overpriced and overhyped, and a couple of years ago I loaned a pair of Beats HD cans...and man, were they terrible.  Objectively shitty.  After doing a bit of homework and a few in-store tests (which you have to take with a giant grain of salt if you cannot control the music source), I took a chance.  Initially, I was a bit "meh" about them, although they were clearly better than the HD version.  Paired with the little amplifier I spoke of earlier in the thread...and they really sing.  The overall sound quality is actually excellent across the whole range.  I was expecting them to be bass heavy (which would have been fine), and found out they were actually very well balanced.  And with enough power, they sound bloody great.  

Would I recommend them at full price?  LOL no, but then again the full price is ridiculous.  At half price or less, even if gently used?  I would say probably yes if you are running something weak like an iphone.  Anything with more power would be a definite yes recommendation.  Taking a chance paid off here.


Never, ever assume someone that short and fat has their shit together. - Schild
Merusk
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Reply #13 on: July 27, 2017, 09:11:56 AM

Just caught this: http://elbow.co.nf/

It's possibly the most minimalist cassette tape player you could ever have. So very cool and unnecessary it fits exactly in the niche of 'useless gadget.'   I mean, who the hell still has cassettes they want to listen to but hasn't gotten some form of digital copy of?

The past cannot be changed. The future is yet within your power.
Raph
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Reply #14 on: July 27, 2017, 01:37:19 PM

Just caught this: http://elbow.co.nf/

It's possibly the most minimalist cassette tape player you could ever have. So very cool and unnecessary it fits exactly in the niche of 'useless gadget.'   I mean, who the hell still has cassettes they want to listen to but hasn't gotten some form of digital copy of?

I have hundreds of them that I don[t have digital copies of, many because they were obscure musicians who never made the jump to CD much less digital. :(

Been slowly, slowly trying to rip them. Takes forever.
MisterNoisy
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Reply #15 on: July 27, 2017, 03:23:00 PM

I think I've actually sort of fallen out of love with gadgets in general and my only big tech expenses are a pair of gaming PCs and accessories (some of which are decidedly goofy - I have an RGB mousepad) for them.  

My phones for some time have been 'the best I can buy for under $200 off-contract', I'm still using an ancient Nexus 7 as my go-to tablet and I only recently added an Echo Dot to my entry/middling HT setup, mostly because it makes for a decent 'set and forget' jukebox.

I'm also definitely not an audiophile.  Most of my listening is either in the car or from the HT.  Everything else is via 'whatever $10 earbuds that won't fall apart when you look at them' I'm using at the time or my PC headset/speakers.



« Last Edit: July 27, 2017, 06:21:25 PM by MisterNoisy »

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schild
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Reply #16 on: July 27, 2017, 03:54:32 PM

Just caught this: http://elbow.co.nf/

It's possibly the most minimalist cassette tape player you could ever have. So very cool and unnecessary it fits exactly in the niche of 'useless gadget.'   I mean, who the hell still has cassettes they want to listen to but hasn't gotten some form of digital copy of?

I have hundreds of them that I don[t have digital copies of, many because they were obscure musicians who never made the jump to CD much less digital. :(

Been slowly, slowly trying to rip them. Takes forever.

Fuck that, use a service.
Samwise
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Reply #17 on: July 27, 2017, 04:05:49 PM

Just caught this: http://elbow.co.nf/

It's possibly the most minimalist cassette tape player you could ever have. So very cool and unnecessary it fits exactly in the niche of 'useless gadget.'   I mean, who the hell still has cassettes they want to listen to but hasn't gotten some form of digital copy of?

*raises hand*

That gadget looks neat.

"Nice attempted blast about my "drinking".  I do enjoy a nice cuppa, but that is because I am a bon vivant of gregarious nature and cheery disposition." - Ab
Chimpy
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Reply #18 on: July 27, 2017, 04:38:53 PM

I'm pretty sure that all the stuff I had on cassette that I cared about, I snagged on Napster in the like 5 months I had between getting off of dial-up by getting a cable modem and Napster being shut down.

'Reality' is the only word in the language that should always be used in quotes.
Sky
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Reply #19 on: July 27, 2017, 10:15:16 PM

Just caught this: http://elbow.co.nf/

It's possibly the most minimalist cassette tape player you could ever have. So very cool and unnecessary it fits exactly in the niche of 'useless gadget.'   I mean, who the hell still has cassettes they want to listen to but hasn't gotten some form of digital copy of?

I have hundreds of them that I don[t have digital copies of, many because they were obscure musicians who never made the jump to CD much less digital. :(

Been slowly, slowly trying to rip them. Takes forever.

Fuck that, use a service.
I actually need to do this, I have a couple rehearsal tapes lying around I'd love to digitize. My tape player bit the dust years ago and I hesitate to buy a decent quality model but also don't want to cheap out to do the transfer.

I bet 90% of it is arguing and bong rips, but hey, good times.

MrHat
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Reply #20 on: September 12, 2017, 01:26:32 PM

iPhone X: Best of Android 2014-2016
Merusk
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Reply #21 on: September 12, 2017, 01:59:47 PM

Did specs get released or something? I haven't paid attention to them since they took away the absolutely-necessary-for-flights 1/8" jack.

The past cannot be changed. The future is yet within your power.
Brolan
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Reply #22 on: September 12, 2017, 02:02:55 PM

Yup, release event today.  iPhone X looks pretty neat but pricey at $1000.
calapine
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Reply #23 on: September 12, 2017, 02:05:26 PM

I am just arguing with an apple groupy.

He saying iPhone X replaces DSLR cameras, I am saying, only for people buying DLSR as status symbol, else try attaching an a camera objective to an iPhone

Restoration is a perfectly valid school of magic!
Merusk
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Reply #24 on: September 12, 2017, 02:07:32 PM

And absolutely impossible to protect as the glass has no bezel and is all screen. I foresee many replaced phones without decent cases.

I'm amused at wireless charging. I bitched 2 years ago that wireless charging should have been included before Bluetooth-only headphones. MacFanboys said "the technology isn't there yet." "Phones have to be too bulky to support it" "heat is too much of an issue to make wireless charging viable" in response.  I should browse my reddit history and find what those idiots are saying today then post their own quotes as links, but I'm too fucking lazy for that.

I am just arguing with an apple groupy.

He saying iPhone X replaces DSLR cameras, I am saying, only for people buying DLSR as status symbol, else try attaching an a camera objective to an iPhone

People who don't understand photography have been saying that since 2009. You can safely ignore those idiots.

The past cannot be changed. The future is yet within your power.
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Reply #25 on: September 12, 2017, 02:08:58 PM

Yup, release event today.  iPhone X looks pretty neat but pricey at $1000.

... the fuck wants to drop a goddamn grand on a fucking phone?

Oh wait, I forgot. Apple users.

Brolan
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Reply #26 on: September 12, 2017, 02:16:25 PM

Nice thing is the 6 & 7 are good phones and they dropped in price.  But still cost too much.  I think Jobs would be proud.
Rasix
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Reply #27 on: September 12, 2017, 02:28:58 PM

Looks like I'm holding on to my 7 until it croaks.

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Surlyboi
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Reply #28 on: September 12, 2017, 02:43:56 PM

 awesome, for real awesome, for real awesome, for real awesome, for real awesome, for real awesome, for real awesome, for real awesome, for real awesome, for real awesome, for real awesome, for real awesome, for real awesome, for real awesome, for real awesome, for real awesome, for real awesome, for real awesome, for real

Ah, there's the bitching I was looking for.


Tuned in, immediately get to watch cringey Ubisoft talking head offering her deepest sympathies to the families impacted by the Orlando shooting while flanked by a man in a giraffe suit and some sort of "horrifically garish neon costumes through the ages" exhibit or something.  We need to stop this fucking planet right now and sort some shit out. -Kail
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Reply #29 on: September 12, 2017, 03:27:41 PM

i'm never gonna get a good phone with a proper keyboard again

and that makes me sad
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Reply #30 on: September 12, 2017, 03:44:47 PM

Looks like I'm holding on to my 7 until it croaks.

I will probably replace my 6 with an 8 in a few months once the initial release madness dies down.

I have no desire for the giant form factor of the new style, and I rely on TouchID way too much to want a phone without it.
 

'Reality' is the only word in the language that should always be used in quotes.
01101010
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Reply #31 on: September 12, 2017, 03:45:01 PM

$1000 for a tablet is too much. Sorry. I'm leaning toward an Apple phone of some kind as the wife and mother and pretty much my side of the family are all using apple stuff. But seriously... the bubble will burst at some point, it always does.

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Trippy
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Reply #32 on: September 12, 2017, 03:48:00 PM

$1000 for a tablet is too much. Sorry.
Which is why Apple has 8 (lucky number!) different models to choose from now awesome, for real

So much for simplicity...
Surlyboi
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Reply #33 on: September 12, 2017, 04:03:45 PM

$1000 for a tablet is too much. Sorry.
Which is why Apple has 8 (lucky number!) different models to choose from now awesome, for real


This. No one's forcing anyone to get the X. You can grab an 8 or a 7 or hell even a 6S or SE and be perfectly happy with most of the features. The people going for the X will be the edge cases for the most part and the features missing in the other devices will trickle out in lower priced future versions as they always have.

Tuned in, immediately get to watch cringey Ubisoft talking head offering her deepest sympathies to the families impacted by the Orlando shooting while flanked by a man in a giraffe suit and some sort of "horrifically garish neon costumes through the ages" exhibit or something.  We need to stop this fucking planet right now and sort some shit out. -Kail
Trippy
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Reply #34 on: September 12, 2017, 04:14:06 PM

And absolutely impossible to protect as the glass has no bezel and is all screen. I foresee many replaced phones without decent cases.
I'm not sure why that matters. My glass screen protectors go out to just about the very edges of my phones, regardless of the widths of the bezels.

I am just arguing with an apple groupy.

He saying iPhone X replaces DSLR cameras, I am saying, only for people buying DLSR as status symbol, else try attaching an a camera objective to an iPhone
People who don't understand photography have been saying that since 2009. You can safely ignore those idiots.
Smartphone cameras decimated the compact digital camera market, as you would expect, but DSLR and mirrorless camera sales are down significantly at almost 1/2 their level in 2012.



Of course on a technical basis a smartphone camera is nowhere close to the quality and functionality of a DSLR but as the old adage goes "the best camera is the one that's with you". Also young people don't seem interested in non-smartphone cameras so it's just us older folks who have experience with cameras pre-iPhone that are keeping that market alive.
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