Archive for December, 2013


Over the past few weeks I’ve taken a look at a number of Bluetooth speakers, so far my favorite has still been the Headrush Back Beat I reviewed a few months ago, until now.
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I recently got a chance to try out the iLive ISB223 which is a relatively small Bluetooth speaker. Its shaped a bit like a rain drop or the silhouette of an egg. The speaker itself features Bluetooth connectivity as well as a 3.5mm aux in jack and comes with a decently long cord for hooking up devices directly to the unit.

It also has a few aces up its sleeve with a USB port for charging your devices volume up and down as well as a play pause button. And as an added bonus it has a built in night light.

But my favorite thing about this speaker is its simplicity. Its one of the fastest and easiest speakers I’ve had to pair with, sans nfc, and there’s no charger cord or block to worry about. That’s right. When you need to charge the speaker you just lift a flap on the back and there is a hidden plug in the back that flips up and you just plug it directly into the wall. Now how easy and awesome is that.

As far as volume goes this is definitely loud enough for about any application. It works great in the car at work and I can even hear it, mostly, when there is a plane getting ready for take off at work.

To be honest the only downside to this speaker is I would have loved a speaker phone option for answering calls on the go. But for $58 at Walmart it really doesn’t get much better than this. I would highly recommend this for anyone. In fact its so good and easy to use I got one for my 65 year old father to use at work for internet radio. A must buy if your looking at Bluetooth speakers this season.

Richard R
@riche_613

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Like I mentioned in my last BT speaker review for the iHome IDM8, iHome makes a lot of speakers and accessories. These two Bluetooth speakers are virtually the same with the IBT24 basically being two IBT16’s glued together.

Now, compared to the IDM8, I think these are way cooler looking. They look like “traditional” speakers but are, obviously, much smaller and come in a bunch of cool neon colors as well as black.

I’ll start with the smaller of the two, the IBT16. This is a relatively small speaker. You can hold it in your hand quite easily and it can be packed in a bag easily. For the size the sound is actually very loud. I had no problem hearing this speaker in the car on the highway or at work with the hood fans and equipment going.
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One of the really cool things about this speaker is it not only has a audio in jack for direct connection with out Bluetooth, but even has an audio out jack too. The audio out jack can be used to connect another speaker to expand to stereo sound and is a welcome feature.

While the pairing was not as easy as the Sony or Headrush speakers I tried, the volume and price of $50 made it worth while in the end.

The IBT24 is essentially the same speaker. Its merely two of the smaller ones together in a rectangle shape. The size, while not small, is still small enough to pack in a bag or suitcase easily. The battery is, obviously, a bit bigger than the one on the smaller counter part and lasts for days of mild use without needing to be recharged.
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Again with this speaker I had a bit of a problem pairing but given that this is a bit louder, possibly the loudest I’ve tested, well worth a bit of hassle for the $70 price. And yes this too has the audio in and audio out for expansion too.
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I would definitely recommend both of these speakers to anyone looking for a simple Bluetooth speaker that may only be a speaker, no Bluetooth speakerphone, but for the money are some if the best I’ve tested so far.

Richard R
@riche_613

iHome is one if the better known third party, if not the best known, maker of speakers and accessories for Apple products. As such I took it upon myself to try a few of their products out.
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The IDM8 goes for around $60.00 and for that price you get a Bluetooth speaker, no bells or whistles just a plain speaker. While the design is nice I guess, but its just a round speaker, nothing really extraordinary about it.

As for the sound, while its decently loud it lacks nearly any low end. With that being the case the sound ends up being a bit tinny, which is a bit if a shame considering this is a $60 speaker that does nothing but that. While for $50 I got my favorite speaker so far the Headrush which is a bit louder has much better low end, can charge your phone and even acts as a Bluetooth speaker phone.

To add salt to the wound most Bluetooth speakers have an audio in jack to hook up a device directly if Bluetooth is not available. But the IDM8 doesn’t have one. Sure it comes with a charging cord that has a male 3.5mm jack on it so you can do it, but what happens if you loose this cable. I’ll tell you, you’re screwed. And on top of that this speaker was not easy to pair with. It probably took me 4 or 5 attempts to get it to work with my phone, once it was pair however it worked every time, but still that initial pairing was a bit discouraging.

So really I would not recommend this speaker to anyone for any reason unless you can buy it for under $30.

Richard R
@riche_613

A little while ago I got and reviewed a Headrush Bluetooth Speaker. Recently I got an opportunity to try out a plethora of Bluetooth speakers and I thought what better time to do a few more Bluetooth speaker reviews than right before Christmas .

Well one of the first Speakers I got to try was the Sony SRSBTV5, a bit of a mouth full I know. Anyway, this is quite a small speaker in comparison to the Headrush I reviewed before. The Sony speaker is small enough actually to fit in the palm of your hand and is about the same size as the Bud Light mini speakers that were inside cases of Bud Light in the past year or so, except that it has much more weight to it.
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The way I test the speakers for volume is I not only try them at home, where I have two possibly screaming children, but I also use it in my car while driving and also at work. I think that between those last two tests its gives a good idea of the volume and versatility of the speaker especially since I work in a kitchen which is very loud.

The Sony Bluetooth speaker is actually one of the more unique speakers I’ve tested actually. Not only is it small as I mentioned before, but it actually has NFC for instant pairing with your NFC enabled device. Basically if you have NFC in your phone or tablet all you need to do is tap the top of the speaker and your device will confirm that you want to pair. Click the yes button and that’s it, your paired and ready to use the speaker. In all it takes about 3-5 seconds to tap and pair, pretty cool if you ask me.

The speaker also has the ability to act as a bluetooth speakerphone when you get calls and, although I didn’t get a lot of use of this feature, it works well enough. The battery in the device is pretty good for its size and lasted me a few days of 2-3 hours of use and uses micro USB to charge which is useful since most people have at least one of those already for another device so you don’t have to have multiple chargers.

But alas I must come to the negative part of this review. The volume. While this speaker is great at home, office or at the beach or somewhere not too loud, its not loud enough for places like a car on the highway or, for example, a kitchen with a hood vent on. While I don’t really expect something of this size to be all that powerful, for $60 I would hope for a bit more volume.

In the end I would recommend this if you have an NFC enabled device and want easy pairing and plan on using it in quieter areas. However if you don’t have an NFC enabled device you can definitely get a similar speaker for cheaper or a louder one for about the same price.

Richard R
@riche_613

Jeff and Chris along with Marc and Evan talk the first half of season 4 of The Walking Dead.  Is the show starting to show it’s age? Are the writers getting lazy? Is Evan becoming more like that old guy who sits on his porch all day?

 
Geek Fallout is a member of the Atomic Geeks podcasting network

As some of you may have seen I did a review a while back for a Bluetooth speaker. Well what better time to do some more than right before the holidays, and better yet BOXING DAY!

Over the next few days I will be posting multiple Bluetooth speaker reviews so stay tuned to the GFO blog for some great product reviews.

Richard R
@riche_613

Wow, it’s hard to believe it has been over a year since my journey into the podcast world has begun. I have appeared on 45 episodes of ‘Geek Fallout’, 21 episodes of ‘Random Nerdness’, 4 episodes of ‘The Bloke Show’ and 1 episode of ‘The Atomic Geeks Podcast’. At the time I write this I have appeared on 71 podcast episodes, not including my previous appearance on ‘Nerd Lunch’ and episodes yet to be released. 

This has been quite a journey and it seems that it is only going to continue into 2014 and beyond. But let me reflect on the year that has passed. The first episode of RN debuted October 16th, 2012. I was inspired to create my own podcast for The Atomic Geeks Podcast Network based on my blog after having appeared on ‘Nerd Lunch’ as a fourth chair guest. I had no experience with editing a podcast but as it happens my brother-in-law Sebastian and my sister Brianna had just moved back to Canada from Sweden, and Seb had actually gone to school for sound engineering. When I explained to Seb what it was I wanted to do he was onboard. I recruited my sister Brianna, best friend Tyler Kluin and step-sister Meghan to appear on the podcast and thus the conversation began. After a couple of pilot episodes we settled on a format that worked for Digio and the boys at the TAG Network and thus our journey began. 

Roughly a short time after my initial planning of the RN podcast began I was contacted through the Atomic Geeks forum by Richard Rehder, who was planning another podcast and wanted to know if I would be interested in helping out. I was very interested but told Rich I just wanted to come on as a personality, I really didn’t want to try my hand at editing or any behind the scenes work (as I was already doing that with RN). Rich agreed and with Eric Torok on aboard we recorded a pilot episode. Eric could not stay after the pilot episode so Rich recruited Jeff Brown to join us and after some tweaking with the format we were off and rolling with episode one debuting November 6th, 2012. 

When planning the RN podcast and helping with the planning of GF I knew we had to be a part of The Atomic Geeks Podcast Network. One of the first podcasts I ever listened to was The Atomic Geeks, and they were Canadian and they were ‘geeks’ so it only made sense that we be a part of their network, which the Nerd Lunch and Classic Film Jerks podcasts already were. Digio and Andrew Bloom in particular gave us some good pointers after listening to our pilot episodes and they accepted us into the network after listening to our ‘final’ episode ones. On November 13th 2012 I made my guest appearance on ‘The Atomic Geeks’ and it was literally a podcast dream come true. I had listened to these guys for years at this point and now I was talking with them (minus Christian, whom I was filling in for). Bloom, Downs and Digio couldn’t have been more nicer and we had some great conversations that episode. 

When I started the RN podcast I knew I would be doing a ‘Christmas Special’ episode, in honour of the Bea Arthur ‘Star Wars Christmas Special’. And since I was paying for the bandwidth for RN, and since I am the Host I decided to call it ‘The 2012 Chris Lockhart Christmas Special’. For me that was a great episode as I had a number of guest stars including The Atomic Geeks, Richard and Jeff from ‘Geek Fallout’ and my friends (Brianna, Seb, Tyler, Meghan, Cousin’s Brandy and Curtis, friends Dennis and Jamie). It was a great episode and turned out better than I had imagined thanks to the Engineering magic of my brother-in-law Sebastian. 

In January Richard told Jeff and I he would have to take a step back from the podcast, he would be able to edit and work behind the scenes but hosting would have to take a break. Jeff stepped up to take over hosting duties and we continued on with numerous guests including Evan Hanson, Marc Ealdama and others from the TAG Network. 

The new year would be see changes to RN as well. Sebastian and I were both busy with work so RN went from being a weekly podcast to twice monthly (Jan, Feb & March) to monthly April, May and June, to halting completely. Not only was Sebastian busy at work but he and the family went back home to Sweden for a bit to work out some immigration issues, also they bought a lovely new home so they were busy with packing and moving. In 2013 we did some good episodes of RN, I am especially proud of Episode 14 which was our ‘He-Man’ episode. I am also proud of my ‘Captains Table’ interview with actress Claudia Christian, better known as Commander Ivanava on the 90’s TV series ‘Babylon 5’. I interviewed her about her biography ‘Babylon Confidential’ and I also was able to ask her some Babylon 5 fanboy questions. It was especially satisfying for me to talk with her because she is one of my ‘geek crushes’. I also did a couple Captains Table episodes talking with George Pappy about his ‘Green Girl’ biography film about actress Susan Oliver, and I also got to talk with Larry Nemecek whom many consider to be the authority on all things ‘Star Trek’. The Random Nerdness podcast is currently on hiatus, but I do intend to do an occasional episode of it now that I have my hand in the editing aspect of podcasting. We will have a RN/GF 2013 Chris Lockhart Christmas Special coming in December so be on the lookout for that. 

So during 2013 I continued on with Geek Fallout regularly. Jeff would take over editing the podcast from Richard and I would take over the arrangement of guests as Rich needed to take a further step back. April 6th I made my first appearance on ‘The Bloke Show’ (episode 8) talking with AJ Maggot and Chay Lopez about wrestling and other things, in particular the night I got drunk with ‘The Honky Tonk Man’. May 23 Episode 14 I made my second appearance on TBS with Jeff, this time we made a journey to the mythical ‘Atomic Geeks Super Fight Dome’. July would see the historic TAG Network crossover take place and GF was right in the middle of all the fun. The week of July 25th Geek Fallout (with Brianna and Rich) took over The Bloke Show and AJ/Chay took over Geek Fallout. But also leading up to the crossover series ‘Geek Fallout’ had numerous TAG Network guests including AJ, Brianna, Digio, Downs and Chay joining us for our regular episodes and a ‘Game Of Thrones’ special. 

At the end of summer Jeff told me he could not continue to edit Geek Fallout every week, so we could either reduce the weekly content or I could take a hand at editing. Since RN was on hiatus anyway I figured I could try my hand at the old editing thing. With the help of my brother-in-law Sebastian, and with tips from Jeff and Richard I am now editing half of the episodes of Geek Fallout since September. Since I was now editing and with RN being dormant I decided to tweak the GF format a little bit by introducing RN segments into GF. I have also brought over my ‘Captains Table’ episodes to GF and I have started a monthly comic book episode with regular GF guest star Evan Hanson, so far we have done 3 comic book episodes. 

What does the future hold? I will be continuing with ‘Geek Fallout’ for the foreseeable future. The Comic Book Episodes will continue once a month with Evan and the regular ‘Episodes’ will continue with Jeff. I plan on doing an occasional (maybe monthly or twice monthly) episode of the Random Nerdness Podcast. I am also planning a third podcast which will make it’s debut in January and will be a part of ‘The Atomic Geeks Podcast Network’, and that is the ‘Trek 1701’ Podcast. It will obviously be a ‘Star Trek’ podcast and so far will feature myself, Evan Hanson, Dave Kish (better known as ‘Dave from Toledo’) and Joseph Harvey (a good friend of Dave’s). We will be doing the podcast monthly and discussing all things Trek, so be on the lookout for that in January. 

Sadly with all this podcasting I have neglected my blogs. But that’s the price you pay to podcast and I am loving every minute of this ride! See you in the future!!

Chris Lockhart

Geek Fallout Episode 38

The gang is back again, Jeff, Chris, Evan and Marc go through a whole episode of geek news.  The boys finish off with a quick walking dead discussion leading up to next weeks mid season finale.

Welcome to the wasteland