Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Harman Kardon Onyx Wireless Speaker System Review

The Harman Kardon Onyx Wireless Speaker System is a thing of beauty. You can sense the quality from the moment you begin to open the packaging. I love the design with the brushed stainless steel loop that forms both the single foot for the speaker and the handle.  The round shape looks very organic and the black cloth grill and black leather back make it look rich and at home in any decor.  All of the buttons (touchpoints really- not buttons) are flush with the  unit  and backlit.  They run around the top of the speaker system making them easy to access but invisible until you want to see them.

The sound quality of the system is exceptional for the size and considering that you can't get true stereo separation with all of the components in one cabinet.  This is a trade off you make for portability.   For a place where I am going to have the system set up permanently and where I have the space- like in my office attached to my computer, I still prefer my Harman Kardon Soundsticks at less than half the price of this speaker system.   But, for the combination of portability and sound, this system is going to be hard to beat. 

The Harman Kardon Onyx Wireless Speaker System has a ridiculous number of ways to connect it to your music source- most of them being wireless- And that  is really the point of buying this system, its wireless connectivity. 

One of my pet peeves is buying a $500 or 600 device and having the manufacturer skimp on the manual, but H-K definitely did just that. It comes with a worthless "Important Safety Instructions" booklet and an almost equally worthless sheet of hieroglyphics that are supposed to show you how to set it up.  I've bought my share of IKEA furniture in my time and the pictures in this thing are harder to understand than IKEA instructions.  The good news is there is a link to the full manual on H-K's website and the full manual is quite useful. It also comes with 30 days free technical support so you can call for help.  I doubt you'll need that though. Just save yourself the aggravation of trying to reac the sheet it comes with and download the full manual.  Getting it to work with my iPhone was a piece of cake.  I downloaded the H-K Remote App as the manual suggested, but I'm not sure that was necessary. It instructed me to connect via Bluetooth which was quick and painless.  You can also connect it via WiFi, WPS, NFC, DLNA and other ways including a plain old 3.5 mm wired connection if you like.

  • Connectivity- A plethora of ways to connect.  Frankly, you'll probably only need one, but the options are there for future ensuring it doesn't become obsolete any time soon.  I've just retired a speaker system bought for my iPhone/iPod back in the day of 30 pin connectors. I don't have to worry about a form factor change with this system.
  • Design- this will look great in your house.  It looks like a piece of art.
  • Portability- while it's a little large and doesn't come with a carrying case, the fact that it has a six hour battery life and is an all-in-one unit makes it easy to move from room-to-room in the house or to take with you on the road.
  • Sound- Great sound for an all-in-one- I have a pair of Paradigm speakers mounted in the ceiling in my kitchen. This sounds just as good as they do.  Rich bass, nice tight treble.  The volume is all you'll need for a small to medium sized space.
  • Convenience- The speakers in my kitchen are connected to the stereo system in my family room.  It's much easier to just connect my phone to it (via Bluetooth) and start playing music than to have to go to the other room, turn on the stereo and select the speakers in the kitchen.

  • Durability- I'm not sure of the durability of this from a cosmetics standpoint.  If you take it with you, you'll want to be careful transporting it and the cloth grill and leather back seem a bit fragile to me for a speaker you're going to be hauling around.  Something like the Jawbone seems a bit more durable.
  • Price- at $500-600 dollars, there are a lot of lower cost alternatives. Some are better in some ways and not as good in others.  As mentioned above, for my desktop I prefer my Soundsticks with two separate satellite speakers and a subwoofer.  I think the sound is superior and they cost less than half the price of this device. But, they aren't at all portable.

If you're looking for a great looking, portable speaker that sounds really good, I do recommend this speaker system. It's amazing looking and the sound and battery life make it worthwhile for listening to at home or to take with you.

Link to the Product on Amazon

I received this speaker system in exchange for my honest review. I receive no compensation from the manufacturer.  The opinions expressed are my own, frank assessment of the product.
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Monday, March 24, 2014

Explosion Fitness Solutions Review

Explosion Fitness Solutions has been a great experience for my 14 year old daughter who developed a severe case of "Jumper's Knee" which kept her sidelined from basketball.  After a few sessions with Explosion Fitness Solutions she is back on the court after an almost two year absence.

My daughter is 14 year old basketball player. When she was 12 she tore her ACL in an AAU game.  After trying to rehab it for several months, it was determined that she needed surgery.  She had the surgery in January 2013 and began physical therapy shortly after that at Children's Hospital in Cincinnati.  The physical therapist at Children's did a great job getting her surgically repaired knee back in shape.  The problem is during rehab, she developed Jumper's Knee in the opposite knee.  We were assured Jumper's Knee was something she could overcome.  But the rehabilitation was dragging out for months.  Finally in the fall of 2013 after doing all kinds of treatments, including electrophoresis anti-inflammatory drug treatments, we decided to give Explosion Fitness Solutions a try.

After just a few minutes assessing her, Brad her trainer, came over and told us he could tell the problem was stress being placed on her knee by overly tight hamstrings and quads.  He stretched her out and the pain reduced just in those few minutes.  He assured us that, with therapy, he could have her back quickly.  This was more information that we had gotten from Children's Hospital and really lifted her spirits.  Explosion Fitness Solutions worked with us and our insurance to come up with a plan that was affordable. They even gave us the evaluation sessions at no charge.  Between the training sessions with Brad and the exercises he gave her to do at home, it wasn't long before she was practicing and then playing again.

When it comes to sports training or rehabilitating a sports injury, I would definitely trust the people at Explosion Fitness Solutions.
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Friday, March 21, 2014

Hydor Koralia Nano 240 Aquarium Circulation Pump 240 GPH- Review

This is my first experience with a powerhead. After an outbreak of ich in my tank, I've got the heat cranked up to kill the ich and wanted to provide some extra aeration for the fish.  I had heard good things about these powerheads and decided to give this one a try.  I have a freshwater tank.  So, I wasn't looking for a whole lot of circulation, just something to break up the dead spot in the corner opposite my HOB filter and disturb the surface of the water.

The instructions that come with it are minimal, but there is a video on Hydor's website that helps.  It's actually pretty self-explanatory.  The instruction sheet shows "assembly, but it comes fully assembled except you have to snap the ball into the ball and socket joint made between the pump and the suction cup/magnet that holds it.  The suction cup/magnet assembly is ingenious.  Trying to get suction cups to stick can sometimes be a pain and then once you get them on, it's hard to move them.  The second piece on the outside of the tank gives you a handle that you can use to maneuver the device into place.  Just get it on the wall you want it on, then grab the outside handle and slide it into place.  Also, should the suction cups wear out, the magnet will last forever.

I like that it's timer compatible.  I've set mine to come on with the lights and go off after the lights go off so the fish are assured of being undisturbed during sleeping times.  I have used air pumps for increased aeration on other tanks.  This is more quiet than the quietest air pump I've found (I've tried two brands) and does a nice job of disturbing the surface of the water and creating flow at the same time.

According to the recommendations this pump is undersized for my 40 gallon tank, but since it's a freshwater tank I don't think I need or would want any more flow.

I just installed it, so of course, I have no idea how durable it will be but it's a simple design.  I expect it'll run just fine for a while.
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OXA 4 port USB Wall Charger Review

We have so many iPhone and iPods in the house it seems someone always needs to charge something.  The OXA 4 Port USB Wall charger is a handy and inexpensive wall unit allows you to charge up to four devices at a time and includes a high capacity port to charge the power-hungry iPad.  The prongs fold in making it great for traveling and it is designed so that if you plug it into the lower outlet, the other outlet remains available for other devices.  I have a similar wall charger from another manufacturer that tries to overcome the problem of blocking the second outlet by putting an electrical outlet on the place which covers the entire wall plate.  I like this design much better.  Keep in mind, this is just a device with 4 USB ports, you will need to provide your own cables specific to the devices you are charging.

The unit looks good and has nice blue LED lights that the packaging says confirms the device is properly connected.  I think the LEDs are unnecessary as they simply tell you the device is plugged into the wall.  You don't need LEDs to confirm that.  I typically leave my wall charger plugged in and even though I know it's a tiny amount of power, I feel like it's wasting power powering those LEDs.  They'd be more useful if they lit up when a device is plugged in and charging.  

OXA makes really convenient devices at great prices.  I recommend this wall charger. It's a nice, simple design and it's a great price.

I received this item from the manufacturer in exchange for giving it a fair review.  I receive no compensation from OXA.  The opinions expressed here are my own.

OXA 5V/5.4A AC 90-240V Quad 4 USB Port Universal Portable Wall Charger Travel Charger Power Adapter, 4-Port Wall Family-Sized Charger for iPad, iPhone, Samsung Tab, Samsung Galaxy, HTC Smart Phones, Amazon Kindle models, Android Devices and most Digital Products (White)

Friday, March 14, 2014

OXA 3000mAh Perfume Ultrathin Mini Stylish Power Bank Review

I received this device in exchange for my honest review. Portable external batteries are almost a necessity now as phones suck up more and more juice and the internal batteries are so small to keep the phones thing and light. The prices of these external batteries have plummeted making them extremely affordable. The OXA Power Banks are a great way to get power on the go.

This device is thin and light. It almost looks as if it could have been designed by Apple. It's simple to use. A red light for when it's charging a blue light for when it's discharging. OXA says their devices support the new Apple iPads and iPhones, but beware even thought they come with a USB cable with multiple interchangeable adapters for mini-USB, 30 pin, etc, they do NOT come with a lightning adapter. You will have to provide your own cable to go from the Power Bank to your device.

At 3000 mAh, this device is powerful enough to charge my iPhone twice. I love it.

I'm giving it four stars because there is no battery gauge on it. At this price, I'm not sure I'd really expect one and I'm not sure it's really necessary. Just fully charge it every three months and whenever you use it. But, a battery gauge would make it perfect.

OXA 3000mAh Perfume Ultrathin Mini Stylish Power Bank with Chain for iPhone 5 5S 5C 4 4S 6, Samsung Galaxy S4 S3 S2 Note3 Note2, Google Nexus 4 5 7 10, Nokia Lumia 520 920 925 928 1520 N8, HTC One, Sony Xperia Z, BlackBerry Z10, Motorola Droid, LG Optimus G and More Smartphones (Black)
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