KRK Rokit 5 G2 Quick Review

So, I work in front of a computer most all day throughout the week (yep, Gunnar glasses review coming soon!). I absolutely love Pandora, Spotify, Slacker Radio, etc. to listen while I work and, for a time, got by on my cheapo Creative 2.1 speaker setup. It served it’s purpose, and to be honest, I almost didn’t take the plunge. But, when I’d listen to something like classical or some great guitarist – you know, really well-recorded stuff – I’d really start to want to hear all the little details. Yes, even details from internet streams, not CDs.

I would always think of studio monitors in those instances. I’ve been in several studios through the years and have heard all sorts of setups. In most cases, the rooms had open faced boxes with 8 inch woofers and funky rounded edges. I knew they were high end . . . that was their purpose, of course.

Fast forward to about 6 months ago. I had heard of KRK from my good friends Jim Murphy of Mission House Music and Adam Kohout and they couldn’t say enough about how much you get for the money on the brand. Now, KRK makes some “serious” gear . . . to the tune of $2,000+ per speaker . . . that aint me! I thought I’d dip my toe in some entry level jobbies from the company – albeit very well reviewed across the board. So, I went with the KRK Rokit 5 G2 model. (click here for the newer model). I sit about 2 feet from my montitors, so 5 inch woofers would be fine, I thought . . . I was right.

It really is almost baffling to hear really, really good sound for the first time. I’m not talking about mind-numbing, blow-you-out-of-your-chair sound . . . this is just, in a word, perfect. I spent allot of time just going back to favorite songs and picking out things I never heard – a mandolin here, some crazy percussion I missed out on. I could ramble on and on – just know they are outstanding speakers. It’s the kind of purchase you have no remorse for (they’re not dirt cheap, but for the price, totally merited).

Some highlights:

  • Powered speakers – no need to have an amplifier
  • Frequency range control – I didn’t tweak too much, but there is room for setting up for your particular room
  • Front ports for low end – very nice; most have rear ports for bass . . . these push it right to you!
  • XLR inputs – I grabbed a Peavey USB to XLR adapter and use mic cables for a totally noise free signal. I was skeptical, but this really does work.
  • RCA Inputs – there are still RCA plug inputs . .. can use at the same time as XLR for 2 sources if you’d like.

These are not bass heavy, so don’t think you’re going to shake the windows. I’m sure they’re not totally specified to be “reference” speakers . . . then again, they’re better than 99% of what I’ve heard in my lifetime, so I won’t worry about it! I reeeeaaally want to get the companion subwoofer just for fun, but I (along with my wallet) will talk myself out if it a while longer! Update: Broke down and bought subwoofer when I found a deal – totally worth it for amazing depth.

If you’re in the market for a great sounding speaker set, definitely give these a try . . .

Powerline Networking Review (Homeplug AV)

OK, it’s time to give a quick review on something that’s saved my sanity. I’ll preface this by saying when we built our house almost 8 years ago, I made a bone-headed decision not to wire it properly for a network. Well, now we are a cable free, Netflix/Hulu/Amazon only family and I’m finding that hard-wired network appliances are much more reliable than their Wi-Fi alternative . . .

I say that to say this . . . if you live in a home built before the last decade, there is a very good chance it is not wired for a home network and you rely on good ol’ Wi-Fi to get by. Well, there is a very cost-effective way to get reliable, speedy* networking so your Playstation/Roku/AppleTV/XBox/whatever can efficiently talk to the net.

I started with the Zyxel PLA407 set (cheap at Amazon) a couple of years ago and they have been rock solid. You can even encrypt the signal if you’re super paranoid. They only run at 200 Mbps. Of course, that’s double a standard network speed, but far from the now standard Gigabit speeds. However, I’ve found it’s more than enough to stream across devices (server to apple TV or television, talking between devices). Plus, it’s MUCH cheaper than wiring your house.

Setup is dead simple: Plug in one network device to an outlet near your Wifi-router and plug it into the router. Then, in any other outlet in your house, plug the other network adapter. You can then plug it straight to the device (i.e., Playstation, etc.) or, as I do, use a simple 5-port switch to distribute to other devices. That’s it . . . all done with much better speed and less lag time than your wifi can provide.

Oh, and another plus:

  • You can use other brands if they are “Homeplug AV” certified. For instance, I have a 3rd homeplug adapter from Trendnet that is located at the far end of the house and plugged into an old Wireless N Wifi router. It gives a good connection to the outside garage about 100+ feet away for my treadmill TV.

So, there you go . . . if you think you need more speed, they offer these up to a gigabit – click here to see ’em all.

Have a blessed week, everyone,

LM

I Think iBotta is for real . . .

OK, I’m not one to get into the coupon clipping routine. I do, however, realize that it really makes sense (ok, I’m lazy in that area!). Well, I was catching up on some of my tech news at the kitchen table and Alison, who IS the coupon type, and a champion at that, caught wind of a service called iBotta. It’s an app for your phone that throws the coupon game on it’s head – they actually pay you money for getting products. Tell you what, I’ll let her tell you . . .

I have been clipping coupons and price matching for many months. Recently, I discovered a new way to save money… by earning money. I downloaded an app called Ibotta. The app is free, and here’s how it works. Ibotta offers money for items purchased. For example, this week I purchased Mio water, Ore Ida french fries, Capri Sun, and hot dog buns – all items we used anyway – and earned $3.50. Then, through bonuses and incentives in Ibotta, I earned an extra $2.50. The money can be deposited into a Pay Pal account (easy to set up) or donated to a school of your choice. I started using Ibotta less than two weeks ago and have already earned $43.00 – for doing nothing!!! It’s super easy to use and kind of fun. Give it a try.

Sign up for an IBotta account here.

So, there you go – I’d love to be a nay-sayer, but but I think it’s for real. Oh, and guys, I appreciate the fact that you might have zero interest in this! Feel free to pass this page on to your better half! Have a super week!

LM

Google Chrome & Remote Desktop

OK, so it’s been over 8 months since my last post. Well, you’re gonna love me for this one and it’ll all be ok once you realize how great this new service from Google is!

I have been a lover of the Chrome browser pretty much ever since it was released. It’s fast, simply laid out, not full of extra features . . . oh, and did I mention BLISTERINGLY fast?! Not to mention that I can login to my Google account and see all of my bookmarks on any browser I sign in to (including my iPad). Yeah, it’s great living in the Google universe for now, at least.

Enter Google remote desktop
I have fooled around with LogMeIn and other programs that allow you access to your computer from another location. They’re ok and do the job fine, I guess, but I never really liked the logging in time constraints. It just seemed . . . well, not too smooth or enticing. With that said, I am typing this entire post via my desktop computer . . . from my laptop. And, there is absolutely NO lagging mouse or keyboard at this point. I realize I am on my wired network, so this post may change later on as I practice over the internet.

The bottom line is, I no longer have to switch my monitor over to another input and grab my other mouse and keyboard for things I need to do on my desktop. I already feel a huge relief there. What I REALLY am looking forward to is the fact that ALL of my computers can be seen from my Google remote desktop connection. Say I’m at a relative’s house and don’t want to take my laptop, desktop, etc. They’re all right there within the chrome browser to jump on any time I want. AAAAAND, there’s just a pin number to use once it’s all set . . . no search-to-find-login-page-and-enter-username-and-password-and-wait-to-connect-etc. I just click connect, enter the pin and viola, I’m seeing my other computer . . . thank you, Google . . . again.

Try it out below:
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/chrome-remote-desktop/gbchcmhmhahfdphkhkmpfmihenigjmpp

You’ll need http://www.google.com/chrome browser to access the plugin above.

Windows 8 Preview

Looks like Windows 8 is gonna be pretty slick:
http://theverge.vid.io/v/5b7e484a-6334-11e1-ab41-123139255418

Reckless Racing 2 for iOS (Review)

If you’re a guy like me, there was a phase of your childhood where Matchbox cars and Hotwheels were king. Endless hours of building rails, jumps and even dirt tracks in the yard kept me busy all afternoon. As I grew up, that kind of play faded, but with things like Nintendo, I never really left. I remember a game called RC Pro Am for the original Nintendo – it was my absolute favorite game. It was a “top down” racer where you viewed and controlled the cars from above and it was just out right fun. I never found a game to match that feeling of sliding around curves . . . enter Reckless Racing 2.

I hear that the first version of this game is very solid as well, but haven’t had a chance to look at it. All I can say is I’m totally hooked. This brought back that same game play and only elevated it. Now, I can move in and out of pavement (which is better controlled) to gravel (which has some great drifting) and even add some nice jumps for good measure. The game is excellently designed and the movement is great. Controls were a bit weird at first, but after a few rounds, I got the hang of it.

I never thought I’d be addicted to a kid-like racing game, but I’m totally there.

Highly recommended.

Windows 7 Speech Recognition Revelation (Revolution?)

I’m a HUGE fan of the Dragon Dictation app for iOS. I use it almost daily to spit out a text or two. Also, I’ve used it’s companion search app for web search and such, but the dictation is as close as this iPhone 4 fella will get to Siri (and, it’s all I need – ignorance is truly bliss).
 
I’ve always seen the Dragon Naturally Speaking application for the computer, but never have tried to dive in. Well, I just heard about Windows 7speech recognition, so I thought I give it a try. I vaguely remember it’s announcement when Win 7 was launched, but kept that the back of my mind. After becoming reliant on the iOS app, I felt it might be handy to have speech recognition in my day to day routine on the computer. After about 10 minutes of going through the setup to allow windows to recognize my voice, it turns out that it’s pretty great! In fact, I’m dictating this whole post at this very moment. 
 
Although I’ve just been using this system this morning, I think it’s going to turn out to be pretty useful. I see using it mostly for dictating emails and long text, but it is actually nice to simply say “open a program” and see the program simply appear. OK, maybe it’s just geeky kind of stuff, but that’s right up my alley.
 
If you have a windows seven computer, it’s definitely worth checking out. In order to find out how to use it, click your start button and tie speech recognition. You should see what you need there. All Windows 7 versions have it, so knock yourself out!