I’ve reviewed portable speakers here before. I usually find one that I like. It sounds pretty good. It travels well and I use it until something better comes along. However, this time I don’t really need a new travel speaker as much as I just want a portable speaker that I can use at home in my office, move around from room to room, use out on the patio and yes even travel with it if needed. I have been a fan of Bose products for a long long time. I have been eyeing the Bose Soundlink Mini II as the “I’m going to get that speaker one day”, next on my buy list. However, at the $199 asking price, I just never got around to buying it. My buddy Jason Levine has one and swears by it. Jason is a musician and an audiophile, so I would definitely believe in his recommendations on speakers and audio gear. I’m not an audiophile and I just want something that sounds really good. At $199 though, something always comes up that I’d rather have when I’m ready to buy.
Many of you know that I’m also a big fan of Anker products and while I have been paying attention mostly to their portable backup batteries and USB chargers, one day I noticed that they also sold something called the “Anker Premium Stereo Bluetooth Speaker.” I noticed that this speaker bears a striking resemblance to the Bose speaker (many do). The one thing that was definitely different was the asking price! It’s only $59.99 (here)! At $60 bucks it was definitely worth a shot. I got one, and was immediately impressed by the build quality and packaging. It didn’t feel cheap. It felt every bit as good as a more expensive speaker, but the big question was “how does it sound?” I paired it with my iPhone 6s Plus and went to my iTunes app. I fell back in my chair when I heard the music and my first response was WHOA! I can feel the bass! Most portable speakers (especially in this price range) don’t have a lot of bass response and while I’m not an audiophile it sounds every bit as good as the Bose speaker. Even if you’re an audiophile and you tell me “Terry, the Bose speaker does sound better.” My response would be, “Does it sound $140 better?” It doesn’t.
It has everything I was looking for. It’s a little bigger than my Jambox and works over Bluetooth, but still has an AUX in port to connect other sources. It comes with a USB cable for charging and even an audio cable to use with the AUX in port. The only thing that it doesn’t come with that I wish it did was a carrying case or pouch to put it in for travel. The speaker charges via USB and is rated to give you 8 hours of music playback on a single charge. You can also just leave it plugged in if you’re going to be in one spot near a USB charger (not included). It also doesn’t come with a remote control, but these are omissions that I don’t mind at this price. It comes in black or white and you can order one here. You have to hear it to believe it at that price.
The one thing I never hear anyone complain about is having too much available storage space. No matter how big your hard drive is, you’ll likely fill it up at some point. My everyday work computer is a MacBook Pro 15″ Retina Display with a 1TB SSD and I’m always having to manage the space on it. If I had a 2TB drive at some point I’d need to manage the space on it. This usually means moving older projects, photo shoots, demo files, etc. off of it onto my network file server or trashing stuff I just don’t need anymore. Then I can usually breathe for a while before having to repeat the process. Sure I have a few external USB 3 and Thunderbolt drives I can plug in in a pinch, but there are times where that’s not feasible due to the ports being used for other devices or being in a mobile situation where having a hard drive dangling (not really dangling) off the side doesn’t work either. Apple builds the drives into the logic boards of MacBooks these days. Therefore replacing the internal drive with a larger capacity is not possible.
I’m both thrilled and deeply honored to be included in the credits for both Adobe Photoshop CC and Lightroom CC. As I approach my 20th Anniversary at Adobe next month, I can appreciate all the hard work that goes into these products. It’s been great being a part of it.
See What’s New in the June 2016 Update of Adobe Creative Cloud
That’s right folks! The June 2016 Update to Adobe Creative Cloud is here and I’m going to be going over many of the updates including the ones to Photoshop CC 2015.5 and more, LIVE on my Twitch stream TODAY! Join me live at 10AM – 12 Noon EDT on twitch.tv/adobe for a first look. In case you can’t make it to the LIVE show, I’ll have more on my YouTube channel later today and if you just can’t wait, check out Victoria Pavlov’s video on the NEW Face Aware Liquify feature (one of my favorite new features):
The single biggest frustration in my recent move is that my only available internet provider at the moment is AT&T Uverse. It was either go with AT&T or no internet (satellite internet is even worse) or have no home internet at all. Having had cable internet since 1999 I was spoiled by the relatively fast speeds I was getting. My last place had Comcast Xfinity internet and I was getting 120 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up. Since I work from home, having faster internet is a must. While I did move to a more rural area, Comcast IS in the neighborhood. As a matter of fact if I look out my back window I can literally see a house that has Xfinity:
The joys of new construction – AT&T Uverse was smart enough run their lines early
My new house was built on a new street. Since the street is new, it doesn’t yet show up in many business service databases. In order to get service to a new address, Comcast sends out a person to do a survey. If this person feels that you can get service without a lot of effort, they add your new address to their system and then you can place an order and get services installed. However, if the person doing the survey feels that there would need to be “construction” done to run the lines to your street, then it has to be financially approved and scheduled before you can get service.
Continuing my Smart Home Product Review Week it’s time to talk about the smartest garage door opener I’ve ever seen and it’s by Chamberlain. When I moved into my new home one of the things that wasn’t included was the two garage door openers I’d need. I thought this was a weird item not to include, but when I saw the price that the builder wanted to install theirs, I decided to just go get my own. This was another one of those things that I hadn’t had to shop for in over 25 years. I hadn’t realized how far they’ve come. The first option I noticed was a battery backup and I definitely wanted that. There had been times where storms had taken out the power in my studio (10′ door) and that while I could get up on a ladder and use the manual release to raise the door, it just wasn’t worth it. My car remained trapped until the power came back on. Having a battery backup means that the garage door opener will still work even if the house loses power.
Chamberlain Smartphone Controlled Wi-Fi Garage Door Opener offers everything in one box
It’s Day 3 of my Smart Home product review week and now it’s time to talk about wireless lighting and shade controls. Once again I wanted something that would be Apple HomeKit compatible and my search led me to the Lutron Caséta system. This is not my first wireless lighting system. As a matter of fact I go all the way back to the Radio Shack X10 system (remember those?) Thankfully things have gotten a lot better in the last 25-30 years and now you not only get in-home wireless control but you also get the ability to control your lights and shades from (yep you guessed it) anywhere in the world from your smartphone.
I started with the Lutron Caseta Wireless Smart Lighting Plug-In Lamp Dimmer Kit
Picking up where I left off yesterday with my new smart home gadget reviews, let’s talk about the Ring Video Doorbell Pro. I have always liked having a camera that can show me who is at my front door and if I have any packages sitting there? I checked with my alarm provider and while they do offer outdoor cameras, they actually suggested that I go with a Ring Video Doorbell instead. I had never heard of Ring before and when I went to check them out the reviews on Amazon weren’t great. However, after reading a few of them I realized that most of the criticism was in comparing the newer “Pro” model to the standard model. I ended up going with the Pro model for a couple of reasons. For one and probably the main reason is that the Ring Video Doorbell Pro is simply not as wide as the standard version. The Pro model is a perfect fit for my doorbell area and the standard model would have been too wide. The Pro does 1080p vs. 720p and also can connect to the less crowded 5GHz Wi-Fi spectrum. Those were enough reasons to push me up to the Pro model. While the standard model can work with an existing doorbell (replace yours with this one) or no existing doorbell, the Pro only works where you have a wired doorbell.
See and Talk to Anyone At Your Door from Anywhere in the World
I know it’s been a while since I’ve done gadget reviews here. However, I’ve just moved into a new home and for the first time in several years I’ve been looking at and buying smart home gadgets. I must admit that the amount of choices out there now are quite daunting. Even if you find the right gadget based upon the feature set that you’re looking for you also have also decide which platform to go with. Platform?
Yes, just like you decide to go with iOS or Android, Mac or Windows, etc, your smart home gadgets work together based on alliances and partnerships. For example, I was pretty sure that I would go with a Nest thermostat. I had been looking at them for years. I liked the design. Nest even acquired Dropcam, the company I was using for all my wifi cameras. However, somewhere along the way Nest was acquired by Google. That acquisition put them at odds with Apple. I have nothing against Google or the Android platform, but all of my mobile devices are iOS based. Therefore I wanted to go with devices that work with Apple’s HomeKit platform.