Electronics

Is That Half-Off Slingbox Worth It?

Decrypted: An Argument to End Black Friday

It's that time again. No, not Thanksgiving. That time of wasted money, squandered vacation time, dishonored holidays, and tramplings: Black Friday. This year, ask yourself: Why?

No relation to one Katy Perry

Tested: Sound Blaster Roar SR20

Creative's new Sound Blaster Roar SR20 boasts improved Bluetooth pairing, a sound-boosting "Roar" mode, and half the price of its Bose competitor.

We're Gonna Need a Bigger Wall

A Millionaire’s Guide to Mega TVs

The home entertainment arms race has evolved to include factors like pixel counts, connectivity and even screen shape. But the importance of size...that will never change. Meet the TV heavyweights of 2014 that redefine big.

Sega vs. Nintendo

A Modern Man’s Guide to Retro Gaming

Nostalgia makes the original Sonic an appealing option for summer fun, but tracking down a Sega Genesis is easier said than done. We provide a few modern workarounds to help you play your favorite retro titles from the NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, Sega Master System, Dreamcast and Saturn.

A Comprehensive Guide to Ignoring Friends and Family

The 50 Best iPhone & iPad Games

Consoles don't provide much in the way of portability (anyone else ever own this masterpiece of engineering?), and grown men carrying Gameboys often attract the wrong kind of attention, but mobile games offer interactive experiences on the devices that most of us carry every day. They allow us a bit of serenity when we need it most -- in the airport, on the subway, at a questionable mid-life Bris. Here, we've provided a list of 50 of the best games made for iOS. Play at the risk of your relationship.

Lighting the way, from Yellowstone to Haiti

Tested: Goal Zero Lighthouse 250

Goal Zero's latest rechargeable lantern, the LightHouse 250 ($80), is a versatile light source suited for all regions of the globe. But does its on-paper usefulness translate to the real world? We tested it, from hand-cranking to device charging.

Release the Titans

Redefining the Single Player Experience… With Robots

Titanfall starts with some 1960s stock footage of rockets. There is a voiceover. From what we can understand, a group called the militia is battling a group called the IMC. Then we're in the game, running on walls, and that stuff doesn't matter anymore. This is Titanfall's big bet: that players, so intent on shooting really big weapons at really big robots, won't care that the game lacks any sort of discernible plot or campaign. And it works -- to an extent.

From Delphi to Your Kitchen

Tested: Breville Oracle

Every once in a while, a product so revolutionizes your day that you feel compelled to brag to your friends about it. You fantasize about it throughout the day, and when you go to sleep, you can’t wait to get up, just so you can jump out of bed and use it. That good. Such is the case with the Breville Oracle, which promises -- and delivers -- high-quality, easily made espresso at home.

Five Oceans, Five Cameras

Buying Guide: Underwater Imaging

Nowadays, there are many options for underwater photography and videography available to the avid diver and occasional vacation snorkeler alike. These five underwater imaging options -- everything from custom-machined metal housings to cameras that don’t need a housing at all -- will serve you well on your next dive trip. What you shoot is up to you.

Sound Matters

Tested: foxL DASH 7 Bluetooth Speaker

Anyone who followed CES this year saw the amount of new wireless Bluetooth speakers -- an avalanche eclipsed only by the utter horde of new fitness trackers. Still, it's clear when a winner emerges from the pack. While the fight for the best portable Bluetooth speaker continues, one high-end contender threatens to end the competition: the foxL DASH 7 ($219), produced by Soundmatters, the same company that originally provided components for the best-selling Jambox.

Two Toms, Three Sports

Tested: TomTom Multisport

From the Pebble to the Toq, multi-tasking sports watches have recently gained popularity among the techie set. Among athletes, they’ve been used for over a decade. At their most basic functionality, athletic smart watches measure pace and distance, though most also have an optional heart rate monitor and offer enough technological bells and whistles to make Siri swoon. We got our hands on the TomTom Multisport GPS, an intuitive little offering that provides metrics for running, cycling and swimming.

Three Amateur Gamers Play for 14 Hours Straight

Tested: Xbox One

The Xbox One ($500), which comes out Friday, promises to be more entertaining, more immersive and more addictive than its predecessors. But how much more entertaining? Will all aspects of the game-rendering, movie-playing, internet-surfing, friend-connecting, shopping-enabling entertainment system pull their weight? Will the games serve as playable works of art? How much more immersive could they be? Will the Kinect 2.0 build upon the groundbreaking recognition technology of its predecessor? Will the machine seamlessly integrate all our disparate media and create a monster -- an addictive one? Perhaps the last question is the most important, but really, at its current MSRP of $500, they all are. Three GP staffers, all casual gamers, had the chance to test the Xbox One this weekend, and, in general, it lived up to expectations. We played it for over 14 hours straight; we came away with a severe lack of sleep and plenty of strong first impressions. Addicted? Clearly. Here's what we remember.

Music to His Ears

12 Guys of Christmas: The Mediaphile

Thought purchasing a Christmas gift for your in-laws was tough? Try shopping for someone who knows everything about media gadgetry and can't abide anything but the best. The Mediaphile's affinity for films, games, music, and yes, eBooks, goes beyond the bounds of reason and continues to expand as the consumer market welcomes the latest tech innovations daily. Best believe he's on top of everything from next-gen gaming consoles to popular subscription-based apps. This presents a problem, because you think HDMI, DSLR, DAC and WAV are medical tests and/or prerequisite exams for grad school applications. Don't run to the Geek Squad yet. We've pulled together some awesome media-primed options worth your coin this holiday. He'll thank you -- and then you won't see him for a couple months, save for Doritos runs and the rare bathroom break.

Power to the people

Tested: Stages Power X9

Power was the single metric I was looking to improve during the lead-up to La Ruta. I became power savvy by establishing my baseline watts at lactate threshold and VO2 Max during the F.U.E.L. testing we covered in Part II and then had the next six months to train against these numbers to improve fitness and manage nutrition on long rides. Yet I still had just one gap in my arsenal of gear: a power meter for my mountain bike. The Stages Power X9 ($700) is both new and affordable relative to other power meters, so I decided to give it a test run.

What's that?

Tested: AKG K391 NC Headphones

The term "noise canceling headphones" almost always summons images of big puffy over-the-ear numbers. As wonderful as those can be, they're bulky to pack if you're traveling light, and during workouts, they suck -- providing a feeling akin to sweating with scones strapped to your head. Austrian headphone maker AKG's K391 NC offer up noise canceling features in a compact package. We tried out a pair.

This system is no P.O.S.

Square Business in a Box

Brick-and-mortar merchants looking for a point of sale system that isn’t a POS can end their search here. Powered by Square's mobile payment system, Business in a Box ($249+) is a point of sale solution designed to handle small business needs with ease while keeping the IRS at bay.

The good kind of cover up

Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover

Manufacturers would prefer to regularly pillage your wallet by selling you a screen for every situation -- but it doesn't have to be that way. The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover ($80+) can transform your favorite Apple tablet into a laptop-rivaling email burner -- and spare you the hassle of lugging a Smart Cover too, since it doubles as a magnetic cover.

Compact price, mid-sized features

Olympus Stylus XZ-10

Compact cameras are in trouble. Smartphones continue to don sexier optics, allowing the photographer in all of us to carry one less item and still get decent shots of our lunches/cats/sunsets. Not content to just fade away, manufacturers are ramping up the quality and features of their compact cameras to stay relevant. Taking cues from its larger-framed and sensored older brother (The XZ-2), the Olympus Stylus XZ-10 ($351) emerges from this crucible as a true pocket rocket.

Small Wonder

Meridian Explorer Headphone DAC/Amplifier

Terms like all-metal enclosure, analog, and hand-made may conjure up thoughts of exorbitant price tags -- most often you'd be right -- but Meridian proves that occasionally pigs do fly. The British audio stalwart, known for stratospheric priced speakers and components, has unveiled the Meridian Explorer ($299), a pocket-sized USB DAC and headphone amplifier, and we got to try it out.

Turn on the tube(s)

Woo Audio WA7 Fireflies

Looking more like a miniature robot monolith than audio componentry, the WOO Audio WA7 Fireflies ($999) is a convenient (ideal) solution to poor desktop sound. As both a high-grade vacuum tube headphone/speaker amplifier and a state-of-the-art USB digital to analog converter, the Fireflies puts everything serious audiophiles crave in a 5-inch cube.

Chargers without borders

Twelve South PlugBug World

During his 2011 WWDC keynote address, Steve Jobs, introducing the latest round of Cupertino gold, said over and over “It just works”, which is a pretty fair summation of what makes Apple products Apple products. But the problem with electronics, Apple or not, is they only work if they have power (your move, Tim Cook)....

Get... chained down?

Ion Audio Cordless Phone System

We’ve never been inside the R&D division of Ion Audio, but based on what we’ve been seeing lately we have a sneaking suspicion that the department is comprised of a gaggle of bros sitting around on torn-up leather couches with some fairly potent recreational products at their disposal. How else to explain their Cordless Phone System?

The shortest of stacks

Marshall Hanwell

Leave it to those face-melting Brits over at Marshall to create something like the Hanwell ($800). Styled after the famed amps that have stuffed arenas with sound for half a century, the company’s first foray into home audio packs 200 watts of pure rock into one 25-pound body. Made of the same wooden construction and...

Great sound, bar none

Vizio 42-inch 5.1 Home Theater Soundbar

The soundbar is increasingly gaining traction as the audio setup of choice for aesthetically minded sound junkies. It’s no wonder: discrete designs and all-in-one efficiency keep minimalist media centers clutter free while trumping the tinny transmitters of any TV. Their only shortcoming is a one-dimensional soundfield, often the result of simulated surround. To buck that...

Big Daddy

ZTE Grand S

The Grand S is ZTE’s first ultra-smart smartphone, entering a field peppered with rather esteemed — and, well, huge — company (the Grand S is over 5.5 inches tall and nearly 3 inches wide). Similar in most every specification to other biggies from Droid, Huawei and Sony, the Grand S boasts some serious kit. Its...

As if you needed more options

Vizio MT11x Windows 8 Tablet

Tablets tablets everywhere — how’s a man to choose? Vizio’s MT11x Windows 8 slate adds another drop in the bucket of great selections. A full-HD 1080p capacitive touchscreen with 10-finger multi-touch gestures pleases eyeballs from the start; it’s the guts, however, that make the 11.6-inch device a top-line competitor. 64GB SSD storage, AMD’s Z-60 APU...

Cloudy with a chance of tunes

Teenage Engineering OD-11

The damn Cloud. Everything’s going there. Pretty soon, you’ll have to go to the Cloud to change your underwear. But for now, you’ll have to settle for the OD-11, the world’s first Cloud speaker — just introduced at CES 2013 — by the incredible folks at Teenage Engineering. If the nomenclature and design look familiar,...

Cut the cord

Corsair Voyager Air

Available with either 500GB or 1TB of storage, the Corsair Voyager Air ($199-$229) is a wi-fi wonder for media maniacs not content with cloudy reception. Dubbed the first all-in-one to combine the conveniences of being a USB drive, a wireless network drive and a hub, the Voyager Air is a potent portable of note. USB...

For the notary public and/or spy in your life

Ion Audio Air Copy

We have a ton of questions about the Ion Audio Air Copy, which was just announced at CES 2013. The primary one is, what’s a company most known for making inexpensive USB turntables doing throwing out a wireless scanner? More importantly, who actually needs — literally, needs — a wireless scanner? From our deep and...

Jongo Unchained

Pure Jongo

Streaming music to the four corners of your house might still be considered a luxury, but a new face in the hi-fi streaming game, Pure, claims to undercut the competition in price and ease of use with its Jongo speaker series. The line provides multi-speaker streaming for radio, podcasts, Pure Music subscriptions and more via...

Big bass, little package

Sjofn Hi-Fi The Clue Loudspeaker

Home theater buffs and audiophiles alike know that to achieve harmonic balance a quality low range is essential. For those who also seek balance in all things feng and shui, that usually means burying oversized towers under foliage of some sort or trying to stuff a subwoofer under a settee. To quell the dissonance, Seattle-based...

Good Morning, Vietnam... and Canada... and Brazil...

Geneva WorldRadio

It’s fitting that the radio has always had geographic limitations. Think of it as Mother Earth’s little joke: as media has made the world a smaller place, she still reminds you that she’s large enough to be an inconvenience — radio waves can only travel so far, after all. Which is why we imagine she’s...

Digital Dynamo

Widealab Aurender S10 Music Server

Most people are perfectly content to store and experience their music collection on a computer (we do it everyday at the office). The convenience of accessing massive amounts of music and rich metadata on a whim with just a click or a search is simply unparalleled. For audiophiles, though, this ease of use comes at...

12 gifts for the adventure seeker

12 Guys of Christmas: The Adventurer

He shows up at Christmas dinner with new scars and less digits from his latest cage dives and winter Alpine ascents. His tales, most of them true, scare Aunt Betty to tears and enchant the kids. And while the adventurer’s gifts for you usually amount to a carved tribal trinket or a rock from a...

Disposable style

Ilford HP5 Single Use Black & White Cameras

Not everyone can afford a black & white Leica, unfortunately. For the artsy set on a budget, Ilford HP5 Disposable Black & White Cameras (~$14) give the opportunity for a fun, alternative moment capture that can be processed nearly anywhere. Whether it’s for a date, a wedding or a spontaneous bit of artistry, Ilford’s cameras...

Get down(hill)

POC Receptor BUG Communication Helmet with Beats by Dre.

Music and snow sports go together like Rick Ross and cheese covered honeybuns, but squeezing your favorite cans inside a helmet is rarely a formula for comfort. The POC Receptor BUG Communication Helmet (~$330) skirts this dilemma by integrating Beats by Dr. Dre headphones into the helmet neck roll, which combines bass-heavy tunes with a...

Wear your heart on your wrist

Mio Alpha Heart Rate Monitor

Beyond catering to the fitness obsessed, this wonder watch would have been useful during that little apoplexia-inducing turkey feast we like to call Thanksgiving. Known as the Mio Alpha Heart Rate Monitor, this wristwatch on steroids “senses” the amount of blood under your skin and replies with a digital readout of your heart rate. Through...

12 gifts for the tech obsessed

12 Guys of Christmas: The Techie

To the inexperienced, the words “techie” and “guy” seem synonymous. Sure, most guys do like technology these days — but like does not true a techie make. So while this list can absolutely be applied to any modern man, its real target is the hardcore gadget nut. The one who scours the blogs and refreshes...

12 gifts for the handyman

12 Guys of Christmas: The Do-It-Yourselfer

You lean on him all year-round to assist, assemble and install everything from kitchen cabinetry to those amazing Patagonian rosewood floors you love so much. He tirelessly tackles the disparate demands of Honey-Do lists and familial fixes without so much as a peep. And yet, of all the men featured in our 12 Guys of...

12 gifts for the aesthete

12 Guys of Christmas: The Designer

They speak to Adobe software like a petulant brother, organize bookshelves by color for “fun” and fill photo albums with typefaces. They find calm through arranging objects in right angles (whether it’s their property or not) and take pleasure knowing that they’ll always notice the details we philistines ignore. “They” are designers of course, that...

Compressed for size, not sound

Astell & Kern AK100 Portable Audio System

The Astell & Kern AK100 portable audio system ($699) aims to be the iPod of audiophiles. It’s the first portable music player capable of playing Mastering Quality Sound files (MQS) from online stores like HDtracks.com, in addition to a slew of other lossless formats like Ogg, FLAC, WAV, WMA, APE and yes, even MP3 audio...