Reviews related to : Media players

Sometimes it is worth taking a second look at a product that failed to impress the first time.
It was about two years ago that I first encountered the Chromecast technology that allowed user to stream content from the small screen of a mobile device to the larger viewing area offered by a television set.  It has to be stated that my experience with the product and technology was hardly inspiring.  In fact I was so disappointed that I quickly put the product to one side and forgot about it as more appealing offerings grabbed my attention.
Having recently resurrected the cassette player groov>>e now think that the portable CD Player still has legs. Certainly while I have downloads the majority of my audio collection is still on CD but is that only a generation thing.
The Groov-e GVPS110 retro CD player measures 15x12.5x2.5cm and weighs not a lot. It runs on ‘2xAA’ batteries or a DC power supply neither are supplied. There is a small circular display that shows track number and elapsed time. The majority of the unit is black apart from the top which is a silver grey colour.
This device turns an Audio System without Bluetooth into an Audio System with Bluetooth providing you have either RCA jacks or a 3.5mm audio input, however it has an extra not found on a lot of other devices it also has Wolfson DAC.
The One For All Bluetooth Music Receiver  measures 10.5x6.5x2cm and you should add another 2cm to the middle figure to allow for whatever cables are inserted into it. Supplied in the box is a DC lead to small power brick this lead is 1.8metres long, also a 3.5mm to 3.5mm lead that is 1metre long and a small RCA pair to 3.5mm plug that is 10cm long.
I thought I would have reviewed my last cassette player quite a long time ago but if someone now brings one out they must think there is still a demand, perhaps the mix tape as a way of breaking the ice with a partner may be making a comeback.
Having reviewed other Roku items the Roku 2 seems something that until now has passed me by so when offered one to review I thought I would put that oversight right. Roku are one of the big companies in streaming things to your TV the box claims ‘1500+ channels’.
Sound Bars have been around for a while, they started life as a means of improving the quality and range of the poor quality TV sound, they had one drawback the need for space in front of the TV which could be a problem, enter the Sounddeck and the TV sits on the deck.
This is a quality item and as we all know quality is not cheap. A while ago I visited the then new Harrods Technology Department and today you should be able to see most of the Raumfeld range there. It is 73x39x9cm and it has a chunky rubber foot at each corner to sit it on and to allow sound to percolate from under the unit, these feet raise it another 10cm from whatever you sit the Sounddeck on. Both sides and the front are covered in black fabric and behind it are the speakers.
The popular Ivy Restaurant was the location where I first cast eyes on the subject of this next review.
The CEOL Carino is a Denon audio system that has been designed to combine USB connectivity to a computer and Bluetooth streaming from a range of mobile devices when delivering its audio content.  Decked out in a fairly fingerprint resistant lacquered black (there is a white version), this kit consists of the main Carino box, two satellite speakers and a small remote control unit.
Here a more recent solution a record deck that allows you to play your music and even make a digital copy of it. It also has a radio and a CD player, so a complete audio system, should you want more than just an MP3 copy add one lead and a PC and you can.
While it is sold as ‘Retro’ in many ways it is bang up to date. It is creamy white in colour with a clear Perspex lid, the feet are chrome coloured. While it has a twelve page manual all in English the layout could be better. Diagram with numbers on the right hand page and then the key on the left hand page to follow.
The thing that enticed me to look at Roku 3 was its ability to stream sound so that you can have no sound from your TV and still hear sound through the ROKU 3 unit to headphones or earbuds, ideal for those who don’t want to disturb others.
I have not seen either the Roku 1 or Roku 2 which I understand are still available. You will need to purchase an HDMI cable to connect the small 8x8x2.5cm box to a port on you TV. It comes with a small power brick – 1.5metre lead – that also connects to the Roku 3 box. Both these connections are on the rear of the box split by an Ethernet connector – you can also connect via Wi-Fi - below the HDMI connector is a Micro USB port.
On a recent visit to a UK preview of an American Consumer Electronics Show, I was introduced to a product designed to stream content from various sources. This product is Roku 3.
Offering to act as a media centre device, streaming content from different sources, is the designated aim of the Roku 3.  This product is rather small, measuring just 27 x 80 x 80mm (H x W x D), and is predominately lacquered black in colour with a matte silver logo on the front face.  Included in the box is an enhanced remote control, in-ear headphones set, 2 x AA batteries, AC power adapter and a slim Getting Started booklet.
Here something that I have not looked at recently a couple of MP3 players, both from Sony. The first is a water resistant offering mine was white. The second in more normal black a unit that claims a quick charge time of only three minutes.
This is an all in one unit with the earbuds fixed into the player unit. With some earbuds you can choose to hang them directly from the ears of to take them round your neck, here there is no choice as the ‘C’ shaped band will only locate in the ear if you then go behind your neck. The stretched out length of the band connecting the two buds is 33cm but is will always return to two ‘O’ shapes.
The Boxee Box could be regarded as a hybrid product. D-Link, the source of this particular offering, has combined the free Boxee media software with its own hardware kit in order to offer the user a solution to the conundrum of creating a home-based media centre for their entertainment needs.
Recently I have been checking out the Boxee Box as part of my home network computer set up.  The results were not always as positive as I would have liked as the Boxee Box proved to have a temperamental side to its make-up. Lets start with the actual kit before getting down to the performance.
A DAB/FM Radio is just two of the things that this unit does, the Wireless Internet ability will give much more than Internet Radio, Pure Lounge and Media Player ability, the touchscreen or infra red controls make this more like a computer.
The nearest shape I can call it is an egg, it is 17x28x18cm and weights just less than 2 kilos, it can run on a ChargePak (internal rechargeable battery pack) but I doubt that many will walk around with the Sensia 200D Connect. Unlike most DAB units the visible controls are not obvious and consist only of volume up and down, mute and on/off. Everything else is controlled from the large 11.5x9.5cm touchscreen which is full colour and easy to read.
Do you remember your first one? I am, of course, referring to your first portable media device such as an MP3 player.
I have just had a flashback – fortunately it was not painful but it did remind me of my first MP3 player.  This was a device, whose antecedents I have forgotten, that I won as a prize in a charity raffle.  Actually it was not the prize attached in my winning ticket – that was a signed Chelsea football shirt from the period when Dennis Wise played for the club and they had just won the FA Cup.
With so many people turning to iPods or MP3 those –like me – who have large CD collections need a way to condense the output and this offering allows an easy way to transpose to WAV, MP3, Flac or Ogg Vorbis with little effort from you.
This comes with a rather good database that identifies most published recordings and fills in all the information for you while it is ripping your CD’s. Then with your library stored you can create playlists of simple select by Album or Artist what to play by just using the remote and the units display, just attach headphones or speakers.
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Sonoro iElements

Often trade shows promise much but often the vendors are more interested in direct sales rather than those generated by reviews. One exception to this is the iPod Dock Radio system reviewed here from Sonoro it has an all wood case so immediately you sense quality.
Two groups of people tend to wear white gloves, snooker referees and people handling very precious antiques that might be affected by the oils on your hands. I have found a third group where white gloves are supplied iElements owners.
It’s been a while since I have looked at an MP3 player rather than an iPod. It is also a nice small unit that is smaller than most of course size and weight mean the display is tiny in comparison to some units but this is from Sony.
The Sony Walkman NWZ-B173 measures 8.5x2x1.3cm and it weighs just 27grams. Perhaps the biggest thing in its favour is that you can plug the USB connection (remove the cap of the unit) into a PC it is read as a drive and then you just Drag and Drop items. We all take Drag and Drop for a given today but if you are old enough to remember times before it you still appreciate what it gives not least when certain products do their best with fancy installers to stop you using it.
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Archos 3cam Vision

It wasn’t so long ago that personal media players were restricted to playing just MP3 tracks. Now such a device needs to offer music, video, recording and photographic capabilities.
A recent addition to the Archos range of personal multimedia players is the company’s MP4 device entitled 3cam Vision.  This unit arrives with 8GB of storage for holding music, video, pictures and other content.  This is a small device measuring 97 x 52 x 10mm (H x W x D) and weighing 64g so it is eminently portable and will not cause an unsightly bulge when stored in a pocket or bag.
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SlingBox Solo

This has been around for a while, but for one reason or another I never got to look at one. This device can take a signal from Freeview, Freesat, DVD, Blu-ray and most other things and send it by your router to almost anywhere.
Having recently spent far too much time trying to make sense of a simple device I approached this far more complex product with more than a little trepidation. There is a setup sheet consisting of six points, all the required leads are supplied, all went well until it asked me a question whose answer was not immediately obvious, never fear it offers advice and soon, I had two red lights on the front of the SlingBox Solo box as it says I should.
Helping bring together your collection of digital photos, music tracks and album plus videos so that they can be directed towards an appropriate output medium, such as a television, is the role ideally suited for a multimedia player. These types of devices tend to come in a range of shapes and sizes with some variety in their feature set. The latest such device to make its presence felt on my desktop is the ACME Portable Media Centre (MPO1).
With its dimensions of 142.5 x 85 x 23mm (L x W x H), the ACME Portable Media Centre (MPO1) could easily be mistaken for a small portable hard drive.  This mistaken is easy to understand when you realise that it is possible to insert a 2.5-inch SATA drive, of up to 1TB capacity, into the body of this brushed metallic silver multimedia player.  However this particular feature does not form part of this review which will concentrate on other aspects of this product.