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Andre Lawrence (Miami, Florida)
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OXA Mini Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker with Rechargeable Lithium Polymer Battery, Support for Micro SD Cards and AUX Line-in Port for Laptops; Smart Phones and More - Brown
OXA Mini Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker with Rechargeable Lithium Polymer Battery, Support for Micro SD Cards and AUX Line-in Port for Laptops; Smart Phones and More - Brown

5.0 out of 5 stars Oxa Mini Bluetooth Speaker: A Critical Review, June 16 2014
Length:: 4:19 Mins

This speaker is a surprise.

It seems that everybody and their grandmother has a single, wireless speaker. On average, most of the speakers have sounds identical; a few are only marginally better than the rest. The biggest difference in my opinion has been how the speaker is packaged.

This one by Oxa is really, really nice. From the beautiful wood casing to the sound it produces, I’m really surprised at how different this speaker sounds.

I play a few samples in the video for you to get a feel of how it translates mp3 files.

Like most of the wireless speakers out there, speaker has a line-in /aux. jack that you can connect to your phone’s (or tablet’s) headphone port.

This speaker also has an FM transmitter and a phone speaker to answer calls.

The spec’s are as follows:
+ Bluetooth 2.0
+ Battery life of about 5 hours
+ Rechargeable time about 3 hours
+ Mini usb port/ mini usb plug
+ 3.5mm line in/ aux. jack—3.5mm plug

This speaker is a beautiful pearlized, bronze-copper. All of the speakers in this series is a pearlized and looks very professional.

It measures 2 '” x 2 '” x 2 '” and weighs less than .5 lb.

This is a very nice speaker.

OXA NFC Bluetooth Natural Wood Design Portable Wireless Stereo Speaker with Replaceable, Rechargeable Lithium Polymer Battery, Support for Micro SD Cards, Integrated FM Radio and AUX Line-in Port for Laptops; Smart Phones and More - Black
OXA NFC Bluetooth Natural Wood Design Portable Wireless Stereo Speaker with Replaceable, Rechargeable Lithium Polymer Battery, Support for Micro SD Cards, Integrated FM Radio and AUX Line-in Port for Laptops; Smart Phones and More - Black

5.0 out of 5 stars (Grade: B+/A-) Oxa Stereo Bluetooth Speaker, Model #5300: A Critical Review., June 16 2014
Length:: 5:36 Mins

Generally speaking, speakers encased in wood are better sonically. Wood, as they say, is best at insulating sound around the speaker preventing leaks.

The #5300 set comes with:
+ The Speaker (4 5/8”x 4 '” x 4 '” – 1.5 lbs)
+ Micro usb cable
+ 3.5mm aux. line cable
+ 1000 mAh rechargeable lithium ion battery
+ 17-button remote

The speaker system produces very good sound and coupled with the fact that it’s encased in wood, the speaker has a balanced weight to it. The solid wood housing seems very durable and it looks elegant.

Put aside the aesthetic and this beautifully-designed speaker produces some very good sound for a consumer-grade speaker.

Just sampling a broad section of mp3’s, I didn’t detect any bass-enhancing filters in the speaker. In fact, up tempo cuts sounds natural and vibrant.

In the video you can hear some samples.

***
The only drawback is the remote. I had a very difficult time getting the remote to go to various functions. It took repeated and hard presses to get to other functions.

I like having the remote with this speaker, but it should have been created with better circuitry.

August EP650-Bluetooth Wireless Stereo Headphones-Over Ear Headphones with 3.5mm Wired Audio In-Leather Cushioned-Rechargeable Battery-NFC Tap To Connect and built-in Microphone-Compatible with Mobile Phones, iPad, Laptops, Tablets, etc. (Black)
August EP650-Bluetooth Wireless Stereo Headphones-Over Ear Headphones with 3.5mm Wired Audio In-Leather Cushioned-Rechargeable Battery-NFC Tap To Connect and built-in Microphone-Compatible with Mobile Phones, iPad, Laptops, Tablets, etc. (Black)
3 used & new from CDN$ 93.53

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Before You Consider Buying "Beats Audio"... August Wireless Audio, [#EP650B]--A Critical Revie, June 9 2014
Length:: 3:24 Mins

I've been saying for the past couple of years, small, private companies are making great audio products that's on par with some of the biggest names in audio equipment and even better than the fashion/fad/fake audio companies.

***

The biggest problem with "Bass [Heavy] headphones" is that midrange and higher audio levels are sacrificed for filters that emphasize/ distort a song along the bassline.

Another fact is that bass headphones typically muddy instruments like drums so you essentially hear it at a certain level before it drops back off into distortion. With headphones like Beats Audio, the main audience is into Club, Alternative, Rap and Reggae.

This is why this--August headset--is phenomenal. Listing to random cuts like Ice Cube's "No Vaseline" or LL's "Mama Said Knock You Out." Or even, Diana Ross' classic ballad-dance cut, "Love Hangover" sounds incredible. Love Hangover, in particular, shows how the headphone replicate a slow tempo with vocals and then jumps to a mid-tempo.

The audio reproduction is excellent.

*** Phone ***

The set also has a wireless speaker for phone calls. The phone reception is also stellar. People on the other end didn't know I was not speaking into my cellphone.

*** Audio-In Jack ***

I plugged the headphones into my cd/ cassette deck and played a few tracks from The Choir of Vienna Hofburgkapelle. The range reproduced was pristine.

This is one of the nicest, multi-purpose headphones I've seen in a long, long time.

*** Pro's and Con's ***

Pro's

+ Handsome, leather headphone
+ Audio quality is great for a consumer-grade headset
+ Frequency response range: 60 Hz to 20 KHz
+ Built in internal battery
+ Battery time 8.5 hours before recharging
+ Bluetooth 4.0
+ Micro usb charge cord
+ 3.5mm adapter

- None. There's no unrealistic expectation for a headphone that's under $40.

This is headphone reproduces bass-heavy music without losing the umph and very little distortion. If you like Beats Audio or are considering purchasing Beat, give these a run before your drop your credit card on the counter.

5 runaway stars.

Avantree Vox-Pop Wireless Handsfree Voice Prompt Bluetooth 3.0 Headset (Gold /Black)
Avantree Vox-Pop Wireless Handsfree Voice Prompt Bluetooth 3.0 Headset (Gold /Black)

5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Reception. Avantree’s Vox-Pop HD Headset: A Critical Review, June 4 2014
Length:: 1:01 Mins

I stopped wearing Bluetooth headsets (“single ear”) years ago. The reason is, is that Bluetooth headphones have been greatly improved so I can listen to audio in stereo as well as answer phone calls.

Up until now, the best sounding headset is the Bose. The only drawback with the Bose had to do with how the earpiece sits in the ear canal. There’s nothing to keep it in, in case of heavy winds or a bump.

Avantree’s HD voice works GREAT with T-Mobile’s network. No one over the course of several days knew I was talking with them with the Avantree headset on until near the end of the conversation when I brought it to their attention.

The Avantree is world’s away better than every other headset even including the Jabra’s HD headset (2013).

This headset is so good that it’s hard to recommend the Bose over these. It’s that good…and a whole lot cheaper.

The set features:

Bluetooth 3.0 (up to 50’)
5.5 hours of talktime (no music playback)
Headset (2” long)
USB charging cable
2 silicon earbuds
User manual

This is an excellent all around talk-only headset that is very, very comfortable.

365 Skinny Smoothies: Delicious Recipes to Help You Get Slim and Stay Healthy Every Day of the Year
365 Skinny Smoothies: Delicious Recipes to Help You Get Slim and Stay Healthy Every Day of the Year
Price: CDN$ 9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 365 Skinny Smoothies: A Critical Review, June 2 2014
Daniella Chace, a nutritionist by trade, has written another volume of the benefits of having a healthy diet.

365 SKINNY SMOOTHIES is a day by day smoothie entry for those who'd like to incorporate having a "green drink" as a part of their daily diet.

But, the vast majority of the entries is primarily fruit then vegetables and some occasional nuts and legumes.

Before she actually get to the recipes, she does reminds us of the peripheral benefits of avoiding sugar, "toxins" and to buy organic, add protein.

The only real drawback and it's unavoidable not to mention is that there are no pictures.

I have no idea why a publisher would allow a cook book (of any variety) to go to print without having pictures to accompany the text. This was regrettably negligent on their part.

*** Recipes ***
May favorites from the months:

January-- ("Jan. 30") Chase Morning Boost
February-- ("Feb. 27") Morning Mocha Boost
March-- ("Mar. 2") Vanilla Berry Banana
April-- ("Apr. 22") Tropical Energy Boost
May-- ("May 23") Cherry Almond Nectar
June-- ("June 15") Vanilla Cherry Freeze
July-- ("July 2") Berry Mango Tart
August-- (Aug. 14") Vanilla Mandarin
September-- ("Sept. 13") Chocolate Almond Milkshake
October-- ("Oct. 14") Chia Energy Booster
November-- ("Nov. 7") Ginger Tea Spritzer
December-- ("Dec. 20") Beach Body Fuel

Very good book, but where are the pictures?

SABRENT Water-Resistant Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
SABRENT Water-Resistant Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
Offered by biddeal
Price: CDN$ 104.01
6 used & new from CDN$ 96.40

5.0 out of 5 stars Sabrent Bluetooth Speaker “SP-BETO”—A Critical Review., June 1 2014
Length:: 4:53 Mins

This is one of the nicer surprises I’ve seen in a long, long time when it comes to wireless, Bluetooth speakers.

This speaker doesn’t look or sound like any of the Bluetooth speaker that manufacturers typically rush to copy from each other.

The look and performance of the “SP-BETO” is a standout.

*** Features ***

First of all, it should be noted that the “SP-BETO” was designed to be a stationary speaker. It features:

+ Bluetooth 3.0 [should have been 4.0]
+ 3.5mm jack for a wired connection/ analog device
+ 10W
+ Standard wall current or by 8-AA batteries
+ Very durable design, especially if you’re near water.

Even before we get to audio reproduction, I really liked that the speaker was designed to work outdoors or indoors with large buttons, heavy rubber encasing and it has balanced weight. I can’t tell you how it dislike when a company tries to take shortcuts and makes most of it good and gets careless with parts…cough…cough… Samsung… cough.

*** Sound ***

The sound is impressive. I can’t verify that it’s 10W but it is very loud and with most Bluetooth speakers having between 3-5 watts, this is a welcomed change.

In the video, I play a few random selections to give you a feel for how the speaker sounds.

Avantree Multifunction Sports Armband - Trackpouch
Avantree Multifunction Sports Armband - Trackpouch

5.0 out of 5 stars At Work or At Play= Indispensable. Avantree’s “Trackpouch” Sports Band: A Critical Review., May 26 2014
Length:: 2:03 Mins

We see a lot of workout accessories every year for the cellphone or tablet. Most of them are newly re-designed earbuds or canal buds or headphones that can double as a workout headset.

The “Trackpouch” is a different kind of workout accessory. With it, you can wear almost any kind of cellphone on your arm while exercise or work. It fits snugly but comfortably for hours.

I’ve been using it for several weeks now and have wondered how I’ve not known about/did without for so long. This accessory is fantastic.

I carry two phones with me: HTC Evo 3D (4.3” screen) and The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (5.7” screen) both fit into the pouch without a problem, although the Note was a bit snug.

The pouch measures:

6.5” x 4.25” expands to a depth of 5.5” (so, if you’re a weightlifter, this probably won’t work for you).

What I really like about this is that if you’re doing ANY kind of physical work, the sports band stays secure and you have the convenience of either playing your music via a wired connection or by Bluetooth.

The pouch has a bi-directional opening with two zippers. Inside, the pouch has three (3) compact compartments: a change pouch, center pocket for cards, pen etc and a window section that has a rubber strap that keeps the phone visible and secured to the surface.

The armband itself has a soft interior material, while the outside has a Velcro strip that runs the length of the band.

Between the armband and the phone pouch is a earphone loop that can hold your earbud or canal bud by its own separate Velcro latch.

This is another excellent product by Avantree and it sells for less than $20!

TaoTronics® Elune TT-DL04 LED Dimmable Desk Lamp (Flexible Gooseneck, 3-level Dimmable, Touch Switch, Detachable Emergency Light Source) -Marble White
TaoTronics® Elune TT-DL04 LED Dimmable Desk Lamp (Flexible Gooseneck, 3-level Dimmable, Touch Switch, Detachable Emergency Light Source) -Marble White
Offered by Sunvalleytek Canada
Price: CDN$ 37.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TaoTronics Portable LED Lamp: A Critical Review, April 23 2014
Length:: 1:37 Mins

TaoTronics makes a lot of electronic products. Many I like, some are just okay. This lamp is exceptional.

*** Packaging ***

Before I get to the review of the device itself, I’d like to point out that someone at TaoTronics made the conscious decision to make a “green” package—a very basic packaging that does not have any extra, garrulous pieces that costs more to manufacture and ends up doing nothing to improve the performance of the product.

Most of the time, I’m irritated with the use of “clamshell” packaging and excessive bulk packaging, this product came with the bare minimum and I surely appreciate it.

*** Performance ***

I have another “Touch/Dimmer light stand” by my bed and these are the best kinds of light to have because you can adjust the lighting to suit the moment not to mention lowering electricity costs.

This lamp, unlike the one on my table, is a foldable lamp that can be powered by the standard ac current or by a usb-battery port.

Spec’s:
* 3- Light-intensity level/ Dimmer system
* 9 mm light bulb set
* 5500k of “Natural Light”
* USB chargeable interface
* AC chargeable interface
* 1300 mA Polymer battery installed (for usb)
* 8 hours of emergency lighting (via installed, rechargeable battery)
* Lightweight (less than 2 lbs)

As you can see in the video, the light has three very distinct lighting levels and the ability to take this lamp anywhere and charge it by an external battery is a real plus.

This is definitely a high-quality item.

Seven Years in Dog-Land
Seven Years in Dog-Land
by Johny Tay
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars An Intriguing Look At Dystopia AND An Interview with The Author. SEVEN YEARS IN DOG-LAND: A Critical Review., April 23 2014
Length:: 0:51 Mins

Alice, like many of us when we were kids, had a favorite pet. Hers is a dog named, “Charlie.”

Her family consists of her father, Lewis and Charlie and a home in the suburbs far away from the blight of urban living that her father muses is the result of greed and consumption, not that any such thing occurs on the country.

What would happen if the idyllic is turned upside down and Nature re-asserts itself over the mechanized, cultivated human world?

Alice and her family decide to take a camping trip, but when Charlie runs in to the woods and like a page out of the horror story, her life changes…

***

SEVEN YEARS…. is an expanded and printed version of the webcomic of the same name which is written, illustrated and published by Johny Tay.

Seven Years is not your typical graphic novel or a serial comic: it’s a social commentary and you’re invited into the other side of the industrial world.

*** Interview with the author, Mr. Johny Tan ***

Q1) I know that Seven Years... is a webcomic and the printed edition was culled from 2 years of work between 2009-11. But, as I came across the conversation with Lewis and his daughter Alice, I wondered how long was this story with you?

A) I'd say three years before I started making it. Before creating `Dog-Land' I was an editor at Reader's Digest, which exposed me to top-quality
writing. In addition my workplace was an hour's train ride away from home, and I used this time to read widely. I had lists of books which were
popularly regarded as the greatest English literature ever written, and
used my time on the train to read such books.

So all this exposure gave me ideas about what a great work of literature
should be like. In addition, I spent the last five years making a
children's comic titled `Anima'. Eventually I combined my knowledge of
good literature and knowledge of making comics to produce `Dog-Land'.

Q2) The story of Nature vs. (human) civilization is at the heart of this story and Alice, perhaps represents the future of where civilization should be, but what single event influenced you to challenge global industrialization?

A) I can't really pinpoint a single event that inspired Dog-Land. I'd say
it was a story that grew from a smaller idea. Initially I felt that humans
aren't really good at taking the perspective of animals, even our
supposedly `best friends' the dogs. Most people are blind to the reality
of puppy mills and the cruelty around the pet industry. I imagine that if
the dogs somehow realize the plight they're in, they'd rebel against us.

This expanded to an exploration of humans' relationship between nature and all animals, and also the nature of human society. Not only are humans blind to how they treat nature, but also to how they stagnate themselves -and this is revealed by the state of the Canine kingdom in the story.

So the elements of the finalized story are really a mesh of many years of
observation.

Q3) Who in the graphic novel industry inspires you and what kind of graphic novels speaks to you as a fan?

A) My favourite graphic novelists are Tezuka Osamu (hugely responsible for Japan's comic industry today), Will Eisner (a pioneer in American graphic novels), and Art Spiegelman (the only graphic novelist to have won a Pulitzer so far).

What makes them great is also what a graphic novel should ideally be. They are seminal creators because they don't see `comics' as limited to certain themes or genres. To them it is a medium that can be used to tell any story. There is nothing to stop a creator from crafting a story as complex as a novel. For examples, while Tezuka is most famous overseas for making `Astroboy' his most intelligent works included an autobiography of Buddha, and a lesser-known series titled `Phoenix', which explores humans' obsession with eternal life and power. Spiegelman won the Pulitzer for retelling his father's experience in Nazi concentration camps.

Q4) What's next from the pen of Johny Tay?

A) I recently finished a short story title `Shangri-La' ([...]) with a gifted Singapore painter, Kelvin Lim. It's a very different kind of comic - paintings melded with third-person narratives. The story has just been published in an anthology `Earth Dream' to commemorate Earth Day 2014
([...]). Shangri-La is originally based on the Boston Marathon bombing the year before.

Because I am now focused on just writing comics, I have several script
ideas in search of artists or established publishers. And because many
good artists ant to be paid, I am expanding my search for funding sources
as well. Two stories that should see light next year are: a short story on
that moment of Buddha's enlightenment, and a parody of a popular 80s
cartoon.

I'll update my website ([...]) and facebook
([...]) page as these projects progress.

Avantree Sacool-BLK Stereo Wireless Bluetooth In Ear Earbuds/Headsets/Headphone for Music and Handsfree Talking, commuting or outdoor uses, Black/Green
Avantree Sacool-BLK Stereo Wireless Bluetooth In Ear Earbuds/Headsets/Headphone for Music and Handsfree Talking, commuting or outdoor uses, Black/Green
Offered by Sethco
Price: CDN$ 49.41
4 used & new from CDN$ 49.41

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Surprisingly Great Sounding and Comfortable Sports Headphone. Avantree’s “SaCool” Sports Headphone: A Critical Review., April 12 2014
Length:: 1:30 Mins

It’s rare that I find a product is was even better than promised but Avantree’s “SaCool” canalbud-style headphones are exceptional, especially when compared to Jabra’s “Sport” headphone and definitely on par with Motorola’s “S11-Flex” and Jaybird’s “Freedom Sprint.”

I have to admit, the look of these headphones looks run-of-the-mill, but they fit snugly and once paired, the sound is crips and clear.

The SaCools are “canalbuds” – which is a design where the headphones’ speakers are wedged inside the ear canal, broadcasting sound while simultaneously blocking out external noise. This type of design is much better than in-ear/ earbud headphone, in my opinion.

The set comes with:
+ The headphones
+ Extra earpieces
+ Carrying case
+ Quickstart guide

*** Compared to Jabra “Sport”, Motorola “S11” and Jaybird “Sprint” ***

The Jabra “Sport” is a Swiss-European designed sports headphone that wraps around the ear and fits into the inner ear (not canal) but does have a problem staying in when one is doing a lot of active exercise such as running or the treadmill. They’re best in doing long walk. And, costs 1.5x as much.

The SaCool”s fit much better although the “left” ear fit better in my right ear and vice-versa.

The “S11” fits the best and sound the best but costs 3x as much as the SaCool but the SaCools continued playing even after 6 hours of non-stop music steaming.

The “Freedom Sprint” feels lighter, sound is better-than-average but it has half the battery life as the Sacool and costs 2.5x the price.

The SaCools have the best of some of the more well-known sports headphones and yet costs under $40.

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