Chromecast 1 vs 2

Chromecast 1 vs 2

youtube_chr1vs2This is the WaysToWatch.com Chromecast 1 vs 2 review. The original Chromecast was a new approach to streaming movies and tv shows. It was small and easy to install. And it quickly gained nearly 20% of the streaming market. Google announced the new Chromecast in September. A new year, a new model, and hopefully significant improvements.

Chromecast, What’s The Same

The new Chromecast 2 largely works the same way as the original Chromecast. They both connect with HDMI, wi-fi and USB for power. Apps such as Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Now have the option to stream through Chromecast. Any laptop with the Chrome web browser can mirror its screen on your television. Both play simple games. And the price has not changed. The new Chromecast is $35 as well.

New Chromecast, What’s Different?

So, what is different? The design is different. The HDMI connector magnetically attaches to the main circular body. The new Chromecast comes in 3 different colors; red, yellow and black. Why different colors? Once I plug this device into the back of my television I will rarely look at it, if ever. So, is Google just trying to put an old device in a new package?

The only significant difference is the speed of the wireless connection. The new Chromecast has 802.11 ac wifi. Let’s see if it is noticeably faster?

Wow, this is noticeably faster.

So, who should buy the new Chromecast 2? This is not a device you should get to replace your original Chromecast. If you have a 4k TV, you can skip the new Chromecast as a streaming device, because it doesn’t support 4k. If you have an additional tv to which you would like to add a second or third chromecast, the new chromecast with its affordable price of $35, is a great choice for anyone with an HD tv or a current chromecast owner who needs a new one for a second or third tv.

Only people who need a second Chromecast for a second television should buy the new Chromecast. The technical specs aren’t significantly better and it doesn’t support 4k, so there isn’t much there to justify an upgrade. At a price of $35, this is an affordable way to stream to your HDTV.

Thanks for watching my quick comparison of the original Chromecast to the new Chromecast. Or as some would say it 1st gen vs 2nd gen.

Vizio S3820W Sound Bar Review


Buy
Click To Buy

In little over a decade Vizio has become a well known trusted television brand. After being in the business for five years Vizio became the largest seller of televisions in the United States. Once they became well positioned in the television market Vizio started to expand their line of products. Sound systems were the first new set of products to get started.

The Vizio S3820W Sound Bar is their entry level product. It cost about $100. This is the lowest priced sound bar I have reviewed. How good can it be for $100?

The Vizio S3820W includes:

  • Sound Bar Speaker
  • Remote Control
  • Optical Digital Audio Cable
  • 3.5mm to RCA Audio Cable
  • Wall Mount Brackets
  • Digital Coaxial Cable

Vizio S3820W Design

S3820W_design

The Vizio sound bar has adequate build quality. The backside of the S3820W is a textured plastic that is not cheap but not necessarily high end. The front is nearly all speaker cloth. Along the bottom edge there is a line of silver plastic, and the very bottom edge is a glossy plastic.



Vizio S3820W Wired Connections

There are four ways to send audio to the Vizio S3820W sound bar. The lower quality connections are the RCA and eighth-inch jack. The higher quality connections are the digital coaxial and digital optical.

There is a subwoofer connection if you would like to have a stronger bass experience.

Vizio S3820W Bluetooth

S3820W_bluetooth_sm

The Vizio S3820W includes Bluetooth that allows other Bluetooth devices to transmit sound through the sound bar. Bluetooth has quickly become a required specification. This feature is great for connecting tablets, smart phones, and other devices. Pairing my iPhone and iPad to it was easy. The audio played well from iTunes Radio and the Stitcher podcast app.

Vizio S3820W Sound Quality

When I connected the S3820W to my television using the included optical cable I was pleasantly surprised by the sound quality. It does the basic job of delivering better sound than my television. Dialogue was crisp and clear. This is a 2.0 sound system, so there is not any real surround sound. It offers Trusurround, which delivers a very limited artificial surround sound. Even without surround sound the audio is well balanced.

The bar is lacking when it comes to bass. Vizio calls their integrated bass system Deep Bass Modules, which gives the impression that it will deliver a decent bass experience. The bass is helpful to your overall movie watching experience, but it is not bone rattling. For good, skin vibrating bass, you will want to use the available subwoofer connection.

According to the included instruction guide, using the digital optical cable will deliver the best sound. The difference in sound quality is not that noticeable because it does not offer true surround sound. The sound quality is a basic improvement over what you will get from your typical television.

Vizio S3820W Remote

S3820W Remote
S3820W Remote

The Vizio S3820W’s included remote is surprisingly well made. It feels really firm in my hand. The back of the remote is made of a smooth but solid plastic and the front is aluminum. The buttons have a similar texture to the back of the remote. This is by far the highest quality remote that I have seen with any sound bar.



Vizio S3820W Value

The Vizio S3820W brings an improved audio experience to your living room. This is one of the lowest priced sound bars available. If you want an affordable improvement over your television’s sound, this is a good choice. The inclusion of Bluetooth adds a convenient way to connect numerous devices directly to the sound bar without hassle. It is currently priced at $100 from Amazon.com.

Most sound bars include one optical cable, but Vizio’s inclusion of four different cables is a nice, no hassle touch.

Vizio S3820W Wrap Up

I have mixed feelings about this sound bar. The price is really affordable, but it does not offer anything special. If you are looking to improve your audio at a bare minimum the Vizio S3820W has you covered, but if you want true surround sound you will need to shop for a better sound bar or sound system.


Other articles on WaysToWatch.com

Read our Review
Does This Sound Bar Deliver?

Review of the Sony BDP-S5100 3D Blu-ray Player
Review of the Sony BDP-S5100 3D Blu-ray Player

Yamaha YSP-1400 Sound Bar Review



Buy the Yamaha YSP-1400
From Amazon

Taken in its entirety Yamaha, the multinational conglomerate, builds and sells various products and services. The company, founded in 1887, initially sold pianos. Over the last 125 years the company has grown to selling all sorts of music related products, and after World War II Yamaha started building motorcycles. Of all of the industries in which Yamaha competes, their products in home theater often set the benchmark. So when they recently announced a new sound bar, the YSP-1400, I was really interested in testing it out. The YSP-1400 is one of their entry-level products. The YSP-1400 is what Yamaha calls a “Digital Sound Projector.”

The Yamaha YSP-1400 Includes:

  • Sound Bar Speaker with built-in Subwoofers
  • Remote Control
  • Optical Cable

Yamaha YSP-1400 Design

ysp_1400_design

The Yamaha has excellent build quality in a simple design. When I first took it out of the box, the YSP-1400 did not look particularly special. It does not have a distinguishing design aesthetic like the current generation of Sony sound bars. However while I was shooting some footage for the review video, I started to notice the finer points in the build quality. The length of the YSP-1400 is covered with a glossy plastic that looks classy. In the center of the sound bar the eight array speakers are behind a grill.

I placed the YSP-1400 in front of my 40-inch television. Its length of about 39 inches matched nicely with the width of my television. As I started to try it out with the Blu-ray of Star-Trek Into Darkness, the deep black of the sound bar was unnoticeable. This is good, because it was not distracting at all.

ysp_1400_led

The controls on the sound bar are simple and easy to navigate. It can be controlled with the remote control or the buttons on the sound bar. And instead of a display, Yamaha uses indicator lights that show which connection is active and when the YSP-1400 is responding to commands.

The dual 3.25” built-in subwoofers are implemented nicely. The openings for the subwoofers are in the feet of the sound bar. This design choice is the embodiment of simplicity. This design will compliment any wall-mounted television nicely. If your television is on a stand, the YSP-1400 includes a signal repeater.

Yamaha YSP-1400 Built-in Subwoofers

ysp_1400_sub

The YSP-1400 includes two 3.25” down-firing subwoofers. The inclusion of the subwoofers into the bar itself is a nice design touch. The low-end sounds are good, but with only 30W from each, you definitely won’t bother the neighbors. Even without the bone rattling sound, the built-in subwoofers offer enough sound to balance the eight array speakers.

Yamaha YSP-1400 Wired Connections

ysp_1400_connections

The YSP-1400 has four input connections. It has an optical audio connection and a coaxial digital audio connection for Blu-ray players. There are two more connections that are analog. There is a single output connection for adding an additional subwoofer.

With this model, Yamaha does not include any HDMI ports. Without HDMI ports you cannot have Audio Return Channel. This is not essential, but it is nice when manufacturers include this feature.

Yamaha YSP-1400 Bluetooth

bluetooth_logo_sm

The Yamaha YSP-1400 includes Bluetooth that allows other Bluetooth devices to transmit sound through the sound bar. Bluetooth has quickly become a required spec. This feature is great for connecting tablets, smart phones and other devices. Pairing my iPhone to it was easy. The audio played well from iTunes and NPR apps. It works best when you keep the device near the sound bar.

Yamaha YSP-1400 Sound Quality

ysp_1400_quality_1

The first hurdle for any sound bar is whether our not it offers better sound than your television. The Yamaha YSP-1400 easily clears that standard. The sound is clear, distinct and balanced. Voices are easily heard through sound effects and music. That clarity comes without compromising the overall atmospheric effect that comes from the lows.

Yamaha promotional material identifies the YSP-1400 as a “Digital Sound Projector.” Digital sound projection is supposed to create a surround sound experience by bouncing different audio channels off of the surrounding walls. After some modifications to the setting of the sound bar, the channels became more distinct, however, I never quite got an auditory experience that “fooled” my ears into believing that I was getting real surround sound.

Though the built-in subwoofers are nice, I found myself sometimes wanting more rumble. Yamaha has included a connection for an external subwoofer if you share my opinion.

ysp_1400_quality_3

As I mentioned earlier, there are numerous inputs to choose from. First, I tried the optical connection from my television. The audio signal is first set to the television from my Blu-ray player then from the television to the YSP-1400. Using this setup while watching Star Trek Into Darkness, takes the 7.1 surround sound signal and makes it stereo when it passes through the television. Once the stereo signal is received the YSP-1400 then uses Dobly Digital Plus to try and create a surround sound signal. This is somewhat effective, but not nearly as good as a direct connection between the Blu-ray player and the YSP-1400. Afterward, I used the coaxial digital connection. The signal is direct and uses DTS Digital Surround. Connecting my Blu-ray player directly to the sound bar made a noticeable different in sound quality.

Yamaha YSP-1400 Remote FSR80 ZG80760

ysp_1400_remote

The included remote adequately performs all needed setup and modifications. You can select which input to use. There are dedicated buttons for Clear Voice, Univolume and Audio Delay. Clear Voice makes voice even more distinguishable. Univolume maintains a consistent volume between channels, commercials and programs. Audio Delay allows you to compensate for any subtle drifting of audio.

The remote has dedicated YSP Position buttons. These buttons allow you to choose how the YSP-1400 executes its surround sound effect based on the layout of your room.

Yamaha YSP-1400 Home Theater Control App

Yamaha_app_edited

If you prefer to use your Apple iOS or Android device, Yamaha has developed free apps for both platforms. The HT Controller works really well. It allows you to control nearly every feature of the YSP-1400.



Yamaha YSP-1400 Value

The Yamaha YSP-1400 brings a superior audio experience to your living room. This is not the cheapest sound bar available, but if you want quality and convenience, the YSP-1400 is a great choice. The built-in subwoofers and speakers offer great audio quality. The inclusion of Bluetooth adds a convenient way to connect numerous devices directly to the sound bar without a hassle. It is currently priced at $399.95 from Amazon.com.

Yamaha YSP-1400 Wrap Up


Buy the Yamaha YSP-1400
From Amazon

I really enjoyed my time with the Yamaha YSP-1400. While watching Star Trek Into Darkness, the warp engines of the Starship Enterprise sounded stellar. You may choose to add an external subwoofer to enhance the bass, but that is not enough of an issue to be a deal breaker. WaysToWatch.com recommends the YSP-1400 sound projector.

Other articles on WaysToWatch.com

Read our Review
Does This Sound Bar Deliver?

Fast & Furious 6 Buyer's Guide
Fast & Furious 6 Buyer’s Guide

Sony HT-CT260H Soundbar & Wireless Subwoofer Review


Buy

When watching movies audio can be more important than what we see on the screen or television. The significance of sound is most easily appreciated in horror movies. Without the menacing music or unexpected whisper many horror films would not be nearly as scary. Good sound is essential to a complete movie watching experience. With that in mind I picked up the Sony HT-CT260H Soundbar and Wireless Subwoofer.

The Sony HT-CT260H Includes:

  • Sound Bar Speaker
  • Wireless Subwoofer
  • Remote Control
  • Optical Cable

Sony HT-CT260H Design

soundbar_left_side_sm

This year Sony began deviating from the typical rectangular design approach. It began with adding triangular shapes to its Blu-ray players. Continuing the trend of incorporating nonconventional shapes into their products, Sony is using a hexagonal profile for the HT-CT260H. The speaker grill cloth runs the length of the sound bar. On each end Sony has added a metal plate, a design choice that adds to the perceived quality of the product. In comparisons with other sound bars the HT-CT260H immediately stands out.

The controls on the HT-CT260H feature chrome buttons with a clear display. It took a few attempts to familiarize myself with the interface, but then it was easy to navigate. My couch is about 12 feet away and the display was easy to read. If you misplace the remote the controls can adjust all settings.

This sound bar also includes a IR repeater. This feature allows the signal from your television’s remote to reach the television, because most television IR receivers will be blocked by the sound bar.

Sony HT-CT26H Wireless Subwoofer

HT_CT260H_subwoofer

The wireless subwoofer that is included in this set is convenient and loud. Convenience is the number one reason for choosing a sound bar system. And the number of wires involved in the installation process is the determinant of convenience. One less wire to run and connect is a welcomed feature.

The wireless connection worked immediately without a need for configuration. The subwoofer can be placed anywhere in the room. This is a great feature that compliments the convenience of a sound bar. Once I started playing a movie, in this case Man of Steel, the first thing I noticed was the increased atmospheric sound. The wireless subwoofer does a good job of making you feel the movie.

Sony HT-CT260H Sound Quality

For all that can be said regarding the convenience of sound bars, that convenience comes with compromises. For its size the HT-CT260H puts out enough sound. It does not compare to my Klipsch speakers and subwoofer. I know that it is not a fair comparison, but it provides a reference to which you can compare.

The sound is superior to anything that you will get from your television. It does a good job at bringing typically subtle audio elements to noticeable levels, but can leave dialogue lacking distinction. While watching Man of Steel I found myself wishing that the dialogue was clearer and separated from the music and sound effects.

Sony HT-CT260H Wired Connections

hdmi_ports_sm

With this model Sony has added two HDMI ports, one in and the other out. This allows for Audio Return Channel (ARC). ARC allows you to pass the video signal through the sound bar via HDMI.

The HT-CT260 has an optical audio connection and an analog in jack. This allows for new and old connections. The analog jack is a nice touch if you happen to have a music player that lacks Bluetooth.

Sony HT-CT260H Bluetooth

bluetooth_logo_sm

The Sony HT-CT260H includes Bluetooth 3.0 that allows other Bluetooth devices to transmit sound through the sound bar and subwoofer. This feature is great for connecting tablets, smart phones and other devices. Pairing my iPad Mini to it was easy. This feature is nice to have, because there are some times when you want to hear music or a podcast from your phone or tablet beyond what the built-in speaker can provide.

Sony HT-CT26H Remote RM-ANP109

sony_ht_CT260H_remote_sm

Sony does not get any points for their remotes, but the RM-ANP109 allows you to make all necessary adjustments to the sound bar and subwoofer. The design is nearly identical to the remote included with Sony’s Blu-ray players. Unlike the Blu-ray player remote that feels like too many functions were crammed into its small shell, the design of the RM-ANP109 compliments the number of functions it needs to accomplish.

Sony HT-CT260H Value

The Sony HT-CT260H brings functionality, quality and convenience in a simple format. This is a good audio system for someone looking to affordably improve their television’s sound without the hassle of running and hiding wires all over the place. The HT-CT260H has 300 watts of power providing plenty of sound. For a little less than $300 you can significantly improve you home theatre audio.

Sony HT-CT260H Wrap Up

The Sony HT-CT260H is a beautifully designed sound bar with a good set of features. Your experience with audio and music in your home will noticeably improve for a modest price. Oddly, of all of the features, I found that I appreciated the convenience of Bluetooth the most.

Click to Read the WaysToWatch.com Review of the Sony BDP-S5100 3D Blu-ray Player
Click to Read the WaysToWatch.com Review of the Sony BDP-S5100 3D Blu-ray Player

WaysToWatch.com Windows Phone 8 vs. iPhone
WaysToWatch.com Windows Phone 8 vs. iPhone

Sony offers Ultra HD player and Xperia Tablet S to buyers of Ultra HD TV

Do you have an extra $25k? If you do then you are in luck. Recently, Sony announced the release of their first consumer Ultra HD television. The Ultra HD standard has 4 times the resolution of current top level HDTV. To sweeten the deal, Sony is now offering a Ultra HD video player and an Xperia Tablet S for a remote control. Sony is hushing critics who point to the lack of Ultra HD video content. The 4k Ultra HD TV model number Sony XBR-84X900 upscales all video inputs to near 4k Ultra HD quality. The 4k Ultra HD Player is a hard-disc server that will come preloaded with 10 movies: The Amazing Spiderman, Total Recall (2012) and Salt, to name a few. In addition, the server will have music videos and performances.
Sony was not the first to bring an Ultra HD TV to market, but they are the first to provide a complete viewing experience. Looking for a competitive edge in the over saturated HDTV market, Sony is besting LG, its only competitor in Ultra HD televisions by providing content to take advantage of every pixel on its new Ultra HD television.

Wii U Deluxe Set Unboxing

The latest Nintendo console, the Wii U, is now on sale. It comes with the game Nintendo Land and one Game Pad (controller). What is unique to the Wii U is that the game pad can display the game allowing other people to watch regular TV. Nintendo has promised a fully integrated television experience. A soon to arrive update from Nintendo will enable the Wii U and Game Pad to work with TiVo and Amazon Instant. Here is an 120 Second Unboxing of the Wii U Deluxe Set. The full length unboxing can be found on our Youtube channel.

 

Wii U Deluxe Set 120 Second Unboxing

The iPad Mini Review: The Best Small Tablet for Watching Movies, Top Five Reasons

Read the article or watch the video.


For many years people have accused Apple of being closed and limiting their customer’s options. Even though I am a Mac user, I often agreed with this assessment. But when it comes to movies on the iPad Mini this is actually not true.

Here are my top five reasons why the iPad Mini is the best small tablet for movie lovers.

The iPad Mini has the Most Video Options

Of all small tablet options, including tablets from Amazon, Samsung and Google, the iPad Mini actually can access the most video. Amazon only allows its Kindle tablets to buy from Amazon Instant Video.  And Google and Samsung can only buy movies from Google Play. The iPad Mini can use purchased movies from Amazon Instant, Vudu, and, of course, the iTunes store.

The iPad Mini has the Best Downloadable Movie Option, iTunes

When it comes to digital downloadable content the iPad Mini is the only small tablet that has access to extras, like director’s commentary and deleted scenes. This is true because it can get video from iTunes and Vudu the only digital download options that offer movie extras. Amazon Instant and Google Play do not offer any extras.

The iPad Mini has the Best Battery Life

The reviews are in, and they all agree, this device stands up to the test of time when it comes to watching movies. You get 12 hours of movie watching, 20 percent better than the closest competition.

The iPad Mini is the Best for Shooting and Editing Your Own Video

Shooting and editing your own video on this device is solid. With a 1080p camera and iMovie you are set the make you own family movie.

AirPlay

And the fifth reason why the iPad Mini is the best small tablet for watching movies is simply AirPlay. Any thing that you can play on the device will play on an Apple TV. It is simple and easy. Currently, Google and Amazon do not have anything that competes.

So, there are my top five reasons. Do you agree? Android users, do you want to push a contender? What do you think? Comment on our Youtube channel or below.

WaysToWatch.com iPad Mini Giveaway Contest!

iPad Mini Black & Slate

This week Apple announced their new iPad Mini, the newest member of their iPad family. They are promising a full iPad experience on this smaller device. Apple promises 10 hours of battery life. With this device Apple took a different approach from other competitors. The iPad Mini’s screen is  7.9 inches instead of the typical 7inches. Since the mini keeps the same aspect ratio as the full size iPad all of the nearly 300,000 iPad apps should work well on the new device. Any one who owns digital content from the iTunes store will enjoy the same seamless experience.  The design will help the mini stand out from the pack. It is only 7.2 mm thick and weighs only 0.68 lbs. This new iPad fills in the gap between the size of the iPod Touch and the iPad. Starting at $329 it is a premium price compared to Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire. The iPad Mini will definitely increase the pressure on the competition. Stay tuned for the WaysToWatch.com unboxing of the iPad Mini.

iPad Mini Giveaway Contest

Now here are the rules for the WaysToWatch.com iPad Mini Giveaway Contest. To be eligible for the contest you must be  an United States resident, a subscriber to our Youtube Channel, Youtube.com/Waystowatchcom and follow us on Twitter, twitter.com/waystowatchcom. For the contest to go into action we will need to have 5000 subscribers to our Youtube Channel. If we hit our goal of 5000 subscribers by November 9th, 2012 we will randomly select a winner from our subscribers. If you win you will be notified by email. If you do not reply within 3 days a new winner will be randomly selected. So, if you want to win a new iPad Mini remember you will need to subscribe to our youtube channel and follow us on twitter. Good luck!

Purchasing HDMI Cables

Common HDMI Cable

On my trip to buy a Blu-ray player a few weeks ago I was struck by the disparity in pricing for HDMI cables. Again, I was in my local Fry’s Electronics. In the television section there were numerous options ranging in price from $12.99 to $249.99 (yeah, I am serious). I felt annoyed by all of the options. I did not know if gold plated wires were better than the regular copper ones. Was two layers of shielding good enough or did I need 3 layers? Was there a difference between the HDMI cables that claimed to be 3D ready and the ones that did not mention it?

Slick Rick

At first glance the packaging of the more expensive HDMI cables looked amazing; it made me feel like I would be  getting my first gold chain as a teenager during the birth of Hip-Hop in New York (I know, random), as if the purchase of this item would fantastically enable my television far beyond its technical specs.  But all that glitters ain’t gold. Well, even if it is.

Unsatisfied with my pricing options I decided to look around. First , I decided to shop around the store. Most Fry’s locations are massive and will have HDMI cables in at least 3 different departments. So, I walked all over the store. After leaving the TV section, I went to the general cable and wiring section, then lastly to the video game department. In the last stage of my travels I found the lowest priced HDMI cables in the store. It was $5.99. Just in case the lower priced cable did not work, I also bought a higher priced cable. No, not the $249.99 price, the $12.99 cable. What can I say, that was my limit. Once I got home I connected my 3D Blu-ray player to my HDTV with the lower priced cable. It worked well with no issues.

I then investigated some of the marketing claims I remembered. Was there a difference between 3D ready and regular cables?  I found this article on Cnet that explains that there is no performance difference between HDMI cables regardless of what is written on the box. What about the shielding? Some cables claim double and others triple shielding. Shielding limits interference from electrical current in other cables that are near your HDMI cable. Interference is a real issue, but according to MyCableMart.com double shielding is plenty of protection. Now regarding gold. It is far more expensive than copper and chemically it is less reactive to other elements. But what counts is electrical resistivity and conductivity. It is  a measurement how electricity flows through a particular material.

Copper Wiring

The marketing material of the more expensive cables led me to believe that gold is the best material for carrying a signal, but actually the title for best electrical resistivity and conductivity goes to Silver and secondly to Copper. Gold is actually the fourth best metal.

So, I will happily stick with the $5.99 cable. Recently, I strolled into Fry’s and saw a basket of cables for $3.50. Be sure to measure for distance between devices when getting a cable. Most are about 6ft, but longer HDMI cables are available.