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funkyfresh electronics

Sonos Play:3 Review

The Sonos Play:3 sounds great for background music but is slightly underpowered and lacks midrange definition.  In can fill a space with sound but we were underwhelmed by the lack of punch. If you’re looking to “blow the roof off” as Sonos suggests in the product description you’ll need two of these units configured as a stereo pair.

However, the Sonos Play:3 is far more than just a speaker.  It's also an amp  and wireless receiver that allows you to forgive some of it's sonic shortcomings. When combined with a $49 Sonos Bridge and Android smartphone, the Sonos Play:3 is the quickest and easiest way to get up and running with a Sonos wireless audio system and that’s reason enough to love it. 

We installed the Play:3 about 40 feet away from the Sonos Bridge on a back patio in Arizona.  The Play:3 includes one mounting hole for a vertical orientation.  We installed it horizontally near the corner of a covered patio which reinforced the bass response. The Play:3 did a pretty good job of filling the space with sound.  It's perfect at lower volume levels but not enough oomph for a pool party. It also tolerated the 110 degree heat in the shade just fine even though its official operating temp is limited to 104.

The Sonos software allows you to access all your music services and the music stored locally on your PC. The services we used the most are Pandora, Spotify and Mog. Sonos had no problem accessing our Pandora account but wouldn’t play nice with Spotify or Mog. There’s not much troubleshooting you can do besides enter the username and password. So for this review it just didn’t work.

Luckily Pandora and Sonos are pretty much a perfect combination. Using the Sonos Android app on an HTC Thunderbolt is awesome. We can’t imagine Sonos will be selling too many controllers anymore. All you need is a good size smart phone and you can have endless fun playing with your music library.

The Sonos Play:3 is about the size of a large shoe box and is built with quality materials and buttons.    It also has a rubberized bottom and would be perfectly happy on a tabletop indoors. A few of these placed strategically around the home can make for an impressive whole house audio system with minimal installation effort.  If you're considering getting into wireless audio the Play:3 is an excellent starting point. 

Visit Sonos for more information and all the specs.

Here's a video we made a while back that explains how the Sonos system works.

Uniden DECT 1480-3 Cordless System Review

If you still like the convenience and reliability of a traditional landline and are in need of a new cordless system, the Uniden DECT 1480-3 offers really good value, under fifty bucks, for a 3 handset bundle.

It’s kind of silly to spend a lot of money on a cordless phone system these days. Many households have lost the landline all together preferring to keep it simple with just a cell connection or perhaps Vonage or Magic Jack.

The Uniden DECT 1480 features DECT 6.0 technology which provided very good range and clear reception. DECT 6.0 works in a frequency band that does not interfere with WiFi so that’s a nice improvement over the older 5.8 GhZ technology.

For under $50 you get three decent handsets and a digital answering machine with 14 minutes of record time. There is no setup required at all. Simply plug everything in. Let it charge for a while and you have a working 3 handset system.

The buttons are decent, the call quality good and each handset has a speakerphone. The handsets are light and comfortable to use without feeling cheap. On the other hand, the answering system is really bare bones. You cannot record your own message without first reading the manual.  It's actually a nice way of doing it where you use a handset to record the greeting versus using a mic on the base unit.  However, we imagine a lot of folks will be stuck with the computer voice to let callers know to leave a message as no one RTFM these days.  Other than that, it's a dead simple system to understand.

The ringer volume for some of the ring tones could be a little louder but there are others you can choose if you want a really loud ringer.

Uniden is making some decent stuff these days and if you’re looking for a bare bones cordless system with good call quality the DECT 1480-3 system is a very good value.

Visit Uniden for more information.

Panasonic BD655 Review

The Panasonic BD655 is an entry level Blu-ray player with online connectivity and streaming apps but suffers from minimal file format in spite of having both USB and SD card slots on the front panel. If you have a lot of DivX material and other formats you’re out of luck. The BD655 only supports mainstream file formats such as JPEGs, MP3s and AVC lite from Panasonic digital cameras.

The BD655 does turn on quickly and is ready to play both Blu-rays and DVDs in seconds rather than minutes. The sound and picture is pretty much perfect as you would expect from Blu-ray. It’s also easy to pop in an SD card for watching the dailies. However, beyond the basics the performance rapidly deteriorates.

Launching the online apps is painful. The menu structure is clever and easy to navigate but it just takes too darn long to refresh the screen. Many Blu-ray players run on Java and while that’s good for updates and such these systems are often underpowered. So software feels like you would expect software to feel running on an underpowered system. Slooowww.

The firmware update was also painful. It just took a really long time. We confirmed it was not our network just a slow process. We didn’t notice any performance improvements with the latest firmware either.

If all you’re interested in is playing shiny discs than the Panasonic BD655 is a solid choice simply because it loads so quickly and comes with a decent remote. But if you’re interested in the online apps such as Pandora and Netflix we’d recommend looking elsewhere. Samsung is a better choice with much richer file format support despite the slow boot and touch controls on its fingerprint happy glossy products.

Visit Panasonic for more information.

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