Panasonic KX-TG4744B Phone and Answering Machine
Category: Product Reviews
Published: Wednesday, 13 November 2013 06:10
The Panasonic KX-TG4744B is a great 4 handset package with answering machine for under $100. The phones feature DECT 6.0 plus technology, have crisp, clear sound and include some nice ergonomic features making the system intuitive to setup and use right out of the box. The Panasonic design team really did a nice job with the KX-TG4744B packing in features at a very reasonable street price.
It took us about 10 minutes to unpack everything and get the units charging. Panasonic has opted for regular AAA cell rechargeable batteries. Once the batteries, included by the way, are popped in the phone displays the estimated time required to fully charge the batteries. In this case it was 7 hours.
We didn't wait the full seven. More like three. It was extremely easy to set the date and time and record a personal greeting using one of the handsets. No manual required. We like the light on top of the handset that illuminates whenever a call comes in. The buttons are nice and big with a good feel and fast response. This handset can keep up with speed dialers. The LCD is easy to read.
Call quality is very good. We even had some comments, "are you on a new phone", "you sound different" "I can hear you better". Of course, these days we spend most of our time on the cell phone. But a good landline is nice to have when you need it and the Panasonic KX-TG4744B was a great addition to the office.
If you need a landline and you're looking for a quality handset and answering system package at a reasonable price we highly recommend the KX-TG4744B. In the past year we've tested wireless handsets from Uniden, AT&T and Panasonic in the sub $100 range. This package is our favorite yet. Panasonic really has this down to a science.
Visit Panasonic for more information.
Fitbit Flex Wireless Tracker Review
Category: Product Reviews
Published: Friday, 25 October 2013 22:23
The Fitbit Flex is easy to use once you get it out of that atrocious packaging. We found it funny that the little plastic piece inside the package that the Flex band wraps around resembles a TIE Fighter. It's an unfortunate that taking the product out of the packaging results in a heaping mess of plastic, bands and useless manual with tiny print.
Once we sorted things out, charged the flex and snapped it on, things got much better, pretty much just set it and forget. Signing into the web portable and discovering the wireless USB dongle that allows the Flex to synch on its own if very simple.
After that, it's as simple as entering foods and activities and tracking progress while remembering to charge the Flex every few days. We ran, walk and hopped in the Jacuzzi with the flex. We opted to wear the band on the same wrist as our sport watch. Pretty much forgot we were wearing it.
We used the web version of the software and not the smart phone apps. We prefer to check out the data on a PC and it's much easier to input data as well. Seeing the performance data is motivating, especially the "how many glasses of water" data point. None of us drink enough water.
Fitbit is great because it quantifies your daily routine. Even if it's not perfect it's a benchmark to work against. It doesn't really matter if it tallies 5 miles versus 6 or reflects accurately the number of calories burned or consumed. What matters is seeing the numbers in a gross fashion. I'm moving and consuming less or I'm not moving and consuming too much. The data helps keep things heading in the right direction.
The Fitbit Flex feels like a product that should cost $49 or less. Not $99. We'd love to see more aggressive pricing. Maybe fitbit can squeeze some pennies out of that horrible packaging.
Visit fitbit to check out the lineup of wireless trackers.
iZotope RX3 Advanced Review
Published: Wednesday, 23 October 2013 02:18
Izotope RX3 Advanced is an elegantly designed suite of audio restoration tools with a beautiful and intuitive interface that delivers transparent and effective results when used judiciously. We used it both in standalone mode and as a plug-in with Sony Vegas Pro 12. Most tools in the suite worked as a plug-in except for Spectral Repair which had to be run in standalone mode.
Izotope RX3 has become an essential part of our post production workflow. When shooting video we encounter a variety of audio challenges related to the environment, equipment or the performance. Plus there's the crew. We have an awesome network of audio engineers but no one's perfect and audio levels can be too weak or too hot in dynamic situations. So that's a lot of variables to deal with.
The end result of this imperfect sonic wonderland is unwanted hum and noise, rumble, occasional distortion, unwanted reverb and more. It all has to be addressed in post so we can deliver a pristine audio mix with our final video.
In the past we've had mixed results using noise reduction and audio restoration tools because of the artifacts introduced by the algorithms, mainly the phasing and thinning of the sound. The harder the tool was pushed the worse the artifacts got. The results were never really transparent enough to our liking.
Izotope RX3 is a smart prescription for post because it allows you to fix complex problems without introducing artifacts. Yes, if pushed too hard it's easy to do more harm than good, but we generally were able to improve the quality of the audio before introducing unwanted sonic garbage.
We've now used RX3 Advanced on multiple video projects to remove rumble, reverb, HVAC noise..etc. The more we use it the more we appreciate what a powerful tool it is for making our dialogue pop through the mix. The cleaner we can get it the better we're able to sweeten it.
The RX3 noise reduction module does an excellent job removing unwanted hum and white noise from the HVAC. We got excellent results with 10 seconds of room tone as our noise profile. About 6dB of reduction was ideal for removing most of the unwanted noise with minimal artifacts. This was more than enough for projects where a music bed would help mask any remaining noise. We also tested it with shorter noise profile and it worked very well.
In most cases, we were able to use RX3 to improve the audio in a transparent way. Removing reverb from a recording is still very challenging to do and takes more time to dial in. Luckily, the intuitive controls make it easy to simply experiment until you get the desired results.
In general we got the best results by pushing the software until we would start to hear unwanted artifacts and then dialing back a bit, and then maybe a bit more. Interestingly, with the declipper we tended to push it a little harder for the best results. We even ran the audio through a UAD plug-in before the declipper and that yielded good results. So experimentation is very important.
The folks at iZotope have optimized RX3 to take advantage of multicore systems. Our 12 core Xeon test system was pushed to the max and yielded very good performance. Nice to see software like RX3 putting all those cores to work. What use to be an arduous task of cleaning up audio is now a simple batch process that can be done in minutes. It's also been very stable and has not crashed in standalone mode. It did cause occasional problems in plugin mode. We recommend working in standalone mode for most work. Little fixes are fine in plugin mode.
Izotope RX3 Advanced is one of those tools that is best used sparingly with the goal of improving the quality of the audio without giving it an overly processed sound, unless you're going for some sort of effect of course. Super clean is not better than what we would call sonically authentic. For example, we still prefer the sound of a clean FM radio signal to XM radio because of the compression used by XM. To our ears it just sounds bad. It's sterile, compressed and sad. With Izotope RX3 you can make your mixes cleaner but still happy and bright. Taking the time to clean up your mix with a tool like Izotope RX3 is well worth the effort. It's an essential tool for post.
Here you can listen to a sample with and without using the RX3 noise reduction.
Visit Izotope to download a trial version or RX3 Advanced and test it in your post production workflow.