Defender series no longer Otterbox’s best iPhone case (kind of)

apl28-alp100-6n-1For years, we’ve been huge fans of the Otterbox Defender series cases for any iPhone or Android device. They don’t have the waterproof protection of the LifeProof series, but the rubberized outer shell combined with the hard plastic inner-shell made for a thick, but comfortable case that you didn’t worry about when your device fell from your lap getting out the car or slipped from your hand while you got distracted getting a package from the mailman.

But it was awful thick.

Otterbox has an answer and the new Symmetry Case is something that Defender fans need to look at and folks who always thought Defender was cool but was too thick need to look at, too.

It’s got a tough outer shell made of a plastic type material. Coming from using a Defender for many years, it felt slick at first, but it quickly became comfortable.

Over time, I’ve come to admire how thin it is. The iPhone 6 Plus I’m toting is very thin to start with and this case takes advantage of that. Often when I pick it up, I’m like, ‘Wow, this is a thin phone,’ and then I remember it’s also thin inside of an Otterbox case.

Now the Symmetry series doesn’t have the built-in plastic screen cover that adorns the Defender. Some folks don’t like it because it reduces accuracy of the touchscreen. But it also protects it.

The Symmetry has raised edges to protect the screen in case of a fall, but I never felt completely comfortable with just that, so I tacked on a glass screen protector

 

New Apple operating system has a bluetooth bug

Apple has released an update to its computer operating system, called Yosemite. The update, OS X 10.10.3, brings many updates, including a new Photos app that is very similar to Photos on the iPad and iMacBookPro_Yosemite_Hero_HEROPhone. It’s also got some security updates.

Many readers of ADT and throughout the Internet have complained about a bluetooth issue. Bluetooth devices were not being recognized and users were unable to turn on bluetooth.

A fix, sent to us by several readers, involves resetting your computer while holding down Command, Option and the P and R keys, something called “resetting your PRam.” When you hear the normal Apple re-boot sound, hold down the buttons until your hear it again. Then let go.

For us, and for several readers, resetting PRam solved the bluetooth issues. And for the record, we kind of like the new Photos app, too. It can send all your photos — and any edits you make — to all your devices.

Kia K900 wants to be top dog in large luxury sedans

When Hyundai introduced the Equus a few years back there was a collective side eye given by the automotive press thinking the company had overstepped its boundaries.
Not so.Turns out Korean luxury is as good as Japanese, German and American.
Now that Hyundai’s sister company Kia has jumped into the big luxury car fray, we’re not surprised. The question isn’t is it any good but how good will it be?
I can’t compare the Equus to the K900 because I haven’t driven the Equus. My church’s pastor has an Equus and he said it’s the best car for the money he’s ever owned, that includes Lincolns, Bimmers, Mercs and the like.2015_kia_k900_sedan_v8_fq_oem_4_717
I’ve never owned any of those but I’ve driven something built by each company. Kia got it right. This car is certainly well equipped to take on big sedans built by any company. There’s a lot here for the money and what’s here may give the other companies cause for pause.
The K900 is a big comfortable sedan. The styling is a bit generic but I firmly believe generic sells the best. If not, why have so many people flocked to Accords and Camrys for their daily drives all these years? Yes, each is well built, but neither attracts much attention.
Anyway, the K900’s styling is a bit bland, but handsome. I do like the Jaguar-like grille. From the A pillars back the car looks a bit like a Lexus GS. Not a bad combination, just not something that makes you scream I want one.
The interior is much more yummy. Leather, wood, metal and padded surfaces abound. The Nappa leather is really soft and hugs the ventilated seats snugly. If I wanted carpet in a home, I’d ask for this stuff.
The instrument cluster is virtual. It disappears once the car is switched off. Animated icons are used to bring attention to certain conditions. The massive 9.2 touch screen controls climate, audio and other functions. The gear selector and infotainment dial looks very German. As much as I like this look I think there may be a few more switches and buttons needed. There’s lots to raise, lower, cancel, toggle and what not.
Rear seat passengers get controls for climate, rear sunshade, climate controlled outboard seats that recline. There are copious amounts of room for head, legs and hips for two passengers. The middle person has to deal with the transmission hump.
The five-liter V8 produces 420 horses and 376 pounds-feet of torque. Coupled with an eight-speed automatic, the engine makes the car jump to 60 miles per hour in a little more than 7 seconds.That’s not bad for most would consider to be a luxoboat. I will say I think the K900 needs a bit more oomph. Passing was ok, acceleration good, but it didn’t have the snap some of its rivals have.
The ride is very comfortable. Very large bumps will upset the car’s steering a bit, but you may not hear if you hit a bump. The cabin is quite. There is a hint of wind noise but nothing troublesome.
Handling Is good, but not crisp. Curves and straightaways are approached, not attacked.That’s not a bad thing, however. Most who purchase this car will be cruising, not racing to get to their destination.
The K900 comes standard with a lot of equipment, more than its rivals. At $65,000, there should be a lot of standard stuff. The list is lengthy, but ABS, leather, panoramic moon roof, power closing trunk, traction and stability control.
My test car was equipped with the VIP Package with white interior. This $6,000 option included smart cruise control, reclining rear seats, power door latches, 12.3 inch LCD instrument cluster, head up display, driver’s seat cushion extension and surround view backup camera.
As tested, my K900 priced out at $66,400. I hear the gasps and exclamations “for a Kia” being ejected as you read this. Yes, for a Kia.
Would I pay this for a Kia? Yes, but that would depend more on would I pay more for the other car’s in its class. Again, yes.
I think the Kia K900 is worthy to be mentioned with Mercedes, Jaguar, Lexus, Cadillac, Audi, BMW and a few others. It offers more for the money and, as most any car will do, takes you from point a to b.
How well you feel while getting from point a to b is a different story. The pricer under cuts its rivals by as much as $20,000. Does that make it a better car? No. Does that make it as good a car? That depends. I don’t know that any of the other cars are actually worth $20,000 more. I can say I think many of them are better cars.
Better is a relative term, you know. If I had this kind of money I could see my self saving enough to buy, well, a lot of stuff for $20,000. Any day of the week that decision could be called smart by lots of folks.
NBA player LaBron James drives one of these and has tweeted such. James is also helping Kia with a King James Version of the K900.

wcross@alldaytech.com

NAMM 2015 H5 Zoom handheld recorder – TEC award winner

Zoom H5 Handy Recorder
Zoom H5 Handy Recorder

The Zoom H5 Handy Recorder was a winner at the 2015 NAMM TEC Awards. We are fans of handheld recorders and stopped by the Zoom booth to learn more about what made this winner a winner.

The H5 is a portable 4-track digital recorder with interchangeable mic inputs–detach the included shockmounted X/Y mic capsule and connect an optional Zoom condenser mic to suit your recording needs. We like the fact the mics can be swapped out, especially because the unidirectional X/Y mic capsule is capable but not adjustable.

The H5 lets the user select stereo recording for two tracks or multitrack for four tracks. Record .wav and MP3 files directly to SD and SDHC cards up to 32GB capacity. Pitch change and a variable playback feature aid learning. The H5 can also automatically begin and end recording when a certain level of sound is detected. Another attractive feature is Backup-Record, which saves a stereo version of your original track–handy should something unexpected happen with the original. The H5 uses two alkaline batteries and can record approximately 15 hours.

We think the H5 is worthy of consideration for those in the market for a handheld recorder for either audio alone or audio/video. It plays nicely with external i-devices, provided you have the necessary software to complete the interface–and offers flexibility and a host of useful features at an affordable price point of $269.99.

Read more about the Zoom H5 here.

NAMM 2015 first listen: AKG K812 High Fidelity headphones

 

AKG K812 Pro Superior Reference Headphones
AKG K812 Pro Superior Reference Headphones

The AKG Pro Audio K812PRO Superior Reference high-fidelity headphones won the best headphones category during this year’s winter NAMM TEC Awards show. As we’d just given the impressive Blue Mo-Fi headphones a listen our curiosity was piqued. We made a trip over to AKG to hear what the competition had to offer.

First, know the K812 is an expensive, high-end headphone–but more on that later. “More” and “bigger” seem to be the K812‘s winning formula. The K812 promises to produce sound as close to natural as possible, thanks to its 1.5 Tesla magnet system, which is the strongest on the market today and which produces extremely high quality sound. The company also hypes the headphones’ 53mm transducer, the largest AKG has built yet.

Relatively fresh from our brief yet satisfying test drive of Blue Mic’s Mo-Fi headphones, we were excited to try these out. It’s hard to dig deep at noisy conventions but we just wanted the highlights. As with the Mo-Fi, we were able to sample a variety of genres of music at AKG’s headphone sample station. And like the Mo-Fi, we found ourselves blown away by the K812‘s extreme sonic clarity and crisp, even tones. If you’ve never heard music through today’s high-fidelity headphones, you owe it to yourself to listen to it through a pair of K812s. The sound is unreal, more there than there if that makes sense. These are built for studio work, as they capture every detail of every sound.

Fit was comfortable and the finish seemed solid. And at an average retail price of $1499 the K812 is a serious headphone meant for industry professionals and only the most dedicated audiophiles.

Read more about the AKG K812 here.

Casio showcases four new digital pianos at NAMM 2015

The Casio Celviano digital piano
The Casio Celviano digital piano

The news over at the Casio booth at NAMM this year was the expansion of its Privia and Celviano digital piano lines with four newcomers.

We always enjoy the Casio Press Event and this year the company hosted two of its artists, Kristian Terzić and Stephan DeReine, who each put the Privia through its paces with a couple incredible musical performances that stopped us in our tracks. We digress–back to the gear.

The Privia series welcomes the PX-760 and PX 860. These touch-sensitive pianos are portable performance workhorses. The Celviano series hosts new recruits AP-260 and AP-460. Privia digital pianos are engineered to replicate realistic grand piano sound. Celviano models are housed in an upright piano casing that reminds us at ADT of the many practice pianos of our youth.

These four new pianos include a Hall Simulator and Concert play, which are engineered to enhance the playing experience. Pianists may play along with 10 orchestral classical pieces in Concert Play, which also allows players to add or remove the symphonic accompaniment as they practice or perform. Students may use the lesson feature to slow down the tempo of the orchestral accompaniment as they learn to play along. Casio has also developed its proprietary “AIR” technology that recreates the sound and feel of real sustain pedal dampening and release.

Celviano retail pricing begins at $1499. Privia pricing begins at $1099.

For more information on the new Casio Celvianos, visit http://casiomusicgear.com/products/menu_celviano

For more information on the new Casion Privias, visit http://casiomusicgear.com/products/menu_privia

NAMM 2015 first listen: Blue Mo-Fi high fidelity headphones

Blue Mic Mo-Fi High Fidelity headphones
Blue Mic Mo-Fi high fidelity headphones

During last year’s winter NAMM show we reported Blue Mic’s tease of their then to-be-released Mo-Fi high fidelity headphones. Mo-Fi was being kept well under wraps but the suggestion and promise of sound unlike anything we’d heard before ensured we’d be back.

This year we eagerly swung round to the Blue booth for a first look and, most importantly, our first listen. Impression: awesome. This is the audiophile’s dream headphone–good looks, great sound and affordable price point. We slipped on the phones and queued up samples of the entire suite of demo tracks. Be it rock, classical, jazz, pop or soul, the sound was jaw-droppingly encompassing, alive and rich.

The Mo-Fi headphone promises to deliver “real audiophile performance and sound quality on every device–from professional studio gear to laptops, tablets and even your phone.” The headphones are also designed with adjustable ear cups and a multi-jointed headband that allow the listener to adjust them to create a custom fit. To us, a full-sized headphone will always be a full-sized headphone–but they were light and we appreciated the ability to adjust Mo-Fi for comfortable wear.

Mo-Fi owes its dynamic sound clarity to a built-in audiophile amplifier and precision drivers. The ear cups completely isolate outside noise. Three amp modes let listeners adjust sound to their preference. The headphones automatically power on when opened and off when closed. Mo-Fi also provides approximately 12 hours of rechargeable battery life.

At present, Mo-Fi is available in a single model that retails for $349.

Visit http://mofiheadphones.com/ for more.

30th Annual NAMM TEC Awards honors Slash, Nathan East, Ed Cherney

Orianthi, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, Slash and Richie Sambora at the NAMM 2015 TEC Awards.
Orianthi, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Slash and Richie Sambora at the NAMM 2015 TEC Awards.

Jan. 24, 2015, Anaheim, CA.  – This year the NAMM TEC Awards celebrated its 30th anniversary as it honored 2014’s best and brightest contributors to audio and technology. Comedian Sinbad deftly handle Comedian Sinbad deftly handled host duties, ensuring the audience was entertained throughout the almost four-hour event, which culminated with the celebration of three venerable contributors to the combined arts of technology and creativity: Nathan East, Ed Cherney and Slash.

While these names may need little introduction to many, let us at AllDayTech provide some context as we too celebrate their achievements, along with many others who received accolades on this night.

First up among the honorees inducted into the 2014 TEC Awards Hall of Fame was renowned Grammy-award winning bassist Nathan East. If you remember a little Phil Collins’ ditty called “Easy Lover” you know his work–he co-wrote that huge 80s hit with Collins and Earth, Wind and Fire vocalist Philip Bailey. He has also worked with other very big names, among them Beyonce, Michael Jackson, Toto, George Harrison, Eric Clapton,   Daft Punk–on and on. After giving a heartfelt and humble acceptance speech he did what he does best and performed a couple jazzy grooves with the house band for the crowded ballroom of guests.

Six-time Grammy Award-winning engineer Ed Cherney was next up for the 2014 Hall of Fame honor. An affable fellow with an almost endlessly bedazzled resume, Cherney is one of the most recorded engineers in the business. He is also respected among his peers as one of the greatest rock engineers of all time, having worked with the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan,  Bonnie Raitt and Spinal Tap. Not that we’re biased but TAP! We digress. Cherney is a big deal who has made incredibly profound contributions to both music and music education. He recently finished a teaching residency at USC.

The TEC Awards is never complete without its final presentation: the distinguished Les Paul Award. 2014’s award belonged to guitarist Slash, known for his incredible contributions to rock music as the lead guitarist for Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver and his own independent projects.  Slash is also committed to supporting and resuscitating music education programs in schools. He wrapped the show with a blazing jam with an impressive lineup that included Richie Sambora, Don Was, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Orianthi and Kenny Aranoff.

See a full list of the night’s winners here.

Moog exhibits Theramini at NAMM 2015

Moog Theramini
Moog Theramini

The theramin is one of the first electronic instruments ever invented. Patented in 1928, it is controlled by frequencies produced through two antennae–one controls volume, the other controls pitch–depending on the distance from each the performer positions his or her hands. The performer never touches the instrument.

The theramin is enjoying quite the rebirth of late. Modern rock music has embraced this haunting, ethereal electronic machine whose otherworldly tones were first heard by many in retro sci-fi movies and emotive motion pictures dating as far back as the 1940s. Robert Moog discovered and embraced the instrument during the early 1950s. Now the Moog Corporation has created a new line of affordable modern versions for today’s musician, which it placed on display in its booth during the winter NAMM 2015 show.

I had to visit the booth to try my hand at Moog’s consumer-friendly version, the Theramini. I’d studied via YouTube videos how to play the instrument and, with just a 5-minute tutorial from a booth rep, was easing my hands up, down, in and out, making noises that sounded eerily familar. When you’re doing it right, that’s the sound you produce: eerie, whiny, creepy.

The Theramini looked–to me, at least–very much like a white suppository with one vertical antenna that modifies pitch via hand movements and a flat, flared loop off the left that controls volume. Pitch controls near the center let me set the key from which I wanted to manipulate my sounds. Within 10 minutes I was offering tutorials to other newbies I glimpsed flailing about trying to make sense of it all. Within 20 minutes I had managed a wobbly, yet triumphant version of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

This is not an easy machine to master. If, however, it speaks to you, the Theramini is more than worth your time…and frustration. The Moog Theramini retails for $319.

Find more Moog Theramini details and specs here.

Blackbird Guitars debuts eco-friendly Ekoa instruments at NAMM 2015

Blackbird Ekoa El Capitan guitar
Blackbird Ekoa El Capitan guitar

Among the more intriguing things we saw this year were manufacturers innovating with new materials to create more eco-friendly instruments. Blackbird Guitars, an acoustic instrument manufacturer based in California, showed off two new eco-friendly instruments in its lineup, the El Capitan guitar and the Clara ukulele.

Both instruments are made entirely of a linen composite material. That’s right–Blackbird has developed a new plant-based material technology it calls Ekoa. The company describes Ekoa as “a proprietary, first-of-its kind, bio-based material that provides warm, vintage sound and feel with the toughness of carbon fiber.”

Blackbird promises the El Capitan and Clara will possess vintage tone and hardy construction capable of taking the kind of abuse typical for the most road-worn guitars. Blackbird also takes pride in good looks and has taken pains to craft its Ekoa finishes to resemble those of decades-old, old-growth wood.

Sustainability doesn’t come cheap: The Ekoa El Capitan will run you at least $3,000 and the Clara ukulele more than $1,000. And while we are impressed and fascinated by the idea of guitars made from linen, and while both instruments sounded great during the demo the Blackbird rep performed during the media preview expo, we can’t help but wonder how the material will age over time. As wood ages on a typical guitar, the tone also warms. How Ekoa’s looks and tones evolve over the years remains to be seen and heard.

Still, we have to applaud the considerable lengths the company has taken to replicate the experience of a traditional wood instrument in an environmentally friendly guitar.

The El Capitan Ekoa guitar will be available April 2015. The Clara Ekoa ukulele is presently shipping.

Read more about the El Capitan and Clara Ekoa guitars here.