Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Get your Game on!!!

We have Game Cables, Controllers, Charging Docks, LAN adapters and replacement AC power adapters for the best Game Consoles available. Upgrade to an HD connection, or replace the damaged cable of your PS2, PS3, Wii, Xbox or Xbox 360.

All the cables are high quality, come with our usual 30 day "return for any reason" policy, and come with great low cost shipping options.

Here's the Link:
Game Console Cables

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Review Audioengine AW2 Wireless iPod Adapter

Review Audioengine AW2 Wireless iPod Adapter

OK, first the warning. This review was delayed for some time waiting for the new Ipod Touch update to 3.1.1.
I originally got my iPod touch just as the 3.0 update came out. I immediately upgraded from what the Touch came with to the new 3.0 firmware. Classic bad move. Never install a "point zero". Sure, there were lots of cool new features but the one thing I ended up wanting most ended up being hosed.
Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the Touch. I love the Apps! I love sitting out on the porch, or anywhere with a wifi connection and being able to browse the Net (provided the fonts were big enough) , or iTunes, or work with the Apps. Not having an iPhone, it's like having one without the connection costs and um, the phone.
But - I was dieing to hook it up with one of these Audioengine wireless thingies to be able to sit back on the couch and use my Touch as a controller to play back my music podcasts, internet radio, etc, in extremely high quality on my awesome Home Theater system. Alas, it was not to be. At least for a little while.
So after the original 3.0 update using the Audioengine AW2 ended up with me hearing sound from the iPod Touch's "Speaker" (if you could call it that) not from the stereo. I talked with Audioengine and they confirmed the "hosing". They suggested i go back to the original firmware, which, of course, I had not bothered to back up. They did promise that Apple would fix the problem on a new software release. Which they finally did.

So, now after a torcherous month or two, Apple has finally released 3.1.1 which fixes everything. I'm sure there are other "exciting" features and fixes, but to me the only thing that matters right now is that my Audioengine AW2 Wireless iPod Adapter is now working perfectly.

As far as I know the following ipods only are supported:
• iPod Classic
• iPod Touch
• iPod Touch (2nd generation)
• iPod Nano (2nd generation)
• iPod Nano (4th generation)
• iPod Nano (3rd generation)

So what does it do, how does it work, exactly?
What it does is this:
Connect the receiver device to your stereo, home theater receiver, powered speakers, or wireless powered speakers. Connect the small transmitter device to your iPod Dock connector. Go through a very simple "sync" procedure involving pressing a small button on the transmitter and receiver. Done.

How it works? Audioengine has a quite long and, for geeks, interesting explanation on their website. The main thing is, unlike most wireless devices, it sounds great!

I spent quite awhile comparing between my wired (Ram M2RCA cable) Ipod classic and my iPod Touch with the AW2 listening to Allen Holdsworths "The Sixteen Men of Tain" CD. I expected to hear some compression or artifacts from the AW2. I have heard this CD many times, and I listened HARD. I had to really listen hard to believe I heard a real difference. In the end I could not say if the differences in sound qualities were due to differences in the outputs of the Classic and Touch, or differences in the "connections". The Touch has always seemed more trebly to me. Therefore a bit noisier. The Classic always seems warmer and with more stage depth and dynamic range. (probably imagination) Seems the same with these connections so I cannot come to any conclusion. I'd like to try comparing the touch with the Audioengine AW2 and our Ram Docking connector cable, (I-Extreme iPod Docking to Stereo RCA Cable) and see if I hear anything different. That would be more of an apples to apples comparison. I'd love to try a blind or double blind A/B test, but it would be tricky.

Audio With Video
Video Podcasts worked fine. I could see the video on the Touch while listening on my stereo.

Downloaded iTunes Videos worked fine. I could see the video on the Touch while listening on my stereo.

Youtube? No good. I got the video but no audio. Hope they fix this issue! Many of my subscribed videos will not currently work on my Touch, anyway.

The conclusion?
The most fabulous thing? It gives you sound from Videos, podcasts, music, etc (I'm guessing games) with no hassles. The sound quality blows away other wireless solutions.

This thing amazes me. Go ahead and listen to it with high end speakers, quality components and quality cables. See if you can hear a difference. If you do think you can, just think about how much of a difference there might be. How much this costs. How bad most every other option seems to be. How cool it is to use the iPod interface as your controller. Wirelessly. The alternatives are, to say the least, pricey. I hope they fix the youtube issues, not a deal breaker for me with all of the other positives, but c'mon! You will have to pry this baby out of my cold, dead hands.

PS. Another factor here is WAF. Set up a Harmony or other remote control for the proper connection ("play ipod") and anyone can use this to play music and podcasts

Want one?
Audioengine AW2

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

All about Audio/Video Wall Plates

All you need to know about Audio/Video Wall Plates

Everyone likes the idea of making their cables as invisible as possible. Granted, it's not so easy unless you get someone to do it for you. Still, it is not necessarily as hard as you may think. If you are somewhat handy, and more than a little bit brave, you can learn to cut into your drywall, install a box, run your cables in the wall and finish it all off with a nice A/V wall plate with the necessary connectors. Lets start it off with an explanation of the types of wall plates and the terms that are used for them.

Some of the common words thrown around but rarely explained are "Decora®", "Keystone", "pass-thru" (or pass-through) "balun", "passive", "active" and "insert".
OK, lets start with Keystone.
Keystone Wall plates are a standardized, modular, "snap-in" system for low voltage cable and wire connections.
"Standard" Keystone Wall Plates:

"Decora®" Keystone Wall Plates:

Decora® is a style of wall plate invented by Leviton with a center part as seen above (although not necessarily keystone) , and then a surround portion that is installed over it. Decora® plates are also available in non-keystone style with connectors permanently installed.
Decora® non-keystone:

The above has a VGA (or "HD15", or most accurately "HD DB15") as well as a 3.5mm mini phone plug connector.

Decora® "Surround" or "Cover" Plate:

The important part of the Keystone scheme, is , of course, the modular connector inserts.

Keystone "Inserts" or "Modules":

Below are some RCA jack, pass-thru keystone inserts.
They are "pass-thru" (often called "pass-through" or "passthru") because they are female connectors in the front as well as the back. This allows you to avoid having to do any cable termination yourself. You just plug in your pre-made cables.
Note: You should only use "in-wall" rated cables within walls. What fire-code rating you need in your particular area and installation type varies. It's a long subject for another time.

More Keystone insert module types? The common ones are:
RCA, F, BNC, Binding Post, Banana, Toslink, S-Video, and of course, Telephone and network "RJ" types RJ45 (Cat5 Ethernet) can be either pass-thru or punch down. RCA can be RCA female to female or RCA to "F" for using common RG6 cable connections within walls.
RCA Jacks:

RCA Jacks are used for Stereo or multichannel audio, Composite Video, Component Video and Digital Audio coax.

F Connectors:

"F" connectors are used for CATV (cable TV), Satellite, and Antenna connections.

HDMI Keystone:

HDMI keystone jacks are used for HDMI connections for Digital Audio and Video.

OK, what about "Baluns" and "Active" wall plates?
Baluns take an unbalanced signal and convert it to a balanced signal. What this means in practical terms is it allows you to use CAT5 cable to send the signal over long lengths with very low pickup of noise and signal loss. The Balun is commonly built into the keystone insert module, Decora® connector, or installed on a standard wall plate. They are a great way to save money on expensive cables while enabling long cable runs. "Active" solutions can be thought of as either amplified balun type devices or proprietary technologies which actively convert the signal to some sort of balanced signal enabling very long cable runs over CAT5 (normally actually Cat5e or Cat6 solid cable) .

Questions? Please comment or contact us.
Please see our Audio/Video Wall Plates page for our current lineup which is constantly expanding.