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Andrew

Bush Digital & Internet Radio Review

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I like music. We all do. However, I think there’s a perception among the young that music is only for streaming in todays age. Radio is fantastic and it offers the opportunity to hear new music and listen to things you never would have had you not simply heard it as it came through the airwaves.

Today I’m reviewing the The Bush Digital & Internet Radio with Colour Display BR320DABC, and I have to say, it’s not something I would probably usually review. While I’m not exactly an audiophile, I do like my music, and i know good sound from bad. I have a Harmon/Kardon amp at home and and cannot listen to good music through bad hardware. This unit from Bush well and truly surpassed my expectations, but more on that in a moment.

When I unbox products I always go through a similar set of stages. Excited as it arrives, excited to unbox and take  a look at it… and then cautious and curious as I plug the power in. Having been a Project Manager for some 20 years, I know a bit about how to guide new users through a first time experience. And the experience that the Bush Digital Internet Radio offers is not too dissimilar to one that I would have implemented had it been my product.

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After switching it on, it asks whether I’d like to run through the setup wizard, not being someone to do it that hard way, of course I’ll run the wizard! I set time, date and timezone. Then search for my wifi and simply enter the security key. I’m done, easy. It was a breeze to get running and connect up our wifi. I wish I could say that about every product that comes past my desk!

The sound quality of the The Bush Digital & Internet Radio with Colour Display BR320DABC is surprisingly very good. With numerous features on the user side, I didn’t expect a lot from the sound quality. You can usually have one or the other, the Bush Digital Radio offers both. It has a very solid base, a substantial sound to hit the notes down low. This radio would have no problems hitting up a few Tom Jones tracks if that’s your flavour! For an internet radio that will likely sit on your breakfast bench it’s more than good enough and took me somewhat by surprise, which I don’t mind admitting. The sound felt full and wholesome if they’re words you could use. Maybe an audiophile would have a better vocabulary in their arsenal, however I am reviewing this product for those among us who are looking for a radio that works well, offers a range of features and sounds solid.

Being able to connect the The Bush Digital Radio to the many thousands of internet radio stations was a massive plus. It was fantastic! I know that other units can do this also, however I was impressed with the large display and the detail therein. Seeing what’s playing now and next up was great. If you love the Beatles, why not listen to them… all of the time! Triple M in Melbourne were even using the display to send listeners to their website and promote competitions.

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As a Spotify Premium member, connecting my account was fairly straight forward. I had to go to my phone and select to send the audio to my Radio output device, but after that was able to connect to Spotify. I then turned my phone wifi off and the audio was still working fine… so the tracks were then running through the Bush Digital Radio directly and not using my handset internet connection after the initial connection was complete.

I noticed that i could go backward and forward between tracks using my phone, but could not do a search on Spotify using the Radio. I needed to use my phone to do that. I could forward through tracks on the album I was on, but could not go to find another album or do a search without using my phone. When connected to my phone, I could use the volume on my handset to increase volume on the radio itself which was really good as well. Your phone is basically becomes a remote control for the Radio when connected to Spotify.

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I enjoyed reviewing the The Bush Digital & Internet Radio with Colour Display BR320DABC and have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone looking for a Digital Radio to sit on their breakfast bar, or even connect up to Spotify to crank out some tunes. Be sure to check it out and let them know that Andrew from Bradsblog.org sent you!

8 out of 10.

Andrew Cunningham.

twitter.com/@cunningdrew

facebook.com/cunningdrew

**Review completed for Bush Australia Pty Ltd. Device was sent back after review.**

Sonos Play:1 Rocks! – Product Review

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In a world where sound matters, there’s something else which plays a close second. User experience. We often talk about user experience when we’re creating web sites, mobile apps and perhaps even navigating through a theme park. But, when it comes to music; Sonos has created a beefy sound with their Play:1 product along with a very unique user experience. 

The Play:1 is the baby of the family, but you wouldn’t know it. It belts out a solid sound and can fill a standard size room or even lounge room with no issue. 

Getting setup and running with the Sonos Play:1 was surprisingly easy. You take it out of the box then download the Sonos Controller software and connect it to your home wifi network. It can also, of course, connect to and be setup via a standard network cable. I setup using my home wifi network in only a few minutes. 

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When you take a Sonos out of the box you immediately get a sense of the quality item you have just purchased. It’s heavy. Not in an old photocopier sense, but in the sense that you’ve just bought something substantial that’s made of hardened steel and not cheap plastic. I like this, and I will happily pay a premium to have things around me that are genuine and feel heavy like my grand-father might have brought home from the record store some years ago. 

You can connect your Play1 to over 100,000 internet radio stations in addition to Spotify, Rdio, Napster, Amazon Cloud Player and Last.fm. Whichever network you choose to listen through, you can rest assured it’s easy to do so via the Sonos app on your handset or tablet. While it’s a little frustrating not being able to connect it to every and any audio output, having the benefit of being able to drive your music from your phone anywhere in the house far outweighs the fact you’re unable to connect it to any audio jack in any device. But, there are other speakers for that. 

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This is the small product in the range, the baby, the little one. Until you hear it scream! I was truly amazed at the sound this little unit can produce. I was fortunate to test with two devices running in the same room, one on left channel and one on right, and was impressed with the bass that the Sonos Play:1 was pushing out. 

While it offers a fat bass for thick songs like Eminem Stan and Michael Jackson Stranger in Moscow, I also felt the delicate touch that it offered simpler tracks like The Eagles Hotel California and Christina Perri Jar of Hearts. Best though, was the sound that the Play:1 offered for classic rock tracks like Hendrix and The Stones. 

This unit offers an unparalleled music listening experience in addition to a surprisingly beefy sound. I highly recommend the Play:1 and, while my demo units have been returned, I’ll be looking to pickup a couple for my home some time in the new year. 

8 out of 10
@cunningdrew

Foxtel Play; the streaming quality will blow you away!

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It’s just easy. Foxtel Play is so easy to use and setup even grandma could do it!  I installed the app on my Xbox One console and have been very surprised at just how easy it is to use and how fast it connects to channels when I select them. I rather like the fact that I can connect and disconnect on a monthly basis should I choose to as well.

The quality of Foxtel Play is impressive, very impressive. For a service that streams through the web I did not expect the quality to be greater than that which I receive through free to air digital, but it is. I’ve had friends come over to watch the footy and wonder where my Foxtel box is. When I tell them I don’t have one and it’s streaming they’re quite surprised.

Foxtel Play is a mirror of most standard Foxtel channels allowing me to watch movies, sports, drama and just about everything that’s on your traditional account.

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While cord cutting is becoming more and more popular as people choose to move away from set top boxes and move to a streaming environment, I do miss the fact that I cannot record content through Foxtel Play like I can with the cabled delivery. That said, the portability and freedom of Foxtel Play outweighs the disadvantage of not being able to easily record content.

The navigation of Foxtel’s app on the Xbox One is smooth and precise. It’s simple to click through the channels to see what’s on now and what’s coming up. I really love how it automatically picks up the last channel I was watching and starts to play it. I’ve usually been watching Formula 1 or AFL so it’s great when I can connect and it just goes straight to where I want to be.

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If there is something I really wanted from Foxtel Play it would be support for Apple TV. I use my Apple TV to connect to numerous other streaming entertainment providers and it would be fantastic to be able to use it to connect to Foxtel Play as well. Not everyone has a modern games console to stream Foxtel Play through. Thankfully, there’s a range of Bluray players and PVR’s that can stream Foxtel Play also… unfortunately I don’t own one of those models. Foxtel Play is, however, also available on Android, iOS and most tablet devices.

Foxtel’s recently revised pricing means it’s only $25 per month for the basic package plus $25 per month to add an extra package like movies or sport. If you’re a sports fan like me, I know this is going to make a lot of sense for you as well! Having all of the Formula sessions live is indeed a treat.

I highly recommend Foxtel Play and suggest you sign up now to start your two week free trial. If you don’t like it, just disconnect…. but something tell’s me you might be hanging around to enjoy Season 2015/16 of the Hyandai A-League and the V8 Supercars.

Foxtel Play 8.5/10.

Review by Andrew Cunningham
@cunningdrew

Spotify Android App Review

By Belinda Demy-Geroe

I recently installed the Spotify android app from the Google Play store for free on my Samsung Galaxy S Tab. Once installed the Spotify icon appears on the tablet desktop ready to listen to your favourite songs and share them with friends.

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This is the first time I have purchased an android tablet and being a huge fan of Spotify it is fantastic that the app can be used on this platform as well as iOS9. The layout of the app is awesome and almost identical to what you would see on a Mac, iPad or iPhone device.

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The main menu is positioned at the top left of the tablet screen, featuring search, browse, activity, radio, running and the most important option, your music. User settings and your profile tab can be found at the bottom left.

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Search allows you to find your favourite songs, artists, albums, play lists and profiles. Clicking browse gives users songs on the global and local charts, along with new realeases Spotify android app users can track the activity of other subscribers they are friends with or following.

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The radio tab features personal, recommended and genre stations. Another great option is running, which selects songs that are good to listen to while exercising. I would recommend the Spotify android app for anyone with a device on that platform. App cost: free from the Google Play store for android.

Bose Soundlink Mini II Review – Pack’s a punch!

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You couldn’t imagine something so small and sleek packs such a solid punch. Before I unboxed the Bose Sounlink Mini II I did not have great expectations. Bose has always been a great brand in audio, offering premium products at a matching price, but I just did not see what I would do with a portable sound system. My opinion quickly changed.

I enjoy a solid base sound like the most of us, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that Bose enjoy a good base as well! It really is all about the base! While not overly heavy the Sounlink II feels weighty, that probably feels sounds like a contradiction, but it isn’t. The Soundlink II is engineered to feel heavy and carry weight in all the places that matter and none more.

I found it really easy to pair the Soundlink II up to my Macbook, however difficult to pair to another device once I was already using the Sounlink II with the Macbook. Bluetooth can always be a little tricky, but I guess once it’s setup and running it just runs which is great. I did have a few issues when trying to use the Sounlink II on devices that were unpowered (not plugged in) which was very frustrating.

Unlike the first Soundlink, the Soundlink Mini II comes equipped with a microphone thus allowing you to pair up to your phone and carry a conversation directly through the device. This is extremely helpful when someone calls you and you’re rocking through the middle of Bohemian Rhapsody Wayne’s World style.

But to be fair, it’s not just the base that’s phenomenal, the audio is of a clear and crisp quality no matter what you’re listening to. It’s a neutral and complete sound that the Bose Soundlink Mini II provides. One that even the most particular audiophiles would not only be satisfied with but impressed.

What takes a short while to get used to is the fact that your Bose Soundlink Mini II talks to you. Literally. There’s not too many buttons on the device, so it tells you “Connected to Andrew’s Macbook Pro” so that you’re sure. This is fun and a good party trick if you still have friends hooking up $10 Logitech speakers to their iPhone.

As you would expect from Bose, the product finishing is second of none and of an extremely high quality. That said, I was disappointed to see that a carry case must be purchased separately. Considering we’re talking about a portable sound device, not having a carry case is both extremely poor and a little bizarre.

The Bose Soundlink Mini II comes baked in with all the features we loved from the first Sounlink Mini portable speaker. Bose have gone and made a great product better, and I highly recommend you pick one up. I wasn’t disappointed, and I very much doubt you will be.

9 out of 10

Review by Andrew Cunningham.

@cunningdrew
www.fb.com/cunningdrew/
www.linkedin/in/cunningdrew

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Bose QC25 Headphones Review

by Andrew Cunningham

“Noise cancelling brilliance for the discerning buyer.”

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I always thought headphones were something which came for free and included in the box when you bought a new iPod. Sure I saw them on sale at the local electronics store, but I never really got it. I never understood the difference between a cheap pair of headphones and a quality set.

As I placed the Bose Quiet Comfort 25’s on my head for the first time, and turned them on from the side, it instantly all made sense. Since my days when I thought ‘headphones are included in the box’ I’ve owned a number of pairs of decent cans. Sony, Beats and even JBL. But nothing prepared me for the crisp sound, silencing and sheer quality that the Bose QC 25’s deliver.

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These headphones are comfortable. Like, really comfortable. I’ve sat them on my head for a duration of days this month and not once have I found myself scratching or wanting to take them on and off. As much as Bose have nailed the sound quality, they’ve delivered on the experience as well.

When you put them on, the outside world disappears. I had colleagues talking behind me and I literally had no idea they were there until I spun around on my chair during the crescendo of Man in the Mirror. Quite embarrassing, I’m sure you would agree!

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Even when listening on very low volume, I didn’t feel that I missed any of the intricacies of the music. None. No subtle beat lost. Likewise, I also tested these cans at the same volume that guy on the train two rows ahead of me listens to his Metallica. No issues at all. These headphones eat up the beat of Stranger in Moscow and punch it out with interest.

You could say these headphones are made for flying. The noise cancellation is phenomenal. They require a single AAA battery and when you turn the switch on the side to green, everything around you just disappears. If only we could silence everyone in life that easily! While the plastics are quality constructed and durable, I’ve also been impressed with the way these headphones fold down. I am not usually a fan of folding headphones as I feel they effect the overall rigid structure and experience. This is not the case with the Bose Quite Comfort 25’s.

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It’s versatile that the Bose QC 25’s connect to your iPhone, iPad and Macbook and have a microphone along the cable, however, I was not overly impressed with their performance as a headset. Yes you can make calls, but I found that in an environment where there were people around me, a lot of background noise was being fed through the microphone. If you’re considering using these headphones not only for premium music enjoyment, but also as a headset for Skype or talking on the phone, be sure there won’t be other people too close to you, or yours won’t be the only conversation they pick up.

I’ve been a fan of Bose speakers for some time, and I can assure you that their headphones are just as good. The QC 25’s are not a cheap set of headphones. They’re a quality built, insanely comfortable, set of headphones for the discerning audiophile who demands the best sound quality available. If it’s sound quality you’re looking for, don’t be put off by the price tag. These are just about the best you will find; and worth every cent.

Review 9/10
RRP $399 AUD

A review by Andrew Cunningham @CunningDrew for Brads Blog.

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