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May 22 2017

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May 21 2017


V-MODA Remix Speaker Review: Style and Substance in a Small Package

V-MODA has been a leader in the headphone space for a while now, making some excellent gear for your listening pleasure. Now, for the first time, V-MODA is making a Bluetooth speaker, with the aim of providing the same kind of premium build, design, and sound quality found in their headphones.

One look at the V-MODA Remix, and it’s clear that this isn’t just another one of the countless Bluetooth speakers on the market. For starters, the $300 speaker is wrapped in premium materials, not plastic, giving it a sense of heft and substance. It weighs 1.9 pounds in the aluminum model I reviewed, or 1.6 pounds in the black vegan leather version.

One of the big selling points of the Remix is that you can purchase 3D printed accessories to transform its sides, grill, and outer housing with a variety of bold designs. The Remix is quite handsome right from the factory, so for me, I’m pretty good without customizing mine.

The 3D customizations are very expensive too. Even the lightweight fiber components can set you back several hundred bucks. The speaker with the orange fiber design shown below costs $460. That’s nothing compared to one with real platinum sides which brings the price up to $370,000 or more. Yes, you could buy a house or a supercar for the same price as that speaker. Clearly, those precious metal mods are targeted at people with money to burn. For the rest of us mere mortals, the plain or fiber-modded Remix will do just fine.

Like all things V-MODA, the sound quality from the Remix is very good, offering crisp, clean audio, with a good amount of power. It’s got a pair of 9-watt full-range drivers, and frequency response is an honest to goodness 20Hz to 20,000 kHz. Granted, it’s still a pretty small speaker, so it won’t shake the walls, but it offers up enough volume to fill a small room like an office. Distortion is well managed all the way up to the volume limit, and there’s enough brightness and punch without being shrill or muddy, and there’s not the slightest bit of rattle from the enclosure. Since it’s just 8.1″ wide, the soundstage is quite contained and directional to the position of the speaker itself, though there are clearly distinguishable left and right channels.

As an added bonus, you can plug in a pair of headphones and use the Remix in “VAMP” mode, which turns it into a very good headphone amplifier. The headphone amp doesn’t work with Bluetooth sources, but it’s a great way to get an extra boost and improved audio quality from analog sources with a 3.5mm connector. Overall sound quality from the headphone amp is on-par with the dedicated amp I’ve been using for several years, though I wish it had a DAC built in like my standalone unit. Still, connected to the analog audio output on my iMac, the Remix does double duty as a desktop speaker and headphone amp, reducing clutter. It also works as a speakerphone when connected via Bluetooth.

The built-in 3400 mAh rechargeable battery is good for up to 10 hours of playback time, depending on volume level, and charging is achieved via a modern USB-C connector. V-MODA includes a USB-C to USB-A cable for charging.

If there’s anything standing in the way of the V-MODA Remix at all, it’s the price. At $300, there are a whole lot of other good sounding Bluetooth speakers which go for quite a bit less money. Most of them won’t have the build quality or materials of the Remix, nor will they offer the customization options, or the built-in headphone amp. If a blend of style, substance, and sound quality are important to you, the Remix is definitely worth a look and a listen.


Labyrinth ‘Ello Worm Plush Slippers Keep Feet Weirdly Warm

Look at these slippers, they are creepy, cool, and weirdly ’80s. They are modeled after the ‘Ello worm from Labyrinth, Jim Henson’s classic 1980s fantasy. It seems like everytime I turn around there is some Labyrinth oddity out there. It’s like they’re getting ready for a re-release, or god forbid, a reboot.

Henson was ahead of his time with the blue hair thing, you can’t even go to the elementary school around here without running into a kid with blue streaks in their hair.

The slippers are one-size-fits-all up to men’s size 12, and their soles are covered in those dots to keep you from slipping and cracking your butt off. Go that way, and head over to ThinkGeek to grab a pair for $54.99(USD).

This Week in Making: Make: books, Learning to Cope with A.I., and More
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May 20 2017


Old Spice S.Q.U.I.D.: 8 Guys, 1 Cephalopod

If you’ve ever played the video game Octodad, you know how difficult it can be to perform tasks using tentacles. Sure, a real octopus can open a jar with its spindly legs, but you’re not a real octopus. To take the awkward control scheme to the next level – and to promote their new Krakengärd scent – Old Spice decided to build a mechanical squid that can be remotely controlled over the interweb.

The game is being streamed live on Twitch this weekend, and is played by not one player, but as an 8-player co-op game. That’s right, each participant controls an individual tentacle, and must work together to perform what would normally be a pretty simple task. For instance, in one session, S.Q.U.I.D. players were asked to each play a part of a drum kit.

In the session where I participated, our job was to sort out the good plants from the bad plants on a moving conveyor belt. Yeah, you can guess how well that went.

I managed to put a couple of plants in the wrong bin, and a few on the ground. Along the way, a couple of us managed to entangle our arms, as if two lost souls were embracing from across the globe.

Players who participate in the Twitch chat and authorize Old Spice may get picked to control a tentacle. After an all too brief, and totally unrelated training session, you’ll be thrown to the wolves and asked to operate your very own squid leg, using eight keys. While the keys might seem familiar to FPS players, trust me when I say that no amount of playing Counter-Strike will prepare you for this. The S.Q.U.I.D. control scheme is about as intuitive as a game of QWOP, but with twice as many buttons.

The first day of S.Q.U.I.D. is already over with, but there are sessions being played from 1pm to 6pm PST today and tomorrow (5/20 & 5/22). Head on over to the Old Spice S.Q.U.I.D. page on Twitch if you want to get in on the tentacle controlling action, or if you just want to stand on the sidelines and watch everyone else make a fool of themselves. Spectators even get to send along special squid emoji while they cheer on other players and wait their turn.

You can check out some behind the scenes footage of how the S.Q.U.I.D. robot came together in the video below:

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Old Spice. Technabob received compensation for writing it, however, our editorial team only recommends products or services we find interesting or have used personally, and believe will be good for our readers.

Tinkercad Adds Embedded Circuits, Lego Exports, and More
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May 19 2017


SteelSeries Rival 700 Gaming Mouse Review: King of the Mouse Hill

I’ve used a number of computer mice over the years, from the rudimentary upside-down trackball types of days gone by, to high-tech wireless laser and multitouch mice. They each have had their time in the sun at my desk, but it’s time to say goodbye to all of them now that I’ve found the SteelSeries Rival 700. This top-of-the-line pointing device is better than any I’ve ever used before.

The Rival 700 is a 7-button corded gaming mouse, offering a high-precision PixArt PMW3360 optical sensor, capable of detecting movements at a level of up to 16,000 individual steps in an inch. That means it can be insanely precise, a must for anyone who uses their mouse for creative or gaming applications.

In addition, it can be set at speeds up to 300 inches per second, which means super fast tracking. Again, a necessity for gaming, but also very handy for working on larger, high resolution displays like the 27″ 5K iMac I use on a daily basis. The right-handed ergonomic grip feels great in my hand, and it glides even more smoothly when combined with the SteelSeries QcK prism mouse pad.

In addition to its accuracy and speed, the Rival 700 packs some nifty bells and whistles, including RGB LEDs under the scroll wheel and SteelSeries logo. These can be set to any color in the spectrum, and also programmed to display fading animations, or change colors based on integrations with games which support the SteelSeries Engine. Colors can also be coordinated with other SteelSeries accessories.

There’s also as a low-resolution black and white OLED screen which can be loaded up with a graphic or GIF of your choice – or display game stats in games that support it. It’s also a handy way to display which profile has been loaded if you want. There’s also a tactile feedback motor, which offers a number of programmable sensations, and is smartly designed to move up and down inside the mouse rather than side to side, eliminating any risk of vibration affecting tracking accuracy.

While I didn’t have cause to do so, several of the major components of the Rival 700 can be easily swapped out. The laser module, cover, and cable are all user-replaceable. They even provide an STL file so you can 3D print your own custom nameplate or custom colored insert for the toe of the mouse.

What makes the Rival 700 a great mouse is just how fast, smooth, and precise the hardware is. What elevates it to the upper echelon of mice is the sophistication, quality, and configurability of its software, which is available on both Windows and Mac systems.

With the SteelSeries Engine 3 software, you can program the exact behavior of each of the 7 buttons on the mouse, as well as its scroll wheel. Buttons can be programmed to emulate keys, perform various operating system tasks, or run a macro. In addition, you can fine-tune mouse sensitivity, its rate of acceleration and deceleration, how frequently the mouse is polled for inputs, and even set up angle snapping for situations where you want the mouse to prefer straight line movements to curves. All of these settings can be previewed in real time, and provide the ability to customize the mouse to your exacting preferences.

In addition, all of these settings can be saved together into a configuration template, which can be set to load when an application or game loads. Configs can be duplicated too, so if you have some minor changes you want to make for a specific app, it’s easy to do.

The SteelSeries Rival 700 is crazy good. It’s the smoothest, fastest, and most predictable mouse I’ve ever used, and well worth the $99.99 pricetag if you’re serious about PC gaming or design work.

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