I had one of the first Roku streaming devices when they first came on the scene but, over time, had moved to Apple TV. Last fall, I bought one of Roku’s current streaming devices, and was impressed by how much the platform has evolved; it’s fantastic! Never one to rest on their laurels, Roku has just announced Roku OS 10 as well as their latest hardware, the Roku Voice Remote Pro, Roku Express 4K+, and Roku Streambar Pro.
Audio Visual Gear
Every CES, I learn about new technology and new brands and am always amazed that I never checked them out. One of those brands is SKYWORTH. The Chinese brand has been making products since 1988, and they have just announced their upcoming TVs.
JBL’s products are everywhere. In fact, at their press conference, they mentioned having sold over 100 million pairs of headphones and portable speakers. To mark their 75th anniversary, they are releasing a pair of limited-edition classics that have been reimagined for 2021. But that’s not all. There is also a new JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam soundbar and a new JBL Charge 5 on the way too!
At Samsung’s (virtual) press conference presentation yesterday, the company announced new products and initiatives that reflect their commitment to innovation. Televisions that are more immersive than ever were on display, as were innovations that can make entertainment more accessible to more people. Here’s a look at some of what they shared.
One thing that’s truly been missed out of 2020 is the ability to party with family and friends. With the holidays in full swing and the New Year looming, you don’t want to end the year without having a bit of fun. And why not do so safely at home with the LG XBOOM Go PL7 portable Bluetooth speaker?
We’re hopefully going to see an end to the COVID-19 pandemic soon, but there will be some lasting changes to how we work. Even when people go back to work, it’s unlikely we’re all going to be mingling like the before days. Lenovo is all set to make this transition easier, whether it’s working from home or holding virtual meetings across the world, with a line of adorably tiny computers, webcams, a soundbar for better audio (no more “I hear feedback, is it you or me? Hello?”), and ThinkSmart Manager to make the whole thing run smoothly.
Vizio currently offers several television lines; their OLED line starts at $1299.99, the P-Series starts at $1199.99 for a 65” television, and a 40″ M-Series starts at $399.99. By contrast, you can get a 40” V-Series television for just $229.99. The V705x-H1, which I was sent for review, has an MSRP of $659.99 and is currently available for $549.99.
Roku prides themselves on their laser focus — it’s all about making streaming the best possible experience for their users. Their interface is simple, their devices are plug and play, and their entire ecosystem is built around offering multiple options at every price point. We took a look at the Roku StreamBar and new Roku Ultra and came away very impressed!
Whether you’re a streamer on Twitch or starting up a podcast on Anchor, you’re going to need a great microphone. The Shure MV7 Podcast Microphone was made to take recording and streaming to the next level; it’s their first Hybrid XLR/USB Microphone.
The Zvox SB380 is a solidly built soundbar that delivers decent sound and makes dialogue sound even better. The SB380 can be wall-mounted, placed upright on a credenza, or placed “flat” with the speakers facing upward. The SB380 provides room-filling 3D sound from its 35.5” frame, and it is fairly priced.
Mark Levinson, by Harman, makes audio equipment that many of us can only ever aspire to own. I’ve been able to listen to several of their system set-ups in person, and each time I’ve walked away thinking that if I ever become rich and famous, I’d be tempted. If you’re already in a position to buy, then you’ll be glad to know that they’ve expanded their offering of luxury-line components. Even though the prices are still quite aspirational, they are a little more obtainable than Mark Levinson’s typical price-points.
Streaming is one of the biggest changes to how we consume media, and Roku has been at the forefront of bringing the ability to binge-watch “Great British Baking Show” for an entire lost weekend. For them, streaming isn’t just one business arm out of many, it’s their entire purpose, and Roku is intent on improving and sharpening their streaming services.
I’ve been using Bowers & Wilkins headphones and portable Bluetooth speakers for some time, and I’ve enjoyed that right out of the box they are perfectly tuned to my listening preferences. B&W also makes high-end bookshelf and floor-standing speakers. For 25 years, their 600 Series has been a more accessible introduction to Bowers & Wilkins’s home-audio line. To celebrate its silver anniversary, B&W is launching the 600 Series Anniversary Edition.
Even though most of the products I have no longer have headphone jacks, when I want to know that I’m going to get substantial audio quality from anything, then I want to be able to add an excellent mobile amplifier. Luckily I had the opportunity to check out the Helm Audio DB12 AAAMP Mobile Headphone Amplifier.
We’ve reviewed quite a few ZVOX soundbars, and one thing I have always appreciated about them is how they use technology to make it easier to understand what people are saying onscreen — even when explosions are happening in the background. Their latest is the ZVOX AccuVoice AV157 TV Speaker, and it adds the power of Alexa to their already powerful speakers.
In a year where almost nothing is guaranteed, one thing you can count on is that you probably won’t be going to many movie theaters. However, your video-on-demand experience can still be theater-quality; you just need some microwave popcorn, your tv, and the Reference Series speakers from Fluance!
If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us all, it’s that streaming is an essential service. It’s also taught us to wash hands better, but that’s more life advice and less relevant to why you’re probably reading Gear Diary. In any case, if you’ve been working your TV to the limit, check out the new TCL 5 and 6 Series 4K smart TVs with Roku!
If you absolutely love your Amazon Alexa digital assistant, but none of the Alexa-enabled speakers you’ve seen look elegant enough, powerful enough, or frankly — big enough to fill your living space, you’ll want to take a look at the Pantheone Audio Pantheone I.
Mevo has been pioneering high-quality camera technology for a few years, so when the brand took to CES back in January I was excited about their latest product: The Mevo Start. And as someone who’s tried their hardest to Livestream from smartphones, tablets, and laptops, there’s always been more trouble than it was actually worth.
D&b is known throughout the professional audio community for its groundbreaking Soundscape technology; at NAMM, we had a chance to visit with Asher Dowson, the House of Worship segment manager at d&b audiotechnik. He was the one to fill us in on the concept of d&b’s belief that “everyone should experience the same impeccable quality of sound, regardless of their position in the audience.”
Roku is basically everywhere in the television world right now. There are devices that attach to your television, Roku OS built into televisions, it’s inescapable. But the folks at Roku aren’t content with just dominating as a streaming OS; they’re adding support for surround sound as well so your streaming experience is as immersive as possible!