TMCnet News

Gadgets: Soundbar speakers offer great sound, affordable
[July 13, 2011]

Gadgets: Soundbar speakers offer great sound, affordable

Jul 13, 2011 (McClatchy-Tribune News Service via COMTEX) -- The SSB-1 Soundbar speaker, recently released by Maxell Corp. of America, is a great deal for the price, considering you can easily spend 10 times that on other soundbars but not get 10 times the sound.

Soundbar speakers are increasingly popular because they offer great sound for TV watching without expensive full surround-sound systems.

This tabletop speaker has an attractive glossy black finish and offers 2.1 channels with 30 Watts of power along with a two 7.5w speakers and a 15w subwoofer.

All this produces great sound _ outstanding compared to the sound that is output from a typical TV.

The SSB-1 is designed as a space saver so a television or monitor up to 55 pounds can sit directly on top of it.

Setting up this soundbar is as easy as any electronic gadget I've ever dealt with; just plug the included RCA plug to the audio output on your TV and then connect the other end (3.5mm) to the port on the back of the speaker.

If your TV has the 3.5mm output, a cable is also included for that.

The speaker has a pair of the ports so an additional output device (iPod, iPad, etc.) can be connected for listening.

A handheld remote controls the power and volume.

Details:, $129.99 ___ Capturing digital audio for the average user seems to be something that hasn't gone as smooth as the never-ending quality improvements for video and digital images.

Easy-to-use and great sounding results sum up the Snowball USB microphone from Blue Microphones' with an iPad.

The recent release of iOS 4.3, combined with the iPad camera connection kit, form a perfect combination that provides USB connection for recording with the Snowball to specific recording apps.

The Snowball is a stereo condensed microphone designed for any level of user. It produces studio quality sound for anything from instrumental music to simple podcasts.

Once you have all the hardware and app, for the most part everything is plug and play, just like this should be.

While I tested this for its unique usage on an iPad, it can also be used with a standard Mac or PC computer just as easily.

For my actual non-studio testing, I recorded satellite radio coming out of a soundbar speaker at very close range.

After the recording, the playback was kind of amazing in clarity on top of how easy it was to do.

The microphone is encased in a big ball, just under 4-inches in diameter and comes with an adjustable tripod/mic stand and USB cable.

Details:, $99 or $66 at Amazon.

___ Practice what I preach is the best recommendation I can give about the OWC external DVD burner, which I seem to be using for non-stop disc burning.

Given today's high priced electronics, I consider the under-$100 price point for the OWC Mercury Pro Dual Layer Samsung FireWire 800/400 DVD/CD burner a steal and that's why I recently bought one recently.

Discs to back up priceless family photos or just about anything burn at super fast DVD speeds up to 22X or a CD at 48X.

My laptop and desktop computers both have built-in disc burners but don't compare to the ease and speed of this one, which measures just 10.5 by 7.5 by 2.5 inches.

It works with just about all disc-burning software for Mac and PC systems, while using single or dual layer discs.

I used it on an Apple MacBook Pro laptop and it was plug-and-play while using Toast 9.

Instantly, the software recognized the hardware and let me choose it instead of the internal burner.

It also will allow labeling of the discs with LightScribe.

Other models are available for USB connections and Blue-Ray burning.

Details: $97.99 for the Firewire 800/400 model ___ Contact Gregg Ellman at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @greggellman.

___ (c) 2011, Gregg Ellman.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

_____ TO SUBSCRIBE TO PLUGGED IN Items in the PLUGGED IN package are not included in your MCT News Service subscription. You can subscribe to the PLUGGED IN package or purchase the items a la carte on MCT Direct at To subscribe, please call Rick DeChantal at Tribune Media Services at (800) 245-6536 or [email protected] Outside the United States, call Tribune Media Services International at +1-312-222-4444 or e-mail [email protected]

_____ PHOTOS (from MCT Photo Service, 202-383-6099): For reprints, email [email protected], call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.

[ Back To's Homepage ]