by Jeremy J. Glowacki
At my age, I don’t get a lot of toys for Christmas anymore. From a purely “gift” standpoint, this year was really no different, but I did receive a couple of consumer electronics products around Xmas time that I was able to enjoy.
The two products, Paradigm Shift’s earbuds and the Azend Group’s Envizen Digital Home Roam TV, both offered surprises.
The first product was technically a gift, not for Christmas but a thank you from an industry friend who also happens to be a proud Paradigm dealer. It was a thoughtful gesture, but initially I wasn’t sure I was ready to try out yet another set of what I figured would be uncomfortable in-ear ear buds.
Paradigm Shift's new earbuds
Paradigm Shift made its debut one year ago at CES as a new division to well-known Canadian speaker manufacturer Paradigm. With four product categories: Powered Speakers, Earbuds, Headphones, and Gaming Headsets, Paradigm Shift's goal has been to broaden Paradigm's appeal to the next generation of listeners as well as to provide mobile solutions to current Paradigm customers through a line of personal audio products.
Usually the only types of earbuds that I can usually tolerate in my ears are the Apple earphones that come stock with any iPhone. I like the in-line control capabilities on these buds (play, stop, track advance, microphone for phone) and I’ve found that the audio quality has improved a lot from the early days of the iPod. I didn’t realize how much the sound of the iPhone buds was lacking, however, until I took a listen to the Paradigm Shift buds.
Earbuds that are designed to go into the ear canal can be a real pain for me. I’m not a big of sticking things in my ears. My granddad, a respected pharmacist in his day, always advised his customers and family to never stick anything smaller than an elbow in their ears. I’ve always subscribed to that axiom, and have generally found in-ear buds to be uncomfortable. For some reason Paradigm has found a way to provide better comfort despite offering a product that’s crafted from aluminum, rather than lightweight plastic.
Paradigm did something else different as well. Its cords are actually covered in a woven material (think really thin sunglasses leash from the ’80s) rather than rubber or plastic. This material seems to better prevent tangling and also enable an easier wrap behind the ear style for sports use. In fact ,wrapping behind the ear was the only way I could keep these heavier earbuds engaged in my ear canal even while briskly walking on a treadmill. And fully engaged is where you want them to be, because like all in-ear buds, it’s the ear canal that helps products like these create the deepest bass.
The only thing I don’t like about the Paradigm Shift buds is their lack of control features in line on the cord. Yes, there’s a mic for phone calls and a start/stop button for music and for answering and ending phones calls , but there is no way to advance a song. It doesn’t seem like much, but once you get used to having a feature, you miss it. Nonetheless, kudos to Paradigm Shift for creating earbuds that feel good and sound great.
The second product I played with over my holiday break last month is one that unfortunately I had to send back after reviewing. The Envizen Digital Home Roam TV (Model HR702) was a great conversation piece among the technically minded friends and family around my house. Home Roam TV allows you to view any source device connected to its 2.4Ghz transmitter module on a wireless seven-inch TFT widescreen LCD display receiver anywhere in the home, up to 100 feet apart. The monitor is designed to connect up to two source devices (cable/satellite set-top box, TV, DVD, Blu-ray, VCR, or media player). Two sets of RCA-style AV cables are supplied and installation was simple and effective.
The Envizen Digital Home Roam TV (Model HR702)
After unpacking the somewhat utilitarian black receiver (with screw-on antenna, and Home Roam TV monitor (with screw-on Wi-Fi antenna), I easily connected the RCA yellow video plug and left and right stereo audio plugs to the back of my cable box, turned on the monitor, and back watching programming wirelessly.
Content on the Home Roam TV had to be controlled via my TV’s remote, but I didn’t have to have my TV turned on for the wireless device to function. That meant that I could either use it as an outdoor TV while, say, working in my yard, or as a countertop TV in my kitchen while I was cleaning up after dinner and couldn’t see or hear the TV from in the other room.
I wouldn’t say that the picture on the small screen is all that great (the contrast ratio is rated at 400:1 and brightness is said to be 200cd/m2) and the image doesn’t scale to fully fill the screen, but it was a wonder to watch premium cable on a wireless device in my home.
We sometimes forget that over-the-air TV used to work a lot like this, but in Home Roam TV offers a lot more channel from which to choose. Priced at $160 via internet resellers, this is fun toy that helped me think back to my youth when I still got a thrill from receiving a new toy on Christmas morning.