I’d never heard of German audio company Thonet & Vander until a representative introduced me to the Ratsel BT stereo system.
The five-piece wireless (Bluetooth) system is not just another wireless speaker, and you’ll agree as soon as you crank it up.
First, it can’t fit in your pocket like many wireless speakers, and you wouldn’t want it to, especially since it weighs 17 pounds. It’s built as a complete stereo system and it sure achieved that and some.
The music originates from your smartphone or tablet and after pairing via Bluetooth, you’ll hear the powerful, amazing sound.
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You can control everything from the wireless remote or a free standing control box – both are included. Functionality includes volume, mute, skipping and pausing selections and adjusting bass and treble levels.
The other three pieces are a subwoofer and a pair of speakers.
The subwoofer is built with Hammer Bass, which the company states is technology to heighten the impact of low frequencies.
The system includes Antimagnetic Shield technology to block external interferences and sounds. The exterior is designed with a good-looking, high-density wood to maximize acoustic performance.
A recent press release referred to the system as a virtual surround sound system, which makes total sense now.
If you want a direct connection, there are RCA stereo inputs, and it also supports NFC pairing.
It has a frequency response of 30Hz-20kHz, if that means anything to you. To me, it means this system rocks and rolls, even if that statement shows my age.
Price: $199. Details: www.thonet-vander.com.
With the incredible popularity of the GoPro camera system, users will have ample opportunities to use the MXL Lavalier stereo microphone, built specifically for the action camera system.
It’s simple to use and compatible with the GoPro Hero3, Hero 3+ and Hero4 cameras as well as many GoPro accessories and cases.
The design is great, with a built-in low profile right angle mini USB connector on the microphone’s five-foot cable. This allows it to sit flush and avoids potential damage.
Aside from plugging it in, there’s no additional setup involved. A pair of noise-minimizing windscreens and a shirt clip are included.
Price: $74. Details: www.mxlmics.com.
A great place for smartphones
Scosche’s MagicMount XL surface mounting system for smartphones and tablets has no hidden tricks, it just works great.
You use it to mount your devices to a wall, floor, desktop or, most importantly, a dashboard for hands-free use while driving.
When it’s mounted, you can adjust its angle in any direction when in either portrait or landscape positions.
To install, just peel off the adhesive covering on the bottom and hold it in place on a flat surface for 30 seconds.
Then take the included high-powered magnetic system, which is made of device-safe neodymium magnets and place that between your device and its case or directly on the back of your device and hold it near the mounted magnetic surface to secure it.
I tried it with the smaller smartphone magnetic plate, which measures about 1.26-by-1.1-inches in diameter and is ultra thin.
I’m sure you can use an adhesive to secure the plate on the back of your device itself or its case, but I didn’t find it necessary. I placed mine between my thin case and the back of my phone and never had an issue of it holding in place.
Price: $24.99. Details: www.scosche.com.
... and take a peek at Giphy Cam
Now you, too, can join the ranks of time-honored GIFs, such as Homer Simpson hiding in a bush or Stephen Colbert eating popcorn.
Giphy, a major search platform for gifs, released an app for DIY gifs, immediately unleashing the Internet with a flood of moving selfies with animated pizza crowns, partying cats and “deal with it” sunglasses. The free app, Giphy Cam, allows iOS users to shoot short videos, add animations or backgrounds, then share the creation on social networks, email or text message.
For now, the app offers no platform that allows users to create a profile and share gifs within the app. Users must post them elsewhere, such as on Facebook Messenger, Instagram or Twitter. But Fast Company reported the app will eventually add its own “platform and sharing interface.”
Giphy is so confident in the power of the moving graphics it believes they'll overtake emoji. Giphy COO Adam Leibsohn told Wired: “We already know that GIFs are the next wave. GIFs will kill emoji. … They’re better, there’s more variety, there’s more color, there’s more cultural equity to draw from because there’s so much more content out there. And instead of using that content, you can use yourself.”
This reporter happens to believe emoji and GIFs will be able to peacefully coexist until the next big thing comes along. But Giphy Cam has already infiltrated my usual means of communication: Slack, Twitter and texts may never be the same.
Price: free. Details: www.giphy.com/apps.