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Today’s Show:

 

SRS iWow 3D

The SRS iWow 3D is a device that plugs into your iPhone, iPod, iPod nano, or iPad via the 30-pin Apple connector and has a  receptacle for your headphones. Its purpose is to improve the sound quality of whatever you are playing.

To get started you have to download an app to your device that allows you to enable the various modes. The app does not run after the mode is set. SRS has tuned the device for three environments:

  • Headphones
  • Speakers
  • Car

There are also advanced settings that provide you more control. We tested the device in Headphone and Speaker mode. The iWow 3D has a button on it so you can enable and disable the audio processing making it quite easy to hear the improvement it provides. There is also a cool music trivia game included with the app that we scored pretty poorly on.

The additional controls are really needed to help find the settings that work for you. For instance, the bass feature really pumps up the bass, if you don’t like that you will definitely want to turn it off. When listening to high quality rips, or even lossless, with good quality headphones you may not find that the iWow improves your music. In some cases, you may find that the processing is distracting. For some of our music we found the best performance was to turn all the options off. Let your own ears be the guide.

We did uncover one issue when listening on an iPad with 3G. The iWow introduced a hissing sound. SRS was able to recreate the issue in their lab and they are looking into it.

Overall we were quite pleased with what we heard. We definitely heard a deeper and richer bass and the dialog in movies were clear and easy to make out. We noticed an increase in the loudness as well. At $50 it easy for us to recommend iWow 3D, iPad 3G issue not withstanding.

Last note, if you have an iPhone you won’t be able to use the iWow for telephone calls. You’ll need to unplug the iWow to take or make a call.

There are two models only differing in what’s included:

 

Amazon Instant Streaming

This week Amazon announced that Amazon Prime members will get instant streaming of 5,000 movies and TV shows. We are big fans of Amazon Prime. You get free two day shipping on almost anything Amazon sells. But with free unlimited streaming of 5,000 movies its a no brainer…or is it?

First off if you are already an Amazon Prime member this is a good thing. But if you are joining solely for the reason to stream movies read on before you plunk down your hard earned cash.

5,000 Titles

Amazon states that they have 5,000 movies and TV shows but that number is a bit deceptive.  We found 1,704 movies and 484 TV shows that were prime eligible. The way Amazon (and Netflix by the way) inflate the numbers is to count each episode of a TV show as a new title. Five thousand is definitely better than 2,188!

Studios

There are just over 50 studios offering movies for the streaming service. Many of which you have never heard of. Here is a partial list:

  • Sony Pictures – 142
  • Columbia Pictures – 6
  • Magnolia – 163
  • Reel Enterprises – 293
  • Egami – 279

As far as TV goes there are 25 studios. Missing from the list are ABC, CBS, NBC, CW, and Fox. What you do get is:

  • BBC America – 132
  • BBC – 102
  • PBS – 70
  • National Geographic – 43

 

Content

The content is not too compelling. With the exception of Sony Pictures there isn’t too much main stream stuff to choose from. If you like independent or real old movies you may find something here.

HD and 5.1 Audio

Forget about it! We could not find a title that was 5.1 audio for streaming. Now we didn’t check the entire list but the movies we did check were stereo. As far as HD goes, there are HD titles but the quality is nothing we’d call HD. In fact we’ve seen DVDs that looked better. In general video quality ranged from pretty bad to decent. The newer the content the better the quality is what we found.

Final Thoughts

Again we want to state that we love Amazon Prime for buying everything from HDTVs to toothpaste. Should you sign-up for the service just for the free streaming? Quite simply put, No. We are sure the selection will improve over time and we’ll reevaluate then. Also, if you have a free Amazon Prime account because you are a student or a new mother you will not be eligible for the service.

 

Download Episode #467

 


Posted by The HT Guys, February 25, 2011 5:32 AM

About The HT Guys

The HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.

Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.

ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.

Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.