Hands-on review of the Amazon Dash Wand with Alexa

The Amazon Dash Wand with Alexa is a brand new, inexpensive battery-powered shopping and information device for the home. It’s similar, in a way, to the popular Amazon Echo smart speakers, but it’s different in lots of ways, too.

Amazon Echo devices are primarily used to listen to music, but, the new Dash Wand isn’t capable of playing music. It runs on two AAA batteries, and would quickly burn through them if it were tasked with playing Adele all day. Continue reading Hands-on review of the Amazon Dash Wand with Alexa

Hands-on Review of the Canon 7D Mark II

There are lots of reviews of the Canon 7D Mark II that lean heavily into its specs, but that’s not what you’ll find here. I shoot photos and videos primarily to indulge my interests. It’s a hobby, and I make purchases largely based on emotion. These are the primary forces that drove me to buy this beefy camera.

After years of looking at images from other photographers, I found that always appreciated and desired the punchiness of photos shot with pro-level Canon DSLRs, Canon L-series lenses, and high-end Canon flashes. I wanted to use these creative tools myself, so I grabbed them. Continue reading Hands-on Review of the Canon 7D Mark II

Amazon aims for domination with the 2nd Gen Echo Dot

When Steve Jobs introduced the original iPhone in 2007, he unveiled several major innovations — but the multitouch interface was by far the most important. It redefined the possibilities of mobile tech. Seven years later, Amazon debuted a product that may have an equally impressive input innovation. However, instead of being a sleek handheld gadget, it was a stark, voice-activated speaker.

Initially, the Amazon Echo was greeted with befuddlement and indifference. Like seeing a smartphone that lacked a hardware keyboard for the first time, a speaker that listened and spoke was a puzzling novelty. Continue reading Amazon aims for domination with the 2nd Gen Echo Dot

Endearingly frustrating: A review of the Nest Learning Thermostat (3rd gen)

I’ve had the 3rd generation Nest Learning Thermostat installed in my home for the past four months, and now I want to share my experience with this sleek, sexy, and slightly frustrating gadget.

If you don’t have time for a long review, here’s a quick one:

Overall, I’m satisfied.

It’s not perfect, but it’s far better than any other thermostat I’ve ever encountered. My wife is less enthusiastic — but she hasn’t ripped it out of the wall yet. Continue reading Endearingly frustrating: A review of the Nest Learning Thermostat (3rd gen)

Hands-on review of the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Headphones

I recently purchased a pair of Audio-Technica ATH-M50x headphones, and I decided to share my opinion of them. Here’s the short version: they’re good, big, recording studio headphones. If you’re not using them for production, they’re nice headphones for regular use, but, they’re bulky and lack built-in controls for smartphones. In my case, this turned out to be a problem. Continue reading Hands-on review of the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Headphones

Hands-on Review of the Rode Stereo VideoMic Pro

When someone is speaking in front of your camera, you need specific microphones to clearly capture their voice. But what if you’re not trying to record the sound of someone’s voice? What if you’re shooting a serene nature scene with no dialog? How about footage of a busy city street? How do you sonically transport your audience into these settings? Do you use the same microphones that you would use capture dialog? Continue reading Hands-on Review of the Rode Stereo VideoMic Pro

Switching to an iPhone 6S after two years of Android

When I bought an Android phone in October of 2013, it surprised people. I had long been pegged as an Apple fanatic. Indeed, I was a big supporter of Apple. All of my computers were Macs, I owned an iPad 2 and an Apple TV. I had been using iPhones nonstop for five years. Continue reading Switching to an iPhone 6S after two years of Android

Audio Test: Tascam DR-70D vs. Zoom H4n vs. Tascam DR-40

I just completed an audio test of the Tascam DR-70D, comparing it with the Zoom H4n and the Tascam DR-40. The test features side-by-side comparisons of each recorder’s built-in microphones, and you also get to hear how they handle several popular microphone for video work: the Rode NTG-3, Rode NTG-2, Audio-Technica 4053B, and the Sennheiser G3 wireless system with the ME2 lav mic.

Continue reading Audio Test: Tascam DR-70D vs. Zoom H4n vs. Tascam DR-40

Using Final Cut Pro X for the first time, years later…

I’ve been a Final Cut Pro user for a long time. It’s the only professional video editing software I’ve ever used. Even though it’s my tool of choice, I avoided upgrading to the new version for as long as I possibly could. Final Cut Pro X has been lingering in my subconscious ever since it was first introduced in 2011. I finally decided to jump in.
Continue reading Using Final Cut Pro X for the first time, years later…

Tascam DR-70D Review + How It’s Useful in Video Production

If you want an audio recorder to use primarily in video productions, there are many options to choose from. But, if you narrow the list down to just budget-friendly audio recorders that were designed for DSLR cameras — the number of options gets much shorter. You’re pretty much picking between the Tascam DR-60D Mark II and the new Tascam DR-70D. I recently purchased the DR-70D, and I thought I’d share my thoughts on the unit in this post.

First and foremost, the form factor of the Tascam DR-70D is excellent. It’s compact, and the design makes it easy to mount it directly to your camera, or neatly slide into an audio bag. The DR-60D Mark II is a bit fatter and taller than the DR-70D. It wouldn’t fit comfortably into my audio bag, and I find it a bit too bulky to mount directly to my camera. The DR-60D is nice for what it is, but the form factor of the DR-70D is much more appealing to me.

Another drawback of the DR-60D is that it only has two XLR inputs. It also doesn’t have built-in microphones. In contrast, the DR-70D can record up to four individual tracks (and it has four XLR combo inputs), and it has built-in stereo microphones. Basically, all of the reservations I had about the DR-60D are not present in the DR-70D. It feels like it was made just for me. Continue reading Tascam DR-70D Review + How It’s Useful in Video Production