Twenty Digital Audio Amplifier 2.0 by Griffin Technology – Review

Griffin twenty

What we love…

stylish, well made, simple to use, high quality music playback

What we’d love to see…

the ability to change volume via a smartphone when using it with the TV (as you do when streaming music from the phone)

Summary

The Twenty is a great way to bring new life to old speakers and bring them into the digital age.  I love how simple it is to use and the quality of the music playback. Not only does it allow music streaming from a Smartphone or other Bluetooth device but enables listening to movies and music videos from your TV in clear high quality stereo.

Our Rating

 

recommended-by-the-imums

Do you have an old audio system gathering dust or a set of high quality speakers that you never use anymore? Many of us, myself included, keep most of our music collection in digital format these days stored on a computer, tablet or smartphone and our old stereos go unused. The Griffin Twenty 2.0 provides a way to put those speakers back to use.

 

The Twenty is a digital audio amplifier that connects with a wide variety of devices including smartphones, tablets, TVs,and game consoles such as the Xbox. As the name suggests it delivers up to 20 watts per channel. It will connect to devices via Bluetooth and also comes with an optical TOSLINK cable to connect to compatible devices such as TVs and Game Consoles.

The Twenty has a white metal casing, black front grill and large aluminum volume knob; it feels very solid and well-made . It is stylish with clean curved lines and looks like quality piece of audio equipment.

I recently tested the Twenty with a pair of Acoustic Research Speakers that my husband bought 20+ years ago. Alongside the rest of his  music system they have been sitting in the corner gathering dust the last few years, whilst we listen to our music collection on Bluetooth speakers streamed from our iPhones and MacBooks. As well using them to listen to our digital music collection I also wanted to use them for listening to movies. We have a nice, big Samsung Smart TV but haven’t yet invested in a Sound bar to go with it, so although we have great picture quality the sound can be rather underwhelming.

Setting the Twenty up for Bluetooth streaming is very simple. You connect your speakers to the Twenty (bare wires or banana plugs both connect in seconds). Switch on Bluetooth on your device then connect your Bluetooth device, choose a song and start playing- it’s that simple! If you set the volume control on the Twenty to mid-range you can use your phone or tablet’s volume control to change the volume from the speakers. The Twenty can remember 2 connections at once making it easy to switch back and forth between 2 people. It has a  30-foot Bluetooth range, and is a great way to listen to your digital music via speakers you already own.

griffintwenty rear

It can also be used with devices with optical outputs such as TVs, Game consoles and older Apple TVs (the 4th generation Apple TV has no optical output). Set up  is simple with the included optical TOSLINK cable. I’ve used this with a Samsung SmartTV, an Xbox 360 and a 3rd generation Apple TV. I usually leave it connected to the Smart TV and it will work via the TV with whatever devices I have connected to the TV such as Xbox, Apple TV, DVD, Blu-ray. I really like the ability to connect my TV to the Twenty to get real stereo sound especially when watching music videos or watching movies.

When using it with  the TV you do need to use the volume knob on the Twenty to change the volume – using the remote from your TV (or Apple TV etc) only changes the volume coming through the TV’s built-in speakers not the volume through the speakers connected to the Twenty.  I would like to have the ability to change volume via my iPhone (as you do when streaming music from the phone) for those times when you don’t want to get up in the middle of a movie or show to change volume.

I did find a few quirks with the system. If I connect the Twenty to my Smart TV and use the Netflix or Amazon Prime app on the TV I get bad feedback, but if I use Netflix on another device that is connected to the TV (e.g. Apple TV or streaming Blu-ray player) it works fine. This happens with a few other apps too, though most work perfectly.

Overall, I really like the Twenty, it is a great way to bring new life to old speakers and bring them into the digital age.  I love how simple it is to use and the quality of the music playback. Not only does it let me stream music from my iPhone (or other Bluetooth device) but it also lets me watch movies and listen to music videos from my TV in clear high quality stereo. It also has the option to add a subwoofer, if your speakers need upgrading it is also available bundled with NHT speakers.

Available from Griffin Technology  and Amazon Price: US$149

 

 

NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.

 

Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).

10 Great Gifts For Dads and Grads – 2015

shareasimage (60)
June is a busy time of year with Graduations, school year ending and Father’s Day. If you are looking for a gift for the special man in your life we have put together some great ideas. For female graduates you can find great gift ideas here and also in our recent iThe iMums 10 Great Gift Ideas for Moms. We have gifts to suit all tastes – including an iPhone  case that can recharge by solar power, a fun Bluetooth speaker that will make you do a double take as it what it is, a great gift for the Minecraft fan, a product to improve sleep, gifts for the music lover, the man who needs a little help with getting fit and losing weight and lots more. Be sure to check out the full list and let us know what you’ll be buying for your dad or grad- does something on the list catch your eye or do you have other ideas?

iBT12 SoundFlask Wireless Bluetooth Speaker iBT12S.jpg.450x400_q85 2
The iBT12 Flask Shaped Wireless Bluetooth Speaker from iHome is a fun yet practical gift. Available in Silver or Black this wireless Bluetooth speakers looks just like a hip flask and is small enough to fit in a pocket and weighs less than half a pound. It connects to any Bluetooth device to play music on the go and even acts as a speaker phone. It comes with a custom carrying case with carabiner so he can take it anywhere. Despite it’s small size it packs a punch with plenty of volume and sounds surprisingly good for a sub $50 speaker. Available from iHome.com and other retailers RRP US$49.99


Kensington KeyFolio Thin X3™ for iPad Air™ 2  keyfolio

The KeyFolio Thin X3™ for iPad Air™ 2 from Kensington is a great gift for the iPad Air 2 owner. If you have an iPad Air 2 then you want a light, slim accessories to go with it. The KeyFolio Thin X3™ is a great choice, it weighs approximately 15 oz and not only is it a case and keyboard, but it also acts as a backup charger for your iPhone! One feature I love is the keyboard automatically switches on when the iPad is in the magnetic stand, and switches it off when it is taken out, saving the battery. The Quikfold design lets the keyboard fold under the iPad when you want to use the iPad without the keyboard. Strong magnets hold the case firmly shut when it is closed as well as automatically activating the iPad’s sleep/ wake modes. The case looks professional and has a textured surface making it easy to carry without dropping. Available from Kensington, Amazon and other suppliers for US$$99.99

Griffin Twenty Digital Audio Amplifier 
Griffin twentyFor the music lover the Twenty digital audio amplifier from Griffin Technology makes a great gift. It connects via Bluetooth from your phone to your speakers and streams high quality audio at 20 watts per channel. It has a  30-foot Bluetooth range, and is designed to work with your old speakers to bring them into the digital age. It can also physically connect to your AirPort Express or Apple TV, game console or TV via an included optical TOSLINK cable, for clear optical audio. Available from Griffin.com and Amazon for US$149, if your speakers need upgrading it is also available bundled with NHT speakers.

EnerPlex Surfr Case for iPhone 6 Surfr-Iphone-6-Family (1)
The Surfr iPhone 6 Case from EnerPlex is a great iPhone case for keeping his phone charged no matter where he is. It has a 2,700 mAh backup battery built-in to keep his phone charged all day even under heavy usage. As well as charging conventionally via a mini USB/ USB charging cable it also features a built-in solar panel for emergency charging when he is off the grid. Especially useful for those who enjoy the great outdoors, this case is useful for anyone  to provide an emergency backup as even when the backup battery has been used the solar panel can recharge it enough for a quick phone call after 10-15 minutes. Available from Enerplex.com  for US$99.99

GameBand +Minecraft 
The GAMEBAND-BIG_1Gameband + Minecraft  is the perfect gift for the Minecraft fan, it is both a fashion statement and a secure way of backing up Minecraft worlds and taking them with you wherever you go. As well as the physical backup on the Gameband there is also a backup via the cloud to the Gameband servers so if you ever lose or damage your Gameband you can still recover your worlds. It is very easy to use, and you can customize the display with your own Minecraft themed animation. It can also display the date and time, doubling as a digital watch as well as a cool wearable. Available from Target, Best Buy, Gamestop, Microsoft shops and other retailers for US $79.99. Read our full review

 

Sleep Companion from Holi

sleep_bulbGetting a good night’s rest and waking up feeling refreshed is one of the most important things we can do for our health and happiness. The Sleep Companion by Holi can’t make you go to bed any earlier but is can help you relax at bedtime and set the right spectrum of light to naturally prepare your body for sleep. Then 20 minutes before your alarm is due to go off it will gradually come on with just the right color lighting to decrease your melatonin ready to wake up feeling refreshed. It has an alarm feature that works with your phone to wake you up with a choice of 3 gentle audible alarms. It can also monitor how much sleep you re getting, so you can track it over time.  Available from Holi.com US $99, and available for pre-order on Amazon

 

 

Kiqplan Beer Belly Blaster Kiqplan Beer Belly Blaster_1
If the man in your life needs a little help getting on track with his fitness and weight loss goals the Beer Belly Blaster from Kiqplan may be just what he needs. instead of buying yet another activity tracker it will work with the one he has- whether that be a Jawbone UP, Fitbit, FitBug Orb, Nike+ Fuelband or many more. You get an individualized exercise and nutrition plan, with recipes, workout videos, daily targets advice and feedback.  This is  a 12 week plan available from kiqplan.com for US$19.99


scupltMicrosoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop
Ergonomic wireless keyboard incorporates a split keyboard with seperate keypad desgined to reduce wrist fatigue and position arms and wrists in a more natural position.  Includes a “Windows” button on the mouse which provides one click access to the desktop/start screen.  Great battery life and comfortable to use for hours. Available from Amazon for US$87.00


back3D Back Massage by Brookstone
The 3D Back Massager by Brookstone is a portable back massager that features built in carry handles, twelve “massage” nodes featuring the Shiatsu method and provides a deep massage to your back.  If you sit at a desk all day, or have a sore back from shoveling show and ice, you may notice tension and some back fatigue.  This massager which fits on any chair or couch moves up and down, side to side and front to back while providing a massage that loosens your sore back or body.  One direction massages toward the spine, and the other massages away from your spine.  You can flip the massager from top to bottom which allows for a more focused massage on the lower back. Available from Brookstone for US$119

 

371027-just-mobile-alupen-digitalJust Mobile AluPen Digital Stylus
Lightweight stylus with a 1.8 mm tip is made of hard plastic and feels more like a ballpoint pen when using it compared to a traditional stylus.  I used it comfortably on my iPad Mini covered with a Griffin Survivor – and you could definitely “hear” the audible tap when it made contact with the screen, but with contact I found better precision and  Available from Just Mobile for US $39.99

 

For additional gift ideas check out these articles from The iMums: iThe iMums 10 Great Gift Ideas for Moms.  Awesome iPod, iPhone & iPad Accessories for Kids, Gorgeous iPod, iPhone & iPad Accessories for Women, and Cool iPhone & iPad Accessories for Men.

 

Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).



SanDisk Connect Media Drive – Review



 SanDisk-Connect-Wireless-Media-Drive

What we love…

Small, portable, long battery life, huge capacity and expandable using SD cards, can stream 5 movies at once

What we’d love to see…

More organization of photos

Summary

SanDisk Connect Media Drive is a great portable way to stream movies, music and photos to your tablet or smartphone. A must-have travel accessory for families on the go, and it is very reasonably priced and I love how you can add even more storage capacity using SD cards. Highly recommended.

Our Rating

recommended-by-the-imums

SanDisk Connect™ Wireless Media Drive HD Like many other iPad and iPhone users I am constantly running out of space on my iOS devices. The SanDisk Connect Media Drive is a solution to this problem. It is a small portable device that allows you to store and stream your videos, photos and music, and thus free up space on your device. I tested it with iPad 3. iPad Mini, iPad air 2, iPhone 5 and the LG G3 Android phone.

The media player is small: 2.6” x 2.6” x .52” (65 mm x 65 mm x 13.5 mm) and weighs only 2.7oz. It connects to your iOS or Android device via WiFi and uses a free app. To load content to and from your computer you connect it to the computer’s USB port via a microUSB-USB cable.

Videos

I tested out the Media Drive on a recent vacation to Ireland and it was a lifesaver! Before the trip I loaded it with about 30 different feature films from my home DVD collection and also added some TV shows and music. We had a lot of traveling time on the trip with 2 transatlantic flights and many long car rides. It was so easy to let the kids watch their favorite movies on their iPads streaming from the Media Drive. Videos are represented by thumbnails and titles so it is quite easy to find the right video.

By getting them to use headphones with their iPads, all 3 children could watch different movies at once. The streaming worked really well, and the WiFi signal was strong enough that my iPad even picked it up in a downstairs room when the Media Drive was upstairs charging. My younger son has Autism and often after a busy day sightseeing he really needed some downtime, so this was a perfect solution letting him watch his favorite movies on his iPad on the car drive home or in a restaurant. I loved how small and portable the Drive is and the long battery life – I just carried it in my bag every day knowing it would be on hand if needed.

iPad Screenshot 2

N.B. If your iPad or iPhone is on iOS 8 or later you won’t be able to play videos purchased via iTunes using the Media drive – this is a problem with Apple not enabling Safari based DRM decryption, and affects all similar players not just SanDisk. I overcame this by using copies of my home DVD collection rather than movies from my iTunes account.

Photos

I also used it as a way to back up my photos from the trip taken with 3 different mobile phones. This was really useful as it allowed me to remove them from the phones to make space for more photos. By the end of the trip I had 3,000+ photos on it!

It was a very easy way to store and transfer photos, but I would like to see some improvements in the photo section of the app. Once it has a lot of photos on the drive the thumbnails can be slow to load, and it can be quite hard to find the photos you are looking for.  You can create albums but none are automatically created. I’d love to see photos automatically sorted by date as they are in the iPhoto app on the iPhone, as this would make it much easier to find photos from a specific event.

A nice additional feature is the Drive has an SD card slot, allowing you to easily view and share photos from your DLSR’s SD card.

iPad Screenshot 4

Music

To store music on the Media Drive you copy music files from your music library on your computer. On the Media drive app you can view them by Artist, Album, Songs, Genres or Playlists. You can switch between these views using tabs at the top of the page. Albums are represented by their cover art.  The music section of the app is very well-organized and easy to use. Similarly to the native iOS music app, you can have music playing in the background whilst you use other apps, send email, surf the web or view your photos. You can stream to multiple devices at once.

iPad Screenshot 3

Battery Life and Storage Capacity

San Disk reports a battery life of up to 8 hours, streaming to one device. I was often using it with multiple devices and over several hours each day, I recharged it each evening and had no problems with running out of power.

The Media Drive comes in 32 and 64GB versions, I tested the 64GB version, I loved how much storage this provided and what makes it even better is you can easily add additional storage by using SD cards. Before my trip I bought a couple of extra SanDisk Ultra SD cards so I could expand by memory if I needed to and I didn’t even need them. You can buy an extra 62GB of memory for around $30 on Amazon which is a really cheap way to get extra storage SanDisk Ultra 64GB Class 10 SDXC Memory Card Up To 40MB/s-SDSDUN-064G-G46 [Newest Version]

Another nice feature is that within the Media Drive app you can see what % battery charge you have left, as well as how much free storage space on the Media Drive, and how much free space on any SD card you have added.

 Summary 

SanDisk Connect Media Drive is a great portable way to stream movies, music and photos to your tablet or smartphone. The Media Drive streams up to 8hrs, connects to up to 8 devices at once and can stream 5 different movies simultaneously. For me it is a must-have travel accessory for families on the go, and it is very reasonably priced for the amount of extra storage you get. I especially love how you can add even more storage capacity very economically using SD cards. Highly recommended.

It is available with 32GB or 62GB memory and it has a SD card slot to expand capacity. Available from Amazon.com and many other retailers from $69.99 for 32GB version.

SanDisk Connect™ Wireless Media Drive HD – SanDisk

SanDisk Connect™ Wireless Media Drive HD SanDisk Connect™ Wireless Media Drive HD by SanDisk

Price: $FREE

Quick Overview

Enjoy the freedom to wirelessly share and stream high definition content across iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, smartphones and tablets with the SanDisk Connect™ Wireless Media Drive.

 

NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.

 

Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).



Musical Pairs by Simon Laurence – Review



Do you have a child who is learning music and finding it hard to excel in the aural component of the music practical exams? Or perhaps you wish that your child can be a more confident musician who can play music by ear, sing better in a group, improvise and compose effortlessly. If you do, you will be glad to know that good aural skills can be developed at any age.

What we love…

Matching sounds played on 4 types of instruments including the voice and the wide range of pitch being tested.

What we’d love to see…

A game variation where the app plays out all the notes/chords in a game and the player finds the matching pairs of sounds from memory.

Summary

Musical Pairs is an unusual memory match game using musical notes and chords that will help improve the player’s listening skills and memory. It has a wide range of challenges making it suitable for everyone to play, not just music learners.

Our Rating

IMG_8139.PNG

A trained ear for music is able to hear the distinction between different pitch, discriminate between different chords and have good musical memory. You can develop these skills by doing lots of listening exercises. Musical Pairs is an app that gives music learners a convenient way to practice listening and identifying the same notes and chords.

IMG_8141.PNG IMG_8614.PNG

The app consists of 8 levels of games that are a combination of memory and sound matching games. You tap on any note/chord, listen to the pitch and tap on another in an attempt to find the matching pitch. If they match, the name of the note/chord will be displayed and the 2 notes/chords will disappear from the screen. If they don’t match, you have to remember the pitches and try with the other notes/chords until all the notes/chords have been matched and cleared from screen. The number of attempts to complete a game is recorded and you can better this score by playing the game again, each time it is a different game with different pairs of notes/chords.

In each level, there are matching games involving sounds played from 4 types of music instruments (piano, strings, winds and voices), played in 3 pitch ranges (bass, mid and treble). The game levels become increasingly more difficult as players are required to match 3-note chords after matching single notes. The number of pairs to be matched also increases from 3 to 6 as the app progresses through the levels.

With 3 pitch ranges for each of the 4 instrument types in each of the 8 game levels, you get a total of 96 game challenges which can be played over and over again with different pairs of pitches from 5 octaves of notes (sharps and flats included). The combination is endless and the player gets lots and lots of practices!

I managed to complete all the levels after many hours of testing my listening skills. The app started off easy but the higher levels were more difficult especially the major and minor chords which required me to listen more closely to the individual notes in the chords. More pairs to match also meant I had to remember more pitches in a game. I have always been told that I have a good ear for music and I admit I enjoyed playing Musical Pairs. I also like that the app includes voice as a musical instrument, something that is rarely done in an app.

If you are looking for an app that can help sharpen the music listening skills and improves the musical memory at the same time, you have to check out the affordable and easy-to-use Musical Pairs. Offering a wide range of challenges, it is not only suitable for music learners of different abilities, it is also a unique memory match game that everyone else can enjoy playing.

 

Musical Pairs – Simon Laurence

by
Category:
Requirements: Compatible with
Size: 0 MB

$

Giveaway

If you would like to win a promo code for this app, please enter via the widget below. This giveaway is open to everyone, worldwide, and an iTunes account is required to claim the prize. Please ensure you have read and understand our Terms & Conditions. Good luck!

http://redeem-now.com/6f96cde65493

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.

Grace was working in the fields of early childhood education and staff training before quitting to attend to her 4 children full time. She and her family live in Singapore, which is well known for her highly competitive education system.

Pin It on Pinterest