A speaker that appeals to both the ears and eyes

A speaker that appeals to both the ears and eyes

The retro-inspired Mao Wang Little Prince Radio is not new to the market but has continually been gaining popularity in China and overseas alike. Three of the main reasons why many consumers are attracted to it (myself included!) are as follows:

Features

This speaker doubles up as a radio and a speaker. The radio is controlled with a dial to give that retro feel and is pretty accurate and clear when changing stations. The dial, while small, is easy to turn and is convenient for tuning.

The speaker can be used via Aux-in or Bluetooth which is easy to pair to both mobile and laptop. Indicative lights on connectivity is also present, providing ease while pairing.

Quality audio

For a compact speaker, the audio is very impressive. It produces a rich bass sound and can be rather loud, with music easily surrounding a room. This radio is good for indoor usage but probably not in a loud and outdoor setting.

Design and Packaging

The main reason why this speaker is so appealing is definitely because of the design of the radio.

With its sleek, small body, it packs features that can be utilized on a daily basis for most consumers. This sturdy and weighted speaker has only three dials which makes the overall user experience friendly and intuitive. The indicative lights on showing whether your speaker has successfully connected, pending connection, good radio connection and battery warnings are also very useful.

The speaker is packed in a mini retro-luggage-bag box, with little pamphlets and stickers within the box.

The retro-inspired Mao Wang Little Prince Radio has a mid-price tag to it but the overall look and feel, coupled with the quality audio makes this a worthy purchase.

You can purchase this in many colors on Tmall here.

Wonderboom: Small body, big sound

Wonderboom

How many speakers does a person need? How about one more? With a couple of Google Home speakers in my home, I wasn’t really in need of another speaker but the Wonderboom changed my mind.

Yes, it doesn’t have the smart capabilities of a Google Home. It can’t receive verbal instructions.

But, it’s sound does pack a punch and it is another great travelling companion. I can picture streaming music from my smartphone to it in my hotel room. With it’s 360-degree sound, it will fill the room with my favourite music nicely, especially in hotels where the TV channels are much to be desired.

Best of all, it can also be used safely in the bathroom and outdoors as it is waterproof and floats!

Here are five things that I like about the speaker (all in numbers):

  1. 360-degree sound: Great for listening wherever it’s placed.
  2. 1-metre under water: Chances of me using this outdoor are slim BUT should I want to bring it to the beach or by the swimming pool, I need not worry about the weather or dropping it into the water.
  3. 10-hour battery life: That’s enough juice for an entire day out without recharging, which incidentally takes about three hours to fully recharge.
  4. 33-metre range: It can stream music from your mobile device all the way across the house.
  5. 2 are better than one: If one Wonderboom is not enough, pair it with another and you’ll get stereo sound.

The Wonderboom scores for its portability, ruggedness and sound. Officially listed at S$149, it can be had for S$89 at Shopee.

Pendulumic Tact T1: A wireless wonder

Pendulumic? Who’s that? Pendulumic Tact T1 boxWhat’s that? That was what went through my mind when I first heard of the brand Pendulumic. I had absolutely no clue what it is or does. And my daughter was getting one because of a fire sale. She too didn’t know much about it other than the fact that the wireless headset costs US$199 and had pretty good customer feedback on Amazon.

Even a check on its website and elsewhere did not reveal much about its origins. Admittedly, it has garnered a bunch of good reviews from even notable sites like CNET.

When it arrived, the packaging looks professional and solid. At least, it looks like the Pendulumic Tach T1 is worth US$199.

My first task was to satisfy my curiosity on its origin. I found what I was looking for in very fine print at the bottom of the box — “Designed by Pendulumic in Singapore. Made in China.”

Pendulumic Tact T1 headsetSo, this is a local brand and as a Singaporean, I’m proud of it. The headset has a leatherette feel and is brown in colour, giving it a timeless, rustic look.

My daughter got it hooked up to my Google Pixel smartphone via bluetooth in a jiffy so it scores on ease of pairing.

When I put it on, the ear pads fitted comfortably on my ears — I can imagine using this on my next flight. I can still hear noise from elsewhere but it’s fine with me because I don’t like to be totally cut off either.

The sound is good. OK, I’m no audiophile but I think it sounded nice.

Pendulumic Tact T1 insideHere are five things that I like about the headset:

  1. Ease of connection. Setting up is a breeze and the headset’s connectivity is good too.
  2. Good battery life. The 25 hours of use on a single charge is perfect even for long haul flights. Plus, the Pendulumic Tach T1 also comes with a AAA backup battery, which kicks in when the lithium battery is drained.
  3. Timeless design. I simply love the design. I’m no fan of brown colour but somehow, it makes the headset look premium and timeless. Another little thing that may not be important to others but captured my attention was the printing of L and R (above) on the inside of the ear pads. There’s no need to guess which goes where anymore.
  4. Volume control. The volume control dial looks like a watch dial and is conveniently positioned behind the right ear pad.
  5. Wired convenience. This is especially useful for plugging into the air plane inflight entertainment system.

The Pendulumic Tach T1 offers a touch of class and is value for money. It can give many of the more expensive brands a run for its money.

The sad thing is that the company seems to be shutting down. Amazon still lists the product but there’s no price or availability. And Pendulumic’s own website shows that the products are “out of stock”.

It’s a real shame because the product is good. I’m just glad that I own one — it’s a collector’s item!

Mini but mighty

Google Home Mini.jpgHaving used and enjoyed the Google Home for several months, I was intrigued when the mini version of the smart speaker was announced last October.

As usual, this product, like many others from Google, is not available in our part of the world.

But, thanks to online sites such as eBay and Qoo10.sg, getting one is not impossible but a little costlier, with shipping cost factored in.

I saw the device on offer in a major IT shop in Japan in December but could not buy it because it’s only available for pre-order.

However, I was pleasantly surprised to receive one as a Christmas present.

The Google Home Mini is similar to its bigger sibling, the Google Home, except for it’s size and quality of speaker.

Powered by Google Assistant, it is easy to set up and use. Volume can be adjusted by tapping the left and right of the speaker cover.

Here are five reasons why I like the Google Home Mini:

  1. Small footprint and size: You can place it practically anywhere — on the table, book shelf, TV console and anywhere convenient.
  2. Easy setup: Just use the Google Home app on the phone to set up. It takes only a minute or two.
  3. Sensitive pickup: The speaker is a great listener and can pick up commands even in almost whisper-mode across the room.
  4. Good sound quality: While the sound is not as rich as the Google Home, the speaker packs quite a punch and can be heard anywhere in an enclosed room.
  5. Great price: It’s less than half the price of its larger sibling and can do similar stuff.

I only have one peeve — a Spotify Premium account is needed to play music. The free version of Spotify will only yield a station playing the requested song — and the song may not even be played!

Verdict: Aside from needing a Spotify Premium account, it’s a lovely device that I’d gladly recommend to those wanting to try out a smart speaker.

You can get it at Google Store or other online sites. Don’t try Amazon as a search for this product only yielded the Amazon equivalent.

Clicked too fast

GuitarEver had one of those purchases that you regretted immediately after clicking “Buy”? Sadly, I had one of those moments when I let me guard down last month.

It was a lazy morning when I was scrolling through Facebook and an ad popped up on a pocket guitar. As a guitar fan, I’m enthralled by guitars that are great for travelling — it can be a chore lugging around a full-sized guitar at times.

At just half its usual price, the US$35 deal looked too good to miss.

Here was a guitar that I can easily bring around with me — on the road, in my luggage or even in my backpack.

Small and light, it comes with steel strings too — ticking all the right boxes.

After clicking “Buy”, my mind suddenly lit up. “Wait. Is it really playable? Why didn’t I check the reviews?”

Guitar fine printMy worst fear was confirmed when I went back to the site and read the comments. Without going into full details, let’s just say that people had quite a bit to say about the product.

A look at the product’s description (left) made me regret my quick buying decision.

“It is mainly finger practice & will not produce any sound.”

How stupid could I be? Why was I so impulsive? Why didn’t I read the comments and description carefully?

Anyway, the product took much longer than expected to arrive. I had to send a chaser and was told that the product wasn’t shipped earlier because it was a busy period.

The package arrived two days ago and it looks and sadly, functions as described.

Lessons learnt:

  1. Don’t buy on impulse.
  2. If a deal sounds too good, read the description and comments.
  3. Check with other sites for pricing — I found out that I overpaid for this even though it’s claimed to be a good deal.

Do share if you have a similar experience.