El Gato Cam Link: HDMI Capture on-the-cheap

Earlier this year I replaced by aged desktop computer.  The rather bulky, traditional HP tower was replaced by a fantastic little Airptop-PC. The Airtop is a fanless wonder. It’s powerful, has multiple (six!) monitor outputs, a massive array of ports, and draws a tiny amount of power.

While the Airtop-PC is a silent thing of beauty, what it lacks is the extra PCIe slot necessary to install my Aver Media C127 HDMI capture card. This has left me considering USB-connected HDMI capture devices.

An early experience with the Black Magic Design Ultra Studio has left me with an aversion to their lower-end products. I hear good things about the Magewell USB 3.0 capture dongles. There’s no doubt they’re very capable, but at around $300, also quite costly. Continue reading “El Gato Cam Link: HDMI Capture on-the-cheap”

A little matter of Ego

Quite recently Dave Michels penned a review of the Konftel Ego for the UCStrategies blog. I like Dave. I especially appreciate his no-nonsense approach to things. If he says something is good, it’s probably worth a look.

Konftel’s Ego is a portable, personal speakerphone device with both USB and Bluetooth connectivity. I see that the Ego is listed under $100 on Amazon. Given Dave’s recommendation, and an attractive price, I may need to give it a try. My past experience with the larger Konftel 300 was quite good.konftel-ego-1-vl

That said, I’d also like to take this opportunity to remind you of a very firmly held belief. If you truly care about how you sound to the people at the far-end…if their experience truly matters…you’ll choose a headset over any kind of speakerphone or conference phone. When the quality of experience delivered to the other party is paramount, a good headset trumps all else.

A good headset, preferably one with a boom-mounted microphone, takes the acoustics of the room completely out-of-play. It eliminates any possibility of noise, echo, or reverberance, delivering your message as clear as possible to your audience.

No amount of engineering wizardry can make up for sub-optimal microphone placement. Period.

Conference phones and speaker phones simply cannot deliver a comparable experience. You always trade quality of audience experience for your own convenience.

Yes, a headset…When you care enough to sound your very best.

Finally, an Affordable Ambisonic Microphone

twirling720lite-200pxLong, long ago, in a city far, far away I was a college student. I was studying media arts, and somewhere along the line decided to do a paper on an emerging new approach to recording called Ambisonics. This is a most elegant approach to recording conceived by Michael Gerzon, a brilliant, English mathematician. Beyond simply the theoretical, Gerzon developed a microphone in support of his idea, which became the Soundfield Microphone.

How I lusted after a Soundfield microphone, and the four-channel recorder necessary to make field recordings. Manufactured in England by Calrec, the Soundfield microphone cost upwards of $10K on its own. As a not quite starving, but certainly hungry student, this was far beyond my reach.

Continue reading “Finally, an Affordable Ambisonic Microphone”

My New Laptop is a Vintage Chromebook Pixel

Back in June Stella and I took a vacation. Not just time off work, but a real vacation, the first in years. We spent a week in Hawaii. It was great, but this is not about that, exactly. It’s about the computer that I bought to facilitate our trip.

Stella has never owned a laptop. Nor has she been issued one by her employer. As a public relation professional, she lives and dies by staying in touch, but it’s always by desktop or mobile phone.

In contrast, I’ve traveled on business extensively, which means a laptop is a standard part of my equipment compliment. My former employer issued Dell or HP laptops, but for the past several years I’ve owned a Lenovo X1 Carbon.

Continue reading “My New Laptop is a Vintage Chromebook Pixel”

Deal Alert: Amazon On Logitech’s MX Master Mouse & C920 Webcam

As a rule, I only recommend devices or services that I have actually used. Today I see that Amazon is offering nice deals on two Logitech products that I’ve been using for a long time.

Logitech C920 Webcam

As you may know, I’ve had a long-running exploration of the world of webcams. In fact, I’ve tried an irrational number of models myself. The dregs of those experiments litter my office. That said, for everyday use atop my monitor, the venerable Logitech C920 remains my choice.

Logitech C920 Webcam 600px

Since it was superseded by the C922x model last fall, the price for the C920 has fallen from the $80 range to around $60. Today Amazon offers it for just $47, which is an excellent price.

The C922x model is, in actuality, the C920 hardware with a minor firmware update that allows it to stream 720p60. This new capability, while novel, is of very little real value in most use-cases.

Logitech MX Master Mouse

Early in 2016 I fell prey to a bout of tendonitis. Given my change in working circumstance, my physician was not at all surprised. He quickly recommended that I use a more ergonomically correct mouse. He was very specific about the Logitech MX Master, which he uses himself.

Logitech MX Master Mouse

The doc was right, the new mouse has helped a lot. Further, it’s a joy to use. Highly recommended, especially at today’s offer of just $49.

A Boom Stick on the Cheap

A little over a year ago I offered up an observation of a little audio gadget called a Boom Stick from BoomCloud 360.

I remain more than a little incredulous with respect to the makers claims about the device. Still, it might be fun to try and reconcile it’s behavior against the companies various statements.

I see that is now possible for much less than the $99 that was originally asked. Today Daily Steals is offering the BoomStick for just $18. That’s down in the Mad Money range, so maybe worth a try.