SmartStick by Favi Entertainment — 4 GB and 8 GB
A number of my friends and colleagues have eliminated cable service over the past few months. Internet speeds have finally reached the point of reliability to support streaming of your favorite shows online at a much cheaper price. Combine this with the low prices of Netflix and Hulu and it makes the choice even easier. The problem lies in having a device that can run these applications.
Favi Entertainment’s SmartStick aims to be a cheap way to make your television smart.
The product is a small USB-like device that connects to your television’s HDMI port. It runs using Android operating systems, so all of the companies’ biggest applications are readily available. Access to the Google Play store is also possible for downloading more apps to your device.
The user-interface is a bit odd, but works on the bigger screen. It’s easy enough to maneuver between different programs. Favi has made a keyboard remote available for an extra $40 to make the experience even easier.
Unfortunately, I ran into a few apps that simply did not work on my television. Plenty of other applications proved not to be user-friendly on the big screen. The popular Hulu Plus service would not play when I tried launching it.
One of the big advantages of the SmartStick is the low price tag. A 4 GB model is only $49.99 and the 8 GB version comes in at $79.99. This beats the price of the usual suspects for streaming television, such as game consoles.
In the end, the SmartStick is simply not worth the price tag. Interested parties can pick up a Roku or Apple TV for a much better user experience for not much more money. www.favientertainment.com
Mobile Speaker by BEM Wireless — $69.99
Sometimes the iPod speaker simply doesn’t have the power to get the job done. The myriad Bluetooth speakers on the market fix the problem, but not all provide a big enough boost to be worthwhile. The Mobile Speaker by BEM Wireless is my favorite of the bunch due to its strong sound, signal and size.
This speaker delivers enough power to fill a room for a dance party. I was shocked at how loud the little box could get. The small size makes the speaker easy to put out of the way without sacrificing precious sound quality.
It’s extremely easy to pair the speaker with your iPod, iPhone or other Bluetooth-enabled device. Once connected, you won’t have to worry about connecting the two ever again. An automatic connection is formed to make it easy for pulling out at your next get together.
The Mobile Speaker has a solid cube-like design that can take a bump pretty well, but it’s always smart to put electronics in a high, out-of-the-way spot during use. The actual design of the product is very sophisticated, and bright color options such as orange and red are available for a fun look.
BEM Wireless has created a great accessory for any party, which is easy to recommend to those who need to pump up their tunes. www.bemwireless.com