Gadget Review Of The Year – 2012

Well, it’s that time again. Seems like only a couple of months ago that I was writing the 2011 version of this post, but here we are at the end of 2012. My good intentions of posting more frequently on this blog have gone by the board, but at least I haven’t abandoned it entirely. Anyway, I suppose I had better get on and tell you about the gadget comings-and-goings at Low Fidelity Towers over the past twelve months.


At the start of the year, we embarked on the grand Home Cinema project. You’ve probably seen the photos that I posted (here and here) documenting its conversion, but needless to say it was quite an exciting time. We completely revolutionised the room, turning it into a proper cosy home cinema complete with full 5.1 sound. I used the amp and speakers that I already owned, but the new gadgets came in the form of a Samsung 40-inch UE40D5520 TV and a new Sony BDP-S380 Blu-ray player.


After that fairly hefty financial outlay, things remained quiet on the gadget front until April, when I purchased a first-gen iPad from a friend. I couldn’t justify buying a brand new one, but this was the perfect antidote to keep my iPad desire at bay (at least for a while).


After getting rid of a few old bits on the mighty eBay, I decided to get a USB MIDI keyboard to try and kickstart some music-making. I’ve not really done a lot of music in the past few years, and I decided it was time to try and get back into it. I bought the M-Audio Keystation 88es, which has semi-weighted full size keys and it has been a good purchase. I don’t think a “proper” pianist would think much of it, but it’s ideal for me to tinker on.


I bought a new digital-to-analogue converter to use with my hi-fi in September. I had been using my Firestone Audio Fubar IV, but I felt that the system would benefit from a proper, dedicated DAC to handle the audio conversion between my Apple TV and separates. I opted for the Arcam rLink – it’s a very simple device, but it works very well, and it’s so small you can hide it away behind your other components. I was so pleased with it all, I splashed out on a very nice hi-fi rack to put it all on.


Speaking of the Apple TV, as you may know I had two of these for Airplay duties – one in the lounge and one in the bedroom. They were second-generation ones, and I hadn’t ever seen the need to upgrade them to the latest 3rd-gen ones, as I didn’t really need the extra 1080p capability. However, when Twitter friend Sam told me that she had sold her 2nd-gen Apple TV for £150 (substantially more than the original £99 RRP) I decided to follow suit and sell both of mine. (In case you’re wondering, the 2nd-gen is sought after because it is possible to jailbreak it, something that I was never interested in). I re-purchased two new 3rd-gen Apple TVs and sat there with a tidy £100 profit in the bank, and an urge to spend it on yet more gadgets!


The opportunity to spend it came in the form of the iPad Mini. As soon as I saw it announced at the keynote in October, I knew that it would be mine (oh yes, it would be mine). I had the £100 from my Apple TV sales, but where would I get the remainder from? I decided that the first-gen iPad that I had bought back in April would have to make way for the Mini, so I stuck it on eBay. Within an amazing 13 minutes of listing it, it had sold, and there I was with enough cash to buy the Mini. After much internet searching, I finally (just before Christmas) managed to secure the black 16GB wifi model, and it found its way under the tree to be unveiled on the big day.


The final gadgets of the year also came at Christmas, in the form of a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface and a Behringer C1 condenser microphone. Alongside the MIDI keyboard, I’m now all set up to make some music and hopefully this will bear fruit in 2013.

Anyway, happy new year to you all. Thanks for reading, and hope 2013 is a good one.

This entry was posted in 2012, Apple, Apple TV, arcam, audio, Audio Visual, Computing, DAC, Focusrite, home cinema, iPad Mini, Lifestyle, music. Bookmark the permalink.

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