Archive for the 'Smart Consumer' Category

[Smart Consumer] Get a GPS And Quit Getting Lost

Posted Under: Smart Consumer

Now we finance blogger always plead frugal living. I have pleaded for us to distinguish between “want” and “need” when we want to buy things. However, there are things that serve great value by saving money and time in the long run. One such thing is Global Positioning System (GPS).

GPS is something that I have owned for awhile now that I can honestly and confidently claim that have save me MUCH time and gas (thus, money) in the long haul. Being a couple hundred dollars investment, I struggled for awhile before making the purchase, but the saving of time and gas was precisely the motive for it, and it is worth its every cent.

Garmin Nuvi 350 is the one I owned. Not only has it saves me time from looking and printing out directions every time I go somewhere, it has frequently save me from being lost and also get me to places on the fly w/o mistake. The point of interest feature on the Nuvi 350 is also excellent, finding me restaurants, ATM, car rentals in the vicinity when needed.

The price of GPS has come down so much that just further expands their true values. For time, for gas, for convenience, get a GPS.

PS. The touch screen on the Nuvi provides a much better user experience than the Garmin i5 with the scroll wheel, which I owned previously.

[Smart Consumer] Need headphones?

Posted Under: Smart Consumer

One of my favorite things to do is listening to music (duh). And for a very long time now, I can no longer let myself go with the stock headphones that come with the mp3 players/portable devices. I will provide some guidance here in picking headhpones. First, let’s explore the important attributes of headphones and then move on to some recommendations, it’s only several:

Earbuds/full-size(open or close): Main concern is where you want to carry the headhpones, how portable, and how weird can you bear yourself to look…it’s all personal preference here. There are some very capable earbuds exist these days (shures, sony…) But the full-size usually offer fuller sounds. For the full-size, a close headphones will keep the sound in and provide better sound isolation in most cases. An open full-size can offer better soundstage but will have much sound leak, so don’t buy open headphones if you want to keep the music to yourself in the environment.

Frequency Response (Hz): This attribute determines how high/low of a pitch the headphones can reproduce. In other words, the bigger the range, the richer the sound will appear. This is the main factor for me in picking a pair of headphones (and then the price too of course).

Nominal Impedance (ohm): The higher the value, the more power will be needed to drive the headphones. In other words, if you get a headphones with very high ohm, you will need to get an amp to make it sound louder on your computers/portable devices.

Let’s go on to the 4 headphones I own and recommend sorted based on a combination of liking/cost-efficiency:

1) Sennheiser PX100 - 15-27000 Hz, $50~, you get a open over-the-head headphones with very crisp high and deep bass. It’s also foldable, making it easy to carry around. Best bang for the bucks.

2) Sony MDR-EX90LP Stereo Earphones - 5 - 25000 Hz, $90~, I would say this pair has comparable sound to PX100. The only reason it’s ranked 2nd is because of the price. It’s around $90. It comes with 3 pairs of plastic ear pieces of different sizes, MAKE SURE you find the best-fit, which is required to get the best sound from these. This is the pair I usually travel with because it doesn’t leak sound being in-ear and provides very good sound isolation.

3) Sennheiser HD-595 Premier Headphone - 12-38500Hz, <$200, a full-size open headphones that has very comfortable paddings that surround the ear. For less than $200, you will get even better/richer sound than PX100 and also a better soundstage (spacious feeling). Though one may say the difference is subtle. You will need to judge if the difference is worth the bucks. You will need an amp to hear the best sound from these “cans”. Oh, and watch out for bad-hair…

4) Sony MDR-EX51LP Fontopia Headphones - 6 - 23,000 Hz, $25-$30, a cousin of the 2nd place sony headphones, Sony MDR-EX90LP. This is actually the 1st pair of “good” headphones I purchased. It’s also the cheapest here. It’s essentially the same as Sony MDR-EX90LP with muddier sound. Still much better than stock headphones. I use this in the gym.

All of the above headphones are comfortable enough to wear for hours, IMO. I’m by no means stereo sound professional or an audiophile like some out there, but for the love of music, I sincerely hope this is helpful for others out there hunting for headphones for hearing music on their mp3 players/laptops/computers at office.
May you find the best sound.