Monday, September 7, 2015

TaoTronics TT-BA01 Wireless Stereo Transmitter Review

My wife wanted to listen to the TV (in the family room) while she worked in the kitchen. I had set up a wired speaker system that worked but left ugly wires hanging around. So, at her request, I hunted around for a wireless setup. The solution was the TaoTronics Wireless Stereo Transmitter and a Bluetooth speaker (see the review of the Venstar Taco Bluetooth speaker).

The TaoTronics TT-BA01 transmitter is a small unit, about two inches by one inch by a quarter of an inch. The transmitter has an attached dongle with a 3.5mm stereo plug. Also included in the package are a male USB to male micro USB cable, and a cable for adapting the 3.5mm male plug to a 3.5mm female stereo plug to dual RCA male plugs.

Setup was straightforward and easy. Just plug the transmitter into a USB port (on my cable company's box) for power and plug the RCA cables into the audio out plugs on the cable box. (The TT-BA01 has an internal battery for battery operation, but you can leave it plugged into the USB port and not need to worry about charging.)

Pairing with the Bluetooth speaker was easy. Just follow the instructions and be patient. The pairing required about 30 seconds (instead of the 6 seconds mentioned in the user guide). The TV sound is fine.

   + Listen to an audio source such as your TV either via TV audio out or cable box audio out or amplifier/receiver audio out.
   +The unit did not interfere with my WiFi network extender or with the Netflix programming. (I had read that a problem is sometimes encountered with Bluetooth and WiFi components interfering with each other because of a frequency conflict.)

   + If you turn the Bluetooth  speaker off, it will automatically re-pair with the transmitter when you turn it back on. However, re-pairing requires about 30 seconds, so you need to be patient.
   + There is a slight transmission lag with the audio, so that the Bluetooth speaker sound is just slightly behind the TV or source sound. Turning the TV down helps a lot. Otherwise, you'll have "stadium announcement" sound effects.s

In Sum:
So far this is a very good solution to the problem. The transmitter is compact, can run on an internal battery, and is advertised to work up to 33 feet. In my installation, it is about 20 feet from the speaker.

The TT-BA01 will turn any audio device with an audio out plug into a Bluetooth-compatible source.

Get it from
Bluetooth Transmitter, TaoTronics Wireless Portable Transmitter (Connected to 3.5mm Audio Devices, Paired with Bluetooth Receiver. TV Ears, Bluetooth Dongle, A2DP Stereo Music Transmission)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

US Traveler Rio Two Piece Expandable Luggage Set Review

Before our trip to Europe recently, I researched carry-on luggage carefully because of the new restrictions on size and weight allowed. The new restrictions include the carry-on, limited to 9 inches thick, 14 inches wide, and 22 inches tall, including wheels. One personal item (purse, laptop computer, backpack) is also allowed, but must be no larger than 9 inches thick, 17 inches tall, and 10 inches wide. Many of the current bags do not meet this (new) standard.

The US Traveler Rio Two Piece Expandable Luggage Set meets these size requirements for both pieces. We bought two sets of this luggage and discovered that the carry ons fit perfectly in both the smaller overhead bins of the Airbus A 320 (the bags go in sideways) and the Airbus A 340 (the bags go straight in lengthwise).

The bags feature the usual zipper pockets, sturdy frame (the carry on), tough fabric, and comfortable handles. The small, personal item bag features both a carry handle and a shoulder strap.

Carry On
   + Sturdy wheels, roll easily
   + Handle locks into several positions, depending on the angle you want to pull the carry on
   + Two outside zippered pockets
   + Sturdy handles
   + Expansion zipper (but may violate size limits if used)

Personal Item Bag
   + Shoulder strap adjustable for length
   + Shoulder strap has shoulder pad
   + External zippered pocket
   + Carry handles that velcro zip together
   + Capacious--room for lots of stuff

Carry On
   + No separate cosmetics pouch inside

Personal Item Bag
   + Shoulder strap is not removable

In Brief
Recommended. All four items (we bought two sets) served us well and after a couple of weeks' travel, are still in pristine condition. The current price of about $40 makes these sets a real value.