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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 1 August 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This device brings together Creative's background in sound cards with its expertise in wireless speakers. It allows you to stream audio to it from a mobile device over Bluetooth, or from a PC over USB. It also contains a pair of microphones which can be used for handsfree calls via a paired mobile device or a PC running Skype or similar.

It looks quite elegant and is very stable with the circular base attached. Acoustically it is so-so. It doesn't sound as good as my thirty-quid 2.1 Philips PC speakers. Bass frequencies are particularly lacking and the stereo sound stage is very minimal, despite all the pseudo-surround-sound configuration tweaks that are available over the software interface. However, for a small footprint device, it makes a passable effort at stereo, and avoid the cable clutter of a satellite speaker.

The most impressive feature of this device is the fact that it is powered from a standard USB socket, and can kick out a reasonable volume. This must have taken quite some engineering.

My real problem with the Axx is that its raison d'etre is somewhat elusive. It appears to be a case of a "technology push" rather than a "market pull". If you want Bluetooth speakers, you can get them already, and they'll plug straight into the mains, rather than needing an adapter like the Axx does. Similarly, if you want PC speakers or microphone, you've probably already got them. I can't really see what fusing these features into one device adds to the mix. And why have Creative gone to the trouble of powering the Axx from a USB connection? By the time you've plugged the Axx into a USB socket, you might as well play the audio from that device, rather than streaming over Bluetooth from some other device. Perhaps I'm just too old to get it, but I'm left scratching my head a little over this one.

Usability is also fairly far down Creative's list of priorities. The PC or mobile device interface for tweaking the Axx's audio settings will delight geeky teenage boys, but will, I imagine, leave most other people fairly cold. Personally I can't get too excited about what frequency my bass cross-over operates at. Buttons on the device itself with such helpful titles as "SBX" appear designed to befuddle as much as to elucidate (it toggles the equaliser settings on and off).

The Axx can apparently use array beam-forming techniques to focus on you when you are in front of it. It also has noise cancelling. These appear to work fairly well, although I got howling feedback when I tried out the voiceFX demo mode. Never mind, I think I can live without sounding like a robot or an elf. Again, one for the kids, perhaps.

This product concept is certainly novel, and will surely appeal to gadget fans. To what extent it will enhance the lives of those of us who rate functionality, usability and value above the "cool" factor, I'm not so sure.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Should you buy it?

If you want an iPod/Android dock with phone capabilities and some bells and whistle?, YES. If you live in a small metropolitan flat YES. If you like gadgets and have money, YES. If you normally listen to music on your phone, and fancy a dock, YES. If you want a top of the range speaker phone or like to talk while cooking, DEFINITELY. If you are hoping to replace your expensive hi-fi with it, No. If you're mainly going to use it for movies and like mouth movements to be synced with speech, then you might want to read a bit more about it.

This speaker was tested with a number of different devices and operating systems:

Overview: Functionality across devices
1) You need to have the internet available to install in Windows 7, this seems unique to Windows. (PC with Windows 7)
2) Linux seems to work without a hitch (a reboot was needed). (Mint / Blueman Linux manager / cheapo micro USB Bluetooth dongle).
3) A Bluetooth enabled TV seemed to work easily too (LG TV 6th gen LCD)
4) Android is the easiest to set up, yet on initial observation seems to exhibit 0.5s of lag - see below / (Asus Transformer Prime Tablet)

Unboxing and Manual:
Everything is simple really, a USB cable, an optional power supply in case you don't want it plugged into a PC, a stand and a very brief manual that does not go into nearly enough detail as I would have liked. The Android app at least, there are some further tutorials. However, I still feel there is a lot of info missing. Perhaps it will become more coherent as time passes as it is a very new product at the time of this review.

Setup and Pairing:
1) The PIN is not given. I'm not really sure how it works without giving out the PIN, but if you get asked "what is the PIN" there is usually an option of registering without a PIN.
2) You can only Bluetooth pair with one device at a time. If you want to move it to another device, you have to disable the first.
3) You don't seem to need to re-pair as it remembers a number of devices. This is good. A lot of Bluetooth devices don't do this
4) A hidden option in the Windows app allows you to turn on auto pairing. So the device will look for example for a TV it paired with previously and pair with it, normally you'd have to get the TV to do this bit, which is a hassle. So this is handy, but not documented anywhere that I could see. It's also only available via Windows.

First observations:
1) This looks nice!
2) The capacitive buttons work well BUT take some getting accustomed to as they are not as responsive as modern tablets.
3) It is LOUD.
4) The Android app seems a bit primitive - I suspect it will be improved.

Sound quality and sound in general:
1) Audiophiles need not apply. This is not for you. If you've ever used the words soundstage or sibilance, just...move along ;)
2) Anyone with an iPod or android, yeah, this is for you.
3) If you can tell the diff between '10 and '100 headphones, this may be for you, depending what you plan to use it for.

The sound quality, I shall be as kind as I can, it's limited by the design. So what does it sound like? Well, it sounds like a very very good PC speaker. It does not sound like a bookshelf speaker that you could buy for the price. Not even close. But you have to balance these things. Your bookshelf speaker is just a speaker. This is not. Overall, *If* you tune it to how you like it in windows, it sounds nice. Nice enough to kick back and listen to. Nothing more, nothing less. Keep your expectations realistic and you won't be disappointed. Creative have done well with the parameters they have designed within.

Inputs, Outputs:
You do have more than just Bluetooth. The device also features an aux/mic in and a headphone out. Did I test it? You bet I did.
Aux in: This was tested on a Denon pre-amp with an input from a turntable. I like to challenge technology. Well, a turntable is not Bluetooth, right? Did it sound good? Yeah - it did, it sounded crystal clear and insanely sharp. Surprised? So was I.
Headphone out: Denon AC...something, in ear earphones. Do they sound good? Yep they do.

Phone related functionality:
This is where the device really excels. The noise reduction I'm told works exactly as it says on the tin, I called a friend and asked them if they could hear a particularly noisy air con unit which is situated next to the speaker. When I say noisy I mean shout over volume. The unit cut ALL the noise out and he could hear me perfectly at normal speaking levels. So noise reduction is a real feature here. I imagine you could cook, dry your hair, all while carrying on a normal conversation. Well done Creative!

Sound quality and reception seem great. I was told that with the Voice Focus button on, the sound was "echoey", and with this off, it fixed it. I was sat maybe 2 feet from the speaker talking at a low conversational volume. Everything worked. There were no "what?" or "Huh?". I am impressed.

Speakers for Movies and TV?
A special note about movies because the first thing I thought when I read about this device is Bluetooth encoding, transfer, decoding. That lags, right? Well somehow those smarties at Creative have managed to reduce that lag in most circumstances. Here's what I saw.

With the TV: Largely no lag. Occasional "catchy uppy" but not terribly notable. lip sync close enough to not be annoying. With iPlayer Linux: No lag in the ten or so minutes I was watching. I mean perfect lip sync. With Android mplayer: About half a second lag. I believe some Android apps do allow you to compensate but if that's to work it MUST be a constant lag and not "catchy uppy lag".

So I'm largely impressed with it for movies, but with caveats:
1) it's probably not going to be robust for hardcore movie watching. Too much can go wrong. You know what I mean. Halfway through the movie it might start to lag. You might have to turn it off and on again. You might. I can't back that up.
2) Bluetooth lag invariably is proportional to distance. At the very fringe of the device's range, you will suffer.

Other Observations:
If you have an Android phone that has fuzzy audio from the 3.5mm jack, then Bluetooth audio may surprise you. It does not appear to use the same amplification route as the 3.5mm jack. I get crystal clear audio from Bluetooth on both my phone and tablet. Games like OSMOS that really "do" sound, are outstanding with Bluetooth audio.

It did occur to me that if you had superb quality headphones and hooked them to this device, as a satellite to a TV set, you have yourself some wireless Bluetooth headphones. Granted, with a lead weight attached, but there's no trip wire from the TV.

Good points:
1) Looks great.
2) No seriously, it looks great. It is clad with the 80s style real material speaker mesh. None of your tacky plastic grills on show here.
3) It's going to be a talking point in anyone's house.
4) It works. When I read the spec, I thought it would have endless problems. Sure, theres a few teething issues, but no, it does work.
5) If you can use the software in windows, you get a LOT of controls. I'm talking crossover frequency, bass, independent input levels, that sort of thing. You get none of this when you're synced to a TV.

Gripes:
1) The volume control majorly lacks precision at the bottom end. I hope they fix this as it's almost impossible to play your music quietly on some devices [dependent on input level it seems]. You can work around this on a PC with the software, has a volume control in it.
2) For the price point could they not have included some sort of battery? A device like this screams rechargeable, and it's not.
3) More manual please.
4) To optimise sound quality you need to hook it to a windows PC with the drivers. I feel a lot of people won't know to do this, so they end up with it sounding sub-standard, or at least, not to their liking. I cranked up the bass. It helped a lot.
5) Still need to be a geek to get the best out of it. And the target audience are not going to do that, in my opinion.
6) lip sync could be a problem. It's a design flaw with Bluetooth really.
7) I had some problems "discovering" the device when it was connected by usb to a pc. I don't know if that's intended functionality because of how brief the manual is!

This is a stylish device is well suited for small living spaces, but it will probably not replace your high end hifi.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Was very excited about this bit of kit. Liked the idea of having one speaker to connect all my devices to.

Comes in a nice easy to open box. On opening the flap you're immediately invited to download the app for your PC/i-gadget/smartphone. The speaker looks and feels high quality and heavy, although is somewhat smaller than i imagined it would be (about 40-50cm tall, less than 10cm in diameter, hexagon shaped). There's lots of highly polished black plastic, a material front, and a glossy top panel.

It comes with a USB to connect to your PC or plug (the box said USB plug sold seperately, but one came in the box). On switching it on, lighted up icons appear from nowhere on the top glossy panel. These also act as touch sensitive controls.

I first connected my android phone - turn on bluetooth, press a button on the back of the device, and the 2 are paired. After downloading the creative central app from goole play app store, you have full control over settings/equalisers/surround sound/bass etc etc. The app works really well and is a nice way to control the device.

Pairing with ipad was even simpler - turn on bluetooth, it paired up, then automatically invited you to download the app to the ipad.

Sound is rich and bassy, and impressive considering it's powered with a USB lead. Now this is no audiophiles dream, if I'm honest the sound is a bit tinny and one dimensional. But it does thump out nice and loud. Not a replacement for proper speakers/audio equipment. If you're looking for just a speaker system go elsewhere, but the sound is great none the less.

The best bit is calls - speaking on the phone, the sound clarity is great. Creative claims that it picks up your voice from anywhere in the room, and it truely does this. Even with a bit of background noise and being on the other side of the room, the person at the end of the phone can still hear you really well.

I think this is a fab bit of kit for the office, or maybe a busy kitchen/living area of the house, where you might want to use the internet, listen to mmusic, do some cooking and receive calls without the hassle of switching on and off other speakers or devices. it allows you to get on with whatever you're doing.

so in summary, perhaps if judged by sound alone I would struggle as to whether to give it 4 or 5 stars. but it's overall quality, dynamic apps, and versatility definately make it a 5 star product.
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The SB-Axx 20 is a multi-purpose, highly portable and space-saving device which functions as a wireless bluetooth speaker, a hands-free kit with two microphones, or simply a straightforward computer speaker. Out the box, there is the speaker tower itself which fits securely onto a round base, and it connects to a PC via a USB cable or the mains using an adaptor. There is no setup involved and no need to install any software, although there is a free app and control panel software for customization if you wish. Bluetooth connection is handled simply by holding down a button on the back. The touch sensitive and multi-coloured buttons are clever with the exception of the somewhat clunky volume control bar.

Its main purpose seems to be as a wireless bluetooth speaker and while the design is mostly impressive, the sound quality is not great. As could be expected of something so small, the warm bassy tones are relatively lacking, and since it is a tower, with the speakers stacked on top of each other, there is none of the promised "innovative" stereo effect. On the other hand, it can reach seriously impressive volume levels if needed.

Where the device really shines is a hands-free kit for your phone or tablet. The quality of the microphones is excellent and the "noise control" and especially the very unique "in focus" feature work really well. Overall, an impressively-designed and space-saving gadget that fulfils multiple purposes. If only the sound quality could match a more traditional speaker setup!
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
An amazing speaker from Creative that has many functions for example the built in dual microphone and bluetooth technology can link the speaker to your iphone, phone,mp3 player or connect to a laptop or pc.
The device also has a voice focus button which brings out your voice and shuts out sound around it like the tv, this function is fantastic in the car. You can take a phone call on your mobile hands free and be heard all around a room clearly, the quad core chip reduces other noise pick up.
The Mute option is handy to have and custimise the movie sound to reduce load noises or increase base, restore digital sound to old recordings.
The tower speaker design gives out a great sound and the base does not pop even if the base is high volume.
There are also mini apps you can download from the apple store or goggle free and step by step
It looks great awesome sound with lots of functions on a touch button display,well worth the money.
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The sound quality is excellent, its fairly unobtrusive and I cant recommend it highly enough as it is a very good wireless speaker. Not used many other wireless speakers myself but a few friends have some and I remain impressed
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I had my speaker replaced because the activation Bluetooth button was not working. I contacted their support team via the web address listed on the instructions. After trying the troubleshooting tasked suggested by the support team we all agreed that my speaker needed replacing. The new replacement worked straight easily away with no problem.

So far I've used it with my iPad 3 and listen to apps and YouTube and Netflix. The sound quality is amazing. Really great base and high sounds.

We are going to use it to watch Bbc iplayer and 4OD program's in the bed from my iPad and watch education YouTube program's too for the kids. . It really adds to the experience. I am seriously thinking of getting another speaker for down stairs too.

It looks very stylish and will look good placed anywhere. It looks robust and made in a quality way. The base makes it sturdy and the rubber footing on the base ensure it will not slip anywhere.

Great sound & easy to use!!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 August 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Let me start by giving the reason for the 4 stars instead of 5. I am probably asking for too much, but the one thing that lets this device down a little is the sound quality. Don't get me wrong, the sound is decent and more than adequate for many I am sure, but it just lacks the bass and high end frequencies a little, but as I say, I am probably expecting too much. The sound is still pretty decent, certainly not a show stopper, just don't expect it to replace a full stereo system.

Aside from the slight draw back in sound quality however, it really is an amazing bit of kit. Connectivity is excellent with the use of bluetooth and if you feel the need you can always use the auxilary jack to plug into it directly. It seems to be very well made and stylish without causing any issues with usability and all this comes in a relatively compact tower that would not look out out of place in most environments.

As for features, thats where this beast really shines, it works as a docking station (via bluetooth) it can be used for hands free telephone calls or VOIP conversations, or can be used as your main PC speaker system. This would be enough but it does more. The ability to cancel out surrounding noise and the fact that handsfree works almost perfectly from anywhere in room you are in is astonishing and could make this device and absolute necessity for some. It truly is amazing and works as well as advertised. Add to this numerous other functions such as the voice filter during calls and you have a versatile, fun and above all useful device that should serve you well for years to come.

Overall an excellent device that is stylish, easy to use and works brilliantly, which truly makes it worthy of it's price tag....highly recommended
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 6 October 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
To be honest I wasn't looking to have a device such as this. I have a moshi-moshi headset that I use to make calls from my mobile when at home and my MAC has speakers good enough for my purpose.

I received these speakers as part of Amazon's Vine programme.

The speaker looks that it is made nicely and is sturdy and not too big either. So this can easily stand next to your PC, or even on the floor in the corner depending on your use.

Connections are not too difficult to make but it does take a certain bit of trying out a few things as there is no such thing as a comprehensive manual, everyone's going green these days by saving on paper!

This comes with a USB to connect to your PC. After switching it on, lighted up icons appear which also act as touch sensitive controls.

Connecting mobile phone (mine is S3) and MAC was not difficult, just pressing of a button is required.

If you want more control on the sound output, you will need to download some app, which I haven't tried yet.

Sound is impressive considering it's powered with a USB lead and that this is not a professional sound system.

Speaking on the phone is a much easier task now, it lets you do your stuff while you are anywhere in the room. You can talk while doing some other work and the speakers pick your voice correctly over any other sound in the room which is amazing. I think this is the main use of these speakers than anything else.

It is not an essential product to have considering the price but not a bad one either.
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