Q. My daughter wants lenses for her iPhone for Christmas. What do you think of them, and do you have any favorites?
-- E.H., Bethel Park, Pa.
A. Personally, I have never really taken to accessory lenses for a phone camera. The digital zoom has always sufficed for my needs, though it cuts image quality a bit. I use my interchangeable lens cameras for travel and creative work.
Although they are not for me, that does not mean that extra lenses can't be worthwhile. The trick is to get lenses that are actually useful. The olloclip 4-in-1 Lens Set offers this, with good optics covering wide-angle, fisheye and two close-up options. olloclip.com
Holiday product highlight: I was just at the 2017 New York Audio Show and came across the something so fantastic, I had to get it in the column right away! I have postponed the continuation of last week's outdoor wireless speaker coverage until next week.
Panasonic made quite a splash when they reintroduced their Technics audio brand two years ago. At the time they expressed their intent to keep the brand high-end and exclusive, with a focus on high-priced products of exceptional performance and a limited number of specialist retailers (only 27 nationwide). It has been a successful strategy, as not only have Technics products been playing to universal acclaim, some of them have been a bit hard to find due to demand outstripping supply. Their most recent introduction, the Technics OTTAVA SC-C70 Premium Compact Stereo System, is a stunner and may well become their biggest success.
The Technics SC-C70 incorporates the high-end technology, sound quality and fine workmanship of Technics audio components in a single-piece system. In addition to the expected Bluetooth, auxiliary input, Wi-Fi and Ethernet capability, it has AM/FM radio and a built-in CD player. Given the volume of email I get from readers looking for single-piece stereos with CD players, it is nice to see someone is listening. There is also an optical digital input for use with a TV, and the system can be digitally fine-tuned for room acoustics using your phone or tablet's microphone.
It is hard to do justice not only to the beautiful sound and deep bass, but also to the leading-edge audio engineering, premium quality materials and stylish modern design. The SC-C70 looks like it belongs in the most elegant and expensive of homes, or in the wood-paneled office of a high-powered executive. In short, it sounds, looks and feels very expensive, and it can do pretty much anything you could ask a compact stereo to do. Given the market positioning of Technics speakers (up to $27,000/pair) and amplifiers (up to $17,000 each), when I evaluated the SC-C70 at the show, I expected it to be $3,000 at an absolute minimum, perhaps $5,000. When Bill Voss of Technics told me it was $999, I was floored. As I wrote this column, I struggled to find an analogy that would adequately explain to the general public the significance of this product and the pricing. The best I could come up with was you go to the jewelry store to buy a Citizen or Seiko watch for $500, but you end up coming home with a brand-new Rolex for $999. That's the difference between the Technics SC-C70 and its $500 competitors.
If you want to buy a Technics SC-C70, especially for the holidays, you had best act fast as it is likely they will sell out quickly. See it at technics.com and visit http://technics.com/us/where-to-buy/ to find retailers.
(Contact Don Lindich at www.soundadvicenews.com and use the "submit question" link on that site.)
(c)2017 Don Lindich
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