Products

Audio 66’s BTS: My new favorite headset

Audio 66’s BTS: My new favorite headset

I am almost never satisfied with a majority of electronics because I’m the type of user that pushes them to their limit. I know what technology is capable of, so I tend to try to leverage it to suit my needs. One of my “needs” is to have a lightweight hassles-free headset. I wanted wireless so I don’t have to deal with getting tangled in cables, and plugging and unplugging it. I want one that can run all day (or a few days) on a single charge. And I want the sound to be good for casual listening—not that over-compressed first or even second generation wireless audio.

Bluetooth headsets have been out for a while. But they’ve been historically overpriced for what you get. IMO, they should be no more than $20 above the fidelity level of a wired headset. So, with Sony’s $100 MDR7 series the “standard” of a good price:fidelity balance, I figure a “sports*” headset like this should be no more than $50. When I found Noisehush NS400, it was exactly what I wanted, & only $35. I was very happy with the audio quality for the price and the sports band (where the band goes behind your neck) is the perfect balance of non-intrusive & convenient — meaning you can put them on and take them off in 2 seconds. But once I got used to them, I found one more “need.” I wanted to be able to connect to my phone, my computer and iPad simultaneously. Until the Bluetooth spec update that added “multipoint,” this desire was wishful thinking. With a street price of $50, Audio 66’s Bluetooth Sport is the first device to meet all my needs, including multipoint.

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When I read Pat Cadigan’s Synners back in the early 90s I thought about what technological advances would be needed to get there. I understood basic electronics, having taken it in high school, and had been using computers since a 12″ CRT, cassette drive, analog coupler & 4K were a big deal & cost over $1000. So, I had a fairly good idea, except not knowing how we would achieve the flexible TFT screens considering they were encased in glass, and a lot of problems with power & complexity. I also read Sterling, Gibson, Rucker & Stephenson which also influenced my thinking about technical (and social) advances (regressions).

Since then there’s been many advances that move us closer to what was a pure fantasy. Miniaturization of components and SoCs as small as your pinky nail were easily predictable. Tuning audio for a room in seconds was foreseeable, and a lot of ideas I could see coming to shape right on time or even before. This digital world lives in a trans-dimensional plane that can express all possible dimensions by its nature of having no dimensions—what I think of as the “all in none” paradox that got this universe started in the first place. So, aside from imagination of what to program into it, what sort of media people would consume, the only limit was physical. New materials and chemical processes are making the fundamental plane on which our interconnected digital world more flexible and more fantastic. For a very LONG time the race has been to offer flexible displays. This year the first mass market flexible display came out. But still the device it is embedded in, is not. Once someone puts 2 & 2 together at Apple or Google, there will be a product that does to the smartphone what the tablet did to the desktop & laptop.

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If I chose a current AppleWatch

Waiting for the DT Camera version…

Investors are being fed news of some massive Apple Watch sales decrease since its release. Oddly the overall percentage of the market of people that use the iPhones (iPhone 5 & up) that work with the Watch that actually bought the Watch is inline with historic sales trends of other accessory technology. Most technology accessories, from bluetooth headphones to keyboards to eye wear face significantly lower sales numbers. At the current Apple Watch price point, the percentage is actually abnormally high given inexpensive accessories run under $100 and might get 4% adoption (this translates to something you can observe: less than 1 in 20 people that own a tablet have a bluetooth keyboard.) Whereas Apple Watch owners are almost equal to that within a 2 month launch for a device that starts at $350. While only 1 in 5 people in the U.S. have an iPhone, of those, the number that have or plan to get an Apple Watch are 1 in 10, conservatively.

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The Included watch band with special modifications

The Shine after 5 months. You can’t even see extra security I added from the front while wearing the Shine (scuff not included)

First off, full disclosure: Misfit gave me a Shine — not for review — but as thanks for spotting and letting them know about a minor error on one of their pages on the day they announced a related product. So, given that it was free, it was something I was grateful to receive, and established the goodwill of the people at Misfit. The thing is, I’m not exactly the type that monitors and logs everything I do. In fact, given my physical limitations (mentioned before), I can’t often follow a workout regimen to stay in shape anymore. However, I am naturally curious, and after almost 6 months using the Shine, I have been able to use it as a way to monitor my daily activity and adjust how much I eat. This review examines what is an almost perfect product at this price point from the PoV of someone that isn’t interested in (or can’t afford) the current smartwatch offerings. On this level, the Shine succeeds to offer a simple way to monitor daily sleep and wake activity. Read on to see how it accomplishes this.

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Dear all you great companies making awesome products,

For most of you, I like to be informed of new products, and some I already bought your product and really don’t NEED to know about promos for gadgets & software I already have. So, If I were running the communications for the company, I would do what I have done on my blog, but better. Read on for my idea of how to make the most of your communications.

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MFi-controllerOver a year ago when I found out about the MFi controller program that would allow manufacturers to create gaming controllers for iOS device, I was a bit excited. But after looking at the offerings, I decided to wait until the quality & price was in parity with other controllers on the market. Now, well over a year later, and I am still waiting.

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QualtyNerpFowndThis is actually the first time in a long time I am not taking an iTunes update, given that it doesn’t fix the graphic artifact during scrolling issue, and other users are reporting worse things happening. In retrospect, I should have stuck with 11.x . iTunes 12.x is looking more like Windows Millennium everyday.

Sad.

This was once SoundJam, an app so good that Apple bought it. But this is now another example of an app in the care of a company too big to care to give it the attention to detail, and true UI/UX modernizations and feature enhancements an indie would have. A third party company would have listened to their customers or face declining sales. Apple is too big to truly care about the declining quality of iTunes. Whomever is sitting in charge of shipping product quality control is obviously not paying attention, and this toxic style of management is what can and has brought once great companies down.

Since v4 the only “improvements” have been cosmetic and the addition of the various stores. Apple has never addressed iTunes key failings and has instead focused on bloating it u to the point where once loyal users are looking elsewhere for leading edge features.

But this isn’t really about Apple. Apple is really an example. This is about a mentality epidemic in proportion of people who think that marketing, money or someone else can make up (or take the blame) for subpar products. The logic is as follows:

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Most tech savvy people have a wish list floating around on NewEgg or Thinkgeek or some other site — I have 4 I can think of without effort. Some of us even keep a private list of gift ideas for others at various sites and occasionally make a note of something we see in a store only to forget about it or be unable to find it among the many notes me make — whether within an app or on paper — when it is around gift giving time. The problem is most people do not have 1 convenient place they can keep track of all the items from across the web that they find for themselves or others. I have various want lists I have forgotten about as well and from time to time I go back and remove things that would have been impulse purchases had I bought them instead of wish-listed them. So, the utility of a gift list minder app that is not tied to a single retailer is a necessity—especially at this time of year. However, after using his a few years, I realized that this app fills that void of when you see something perfect no where near their birthday or a gift giving occasion.

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Last year my Airport Express (v1) was made obsolete by apple deciding to drop support for configuring it from 10.9. This year an Apple Extreme (802.11n Dual-band) that was in service for about 4–5 years finally started failing thanks to either age or heat problems. The heat issue is often important to some tech people because the amount of equipment in use easily spikes the temperature in our rooms 5°–10° or in the closets we have to stick them in. Not everyone thinks a mess of wires (properly tied or not) is a thing of beauty, so often we have to put them in closets and in spaces with little ventilation. This leads to heat building up and soon DSL modems and their UPSes and WiFi routers are dying. WiFi routers can last a long time if treated well, but if they are used constantly and under heavy loads with bad cooling, don’t expect them to last more than 5 years. As for the Airport Extreme, I am taking it to a less demanding/harsh environment. Hopefully, the lighter load will mean at least a few more years of service out of it.

As an aside: I once made the case for proper cooling in a new building when asked by the CFO if we needed Air conditioning. I said we don’t need it, but some of our equipment would burn out/malfunction 1–2 years faster costing at least a few K per year in increased maintenance and secondary costs (downtime, multiple backups, etc.)— maybe more.

I mentioned it to a friend and he said he was concerned with the iPhone 6 series’ ambient temperature ceiling (95° F). Another friend pointed out that that’s because Li-Ion batteries have this restriction, which neither of us was aware of. Checking our 5s specs, the temperature limits is also 95°F, which is interesting because the 5ses didn’t seem to have any problems in Nevada last month. So, maybe the phones Li-Ion batteries will die faster. No problem: I have replaced a few iPhone batteries and parts.

Interestingly enough, I looked and fewer and fewer manufacturers are putting this info in their specs sheets, leading me to believe some of support costs could be avoided by placing this info in the specs and making sure customers are aware of it. I know plenty of people that leave electronics with Li-Ion batteries in their cars (hidden of course). Luckily, non-operating ambient temperature ceiling are above 110°F.

Anyway, heat plays an important role in the lifespan of many electronics, and it occurred to me that few people even mention it. So, I am mentioning: If you are on a 3-year replacement cycle, paying attention to this fact isn’t too important. But if you are in the miserly camp of stretching your dollar by upgrading devices less than 3 times a decade, you might want to be aware of heat and operating temperature limits as a consideration.

Finding a current table of color laser Airprint capable multi-function printers (MFP) with prices and features is impossible. [If you are an Android user, just replace every reference of “Airprint” to “Cloud Print” since it is essentially a copy of Airprint, and would help Android users to find printers too] So, gathering info quickly to recommend a printer is laboriously slow at best. Adding Airprint capabilities to product page table lists and being able to filter by it (as “wireless” and “color” are valid filters on most company and shopping sites) would speed up information gathering. I only found out about Airprint coming to Xerox when I visited MacWorld Expo and asking a Xerox engineer. Worse, is this info has dropped Airprint off of HP’s list pages — but is at least still buried in each printer’s page in fine print.

When I spoke to the Xerox engineer he said some Color MFP under $1000 (for SoHo) and all Enterprise models had (or would have) Airprint, but looking at the official list today there was nothing to compete with HP’s $400 retail (~$300 street price) Color LaserJet M175nw MFP [now replaced by the M177fw] which offers Wireless print through Airprint — thus iOS devices can print without loading any software (and scan with software). Also, Canon had imageCLASS MF8580Cdw, at $600 coming out. At the show the Xerox rep, pointed out several sub-$600 Xeroxes that either had the feature or would get it with a firmware update. But since then, I have forgotten which ones those were. So, when someone shot me a quick email “Hey, saw that printer ____ and they told me to ask you about it. Which models would you recommend?” I looked it up, which led me to the first line of this post.

Airprint means that visitors do not have to go through an arduous process to print documents. No one has to call tech support, anyone with an iOS device can print simply by…

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