Archive for the ‘Audio’ Category

One-minute review: Apple iPhone Bluetooth Headset sounds better second time around

In my quest to find the perfect Bluetooth headset I recently tried the Jawbone 2 but was less than satisfied with the results. Remembering the things I liked about Apple’s iPhone Bluetooth Headset that I owned (and promptly lost), I decided to buy another one. What I like most is how integrated the headset is – both the hardware and the user experience. Unfortunately the welcome price drop from $129 to $99 means Apple also dropped the bundled dual-purpose charging dock that accomodated both the iPhone and the headset. I still own my original dual dock, however the new 3G’s thicker base prevents it from fitting into the dock (though I managed to “fix” my old dual dock with a little chisel handiwork).

The Apple iPhone Bluetooth Headset still comes with the handy Travel Cable, which has a small recepticle for plugging in the magnetized headset contacts to charge both the iPhone and headset at the same time.

Like the original the headset automatically pairs with the iPhone the first time you connect them together, and the headset’s battery level appears in both locked mode and in the upper right status bar beside the battery meter. A very nice touch.

As with the original there’s no ear loop, so it’s one-size-fits-all or nothing if the headset won’t stay in your ear. It fits fine in mine, and this time around I’ll be sure to always cover the rubber ring around the earpiece to protect it from deteriorating the way my original headset did after just a few weeks of use.

And like the original there’s still only one button for turning the headset on and off and handling calls.

But unlike the original there’s one very important improvement that makes it possible for me to see past the headset’s weaknesses: It sounds great.

The louder, clearer sounds probably owes itself more to the iPhone 3G’s improved audio quality than the headset itself, but whatever the reason, I’m pleased with the improvement over my first one.

All told, I’ll take the all-in-one charging solution, tiny form-factor and ear loop-less design over any of the other headsets I’ve recently tried. Now if only the iPhone 3G’s battery life lasted longer would I’d actually care whether the iPhone Bluetooth Headset really offers the estimated 5.5 hoursof talk time Apple says it does.


iPhone 2.01 visual voicemail headset problem still can’t hear you now; Jawbone 2 retry sounds no better in spite of “experimental” buds

Two things to do with wireless audio. First, a number of iPhone users reported 2.0 devices paired with Bluetooth headsets worked fine on calls but they were unable to listen to visual voicemail messages via the headset, forcing them to dial in to their voicemail and listen to it the old fashioned way. My iPhone 3G had this problem with one headset, while it worked fine with a second headset – the Aliph Jawbone 2, which I reviewed for Salon’s Machinist column (giving it low marks for its underperforming noise-cancellation feature). Users are reporting the visual voicemail problem isn’t fixed with the iPhone 2.01 update; I’m unable to test because I don’t have a second headset handy.

As for the Jawbone 2, Aliph sent a second Jawbone 2 to try in case the first was defective, and also tossed in two “experimental” gel earbuds to try to see if they did a better job of keeping their Jawbone more firmly planted against mine. With the standard earbuds the NoiseAssassin was as ineffective as before while talking and walking my dog along lightly busy street traffic under low sea-breeze conditions. The test bud has an extended flange of sorts that makes plugging the headset into the ear awkward because of the loop, and though the extra-push it provided pressed the Jawbone 2 more firmly against my face, the sound quality was barely better, and the lightly yet still more forceful feel grew uncomfortable after 20 minutes of yapping. My only explanation: Maybe I need to work my jaw eating more junk food so my cheeks fill out to make the Jawbone 2′s job easier.


Guest Spot on Computer America with Craig Crossman

Had a great conversation with Craig Crossman on his show Computer America. Tune in by clicking on Craig’s pic and logo. Thanks, Craig!


The New York Times: A New Cable for Your Maze, By Joe Hutsko

The New York Times:
Personal Tech | Circuits | Basics
A New Cable for Your Maze


The real estate on the back of an HDTV is crowded with ports for connectors of the past. Out of that mess comes yet another cable, but it is supposed to make everything simple: the HDMI.


Share Cool holiday tech – MP3 and media players, by Joe Hutsko

Cool holiday tech: MP3 and media players
Give the gift of tapping in and tuning out with these music and video devices
By Joe Hutsko


Smart phones that top the holiday list, by Joe Hutsko

Smart phones that top the holiday list
These phones will let you send text messages, email and listen to tunes
By Joe Hutsko


On MSNBC – Cool holiday tech: Headphones, by Joe Hutsko


Cool holiday tech: Headphones
Ditch your junkie freebie headphones for one of these sweet-sounding sets
By Joe Hutsko


On MSNBC: Cool holiday tech: Home entertainment

On MSNBC: Cool holiday tech: Home entertainment
By Joe Hutsko


One Minute Review: Bose SoundDock Portable speaker system (with iPhone)

sounddockp What: Bose SoundDock Portable, $399 (

The good: The SoundDock Portable weighs under five pounds, has strong volume and bass, tight design and solid construction. Bose reports up to three hours of use on the rechargeable battery when listening at full volume. The company says lowering the volume provides longer battery life but does not cite specific estimates. In my test with the iPhone, I was able to receive calls while using the SoundDock Portable; like the iPhone’s headphones, the music fades to silence to take the call, then fades back when the call ends.

The not so good: The power adapter is big and clunky, and while a groove to wrap the cord is nice, the shape and size of the adapter makes it an unpleasant travel partner. The iPhone’s volume control is deactivated when plugged into the SoundDock, so you’ve got to use the remote to raise and lower the volume. The iPhone’s other controls work fine, and the remote lets you also pause, play and skip tracks. Lastly, as with certain other Bose products, there’s no bass or treble control and the bass is very heavy while the treble not fine enough. Since female vocalists like Joni Mitchell, Rickie Lee Jones, Nina Simone and Alanis Morisette are my favorites, treble matters to me; I managed to improve the sound of the ladies’ voices by changing the iPhone’s EQ setting to Acoustic (Vocal Booster and Treble Booster both gave too much treble).

Bottom line: Great room-filling sound with lots of bass, acceptable treble when adjusted via the iPod or iPhone’s EQ setting, but traveling with the clunky adapter is a bummer. Dedicated fans of Bose products will be pleased with the SoundDock Portable, while others may want to consider the less expensive Logitech Pure-Fi Anywhere Compact Speakers ($149), which though not as loud and bassy, do produce good sound and are easier to travel with.


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