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REVIEW: Sony DRBT160AS Bluetooth Stereo Headset

July 24th, 2009 No comments

I have been on a quest.  A quest for a pair of Bluetooth headphones.  I have a deep and abiding hatred of wires between my head and my music device.  When I had just an iPod, it was an annoyance I learned to live with until I found Bluetooth dongles and true freedom.  When I found out that the iPhone wasn’t going to have a Bluetooth headphone profile, I railed at the cold, uncaring gods.  With the release of OS 3, the iPhone is halfway to freedom.  I can live without the ability to skip forward/back – I’m just happy to have the wireless option again.  Which brings me back to my quest.

Bluetooth headphones are even more difficult to fit than normal headphones.  That whole wireless thing really confuses manufacturers.  I’ve tried expensive sets and cheap sets.  My best set to date were a pair of wiREVO S300‘s that I used until I beat them into the ground.  I’ve since tried at least five different makes/models in my quest for the perfect set.  (the wiREVOs were a bit too loose on my ears without the headband and too tight against the back of my ears after a couple hours with the headband).

Today, I picked up a pair of Sony DRBT160AS headphones from a Sony Style store in my future employer’s shopping plaza.

31B6AIDXX4L._SL500_AA280_I was a little skeptical of these initially.  The CNet review was OK – not great, not bad.  Of special concern were the weight of the housings containing the electronics, plus the ability of the earbuds to fit my ears and ear canal without being annoying.

I popped the package open, pulled out the phones, and tried them on.  The default set of earbuds were too small, so I replaced them with the biggest pair.  The earbuds are color-coded so that you don’t mix up your pairs, a nice little touch.

IMG_0257It’s hard to get a sense of scale with these.  They look bigger than they really are.  And they are surprisingly light.  The headband is definitely flexible but you can’t adjust the loop diameter, so if you have a very large or very small head, that can be an issue.  I’m also curious how they would work in winter, when you’re wearing a jacket.

The electronics casings do make the headphones a bit wobbly, and the first few times you handle them, they almost feel like they’re going to snap.  Long term wear and tear is a bit of a concern, and I’d be afraid to just throw them into my bag for transport.  I’ll probably end up wearing them around my neck when I’m not using them.

With the modification to the earbuds, I found that they did an excellent job of sealing my ear canal.  Ambient noise was diminished and the earbuds fit nicely into my ear.  The casings aren’t terribly heavy and they don’t really impact your experience.  It didn’t take me long to get used to them to the point where I could ignore them.

I then charged them for about an hour or so before taking them out for a test walk.  Grabbing my trusty test canine, I headed out into the world.  During my 30 minute excursion, I found myself pleasantly surprised.  The transmission was strong, with none of the stuttering I’d experienced with other headphones.  The weight was negligible and the volume levels were more than acceptable.  Coincidentally, a call came in while I was walking and I was able to test the headset functions.  My caller did note some wind noise (partly from my walking while talking and partly because there was a storm moving into the area), but the conversation was fine otherwise.  I was able to hear him just fine and he didn’t mention any level issues from his end.

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The left casing holds the battery and has a plug for the charger.  No USB-based charging plug is included – you have to plug the power cord into an outlet directly.  So if you plan to travel with this gadget, plan on bringing its charging device with you.

The right casing holds the controls.  Power button and microphone on the outside, phone control button on the bottom, and a five direction toggle on the back of the casing to control the music.  Once you figure everything out, the controls are intuitive and easy to manage.

For those of you with glasses, you’ll be happy to know that they seem compatible with most frames.  I tried them with both my sunglasses and my eyeglasses and didn’t notice any conflict.  The lack of frame compatibility was why I had to return the Jaybirds I’d tried out earlier in the year.

After trying them out in the gym and on the run, I will give these a solid B+ rating overall.  The band does get in the way at the gym, especially when using benches.  However, they didn’t fall out of position on my head when I was laying against the bench and they didn’t move around much while I was working out.  The left side definately felt lighter than the right side, which made my head feel like it was off-kilter.  Running with them was fine – they do bounce a bit, but nothing too terribly distracting.  I wasn’t running all that fast though, so speedy peoples’ mileage may vary.  For power walking they would be fine.

Good on ya, Sony – finally a product I can get behind.

Sony Vaio W

July 16th, 2009 No comments

In the tech world news seems to get old in about a week so this could be considered old news.  But I’m less interested in the news factor, cuz let’s be honest, the new Sony Vaio W is kind of a snoozer, but I did find their translated product page to be quite humorous. Mostly because I’m a fan of Engrish.
My personal favorite is the section titled “Features of the Internet to achieve a comfortable life”.
What an oh so Japanese thing to say.

The next best part is the product video.

It reminds me of watching late night television infomercials when I was a teenager but the music has added a few electronic beats and bleeps to the super snooze piano track.
You’d think the people at Sony of all places would have a sleeker video. Something worthy of the 21st century. I’m completely confused by this, but entertained none the less.

And finally, though the Vaio itself, as always, looks nice… this new color scheme has me thinking more of Neopolitan ice cream than anything else. Brown was a pretty bold choice I have to say. I wonder if it will pay of (my money says it won’t). The Sony Vaio W is going for $500. That’ll get you 1.6GHz Atom Powered, 10 inch screen notebook with 160GB hard drive and 1 GB of RAM along with ethernet, USB, SD card reader (that also reads MemorySticks) and bluetooth. Nothing out of the ordinary for any other netbook at half the price.
For those interested though it should be available in August.

via Wired Gadget Lab

Categories: Computers Tags: , , ,

The new Sony Style/Comcast Labs store

March 22nd, 2009 1 comment

I know it’s rare that Philadelphia gets to be in the spotlight of the tech world but when you have the largest cable company in the country in your home town, sometimes things work out.  When I heard that Sony and Comcast were opening a new showcase store in the Comcast Center, I figured I had to check it out.  So here’s the scoop!  All the pictures in the post are linked to full size images in the below gallery.  Check out the full size pics – most of the pictures are landscape, and they look funny when viewed in their compressed state in the post.

Comcast TowerThe Comcast Tower itself is an imposing site.  It’s the first LEED-certified office tower in Philadelphia and is currently the tallest building in the city.

Inside are two really cool things.

Comcast Sculpture 1

Comcast Sculpture 2

The first is a giant sculpture called Humanity in Motion by world-renowned artist and sculptor Jonathan Borofsk.  It features a series of life-sized statues of people moving across the vast space that is the interior entryway of the Comcast Center.  The sheer size of the interior is hard to capture on film – I was craning my camera almost to vertical to capture these images.

The second is the Comcast Experience, which is the largest four-millimeter LED screen in the world.

Comcast Screen 1Spanning 83.3 feet wide by 25.4 feet high, the 2,100 square foot video wall brings spectacular original programming to visitors 18 hours a day.  The images have to be seen to be believed.  The pictures don’t really capture how high resolution the screen really is.

Comcast Screen 2Comcast projected the Obama inauguration on this thing – apparently it was like being there (except warm).  If you’re ever in the city, definately check it out.  OK enough filler – lets get to the meat!

Here’s the main signage for the Sony Style/Comcast Labs store.  Pretty impressive right?

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Unfortunately, that sign is located in the middle of the store (which is basically a hallway with a cul-de-sac where Sony set up some stuff.  The Sony Style/Comcast Labs experience is, to put it mildly, underwhelming.  There’s a Sony Style store in nearby King of Prussia (home of the second largest mall in the country) which is much more interesting.  This “showcase” feels really small in comparison.

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I’m pretty sure I missed a part of the store that’s off to the right of the picture above.  There’s no real “layout” to the store, so I’m going to excuse myself for that oversight – I think a lot of people will end up missing it.

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The picture above is where you first gaze upon the store – you come down the stairs into the entrance to the Food Court and off on your right is Sony Style.  There’s not really any big signage to indicate that this is there.  Instead of something really fancy to draw the eye, you walk down into a display of…

p1010910cameras.  Yea, I know – thrilling, right?  There are some other gizmos and geegaws, plus an area to try out the various VAIOs.  Check out the VAIO-P – that thing is totally cool.  And tiny!

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My son is a tad over 4 ft tall.  His hands look normal sized against that keyboard.  And the screen resolution is actually not bad at all.

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Finally, there’s a section dedicated to the PS3.  Nothing special to write home about here either.

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All in all, we were through the place in about 10 minutes, and that was with taking pictures.  I can’t see how it can host more than a small handful of customers – the lunch crowd at the Food Court would probably overwhelm the staff.  I’d post more pictures but about this time was when the nice employee came over to tell me that photos aren’t really encouraged.  Oops.

And I checked out the DOCSIS 3.0 connected laptops.  Yes, they’re fast but not so fast that I was in awe.  It’s about equivalent to being on a hardwire network connection.  I’m wondering if they hadn’t really turned that on yet because the place just opened on Tuesday.  I’m hoping it will evolve over time and become more of an “experience” but I’m not holding my breath.

Sony stylin’ with the CMT-Z100iR

March 19th, 2009 No comments

cmtz100ir-450x316This, my friends, is the Sony CMT-Z100iR, a soon to be released component system from Sony.  I’ve been fascinated by black monolith-shaped objects since I saw 2001, and this thing just screams sexy.  If the iPhone/iPod dock isn’t enough, there’s a CD player, audio in jack, and a USB port for non-iPod music devices (there are such things?).  It’s wall mountable for ultimate sleekness, plus it’s got a touch panel interface to go with your touch-based Apple device.  Just the thing when you’re hosting that special someone.  And my kids ain’t gonna be allowed to even breathe near it.

via